Celebrating Black History Month
2020 was a tumultuous year. Not only did a pandemic that disproportionately ravaged Black communities in and around Detroit devastate the globe, but social upheaval was spurred by the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed Black men and women by law enforcement. Many were reminded of what Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have always known: Racism continues to plague us all. It remains important to celebrate the achievements of African Americans, recognize their central role in U.S. history, and consider how much more we all must work for a fair and equitable future.
In the spirit of Black History Month, below are just a few of the many African American Warriors from past and present who are making unprecedented strides in research, positively impacting their communities, preserving Black history, and working to make the roads they traveled easier for those who come after them.
A professional ballet dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem before her career path turned to academia, Jennifer M. Gómez, Ph.D., studies the harm of cultural betrayal. She founded the theoretical framework cultural betrayal trauma theory (CBTT), in which she proposes that the outcomes of within-group violence is compounded by inequality in a number of ways.
When COVID-19 broke out in Metro Detroit, healthcare centers quickly experienced a shortage of touchless thermometers. Cameron Pinnock, B.S. ‘13, M.S. ‘15, Ph.D. ‘20, created his own supply and even delivered a batch to the State of Michigan upon Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request.
Adjunct instructor in education Aaron Johnson, BSED ’00, MED ’03, PhD ’16, authored a book titled A Walk in Their Kicks: Literacy, Identify, and the Schooling of Young Black Males, which explores the impact that trauma has on African American students, how educators perceive that trauma, and offers recommendations to help administrators build affinity groups, implement and change policy.
Ph.D. candidate in education Stacey Deering researched and worked on an exhibit showcasing the fight for the African American right to vote at The Charles Wright Museum of African American History for over a year before its launch this past September. Voting Matters is an interactive multimedia exhibition that spans from pre-Reconstruction to present day and is on display until May 9.
Native Detroiter and master’s student in library information science and public history Amber Harrison fights to preserve the city’s Black history and voices as a contributing researcher for Rise Up Detroit, a digital archive that documents the city’s civil rights history. She has also been invited on multiple occasions to present her research at the Detroit Historical Museum.
Right before the onset of COVID-19 last year, Ph.D. student in communication Ariel Seay-Howard put together and hosted the university’s first student-led diversity conference. More than 200 attended.