Celebrating Black History Month

From the Office of Dean Heller

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin the celebration of Black History Month, we are called to remember both its origins and its importance in our current contexts. As we are all aware, these last few years have been challenging ones for our Black and African American communities.

The story of Black History Month can be traced back to the beginning of the last century when Negro History Week was first recognized in 1926. Decades later, the event was expanded to a month as an annual celebration of Black history and the contributions of Black Americans to our nation’s cultural life.

Several years ago, a group of UConn SSW students, faculty and staff came together to form a Black History 365 committee with the goal of intentionally honoring and highlighting Black lives, contributions, and culture throughout the year. We’ve since offered a range of programs and events that explore Black history and current affairs and promote mental health and wellness among Black Americans. These programs have recently included a panel discussion on Black Lives Matter Facts vs. Myths and The Naked Truth: Death by Delivery discussion about black maternal health, among others.

This year, the committee was clear about focusing our February events to highlight cultural experiences. On February 8, we have partnered with UConn Hartford and UConn School of Law to highlight the experiences of the Black and African American communities through Black Joy, a celebration of self-love, health and wellness, pride, family, food and culture. Later in the month, our students will also host a cooking demonstration, Cooking with Chef Ross; please visit our website at socialwork.uconn.edu for details.

All month long, I ask you to join me in celebrating the achievements and contributions of Black and African American communities to our history, society and culture. Black History Month also aligns with our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, as well as our goal to support and value the experiences of our Black students and colleagues.

In solidarity,

Nina Rovinelli Heller, PhD
Dean and Professor
Zachs Chair in Social Work