Celebrating Black History Month

A look at the influential people who have visited UWO

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  • Courtesy UWO Archives — A banner announced activities during Black History Week, which has since been expanded to a month-long event.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives — Dudley Randall, a poet and poetry publisher from Michigan, met with students and staff at the UWO Multicultural Education Center.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives — Attorney, author and civil rights activist Florynce Kennedy, left, and American journalist and social-political activist Gloria Steinem visited UWO on April 20, 1971.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives —Activist, politician and minister Jesse Jackson spoke at Oshkosh on March 31, 1988.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives — Activist and boxer Muhammad Ali visited UW Oshkosh on April 1, 1971.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives — Muhammad Ali talks to students and fans during his April 1, 1971 visit to UWO.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives — Barack Obama, the future 44th U.S. President, visited UWO on Feb. 15, 2008.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives — Actor and Writer Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee on the UWO campus in 1984 for what was then called Black Emphasis Week. Dee was an American actress and social activist known for her pioneering work in African American theater and film and for her outspoken civil rights activism.

  • Courtesy UWO Archives — Myrlie Evers, left, an American civil rights activist and journalist, worked for over three decades to seek justice for the 1963 murder of her husband Medgar Evers, another civil rights activist. She took part in a press conference at UWO.

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Katie Pulvermacher, Editor-in-Chief

In the United States, Black History Month is observed in February. UW Oshkosh reflects on the month by providing a month full of events to educate and celebrate.

Prior to the late 1960s, Black visitors on campus were rare. The “Black Thursday” protest of 1968 at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh sparked a desire for funding to bring in Black speakers to campus. Since 1968, many influential people have stopped on campus to speak to students, staff and faculty on various topics. These academics, artists, political figures, writers and sports figures have given their time to help grow and inform our campus community.

“Black History Month recognition, reflection and celebration is underway at UW Oshkosh,” Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said. “I want to take a moment to share gratitude with students and faculty and staff members for the thought and effort they are pouring into another outstanding schedule of events.”

Booker T. Washington visited UWO on Nov. 10, 1911. The Advance-Titan newspaper issue said Washington spoke on the growing education for Black people and advancements made in Tuskegee, Alabama.

“This was, without doubt, the most interesting talk given before the school for some time,” The A-T wrote in 1911. “We were interested, not only in what he said, but in the man himself.”

A few of many prominent Black speakers at UWO have been:

  • 1972: Poet and publisher Dudley Randall
  • 1981: Future first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress Shirley Chisholm
  • 1983: Poet Nikki Giovanni
  • 1984: Screen stars Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis
  • 1985: Historian, future Chair of U.S. Civil Rights Commission Mary Frances Berry
  • 1986: Chicago-based community activist and college counselor Silas Purnell

“Again, thank you to the students, scholars, alumni and many guests who are sharing their time, expertise and artistry with the university community and providing us so many opportunities to engage in and honor Black History Month,” Leavitt said

Calendar of Events

Thursday, Feb. 16
Black History Month Spotlight 5 p.m. | 90.3 WRST
Josiah Benjamin – Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity – Eta Pi Chapter President – UWO

A virtual conversation with Dr. Maulana Karenga
6:30 – 7:30 p.m., Virtual Zoom Meeting

Open Gym Night
8 – 11 p.m., Student Recreation and Wellness Center

 Friday, Feb. 17
1st Annual Decade Dance: 1970s!
7 – 10 p.m., Reeve Union Ballroom

Saturday, Feb. 18
“Know Your Black History” Trivia Contest
3 p.m. Virtual via Zoom

Sunday, Feb. 19
Black History Month Church Service
10:30 a.m., Bethel Worship Center

The full calendar of events can be found at https://uwosh.edu/africanamericanstudies/bhm/.