Black History Month unites AIC

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Ave' Mullen, Staff Writer

Welcome home, Yellow Jackets!

This is the first publication in the new year of 2020, and there are a number of conversations and events going on in February to recognize Black History Month on campus.

Aside from the admirable recognition of inspirational quotes, ancestors, and history from African American culture, American International College is taking the initiative to unite and educate this campus through groundbreaking events and open dialogue.

Before diving into all that is to come, let’s shed some light on those who inspire the students, organizations, and faculty, and those who ensure that everyone here at AIC has a special “seat at the table.”

Since joining AIC in 2017, Alicia McKenzie, the Assistant Director of Diversity, has had a powerful impact on campus. She has worked tirelessly to bring everyone together like a family.

Jalah Oates
Students and faculty talking with Alicia McKenzie at the “Lets Get Real” Series: Cultural Appropriation.

In an article written by Justin Lipscomb upon McKenzie’s arrival at AIC, she expressed to Lipscomb, “I’m definitely trying to increase the awareness of diversity and the importance of it, and try to create an inclusive environment for all students.”

And she has done just that.

Alicia McKenzie oversees several student organizations on campus, including Greek Life, Persons Ready in Defense of Ebony, and Women’s Org. She also facilitates programs and events on campus that focus on diversity training, education, and inclusion.

One of these powerful programs is called the “Let’s Get Real” Series, where students and faculty can come together in a safe and inclusive environment to share perspectives, to listen, and to be heard.

The series covers a variety of topics that minority groups face in society every day, including gender discrimination and racism.

The previous conversation was about cultural appropriation, and the next one will be on black mental, physical, and spiritual health. The best part about the “Let’s Get Real” Series is that it’s nothing like a formal lecture.

Instead, it offers a comfortable and conscious environment where everyone is welcome, where everyone can learn something, and where students, faculty, and staff can create a lasting bond. And as a bonus, there’s always food!

To find out more information about inclusive events on campus, about how to get involved, or if you just need a place to vent, McKenzie’s office is located in the Center for Student Engagement on the top floor of the Schwartz Campus Center.

Another event coming up this month in honor of Black History Month is a lecture given as part of the AIC Lectures and Forum Series.

This month’s lecture will be delivered by Dr. Yohuru Williams, who will be coming to AIC on Tuesday, February 11. His lecture will be in the Campus Center Auditorium at 11 a.m.

Photo from
Dr. Yohuru Williams, author, activist, and scholar of the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power movement.

Dr. Williams, originally from Bridgeport, Connecticut, is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Saint Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He is also a history professor, scholar, and activist who has written several books addressing politics, social inequalities, and economics.

Despite his current administrative role at Saint Thomas, where teaching and research are concerned, Dr. Williams is “the best of both worlds,” according to Gary Jones, a professor of African American history at AIC.

Professor Jones admires that Dr. Williams is “intellectually really sharp in terms of his research and writing, [and] he can convey that to an audience.”

This is Dr. Williams’s fourth year visiting AIC, and each time is uniquely different. He speaks with dignity and passion and answers questions thoroughly.

This year’s lecture is titled, “And Justice for All: What African American History Can Teach Us about Participatory Democracy,” and a full house is expected.

Yohuru Williams is an expert scholar of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party.

In fact, according to an article in The Progressive, Dr. Williams was named one of the top ten emerging scholars under 40 by Diverse Magazine in 2009. Other publications such as The Huffington Post and USA Today have also noted Dr. Williams for his brilliant work and research.

Content from Dr. Williams is easily accessible on Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook platforms, where he posts articles, videos, and engages in conversations about the African American community.

Black History Month is a time of the year where African American culture is celebrated, appreciated, and reflected on. But African history isn’t always the focus. Haitian, Native American, and Hispanic cultures combine similar experiences and traditions, and deserve recognition.

Be on the lookout for more information and events about Black History Month and diversity from student organizations like Women’s Org, P.R.I.D.E, and AIC Radio.

As AIC’s motto states, “Light after Darkness” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared the same principle when he told America, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”