Black History Month

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Since New Year I have been exploring in my blog the complex and exciting relationship between education and democracy.  As a public university and a state agency this issue lies at the core of our identity at MGA.  February is Black History Month or African-American History Month in the United States and if offers us a powerful, living example of the Republic’s responsibility to educate future generations about our history, our values and our goals as a democratic society.  Founded in 1926 during the era of Jim Crow, “Negro History Week” as it was then titled was founded by prominent black historian Carter G. Woodson and the “Association for the Study of Negro Life”.  Woodson was determined to ensure that for one week at least the African-American experience would be understood and honored across America, at a time when the “Roaring 20s” saw massive social change and optimism, after the devastation of the First World War and prior to the calamitous Great Depression.  Woodson knew that the Roaring 20s were not so roaring for the vast majority of segregated, disenfranchised and disadvantaged African-Americans and that only a proper understanding of Black experience would provide a basis for improvement within a democratic Republic.

This week we honor the ideals, hopes and goals of Black History Month at MGA.  We are running several activities designed to help all our students – whatever their ethnicity, gender, class and identity – understand and advance the cause of equality and freedom that rings long and true across the centuries as the very best of American ideals. 

Click here for a list of 2019 Black History Month Events 

At last week’s State of the Union Address, we saw another example of positive change that American democracy has delivered through toil, suffering, hope and conviction.  In this year of 2019 the largest number of women in US history now hold elected office in the Congress of the United States.  Less than 100 years ago American women were still struggling to earn the basic right to vote, a right we know lies at the core of any democracy.  The women who achieved that right – the Suffragettes – would doubtless have felt blessed and relieved to know that a century after their efforts we are still building a stronger representative democracy that honors their ideals.  It was fitting that the majority of female Congressional members wore white – the symbol of the Suffragette movement – to remind us of those great women from over 100 years ago.

Education is the true arena for us to understand the past and to build the future.  That is messy, difficult and demanding work, but it is the only work that honors and realizes the intrinsic worth of an educated person and community.  It is difficult work that our University must embrace and advance.  My hope during this Black History Month is that our work and that of our students is viewed in this long arc of history and our moral calling as a people dedicated to democracy, an arc that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King so beautifully pointed out is indeed long “but it bends toward justice”.