Celebrating the past, improving the present: Black History Month kicks off at Michigan Medicine

February 1, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

Today begins the annual celebration of Black History Month — a chance to recognize the immense value Black culture has brought to the world, the U.S., and most specifically, the organization.

And while many may be celebrating recent events — such as the inauguration of Kamala Harris, the country’s first African American (and South Asian) vice president — Black History Month also serves as a time to reflect on how the organization has recommitted itself to anti-racism and helping team members become even more forceful advocates for those who make up communities of color.

This is especially the case in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

As faculty and staff work to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to all, teams are emphasizing to people of color that they are at higher risk for complications from the disease. Michigan Medicine leadership recently created a unique video, which, as Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., said: “Expresses this sentiment through the lens of African Americans in a sensitive, compelling way.”

Check out “Black Communities and the COVID-19 Vaccine” by clicking here.

Campuswide events

All Michigan Medicine team members are invited to attend a number of campuswide events to be held throughout February in honor of Black History Month.

The following events are all free and virtual, meaning they can be accessed from anywhere:

  • Monday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m.: A conversation with thought leader and change maker LaTosha Brown. Click for details.
  • Friday, Feb. 5, noon: Flash Talk, Ancient Africa in the time of Black Lives Matter: Writing a new archaeology of Kush. Details.
  • Friday, Feb. 12, noon: Deepening democracy through equitable climate, Heather McTeer Toney, SEAS Black History Month Keynote Speaker. Details.  
  • Friday, Feb. 12, 1:30 p.m.: Douglass Day 2021 celebration. Details.
  • Friday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m.: The Clemens Bookworm, “Framing Identity” online exhibit. Details.

Additionally, the Michigan Medicine Anti-Racism Oversight Committee (AROC) will present its finalized action plans at two town halls — one on Feb. 5 and one on Feb. 19.

The Feb. 5 town hall will feature an action plan overview by AROC leadership, while the Feb. 19 town hall will feature a presentation of the action plans of each of AROC’s committee for the next six months.

Stay tuned for more information on how to participate in each event.   

Help Headlines celebrate YOU!

At Headlines, the team is planning to close out the month with a virtual celebration of all members of the Michigan Medicine Black community.

All you have to do is send in a photo of yourself in your work environment — whether that’s in the clinic, lab, classroom or at home. And no matter what role you play, let us know how you help the organization meet its mission of advancing health to serve Michigan and the world.

Email your photos and description to headlines@med.umich.edu by Friday, Feb. 19 for a chance to be included in a future edition of Headlines.

Then be on the lookout for a special photo gallery near the end of the month that features you and your important work!