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Celebrating Black History Month 2017

MLK statue at UT-Austin

In honor of Black History Month, we rounded up some stories that celebrate the great men and women who championed social justice here at UT and across the nation. Below, browse images, quotes and observations from past news stories about the civil rights leaders who made the world—and our campus—a better, more equitable place for all.

Austin Honors Legacy of MLK at 24th Annual Community March

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On Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, the DDCE joined UT Austin, the City of Austin, Huston-Tillotson and the greater Austin community in celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual MLK Community March. Read the full story…

“I can be what I want to be because I’m just as American as anybody else – and no one is going to take that away from me.” – Danielle Todd-Harris, Blackshear Elementary fifth-grader and winner of the MLK Children’s Oratory Competition

As They Saw It: Stories from UT’s First African American Undergrads

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Collected are just a few points of views from the Precursors, the fearless African American students who were among the first to desegregate the university. In fall 2016, the university celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first Black undergraduates to enroll in 1956. Their words are presented as they saw it. Read the full story… Visit the Alcalde website to read an interactive feature about the Precursors.

“We did not necessarily support the university as a student normally would, unlike today. To come back to Austin after many years—after having said I would not set foot on this campus—to see the opportunities available to all the students. I now bleed burnt orange.”
— Col. Leon Holland, enrolled 1956, Precursors 60th Anniversary Celebration, September, 2016

A Legacy of Diversity: Meet the founder of UT’s Multicultural Engagement Center

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Back in the 1980s, the student-led anti-apartheid movement increased awareness of racial fissures on campus. During this challenging time in UT Austin history, Michael L. Davis (B.B.A, Finance, ’88) founded the Minority Information Center, the university’s first multicultural center. Now known as the Multicultural Engagement Center, the space (located in the SAC) is a major hub for all students, faculty and staff and community members who are interested in learning about and promoting diversity on campus and beyond. Read the full story…

“With the center, we wanted to create a safe space, a sanctuary, where students of color could come, relax, connect and engage. We wanted to centralize academic, social and financial support resources available from the university and deliver them to our communities of color in an environment that felt like home.” – Michael Davis

Something to Sing About: UT’s Innervisions Gospel Choir forges friendships in prayer and song.

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In 1974, housemother Almetris Marsh Duren (affectionately known as “Mama Duren”) helped her group of students at Jester Center form the Innervisions of Blackness Choir. Today the choir, now called theInnervisions Gospel Choir, performs on campus and throughout the state including outreach events like the MLK Day rally. Read the full story…

“It’s the one place where I can just sing, laugh and release the stresses of school. Being a part of this choir has not simply benefitted my UT experience; it has molded it and made me who I am today. Without the Innervisions Gospel Choir, my college experience would have been completely different.” “-  Valencia Campbell, a social work alumna who directed the choir.

Civil Rights Icon Julian Bond Reflects on Past and Present Civil Rights Challenges

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Back in June, 2015, veteran civil rights activist Julian Bond visited campus to reflect on past struggles of the civil rights movement and the challenges ahead. Bond’s keynote address was part of the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ 2015 Barbara Jordan Forum. Read the full story…

“Yesterday’s movement succeeded, in part, because the victims became their own best captains,” Bond said. “When Rosa Parks refused to stand up, and when Dr. King stood up to preach, mass participation came to the movement for civil rights. Now it’s up to all of us to continue this fight.”

More stories about The Precursors can be found on the As We Saw It website. Be sure to follow the DDCE news site for more updates on events and happenings on campus and in the community.