Mesa Community College is now hosting Black History 2021, a year-long celebration of Black history and faculty, for the first time ever.
“Because of the events that happened last summer with the murder of George Floyd, a lot of people are interested in finding out about Black culture,” said Rod Golden, professor of sociology and African American studies at MCC. “Not just tip-toeing, trying to get bits and pieces. They want to read. They want to understand the Black community.”
The Black History Month committee, consisting of MCC faculty Mona Scott, Beth Ann Wright, Erick Tanchez, Luis Ellis, Michelle Traveler and Tricia White, met in December 2020 before Christmas to start planning for 2021.
“We decided we should do something each month, and it came to a year,” said Golden.
Golden emphasized that Black History 2021 won’t only apply to African Americans, but also to global history, culture and MCC staff and faculty. The committee plans to highlight at least two African American staff on campus each month until 2022.
On Jan. 26, Black History 2021 started with “The Life and Times of African Americans,” a virtual presentation created by Wright and Sheila Afnan-Manns and led by Golden. This month, Black History 2021 honors two of its own planning committee members, Traveler and Ellis. Traveler has a doctorate in Information Technology and is faculty in MCC’s computer information systems department. Ellis has a bachelor’s degree in social work and is the co-advisor of the Black Student Union and the academic advisor for MCC’s Student Success Programs.
Guest speakers will attend virtual events beginning in March. In the meantime, Golden will continue reaching out to the community with Flashpoint Q&A sessions while the committee plans a future month dedicated to Black history in film.
Debate and conversation are the main goal of this new year long celebration.
“See, I believe without debate, there is no dialogue,” said Golden. “When you have two opposite sides talking, they’re talking. And once they’re talking you might have one understand the other’s point of view.”
Golden emphasized that these conversations are necessary and are a large part of Black History 2021.
“We’re trying to inform people that these individuals have made so many contributions around the world,” explained Golden. “It’s not just these 10 individuals right in front of you, and we’re not going to just do this in February. No, we’re going to do this all year round.”
For more on the story of Black History 2021, profiles of MCC staff and a list of upcoming events visit the Student Life website.