President's Message: Celebrating Black History Month
Black History Month celebrates the achievements and contributions of the heroes and innovators who continue to shape American history — past, present and future.
The University of Houston-Downtown and our Campus Community have a strong connection to this month as a proud Minority-Serving Institution where inclusion and diversity are hallmarks of our culture.
This month also provides opportunities for all Gators — students, faculty and staff — to get involved with a robust schedule of activities, take part in educational moments and dive deeper into the life experiences of Black Americans.
In particular, I want to highlight two signature events brought to us in partnership with the Student Government Association, Center for Critical Race Studies and the Center for Diversity & Inclusion.
Tomorrow, UHD will host “We Stand With YOU,” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the UHD South Deck. As part of the programming, we will welcome Lora King as a guest speaker. She is the daughter of Rodney King, who was the subject of the police brutality in the ’90s that led to civil unrest in Los Angeles and ignited a national conversation about racial inequality. With such a unique perspective on the issue, she created the Rodney King Foundation, which promotes positive race relations in an effort to achieve social justice — a topic that remains incredibly relevant.
The second event is the President’s Lecture Series on Wednesday, February 9, with special guest Nikole Hannah-Jones, who will present “Inclusive Excellence, the Way Forward: Truth, History and the 1619 Project.” Dr. Vida Robertson will lead this virtual discussion from 4 to 5:30 p.m. An influential journalist, Ms. Hannah-Jones is most known as the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter covering racial injustice for The New York Times Magazine and as the creator of the landmark 1619 Project. The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
We are honored to welcome such esteemed visitors as part of Black History Month, which is further complemented by the multiple noteworthy programs planned throughout February at UHD. You may find a list of them online, and I look forward to seeing my fellow Gators at these important events.
There is no shortage of ways to continue exploring these topics year-round at UHD. The Black Student Association is one of our most popular and active social clubs. Our professors teach several courses related to the subject. Further, the W. I. Dykes Library offers a wealth of literature, journals, newspaper articles, videos and more that document Black history.
Black History Month provides a reminder of where we’ve come from and where we’re headed as individuals, a community and a nation. I encourage you to schedule time to participate in these exciting programs. By sharing our own experiences as well as learning from others, we become a more informed society, which is ultimately one of the most important insights our great University can impart.
Loren J. Blanchard, Ph.D.
President, University of Houston-Downtown