As this month marks both the 90th anniversary of Black History Week and the 40th anniversary of Black History Month, those of us on the WSU IDT team thought that it would be a good idea to take some time and spotlight the ways that this university is recognizing the occasion:
-First and foremost, Wichita State is hosting renowned activist and writer Tim Wise for a Black History Month Keynote Speech. Wise has published seven books on the topic of antiracism in the United States and his experiences as an activist. Wise has also published numerous essays and has contributed to multiple scholarly works, many of which are currently taught in universities across the country. He also frequently appears as a contributor on several major news channels.
If you happen to be a Wichita State faculty or staff member, the university invites you to attend Wise’s daytime lecture, entitled “Diversity in the Classroom,” on Wednesday, February 17th from 1:00 to 2:15 PM. This lecture will be held in the Rhatigan Student Center, Room 266.
Additional information about the day lecture can be found here.
Additionally, Wise’s keynote speech, entitled “Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter & White Privilege,” is open to the public, although if you are a WSU student or faculty member, you are allowed one free ticket. These tickets can be picked up from either the WSU Bookstore or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The keynote speech will be held in the Eugene M. Hughes Metropolitan Complex on Wednesday, February 17th at 6:30 PM.
Additional information about the evening keynote speech can be found here. We hope to see you there!
Of course, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has events happening around campus year-round, including entries in the Brown Bag Diversity Discussion series on both Judaism and Hinduism this month. The Black Student Union is also cosponsoring several events throughout the month, including the “Historical Black Museum,” which is a reenactment based exploration of notable black figures from history. Speaker Kaye Monk-Morgan will also be hosting a discussion this month, entitled “The Only One in the Room,” that explores diversity concerns in social situations.
To find out more about all of these events, you can visit the Office of Diversity and Inclusion event calendar here.
Finally, I had the opportunity to sit down and speak briefly with Dr. Rebeccah Bechtold, an Assistant Professor of English at Wichita State. Dr. Bechtold received a 2015 Tilford Fellowship for an American literature course that she constructed, entitled “Race Relations in Early America.” Every academic year, the Tilford Commission funds courses that meet certain criteria concerned with diversity in the classroom and the encouragement for students to explore their own social identities.
Although Dr. Bechtold’s course was taught in a traditional classroom, she said that by utilizing her online Blackboard course space, she could both supplement her face-to-face class and circumvent some potential uncomfortable moments. For the course itself, Dr. Bechtold told me that she and her students examined Early American race relations through the lens of both pro- and anti-slavery literature. The course also traced the ways that this early literature evolved into a contemporary discourse on race, including such controversial issues as ethnicity in popular sports, film casting, and public comments made by well-known figures with a platform on social media.
Dr. Bechtold said that she was able to use Blackboard as a resource for this class; she was able to link her students to digital copies of texts, images, and even audio that she would not have been able to provide with only a textbook. Additionally, Dr. Bechtold says that the journal function was particularly helpful for this course and offered her students a digital safe space to discuss potentially charged issues that they might not have been comfortable broaching in the physical classroom. Using the journal feature, Dr. Bechtold was able to converse directly with her students and encourage a continuous dialogue about diversity and race.
Further information about the Tilford Fellowship can be found here.
Here’s wishing everyone an informative Black History Month–and we hope to see you at some of these events around campus!
Photo credit: Ted Eytan