“Black History Month is a month that was designated as a time to focus on the history of black Americans within our country and our society and to acknowledge not only the accomplishments, but some of the hurdles,” shared Dr. Harrison Davis, Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) at Life University (Life U). “So, I grew up with Black History Month. I have always celebrated Black History Month. At every university I’ve attended, we celebrated Black History Month.”

Because of Life U’s diverse population, Dr. Davis is thrilled to continue celebrating this special month. He shares that it is a wonderful time for all of us, not just Black Americans, but everyone, to reflect on Black history, the accomplishments and the hurdles.  It’s important to acknowledge how far we have come as we continue to achieve and strive for better.

“It’s not just Black History Month where we focus on Black Americans, but also how we are intertwined within the society here in the United States,” said Dr. Davis.

The Life U Community can expect three comprehensive programs offered through ODEI and SABCA this coming month in order to educate. What is the number one takeaway that Dr. Davis wants people to walk away with?

“The number one takeaway I would love for people to receive is acknowledgement of history and facts. There’s a movement to erase history or minimize it, make it cloudy. That’s a good term. Make it cloudy for various reasons. I don’t have to get into the politics of that. And our history deserves to be known. And so, I take it upon myself to educate everyone to at least be aware of the history on your own. And I’m here to provide that information for you,” said Dr. Davis. “We need history. Is history good or bad? We need to acknowledge it all.”

According to Dr. Davis, we need to know the truth of everyone’s history and not ignore what we do not like or what makes us feel uncomfortable.  We all need to understand what the false narratives are and dispel them. Many cultures have experienced horrific events, such as the Holocaust, slavery and more, and we need to acknowledge and learn from these horrible mistakes. Recently, Dr. Davis held a Holocaust Remembrance Day on campus so that others can continue to be educated. What is important is to share the facts and the history and not write a different narrative. He also wants everyone to understand how we arrived here, what happened to Black Americans and the purpose of the civil rights movement.

“There are people who have no idea. There are people who are not aware of Jim Crow laws. There are people who are not aware of the real reason behind the Civil War, the United States and how far-reaching slavery was part of our society,” said Dr. Davis. “And so, I like to educate people and bring it back to a contemporary viewpoint of where we are today and how we are a part of this community and achieving more important goals today.”

Dr. Davis believes that Life U is “doing well” when it comes to addressing diversity. “Life U has a diverse population and is recognized for that. We continue to meet the needs of our students by understanding their individual needs, and at the same time we introduce diversity to all students,” he explained.

“We have a number of programs designed to educate the community and reach out to different various groups on campus. The state of Black America – we are still evolving. We are not a monolithic group. You can’t use one phrase to describe all the Black community. They’re certainly signs of great success. Educational opportunities have opened up for us,” noted Dr. Davis.

He also points out that even though there are many vocational opportunities, there is still a large community of Black Americans who live in poverty more than other groups in society. Together, we can continue to make advances that help everyone and give everyone the same opportunities.

Life U Black History Month Schedule of Events

Tuesday, February 6, 2024, Webinar Panel Discussion: Black Resilience & Self-Care, 6:00 p.m.

“The first program I created is a webinar with some licensed therapists and a life coach, one of the professors here at Life University, and the title of that webinar is Beyond Adversity: Building Black Resilience Through Self-Care.” This is a zoom webinar.

“We have overcome some of those obstacles, and mental health was a stigma within the Black community like other communities. That stigma is now disappearing. Thank God. I want to provide a resource for individuals on campus, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, doesn’t matter, but we’re going to specifically talk about Black individuals and how we go through trauma,” said Dr. Davis.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Unity Celebration Reception, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., CGUS Presidential Dining Room

This event is dedicated to honoring the rich cultural heritage, achievements and contributions of the Black community. The Unity Celebration Reception aims to foster a sense of togetherness, understanding and appreciation for diversity within our campus community.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024, Black History Lecture – “From Terror to Truth: Unearthing America’s Painful Past of Lynching, 11:00 a.m., CGUS 102

Dr. Davis also invited a lecturer to come to speak on campus about lynching throughout the South. According to Dr. Davis, “Understanding the history of lynching in the United States is vital for confronting the legacy and racial violence and injustices that continue to impact our society today. I think we all need to know the truth about the legacy of lynching. It is not unique to the South, and not all the victims were black.”

Saturday, February 24, 2024, Diamonds are Forever Black History Gala, 6:00 p.m., Socrates Café

The fourth and final program is the Diamonds are Forever Black History Gala. It is a celebration for everyone on campus to attend and celebrate with one another. There will be food, fellowship and spoken word by artists.

“The goal is fellowship for everybody to create community here on campus, regardless of who you are, and acknowledging Black history, celebrating Black history, and coming together with other individuals who have the same values as you,” said Dr. Davis.

For more information and registration, visit the Black History Month website.