Throughout the month of February, we are honoring the history, contributions, excellence, and culture of African Americans in the United States. In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Association of Negro Life and History established the 2nd week in February for encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of Blacks in America in the nation’s public schools. By 1970, Black educators and Black United Students at Kent University held the first celebration of Black History Month. By 1976, Black History Month became a nationwide annual celebration of achievements by Black activists, educators, scholars, athletes, innovators, etc., and a time for recognizing the central and critical role of Blacks in U.S. history. Our Black Staff & Faculty Organization (BSFO) was developed in 1979 to address the issues and concerns uniqu e to Black employees in our UC Berkeley community. Their mission is to create a climate that is conducive to the well-being and professional development aspirations of Black staff, faculty and students.
Still, this message is also bittersweet. African American people continue to experience unfair and unjust treatment daily. In commemorating Black History Month, we must not forget that the struggle for equality and equity remains critical and on-going. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared in his epic speech on Washington, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” Although we have come far as a nation, we have so much further to go in addressing structural racism - expressed consciously and unconsciously - in America, on our own campus and in the workplace. In the words of President Barack Obama, “When any part of the American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly, that’s a problem for all of us.”
This year’s theme, ”A Sesquicentennial of Black Life, History and Culture” encourages us to reflect on 150 years of brilliance, resilience, contributions, and struggles of Black people in America. The time is always now to make good on the promises of equality, equity, and justice for all.
We encourage you to take advantage of some of the planned events and resources across campus including those hosted by our Department of African American Studies, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, California Alumni Association, and Black Staff & Faculty Organization.
Oscar Dubon, Vice Chancellor, Equity & Inclusion
Jo Mackness, Interim Assistant Vice Chancellor, Human Resources
If you are a manager who supervises UC Berkeley employees without email access, please circulate this information to all.