In the wake of the George Floyd killing and subsequent worldwide protests, the DDCE received an outpouring of requests from colleagues in need of educational materials and guidance on how to better support the university’s Black community. To answer the growing demand for education and advocacy training, Leonard Moore, vice president of diversity and community engagement and George Littlefield Professor of American History, offered his History of the Black Experience course online at no cost throughout the months of July and August. More than 1700 faculty and staff participated in the course.
“This class has showed me that white America is hungry for African American history,” Moore says. “Hopefully those who have enjoyed the class now see why it is critical that Black history be taught at the K–12 level.”
Below are some reflections and takeaways from class participants and community members who viewed the live-streamed classes, which were recorded and are available on the DDCE YouTube channel.
“The History of the Black Experience highlights issues and themes that connect to contemporary Black life in America—lives of my colleagues and students in the professional setting, and lives of my friends that I deeply care for in my personal setting. As higher education professionals, we can’t move forward as a community or country without knowing the history. I truly appreciate Dr. Moore for taking the time to sit with us in this space and not talk at us. I never feel like he is lecturing; rather, it feels like Leonard Moore, a member of the UT Austin and Austin communities, is sharing his stories. Highly recommend.”—Hon Lam, career consultant, MBA Career Education & Coaching, McCombs School of Business
My husband and I have begun watching Dr. Moore’s class on YouTube. In our work to be anti-racist, a friend recommended the classes and we LOVE them. Dr. Moore is engaging, and we are enjoying learning what has been kept from us. I am writing to thank Dr. Moore and The University of Texas for this wonderful opportunity.
—Patty Goodfriend Walnick, Dallas, TX resident and UT Austin alum ’77
“Anyone would benefit from this course, which is part of why I love it so much. I shared the YouTube links with my best friend, who is outside the UT world. Regardless of where you grew up, by the time you’re out in the working world, you have been out of high school for several years, which is often the last time you took U.S. history. You could have attended the most enlightened high school, but few people have the memory to retain information five-plus years later. I considered this class a chance to upgrade my U.S. history knowledge in a way that would provide a more rounded understanding of our country’s past.”
—Cara Polisini, career consultant, MBA Career Education & Coaching, McCombs School of Business
“Absolutely everyone who lives in this country needs to be exposed to the horrors inflicted upon people who are essentially responsible for the wealth of this country. Anyone with a shred of a conscience would be infuriated learning of the practiced inequality and denial of constitutional rights to a large portion of the American population. I do not experience racism on a daily basis, but the readings and movies provided and recommended were extremely enlightening and helped give me context as to why the BLM movement is so necessary and grossly overdue.”
—Jo Wozniak, research engineering/scientist associate IV, Texas Advanced Computing Center
“The biggest benefit for me is that now I consider myself an emerging advocate and look forward to continuing my education. I have recommended this course to friends and family members via the YouTube link. I have increased my presence in fighting for equality and added my voice to the call for accountability for past and current issues—something I had never done prior. I thank Dr. Moore for that as his course gave me an expanded full history of our country that my prior schooling, including graduate work, never did. I would truly recommend this course to everyone and have been recommending it to everyone around me. I will be going back to watch it again. I truly think this course should be a required high school class.”
—Jeannie Cooper, community member, Lamar Colorado
“Clearly, our U.S. history books left out a lot of things. After the murder of George Floyd (and Ahmaud Arbery and all the others) and the broader context of the impact of the pandemic, I wanted to learn more. Two things stick out. I didn’t realize that after the great migration, the white police chiefs in the North went to the South to recruit, so the prejudices that had existed in the South were brought North. I also now understand that standardized tests are inherently racist and intended to keep BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] out of ‘better’ schools. If I’m going to benefit from institutionalized racism (unintentionally), it’s my duty to use that position to make sure that equality really means equality—in education, voting, hiring, medical care … so many areas.”
—Melyssa Fratkin, program administrator, Texas Advanced Computing Center