By Karl Constant, M.S.
Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs
Each February, North Central College is proud to celebrate Black History Month with a full calendar of events that explore various aspects of Black culture and history. This month’s celebration kicked off on February 1 with a keynote address and book signing from Mikki Kendall, author of Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot.
Of course, Black History Month comes on the heels of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which the College celebrates annually with our MLK Vision Day Luncheon and teach-in sessions. It was fulfilling to host our first in-person Vision Day since 2020. The event featured a keynote address from 2002 North Central graduate and current member of the College’s Board of Trustees Tracie Morris, chief people officer at Corewell Health.
Morris talked passionately about her humble upbringing on the South Side of Chicago, and the sacrifices that her hard-working parents made—inspired in part by the work of Dr. King—to open doors for her and her brothers that had not been opened to them. Upon graduating from North Central, Morris was driven to do the same in her career as a fast-rising star in human resources.
“The great challenge facing me,” she recalled, “was to be ready to open doors for others. When I entered corporate America, I made opportunities for those who looked like me, and those who didn’t. This is not a solo journey. As I moved up, I brought people with me, because the legacy continues.”
Morris reminded those in attendance that Dr. King’s legacy calls on everyone to do their part: “We as community leaders, we as educators and students, and we as human beings, have a serious responsibility to bring about change.”
At North Central, the College doesn’t have regularly scheduled classes on MLK Day, but it’s not a day “off.” The holiday presents an opportunity for members of the campus community to engage in learning and conversations about critical topics such as race, anti-racism, equity and inclusion, all through the lens of Dr. King’s goals of peace and justice. If you’re interested in seeing some of this year’s teach-in session topics, visit northcentralcollege.edu/mlk23.
Looking ahead, many of our Black History Month events are open to the public, and we welcome you to attend. Upcoming events include:
Denyce Graves Vocal Performance
3PM February 5, Wentz Concert Hall (171 E. Chicago Ave.)
Voices of Praise Gospel Extravaganza
3PM February 11, Grace United Methodist Church (300 E. Gartner Rd.)
Forever Motown Musical Performance
8PM February 18, Pfeiffer Hall (310 E. Benton Ave.)
The Langston Hughes Project: Ask Your Mama (12 Moods for Jazz)
8PM February 25, Wentz Concert Hall (171 E. Chicago Ave.)
For more information about North Central’s 2023 Black History Month events, visit northcentralcollege.edu/diversity-inclusion/black-history-month.
We hope to see you there!