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Black History Month 2021

Black History Month cut out words with black and white images of historic Black figures behindBlack History Month, also known as African American History Month, is a federally recognized annual observance of Black history. In celebration, the GenCen is highlighting the achievements of our faculty, sharing community events, and providing resources & media to engage with.

The History Behind Black History Month

a young Carter G Woodson.pngThe origin of Black History Month dates back to the early 20th century when Carter G. Woodson, a historian and Harvard graduate, worked alongside other prominent Black Americans to bring awareness to the accomplishments of the Black community. Woodson worked to establish the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in 1915 and in 1925 the organization created and announced the first “Negro History Week” to take place in February, 1926. February was chosen to honor the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, prominent figures in Black history, whose birthdays were already established as time of celebration for the Black community throughout the late 19th and into the 20th century. In conjunction with elevated calls for civil rights and increased efforts to include Black history into education, February became federally recognized as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford in 1976.

Woodson emphasized that this celebration once a year was not enough. In order to truly honor and celebrate Black history we need to incorporate into our daily teachings and understandings.

[Image is of a young Carter G Woodson, courtesy of]


Resources on the History of Black History Month

Origins of Black History Month (ASALH):

About African American History Month:

Black History Milestones: Timeline (

The Reason Black History Month is in February (Jean-Philippe, 2021):


Highlighting Faculty Research & Achievements in Black/African American Studies

Yomaira C. Figueora, Ph.D.

Yomaria Figueora is an Associate Professor of Afro Diaspora Studies in the department of English and the African American & Afrcian Studies program at Michigan State. Her work focuses on 20th century U.S. Latinx Carribean, Afro-Latinx, and Afro-Hispanic literature and culture.

Figueora recently published her first book Decolonizing Diasporas: Radical Mappings of Afro-Atlantic Literature with Northwestern University Press in October 2020. Decolonizing Diasporas looks at the works of diasporic writers and artists in Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Equatorial Guinea. Figuerora argues that these perspectives offer new worldviews that destroy the logics of colonial modernity.

Pero G. Dagbovie, Ph.D.

Pero Dagboive is a University Distinguished Professor of History and an Associate Dean in the Graduate School. His work focuses on 20th century Black history, black intellectual history, the history of the black historical enterprise, black women’s history, black life during “the nadir,” the civil rights-Black Power movement, African American Studies, hip hop culture, and contemporary black history.

Dagbovie has published six books, is the editor of the Journal of African American History, has numerous academic article publications, and contributes to public history and African American history educational programs such as the “And Still We Rise: Our Journey through African American History and Culture,” at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan where he served as a scholar consultant.

Kinitra D. Brooks, Ph.D, M.P.H.

Kinitra Brooks is an Associate Professor in the Department of English as well as an Audrey and John Leslie Endowed Chair in Literary Studies. Her work focuses on Black women, genre fiction and popular culture.

Brooks has three books in print including: Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror, a critical treatment of black women in science fiction, fantasy, and horror; Sycorax’s Daughters, an edited volume of short horror fiction written by black women; and The Lemonade Reader, a collection of essays on Beyoncé’s 2016 audiovisual project, Lemonade. Last winter, Brooks spoke at Seminole State College in Florida as a part of their 31st Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities where she discussed Beyonce’s embodies the conjure woman through the audiovisual work of her album Lemonade.

Nwando Achebe, P.h.D.

Nwando Achebe is a Jack and Margaret Sweet Endowed Professor of History, the Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the Faculty Excellence Advocate for the College of Social Science. Achebe’s research focuses on 19th and 20th century oral history to study women, gender, and seuxality in Nigeria.

Achebe has published six books including Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa which was published in July 2020. Female Monarchs and Merchant Queens in Africa investigates elite females, female principles, and female spiritual entities across the African continent, from the ancient past to the present disrupting Western understandings. Her book has been praised by the Washington Post, was included in the Monkey Cage 7th Annual African Politics Summer Reading List, and nominated by the Wellness Feed as one of “7 Books to Celebrate & Learn About Black History.”

NiCole Buchanan, P.h.D.

NiCole Buchanan is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Core Faculty Affiliate in the Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence as well as the Consortium for Multicultural Psychology Research. Her research focuses on the interplay of race, gender, victimization, with an interest in racialized sexual harassment. In addition, Buchanana also looks at how social identity impacts professional development.

Buchanan has numerous publications. One of her most recent was an article published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior “Scrutinized but not recognized: (In)visibility and hypervisibility experiences of faculty of color,” co-authored with Isis H. Settles and Kristie Dotson. In this article, the authors draw from 118 interviews from faculty to investigate the treatment of faculty of color. Most notably, the article highlights how faculty of color are both used tokenistically by universities yet erased professionally.

