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Educating and Celebrating

CMU honors Black History Month in February and throughout the year

The month of February is dedicated to celebrating achievements made by Black Americans and the contributions they’ve made to art, policy, education and culture. It’s a time designated to honor the many great Americans and the prominent role they’ve played in shaping our country’s history. While four weeks is not enough time to honor the countless men and women who have advanced our nation, Colorado Mesa University Coordinator of Inclusivity & Mentor Specialist Ta'Lor Jackson stepped up to the challenge by producing both campus and community events.

“Black history is American history, and all of us have something to gain by engaging with it not only through the month of February, but throughout the year. Often times when we think about Black history, we only discuss the dark topics such as slavery, or we only focus on those prominent figures from the Civil Rights era, but Black history and Black culture as a whole is much bigger than that,” said Jackson.

This year, Jackson and CMU students found non-traditional ways to educate as well as celebrate. CMU’s Black Student Alliance and the Cultural Inclusion Council put on events that commemorated Black individuals’ role in comedy and film; displayed positive images of Black love and enjoyed a soul food meal of their choice while they discussed influential figures and the hardships they face in today’s world.

Possibly one of the more noteworthy events for students was the partnership between the Black Student Alliance and CMU’s Sustainability Council. Together, they talked environmental racism and racism in society and were joined by Head Football Coach Tremaine Jackson. The cross-collaboration engaged students in a challenging conversation about mutual respect and finding a common goal.

“I've got a lot of hope for the future, and believe that establishing a permanent relationship between the Black Student Alliance and the Sustainability Council will make a massive impact on campus. Both organizations' objectives align in many ways; the greatest of which is our mutual desire of doing good and leaving the world a little better than we found it. If we can continue to foster this relationship, then I think we will be able to do that on an even larger scale,” said Sustainability Council President Ryan Biller.

Off campus, Jackson worked with CMU community partners to celebrate and educate the larger community which included Mesa County Valley School District 51 (D51) and the local nonprofit Black Citizens. The newly created D51 student education project puts Black voices in a gallery which highlights an array of local leaders so students of color see they have representation. According to Jackson, the project is ongoing and will eventually include other marginalized populations.

“My hope for the future is that we will no longer think of Black history as being divisive; but that it is a significant piece to the larger conversation of U.S. history that is often forgotten. I want to continue to amplify these stories throughout the year as Black history is for everyone. When I was a student myself one of the very first times I learned about African American historical contributions in an academic setting was here at CMU; that was a very liberating and important time for me and influenced the trajectory of my career path and I want that “seed” to be planted for other students,” said Jackson.

Every year CMU celebrates Black History Month and this year was no different. But as February came to an end, the message behind Black History Month marches on thanks to Jackson, CMU students and community partners.   


Written by Kelsey Coleman