Community colleges across the nation are striving for equity and inclusion in all areas of their institutions – in hiring, curriculum, strategic planning and more. But during Black History Month, many have added programming and activities to not only bring attention to Black history, but to celebrate barrier-breaking people in the community today.
In Maryland, Howard Community College is celebrating Black History Month by highlighting faculty and staff who inspire and support students along their pathway to success. One person highlighted is Zakia Johnson, director of testing. She says, “Being Black at Howard Community College means that I must ensure that everything I do for our students, my team, colleagues, leadership, the institution, and the field of higher education is done with excellence. My ancestors fought and died for my freedom, education, and ability to be in the spaces I am in. I do not take that lightly.”
Johnson advises students to “identify your village, use your resources, and strive for excellence in EVERYTHING you do. Also, be sure to give back to those behind you as others did for you.”
In Ohio, Lorain County Community College’s entrepreneurial launching program, NEO LaunchNET, hosted an African American Entrepreneur Pop-Up Shop on Feb. 10. Black-owned businesses were on hand to promote products and services such as jewelry, food, art and more. NEO LaunchNET also is hosting speaker Rodney Walker to talk about his journey from foster care to Yale.
And in Massachusetts, Springfield Technical Community College is featuring artist-in-residence Kiayani Douglas and her exhibit “Fallacies of a Black Identity Enthusiast” this month. Douglas has spent the last three years developing an interdisciplinary body of work called Black Identity Enthusiast, which is geared toward curating conversations rooted in race history and privilege, according to the release.
El Paso Community College in Texas has a month of activities and a theme: African Americans and the Vote: Overcoming Obstacles to Success. There are displays at each campus library and an art show, as well as the Black History Legacy Awards Dinner. There also will be a discussion at the end of the month on this year’s theme.
At Nebraska’s Metropolitan Community College, there also will be a discussion on African Americans and the vote, as well as a talk on an early 1900s African American resort town. Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania will present “Underground Railroad and the Freedom Fighters,” a living history presentation, on Feb. 13. It will feature actors portraying Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Sojourner Truth and William Still.
How will your college recognize Black History Month? How does your college work toward equity and inclusion all year? Sound off at LinkedIn.