Kristie Dotson, P.h.D.

Kristie Dotson is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Interim chair of the Department of African American and African Studies. Her work focuses on epistemology and and feminist philosophy, particularly Women of Color Feminism and Black Feminism.

Dotson co-authored “Scrutinized but not recognized: (In)visibility and hypervisibility experiences of faculty of color,”with NiCole Buchanan and Isis H. Settles. She is also working on a manuscript entitled Bad Magic: Normative Epistemology in a World of Difference which is under contract with Oxford University Press.

Lorraine Weatherspoon, P.h.D.

Lorraine Weatherspoon is a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Director of Didactic Program in Dietetics. Her research interests include the role of dietary, lifestyle and ecological factors in the risk, prevention and management of diet-related health disparities and chronic diseases. She has a special interest in Type 2 diabetes, maternal and child nutrition, and nutrition in HIV/AIDS.

Weatherspoon has recently published multiple articles on Type 2 Diabetes in Malawi including: “Non-Dietary Factors Associated with Glycemic Status among Adults Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Malawi,” co-authored with Getrude Mphwanthe, Dave D. Weatherspoon, and Alexander Kalimbria;  and “Perceived barriers and facilitators to diet and physical activity among adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Malawi” co-authored with Getrude Mphwanthe, Marsha Carolan, and Dawn Earnesty both of which were published in 2020. In addition to this, Weatherspoon has co-authored “Promoting Healthy Eating and Regular Physical Activity in Low-Income Families Through Family-Centered Programs: Implications for Practice,” with Sara Lappan, Marsha Carolan, and José Rubén Parra-Cardona in 2020.

Leo C. Zulu, P.h.D.

Leo Zulu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography Environment, and Spatial Sciences. His research interests focus on political ecology, the environment and development, and resource management in rural Africa.

Zulu has recently published an article in the Journal of Rural Studies entitled “From diagnosis to action: Understanding youth strengths and hurdles and using decision-making tools to foster youth-inclusive sustainable agriculture intensification,” (2021). Co-authored with Ida Nadia Djenontin and Phillip Grabowski, this article looks at the role of the youth in positive contributions to sustainable agriculture intensification in Ghana and Malawi through focus groups and key informant interviews.

Ronald E. Hall

Ronald Hall is a Professor of Social Work. His research interests include mental health (individual/group psychotherapy), cutaneo-chroma, intra-racial racism, Bleaching Syndrome, and black male Cool Pose concept. As a social worker, Hall is interested in colorism, litigation, special populations, and human behavior and the social environment.

In the past year, Hall has published two academic articles. Last January, “They Lynched Mexican-Americans Too: A Question of Anglo Colorism,” was published in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences and focuses on the erasure of the lynching of Mexican Americans. In addition, Hall published “'When We See Them’: Race as Conduit of Criminal Prosecution,” in the Journal of Black Studies in July. This article focuses on the interplay of race and the ability to be perceived as guilty or innocent by our justice system. 


HerStory: A Celebration of Black Female Artists

Online Event, sponsored by Leadership and Arts Coalition, Inc.
Date: Thursday, February 11th
Time: 7:00-8:00 pm EST
Registration Link

Encompass Series Celebrating Black History Month: Trapped Trauma: The Art of Protest

Online Event, sponsored by the MSU Library
Date: Tuesday, February 16th
Time: 7:00-9:00 pm EST
Registration Link

Hair Love: Building a Legacy Through Representation with Matthew A. Cherry

Online Event, sponsored by DreamBank
Date: Thursday, February 18th
Time: 4:00-5:00 pm EST
Registration Link

Encompass Series Celebrating Black History Month: The Art of Protest: Songs for My Right Side

Online Event, sponsored by the MSU Library
Date: Wednesday, February 24th
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm EST
Registration Link

Diving with a Purpose: Recovering and Reexamining Our Roots

Online Event, sponsored by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)
Date: Wednesday, February 24th
Time: 6:30 pm EST
Registration Link

Resource Lists

Black History Month Resource Guide for Educators and Families

Center for Racial Justice in Education
Compiled list of resources for educators when it comes to centering Black voices in the classroom such as teaching Black Lives Matter in schools, why we need Black History Month, and how to center Black women and girls in schools.

Black History Month: A reading list of books by Black UCLA faculty

University of California Los Angeles
List of 10 books to read to celebrate Black History Month selected by Black faculty at UCLA.

Black Fiction Books

Compiled list of books tagged and shelved as ‘Black fiction’ on Goodreads.

Black Lives Matter: A Reading List

Left Bank Books
A community curated list of literature around race with categories such as civil rights history, memoirs, and readings on policing and incarceration.

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