From the Desk: James Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs 

Feb. 1, 2017

As part of IU’s commitment to create environments in which all students, faculty and staff feel welcomed, the university is proud to honor the backgrounds and identities of the members of IU’s community through heritage month celebrations.

James Wimbush


Through programming and other means of support, IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs endorses Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (April), LGBT Pride Month (June), Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month (September), LGBT History Month (October) and Native American Heritage Month (November).

And of course, February is Black History Month.

When it comes to the heritage months, I believe that as a community, IU should be curious about learning more about all cultures throughout the year -- not just for a month at a time. Observing the cultural centers and range of activities that take place on our campuses, it’s affirming to know that we have a history of inclusivity as an institution of higher education.

But it’s also important to celebrate these heritages, not only from a historical perspective but from a contemporary standpoint. That’s why I’m so enthused about the theme for this year’s Black History Month celebration at IU Bloomington: “IU Black History Made Daily.”

The events taking place on the Bloomington campus are reflective of this theme, as there is a terrific blend of the past, present and even the future open to students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding community.

Following the Black History Month Kick-Off at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on Feb. 1 -- a wonderful opportunity for people who are unfamiliar with the center or haven’t visited for a while to stop by -- some of the activities taking place include:

  • “The African American Read-In” -- This popular staple of Black History Month, organized by IU’s School of Education, will bring students together to read poetry, passages and their own work, at 11 a.m. Feb. 6 in the Grand Hall.
  • Screenings of “I Am Not Your Negro” -- A highly anticipated documentary about the late author James Baldwin, at IU Cinema, 7 p.m. Feb. 9 and 9:30 p.m. Feb. 10
  • Black Excellence Alumni Panel -- A return to campus by black IU alumni to share their experiences with current students, 5:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in the Neal-Marshall's Bridgwaters Lounge.

These events are just a small sample of an extensive and varied selection of activities happening at IU Bloomington in February. 

This is the first Black History Month celebration at IU for Monica Johnson, the Neal-Marshall’s director, and I’m incredibly pleased at what she and other campus partners have put together. 

The focus on not just black history but the contributions that IU students, faculty, staff and the Bloomington community as a whole can make moving forward is such an inspiring perspective to take. And I don’t want people to feel as if they can’t participate simply because they aren’t regular visitors to the Neal-Marshall. All members of the IU community are always welcome to join in, so this is a great time to make a first visit or reintroduce yourself.

IU’s other campuses also offer several outstanding events in commemoration of Black History Month. For example, among IUPUI’s events are:

  • Black History Month Kick-Off -- Featuring the Kenyetta Dance Company, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 1 in the Campus Center Atrium
  • “Networking with Neal-Marshall and DEAP” -- A collaboration between the Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program and the Indianapolis chapter of the Neal-Marshall Alumni Association, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in Taylor Hall
  • Steward Speaker Series: Kirk Franklin -- A lecture by famed gospel music singer Kirk Franklin, at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

There’s wonderful Black History Month programming at IU’s regional campuses, too. Here are just a few of the activities: 

IU Kokomo activities include:

  • Diversity Training Series -- Eric Love, the director of diversity and inclusion at the University of Notre Dame, will facilitate a valuable workshop for faculty and staff titled, “Safe Spaces, Microaggressions: What is it all about?” from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in the Kelley Center.

IU Northwest activities include:

  • Black History Month Film Series – The Savannah Center will host screenings and discussions of the following films at 1 p.m. Wednesdays in February: “Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968” on Feb. 1; “Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race” on Feb. 8; “Race Against Prime Time” on Feb. 15; and “The Road to Brown” on Feb. 22.

IU Southeast activities include:

  • Researching African American History in Floyd County -- Presented by the Institute for Local and Oral History, local historian Pam Peters will share her knowledge of the black community in the area surrounding IU Southeast’s campus from 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. Feb. 21.

A comprehensive listing of Black History Month events throughout IU can be found online.

The majority of these activities are open to all, so I truly encourage all members of the IU community, in addition to local residents, to participate. 

Remember, this month isn’t only about black history; it’s about the black experience today, something we should all feel like we can learn more about.

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