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Wrapping up Black History Month: did UMBC do enough?

With February coming to an end, Black History Month draws to a close. Being a university known for its diversity, UMBC held many celebratory and awareness-raising events throughout the month.

The Mosaic Center put out a calendar of all the events related to Black History Month, occurring both on and off campus, that were run by campus partners and student organizations. Some of the events on the calendar were a Black History Month Cultural Fair, a Women’s Center Roundtable Talk on Black Trauma and Mental Health and a discussion called, “Why Major in Africana Studies?” with the chair of the department.

Lisa Gray, assistant director of student life for cultural and spiritual diversity, elaborated on the compilation of all the events.

According to Gray, getting the information about all these events to be able to put them together in time is quite the feat.

“Since Black History Month is so close to the start of the semester, we really have to scour myUMBC and the area to find events and include them on our calendar,” said Gray.

For events that come to her attention after the flyers are printed, there is a PDF version available that is able to be updated as news of more events comes out. A large portion of what is included from year to year is based off the student body’s feedback.

In terms of its importance, Gray said the impact was huge. “I’d like to think this has had a positive impact on the community. We strive to be more welcoming and highlight different representations of Black Africana cultures so that we can show how important visibility is.”

Gray also mentioned that a huge part of moving forward and making sure that the school does enough is initially finding out how people interpret what diversity means to them and consequently whether or not we are doing all we can to help people feel welcome based upon that interpretation.

However, with all of this in mind, she said that there is still a lot more work to be done in becoming an inclusive university.

“As a young public research university, we have certainly done well with what we have … with that being said, we still must harness all the potential that we have with having such a diverse student community,” said Gray.

As she finished, she said, “We are well-positioned in doing work for inclusivity. We must now ask what can we learn from each other. Different perspectives, ways of thinking, social change and research are all things to consider in trying to grow and learn from each other.”

With Women’s History Month on the heels of Black History Month, it will certainly be interesting to see how the Mosaic Center and UMBC as a whole, will continue to work hard to make sure every voice is heard.