A reflection on Black History Month
An interview with President Daniels
February is Black History Month.
Madison College President Dr. Jack E. Daniels, III answers questions about the signficance of Black History Month. He also discusses the ways Madison College is working to improve equity and inclusion for Black students.
What is the significance of Black History Month to you?
Black History Month is significant to me because it is an opportunity to recognize the contributions that African-Americans have made to this country in various areas. As a proud African-American male, it is very significant to me to understand our history and how it has been shaped over the centuries – educationally, economically, socially and psychologically. Engaging in activities that promote and celebrate our history over this month is key and allows us to look forward to enhancing ourselves and our communities. I’m also of the opinion that rewarding and honoring our contributions should not be limited to one month, but throughout the year. Additionally, it should be reflected in texts, discussions and actions.
What can we learn from Black History Month?
We can learn of the achievements of African-Americans and learn how the history, primarily in this country, has shaped our experiences and perceptions.
What has changed in our country since Black History Month in 2020?
A difficult question at best. What hasn’t changed is the face of poverty in our communities. What hasn’t changed are the educational achievement gaps that continue to exist. Homelessness, food insecurities, health disparities, rising housing costs, and chronic unemployment and underemployment continue to plague our communities. I believe, however, that many of us are focused on these issues with outcomes to be accomplished. This focus has changed over the past few years and I sincerely hope it continues.
What steps has Madison College taken for improving equity and inclusion for our Black students?
The initial step is to have our faculty, staff and administrators recognize the barriers to success for Black students and create an environment conducive to their success. The equity and inclusion plans for each school will have this as one of their focuses. It is also important for our faculty to become more aware of issues that impact Black student success – implicit and explicit bias, respecting differences and effective communication. An equity and inclusion team from Center for Teaching and Learning (CETL) is facilitating discussion and learning opportunities for faculty in focusing on eliminating these barriers. Engaging Black students to get their perspectives will be key in making necessary interventions to improve the success of Black students.
What can we do in our own communities to support the mission of Black History Month?
Community members can attend Black History activities – now virtually and in the future, face-to-face. Make a concerted effort to better understand history and its impact on the Black community. Engage with and support the Black community through their businesses, organizations and activities. And, as I stated before, don’t just do something in the month of February, learn and act throughout the entire year.
Learn more about the Equity and Inclusion Plan at Madison College.