Celebrating Black History Month
| by Laurie Patton and Khuram Hussain
Dear Members of the Middlebury Community,
Each year in February, Black History Month invites us to honor and celebrate the contributions of all Black people to American history and culture. Historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland sponsored the first national Negro History Week during the second week in February 1926, recognizing the need to confront prevailing racist ideas through groundbreaking scholarship and education. The event developed over the following decades into a monthlong celebration, first at Kent State in 1970, and then on many college campuses, and President Ford formally recognized it in 1976.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History this year has chosen the theme of Black Resistance—the struggle to transform systems of oppression in all their forms, including efforts to block education. As we honor this history, we also celebrate the enduring legacy of Black Studies and the contributions of scholars of every discipline. Black American accomplishments, advancements, and struggles should be taught fully and truthfully in both secondary and postsecondary institutions.
Black History Month is also about education in action. We as an institution are exploring critical questions through efforts such as the Twilight Project, student initiatives including JusTalks, and virtual workshops for faculty and staff in Vermont and California. The Anderson Freeman Resource Center at the College will be hosting Black History Week February 20–26. A lecture and book signing are planned for February 24, and other events will include Hair Days for BIPOC students; gatherings for Black students, faculty, staff, and Middlebury community members; and other events such as Black History Trivia and Old School Karaoke, open to all. There will be an AFC dining takeover on February 22 as well, where lunch and dinner will comprise meals from the Black diaspora. For more details, follow the Anderson Freeman Center Instagram, @middafc.
Black History Month holds out an inclusive vision for a multiracial democracy. It also reflects one of the highest purposes of an education––to explore diverse ways of knowing that deepen our understanding of ourselves and our communities and empower us to address the world’s most challenging problems. We invite all to participate in personally meaningful ways such as exploring the cultural and intellectual works of Black scholars, making space for courageous conversations with friends and peers, and taking part in events offered on and off campus this month and into this new year.
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion