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LETTER: Celebrate Black History Month at IU



As part of Indiana University’s commitment to create environments in which all students, faculty and staff feel welcomed, the University is proud to honor the backgrounds and identities of the members of IU’s community through heritage month celebrations.

Through programming and other means of support, IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA) endorses: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (April), LGBT Pride Month (June), Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month (September), LGBT History Month (October) and Native American Heritage Month (November).

And of course, February is Black History Month.

When it comes to the heritage months, I believe that as a community, IU should be curious about learning more about all cultures throughout the year — not just for a month at a time. Observing the cultural centers and range of activities that take place on our campuses, it’s affirming to know that we have a history of inclusivity as an institution of higher education.

But it’s also important to celebrate these heritages, not only from a historical perspective, but also from a contemporary standpoint. That’s why I’m so enthused about the theme for this year’s Black History Month celebration at IU Bloomington: “IU Black History Made Daily.”

The events taking place on the Bloomington campus are reflective of this theme, as there is a terrific blend of the past, present and even the future open to students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding community.

Some of the activities taking place include: the always-popular African American Read-In, sponsored by the School of Education and OVPDEMA, Feb. 6, 11 a.m., at Grand Hall in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center (NMBCC); screenings of “I Am Not Your Negro,” a highly anticipated documentary about the late author James Baldwin, at the IU Cinema Feb. 9, 7 p.m., and Feb. 10, 9:30 p.m.; and the Black Excellence Alumni Panel, a return to campus by black IU alumni to share their experiences with current students, Feb. 15, 5:30 p.m., in the NMBCC’s Bridgwaters Lounge.

These events are just a small sample of an extensive and varied selection of activities happening at IU Bloomington in February.

This is the first Black History Month celebration at IU for Monica Johnson, the Neal-Marshall’s director, and I’m incredibly pleased at what she and other campus partners have put together.

The focus on not just black history, but the contributions that IU students, faculty, staff and the Bloomington community as a whole can make moving forward is such an inspiring perspective to take. And I don’t want people to feel as if they can’t participate simply because they aren’t regular visitors to the Neal-Marshall. All members of the IU community are always welcome to join in, so this is a great time to make a first visit or reintroduce yourself.

A comprehensive listing of Black History Month events throughout IU can be found at diversity.iu.edu.

The majority of these activities are open to all, so I truly encourage all members of the IU community, in addition to local residents, to participate in the activities that are available.

Remember, this month isn’t only about black history — it’s about the black experience today, something we should all feel like we can learn more about.

James Wimbush IU Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs

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