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United Black World Month at Ohio State

February 29, 2016

During Ohio State’s United Black World Month, conversations set the stage for action.

At Ohio State, United Black World Month is a time for reflecting on the African American experience. Various programs and events are dedicated to celebrating black art and culture, exploring national issues that affect black Americans and inspiring meaningful conversations.

University leaders have challenged the community to think critically about issues of race and diversity. The goal: open, honest discussions among students, faculty, staff and leadership—conversations that spur action and progress toward a more inclusive Ohio State.

"A clear beacon for inclusiveness"

In his January State of the University Address, President Michael V. Drake addressed national racial tensions.

“This fall, there has been significant unrest and angst on college campuses—and friction in the political discourse at a level I have not heard for 50 years,” Drake said. “I want to reiterate our commitment to the experience of every student and to a university where all people are accepted for their intrinsic worth. The Ohio State University must be a clear beacon for inclusiveness and a pathway to excellence.”

During United Black World Month, programming was designed to further the conversations that matter.

“I think our community at large is realizing that we become our best selves when we are able to embrace across cultures,” said Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ohio State’s Vice President for Student Life. “We’re not perfect, but we’re getting better. I see that as the focus: How do we continue to get better?”

An opportunity for conversation

Throughout campus, United Black World Month is a unifying theme for conversations about issues of race and diversity.

sneak peek of Race, a film based on the life of Ohio State’s Jesse Owens, inspired a students-only reflection on Owens' legacy and what it means for black students today. Ohio State history Prof. Hasan Jeffries and his brother, New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, shared the stage to discuss how current events shape the political landscape. And students had a chance to share their experiences at Ohio State; during “Truth be Told,” black students discussed the difference between stereotypes and their daily lives.

Ohio State student Aziza Allen says these conversations are the first step in inspiring action.

“There needs to be a discourse that pushes people to change, that pushes people to start with themselves—at their dinner table, in their dorm room—to invoke change,” Allen said.

From meaningful discussion to widespread action

As February draws to a close, the conversations—and the action—continue.

“We’re always working at it,” Adams-Gaston said. “That’s what I appreciate about us. I see progress.”