Celebrating Black History Month at the Smith School of Business
On February 24, 2011, the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University
of Maryland celebrated Black History Month with a Diversity Roundtable Discussion,
followed by an African-American History Celebration.
The Diversity Roundtable, sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement, was
an open discussion involving faculty, staff, undergraduates, and MBA students, which
addressed various aspects of diversity. Guests rotated between multiple tables that
covered topics such as “funding and opportunities for minority entrepreneurs” and
“women and the glass ceiling.” Discussions at the Roundtable resulted in the formation
of a Diversity Work Group comprised of Smith students and staff that will be led
by a Verizon executive that was present at the event. The goal of the Work Group
will be to address concerns and initiate solutions to increase the number of minority
students and staff at Smith.
Directly following the event, the Smith Black MBA Association hosted an African-American
History Celebration in the third floor atrium of Van Munching Hall. The night included
food that represented the “African Diaspora,” the term used to describe the dispersion
of African peoples and their culture throughout the North and South Americas, as
well as the Caribbean Islands. Students and faculty enjoyed tasting foods like Cuban
empanadas and Jollof rice and Puff-Puff pastries from Nigeria. Foods from Jamaica,
Uganda, and traditional American “Soul Food” were also served to give guests a unique
and celebratory dinner experience.
Throughout the night, guests were entertained by a wide range of acts relevant
to the occasion and quizzed on African-American History facts for prizes. The event
was kicked off by an Alpha Nu Omega Fraternity stepping demonstration. As the Smith
Black MBA Association Board members explained, stepping is a performance art
Later in the evening, singer Kriss Mincey performed Lift Every Voice and Sing,
the Black National Anthem. Lastly, to pay homage to the significant role that African-Americans
played in the creation of jazz and its spread throughout the world, first-year MBA
student, Johnny Graham, played a Jazz classic entitled Misty, on a flugelhorn.
Both events of the day were evidence of the value that Smith places on diversity.
Students and faculty were exposed to the opinions and views of people with all types
of backgrounds, and also given the opportunity to join in celebration of the contributions
of African-Americans in the U.S. While Black History Month has now come to an end,
the spirit of openness and respect that prompted these events will continue to thrive
in the Smith community.
Shari King, MBA Candidate 2011, Smith Media Group