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MDCR Participates in Internal Black History Month Initiative

March 2021

On February 10, Equity Officer Alfredo Hernandez and Director White launched an internal Black History Month initiative to honor and celebrate Black History Month within the department.

“The work of diversity, equity, and inclusion provides us with meaningful venues to increase access,” said Alfredo. “As we continue to honor the legacy of marginalized communities, Black History Month always offers meaningful opportunities to reflect on our shared past through an approach that acknowledges and understands the impact of systemic racism, as well as the valuable contributions and unwavering resilience of black people in the United States and abroad. Our internal Black History Month initiative is aimed to serve as a platform for deeper introspection as we continue to envision an inclusive community where people remember the past and remain committed to a more inclusive future."

Throughout the month, staff members contributed to a reading list on Black history and racial equity subjects and shared their favorite Black historical figures through the internal Black History Month Initiative folder. A special thanks to Erika Clark, Christina Beltz, Tyra Khan, Jeannette Johnson and Rene Hoffman for sharing their favorite Black history books!

Book recommendations included:

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, by Michelle Alexander
  • Black Like Me, by Jim Howard
  • April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America, by Michael Eric Dyson
  • Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, by John Robert Lewis
  • The Arc of Justice, by Kevin Boyle 
  • Devil in the Grove, by Gilbert King

Among the favorite historical figures the MDCR team identified were:

  • Andrew Foster, the first African American Deaf person to receive a Bachelor's degree from Gallaudet University
  • Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice on the U.S. Supreme COurt
  • Gordon Parks, the first African American to produce and direct major motion pictures
  • Rosa Parks, an African American activisit in the Civil Rights Movement bset known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Staff also participated in Michigan State University's Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series "Slavery to Freedom," which focused on the history and legacy of African Americans in the United States.