Feb. 12, 2021

Faculty of Arts celebrates Black History Month

Creative Arts Gallery showcases works of Black students and alumni
Detras de la linea
Detras de la linea self-portrait Leslie Salgado Arzuaga

Faculty of Arts celebrates Black History Month

By Aurélie Maerten

The Faculty of Arts Equity and Diversity Committee was established to advance the Faculty of Arts’ goals of promoting an inclusive institutional climate that reflects, respects and celebrates diversity.

With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement this past summer, committee member and undergraduate student Fayo Abdi noted the lack of Faculty of Arts events celebrating Black History Month in previous years and proposed it was time for change.

“Last summer, members of the UCalgary community shared many concerns and experiences related to anti-Black racism on campus,” says Abdi. “Now more than ever, it is important for us—not only as a committee, but as an institution that wants to work towards being actively anti-racist—to educate ourselves and take some sort of action. Planning and attending events that support equity and inclusion while celebrating diversity are a step in the right direction and the least that could have been done.”

Co-op student Ebenezer Belayneh and Equity and Diversity Committee member Marie-Andrée Bergeron, joined Abdi on a subcommittee to plan events to mark this year’s Black History Month.

“We brainstormed ideas of what we wanted the outcome of all these events to be,” explains Abdi. “The idea of opening a dialogue and educating attendees on the multiple facets of Black History Month stuck, hence our Let's Talk title.”

The subcommittee consulted with Black student leaders on campus to discuss the ideas and determine which events would be appealing and beneficial to the university community. Five sessions with renowned Black scholars and one panel were scheduled for the month of February.

“We often don’t hear enough stories that highlight the achievements of Black people, who are excelling in their respective fields,” says Belayneh. “To address this, we have invited a wide selection of trailblazing Black leaders, who are eager to inspire our student community. This year’s Black Excellence Panel on February 23 will uncover the accomplishments, legacies, and unique journeys of five amazing Black Albertans.”

Abdi also proposed the idea of a virtual gallery to showcase the talent and work of Black students at the university. Submissions were received from current students and alumni, ranging from visual art to performance art, poetry, research, and more.

“By showcasing their works, we celebrate Black students’ efforts and provide them with the recognition they deserve,” says Abdi.

The events for Black History Month are just a beginning. Abdi emphasizes that many other occasions and causes deserve to be highlighted at the university. If you have suggestions for equity, diversity and inclusion events or days that should be honoured, please contact the Faculty of Arts Equity and Diversity Committee.

Faculty of Arts Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Faculty of Arts is committed to innovate and promote excellence in academic and creative research, academic programs, student experience, and community relationships.  We acknowledge that diversity, equity, inclusion, indigenization and human rights have to be at the core of this mission. We recognize that this journey involves members of equity-seeking groups and allies working together, and we will continue to develop individual and structural interventions to support and accelerate this process.