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Column: Now is the time to celebrate diversity

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The month of February is set aside each year as Black History Month. Many universities, including Marshall, use it as a time to celebrate diversity as well. A Huntington native, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, laid the groundwork for the celebration during his time in the early twentieth century by advocating for more accurate teaching of the history of the African American experience.

One of Dr. Woodson’s later works was a treatise on the mis-education of black Americans about their history. The history books of the day downplayed important contributions and perpetuated negative myths about African Americans. Dr. Woodson told us that we needed to reteach African Americans about their history and their value in society.

My experience of growing up in the Deep South in the 1960’s gave me the perspective of seeing firsthand many of the negative myths and prejudices against people simply because of the color of their skin. Many of my generation unlearned much of the negative aspects of the stereotypes that were perpetuated in white society of that day.

It was by going to school and working with people from different backgrounds and races that I was able to see the common qualities and attributes and learn that many of society’s myths were untrue. My ninth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Beatrice Moore, an African American, taught me about racial equality and respect just by her intelligence, kindness, and concern for me. My life was forever changed.

As we begin our celebration of Black History month and embrace the legacy of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, my commitment is to affirm the value of diversity and to seek ways to increase the diversity of Marshall. My goal is to see the number of African Americans and other minorities at Marshall increase in a significant way. The exposure of our majority students to people who are not like them is part of our obligation in preparing them for life beyond college.

As we increase Marshall’s diversity, the probability goes up that other people like me will have the chance to be positively impacted by a person like Mrs. Beatrice Moore. And when they do, their lives will be so much the better.

Thank you, Mrs. Moore.

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