Black History Month
Dear SMU Community,
Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950), often called the father of Black history, believed that if a people left no continuous record of their existence, the world’s powers would render both the people and their stories invisible. Determined to prevent this, he advocated that the second week in February be set aside to recognize the significant contributions that Black Americans had made to the story of America.
As we now commemorate the 46th year of our nation’s formal recognition of February as Black History Month, we still encounter those who seek to make invisible the more than 400-year journey of Black people in America. On the first day of this month, over a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities received bomb threats. In addition, attempts to silence or sanitize the retelling of America’s troubling and turbulent racial history are on the rise.
Therefore, we are called to remain vigilant and faithful in learning or telling the stories of the countless Black Americans who shared their talents, innovations, passions and lives to further the American Experiment. Each of us should honor the stories that our Black faculty, staff and students are creating each day on the Hilltop, including the experiences over the decades shared by our alumni through the Voices of SMU oral history project. You can join any of the numerous campus events that will take place in February, sponsored by organizations such as the Association of Black Students and the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement (SCIE), many of which are being listed at smu.edu and/or shared via SMU social media.
This February, let us remember, celebrate and make forever visible the contributions of all Black Americans.
R. Gerald Turner