February 7, 2018

Black History Beckons Us to Be Better

I’m excited to see a world of talent being showcased at Guilford during Black History Month. Today, student performers representing more than 10 countries and languages shared their impressive talents in drumming, dancing, mime and poetry as we kicked off “180 Years of Diversity Celebration.” (Read about the full slate of Black History Month events.)

The action-packed event is just the latest highlight in a pivotal year of ground-breaking initiatives led by our Multicultural Education Department (MED). This department is helping our students come together and thrive in fresh, exciting ways under the direction and support of our newly established Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

DEI Vice President Barbara Lawrence and MED Director Krishauna Hines-Gaither are working hard to educate and collaborate with faculty, staff and students campus-wide to create a more cohesive and connected community. Seeking to empower and support the full breadth of our diversity, MED is developing boldly designed programming to build awareness, empathy and togetherness as we take on the tough issues of our time.

Timely opportunities for community engagement began last fall with a campus unity march and a series of dialogues following the Charlottesville riot. That occasion provided a poignantly sobering time of reflection in considering our individual and collective roles in eliminating the race-based hatred that remains all-too pervasive in America today.

Later in the fall, as anthem protests by NFL players sparked national controversy and more racial divide, MED partnered with the Career Development Center to engage our student-athletes and coaches in reflective dialogue. Student-athletes and alumni athletes of color shared their personal stories and experiences, leading to a number of important follow-up action steps. For example, all Athletics staff will now benefit from diversity and inclusion training. And in the weeks and months ahead, Krishauna will facilitate more intergroup dialogues with our Athletics teams.

Such conversations — in Athletics and all across campus — are vital to building unity and inspiring a new generation of students and alumni fully committed to creating a more equal, just and peaceful society. Today, 180 years after our founding, the pursuit of such profoundly positive change is really just beginning.

Guilford College is blessed to have dedicated agents of change in MED, Bonner, Friends Center and throughout our student body, faculty and staff. As we join in the excitement of another memorable celebration of Black History Month, I look forward to seeing our community continue its relentless efforts to grow stronger together.