UMD Creates Online Tour Commemorating African-American History and Contributions to Campus
To raise awareness of our shared history, the virtual tour explores how African-Americans have shaped our campus from Maryland’s roots as a slave-holding state to the campus’ desegregation to today’s campus landmarks.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Maryland has created a new online tour exploring the history of African-Americans at the university and their contributions to the campus community. The tour, which features 17 locations on campus, is available at umd.edu/blackhistorytour.
In telling the history of the African American experience on campus, the tour begins with the university’s founding when Maryland was a slave-holding state. It charts the path of the legal battle to desegregate the campus led by Thurgood Marshall, civil rights advocate and the first African-American Supreme Court justice, and the trailblazers who were among the first black students to attend the university. The tour includes landmarks that celebrate the contributions of African-Americans to our campus and community, including the David C. Driskell Center, Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building, the Harriet Tubman room in Stamp Student Union, and Frederick Douglass Square.
“All of us need to learn this important history,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “These stories of African-American struggles and contributions span the history of our campus and our nation. We need to make them part of our shared memory.”
“Our historical legacy is an important part of the campus climate for diversity,” said Roger L. Worthington, UMD’s chief diversity officer. “We approached Dr. Nickerson to help us with this project and planned the launch for Black History Month as a way of acknowledging the struggles of our past and charting a path forward in building a more welcoming future. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is pleased to support this important initiative as we continue to work together toward unity, respect and inclusion.”
The tour was developed using the expertise of Kim Nickerson, assistant dean, equity administrator and diversity officer in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, who took a critical look at the university’s history to identify and curate key moments that were shaped by African-Americans. The tour draws on university archives, reports by campus colleagues and other sources.
“Like our country, the University of Maryland is continuously evolving to live up to our core values and ideals. The evolution includes telling a more complete history of our campus by acknowledging the painful past, but also celebrating the triumphs,” said Nickerson. “We hope this work serves as a source of affirmation and inspiration and that it invites other diverse voices to share their stories.”
Guided tours will be offered later this spring, which are being developed by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and UMD doctoral student Nana Brantuo.
The University of Maryland is committed to creating a safe and inclusive campus for its entire community. In addition to longstanding programs on diversity, the university has invested millions into new trainings and initiatives, including hiring a hate-bias response program manager and implementing a streamlined protocol for hate-bias incident response, rolling out a campus-wide climate survey, and launching the Center on Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education. In addition, the university is comprehensively reviewing policies through a task force with the goal of shaping a more equitable, diverse and inclusive campus.