Pacific’s OEDI and SMC Work in Tandem to Bring Awareness to Black History Month

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February was Black History Month, and Pacific’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion worked in partnership with the Student Multicultural Center to bring students programs to teach, commemorate, and honor Black Excellence across campus all month long. Pacific’s Chief Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer Narce Rodriguez said that the student programming for February was a coordinated effort between students and faculty to commemorate the significant role that BIPOC have played and continue to play in Pacific’s story. 

“I have to give a lot of credit to SMC,” said Rodriguez, “and to Dr. Jean Garcia and the students who worked with us from SMC.” 

Pacific Senior and Collective Student Coordinator for SMC Fernando Lira, helped in the organization of programming from a student’s perspective and says that he is hopeful that these types of events can continuously offer support to People of Color in the Pacific Community in the future. “[I want to] continue to advocate for and support Students of Color and continue to have conversations that will lead to positive change,” said Lira.

These events ranged from lectures to panel discussions on topics that spanned from mental health awareness to BIPOC voices in community building. Jennifer Teeter, Executive Assistant & Programs Manager at the OEDI, said that the month’s programming was meant to spotlight intersectionality in Oregon, as January was national Poverty Awareness Month and March is Women’s History Month. 

“We actually kicked off Black History Month at the End of January,” said Teeter, “We had a speaker from Portland talking about gentrification [in the Portland Metropolitan Area], and that kind of bridged the gap between Poverty awareness month and Black History month.” 

The lecture, Displacement in the Age of Black Lives Matter: Understanding Gentrification in Portland, was presented by the Student Multicultural Center and featured speaker Sarah Hassouned touching on the heightened racial and socioeconomic injustices of gentrification. Teeter also explained the success of several other lectures hosted by OEDI, including one titled “Black History in Forest Grove.” The lecture was specifically focused on the very first Black residents of Forest Grove and was delivered by Pacific University Libraries archivist Eva Guggemos, who brought Black History into a local context. — Isabelle Williams

Photo: February was Black History Month


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