Black History Month: A Legacy of Social Justice
WORKING TOGETHER TO BRING ABOUT MEANINGFUL CHANGE
At UMass Amherst, a revolutionary spirit drives the pursuit of answers, ideas, progress, and justice. In many cases, achieving these ends means speaking truth to power to bring about just and necessary change.
For more than 120 years, Black students and faculty at UMass have taken action to address the needs of the Black community. To this day, they work to make the university a more inclusive and equitable space. Their actions have resulted in the establishment of formal student organizations, institutional initiatives, a vanguard academic department, and dedicated spaces serving Black students on campus.
BLACK PRESENCE AT UMASS
With over 40 interviews and profiles, the UMass Black Presence website tells the remarkable story of the Black faculty, staff, alumni and students who contributed to UMass Amherst's international reputation for excellence. The rich oral history interviews, conducted over several semesters, were led by Professor John H. Bracey, Jr., a founding member of the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, with Erika Slocumb, Afro-American doctoral candidate, and students enrolled in Black Presence at UMass, Part I and Part II. Below are just a few of the many profiles available in the website's growing collection.
Esther Alexander Terry was a major contributor to the development of Black Studies; she holds a BA from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, a MA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a PhD from UMass Amherst, where she has had a long career as both a faculty member and as an administrator. Learn more.
James Baldwin spent much of his life being told he was too radical—too radical for white critics, too radical to speak at the March on Washington, and too radical for the Ivy leagues. This did not concern him. He “found his kind” at UMass, in the words of his then-personal assistant, Dwight “Skip” Stackhouse. Learn more.
Earl W. Stafford continues to make an impact in his business career and in his dedication to helping his fellow man. In 2002, Stafford created The Stafford Foundation, a faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides support to the underserved and the socially and economically distressed so they may become self-reliant. Learn more.
By Barbara Krauthamer, Dean, College of Humanities & Fine Arts
Black History Month offers the opportunity to learn about the rich history and culture of African Americans in Massachusetts, the United States, and our own campus. Barbara Krauthamer, historian and dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, reflects on the origins of Black History Month, which originated in the 1920s as part of an effort to expand knowledge and awareness of the history and achievements of Black people in America.
Campus Archives and Resources
UMass Amherst offers an abundance of archival and digital resources available to the campus community all year long.
The W. E. B. Du Bois Center engages audiences in discussion and scholarship about global issues involving race, labor, and social justice. UMass Amherst is also the proud home of the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, which are housed on the 25th floor of the library in the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives.
To raise awareness of the issues and increase visibility of the unique contributions of Black women, women of color, and transfem people, Distinguished Alumna Irma McClaurin MFA '76, MA '89, PhD '93 founded the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive (BFA). It is a collaboration with UMass Amherst Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives and the W.E.B. Du Bois Center.
Explore university events taking place throughout the month of February.
Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall
Keep the Conversation Going
Find resources available throughout the year on campus and online.