UCI Black Thriving: Making a New Black History

UCI Black Thriving: Making a New Black History

A message from Vice Chancellor Douglas M. Haynes, 

Vice Chancellor Douglas Haynes 2020

Dear campus community,

I welcome you all to join me in commemorating February as Black History Month. Carter Woodson, a historian and founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, conceived of Negro History week in 1926. Fifty years later President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month in 1976.

The name and length of the observance changed, but the essential purpose of recognizing Black history remains unchanged to this day. The observance is as much about the future as about the past of Black people in the United States. It simultaneously celebrates the achievements of Black men and women and communities while bearing witness to the challenges of fulfilling the American Dream.

In the America that Carter Woodson inhabited, Black people were denied their constitutional rights through racial violence, state-sanctioned segregation, and federal indifference to their plight. His association spurred Negro history observance throughout the United States, including states in the South and West. In the Jim Crow era, local and national celebrations of Black culture, education, faith, and innovation had multiple effects. They fortified Black institutions, promoted community pride, and challenged pervasive racist representations of Black people as unfit for the responsibilities of citizenship.

Indeed, the observance of Negro History Week provided an important foundation for the wider political mobilization of communities spurred on by the civil rights movement. The adoption of Black History Month reflected the political agency of Black people to define their identity on their terms while challenging the contradictions and persistence of racial injustice in the first modern democracy. Black colleges and universities were among the first to rename and extend the observance in the 1970s. A patchwork of cities and states followed. The official recognition of Black History Month took place during the bicentennial of the United States.

In the nearly fifty years since President’s Ford proclamation, Black History Month has grown in significance. This observance has special meaning for UCI. The founding of the campus in 1965 took place at the high point of the modern civil rights movement. The legislative achievements of the movement later framed new possibilities for a multi-racial society. The Civil Rights Act (1964), the Voting Rights Act (1965) and the Fair Housing Act (1968) aimed to dismantle the many structures that had long subjugated Black people as a second-class citizen in the South as well as in the North and West.

In the wake of the national reckoning on systemic racism, the celebration of the achievements of Black people remains as important as ever to build a future where Black people thrive. Launched in 2020, the UCI Black Thriving Initiative aspires to make UCI the nation’s leading destination for Black people to thrive as undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty, alumni and as members of the communities served by UCI in the county and beyond.

Let’s make a new Black history through the Black Thriving Initiative (BTI). As a whole university initiative, BTI aims to drive culture change, advance understanding about the Black experience and drivers of well-being, and link UCI’s future to the success of Black communities. All campus and community members are welcome to join this effort. For more information, please visit the BTI website.

Please take advantage of this important time for reflection and action by learning about allyship and participating in social justice activities this month.


Douglas M. Haynes, Ph.D. (Pronouns: he/him/his)

Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Chief Diversity Officer

Director, ADVANCE Program

Professor of History


BTI Achievements: Features on Black Faculty and Students

Inclusive Excellence Term Chairs in Support of the Black Thriving Initiative

BTI Public Service Announcement

Year One in Review Infographic

Fall Enrollments: Student Diversity Trending Upward

Year in Review Podcast

Programs and Organizations

African American Studies

Faculty Cluster Hiring Program

Black Faculty & Staff Association

Inclusive Excellence Term Chair Program

Black Management Association


Black Student Union

Student Start Up Fund

Black Thriving Initiative Modules

Take the Pledge!


UCI Black Alumni Chapter

Black History Month Events

FEB 2 | CEE@UCI BTI Seminar Series | Shakira Hobbs

FEB 8 | Professor Steve Damo, On being a chemistry professor at a small liberal arts college

FEB 9 | Professor Steve Damo, Fisk’s chemistry legacy from Talley-Brady to Whitehead

FEB 9 | “Hella Black Mexican”: A Conversation with Creator Ehcrama Marche.

FEB 10 | Black Nonsense (Or, Black Radical Utterances in the Idiom of Madness)

FEB 11 | UCI Stay @Homecoming, Teaching and Learning in a Changing World

FEB 11-13 |  Hamlet, Directed by Leah Jackson

FEB 16 | Let’s talk AfroLatinidad: Writing as an Act of Liberation

FEB 21 | Binding Blacks: Du Bois and Camus on Engaging the World

FEB 24 | Abstract Artist as Model Citizen: Envisioning Social Identities in Postwar Brazil with Dr. Adele Nelson

FEB 24 | International Film Club: I Am Not Your Negro Film Screening

FEB 24 | BTI Night at UCI Women’s Basketball Game

FEB 25 | Futures of/Latin America Conference

FEB 25 | Making History: The Evolution of Cancer Health Equity through Transdisciplinary Science with Chanita Hughes-Halbert

FEB 26 | BTI Night at UCI Men’s Basketball Game

BTI mosaic