Carnegie Mellon and the CMU Alumni Association are committed to highlighting CMU's exceptional Black alumni, students, faculty and staff throughout the year. Each year, Black History Month provides us with a special opportunity to recognize, acknowledge and elevate their professional and academic excellence.
Brittany Mosby (MCS 2010), director of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Success
"It’s been quite an adventurous ride. I get to advocate for underrepresented students and underfunded institutions. It’s become a passion."
Lamar Lovelace (CFA 2004; HNZ 2004), executive director at Step Afrika!
"Stepping is culturally rich connective tissue that binds African American history, dance and storytelling. It’s very accessible. As an organization, we’ve always been very proud that everyone — of any age and from any place in the world — can enjoy and appreciate (what we do)."
Watch, Listen, Learn
Award-winning novelist, college professor and alumna Jewell Parker Rhodes (DC 1975, 1976, 1979), changed her educational and professional trajectory upon finding Gayl Jones’s “Corregidora” in Hunt Library. Written by a Black author, it was the first time Jewell realized she could be a writer. Changing her focus from musical theater and dance to English, she started a new path that would lead to a life in academia, more than a dozen novels and countless writing awards.
At this event, Jewell joined Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Wanda Heading-Grant in a conversation about the power of representation and what it means to see yourself reflected in the world around you.
Ngani Ndimbie (HNZ 2018) tackles transportation challenges in underinvested and underserved communities and connects people with vital healthy and safety information to create a more equitable world.
Making Breathing Easier
CEO and co-founder of JustAir Solutions Darren Riley (DC 2014) combines his lived experiences as a Black man suffering from air pollution-related asthma and his passion for data and technology to create better breathing environments for all.
Dr. Tiffani Maycock (ENG 1996) works to transform health care in rural communities and build healthy futures through personal connections.
Investigating the Life of America’s First Black Poetess
Phillis Wheatley was the first African American poet to publish a book in English when she published “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” in 1773. Despite her place as one of the earliest African American writers in the Americas, many scholars have dismissed her contributions.
Don Holmes, lecturer in writing and communication in Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences's Department of English, felt compelled to dig deeper into Wheatley’s life to show the impact of her contribution to African American scholarship.
“Wheatley is a mysterious enigma and is often caught between representative extremes,” he said. “I think the issue is how we read her work. Some read her as an accommodationist, while other read her as a person dedicated to fighting for Black rights. On both extremes a lot has been written about her.”
Holmes aims to reframe Wheatley’s rhetorical approach in her poem, “On Being Brought from AFRICA to AMERICA.” In his essay, he argues that Wheatley provides a diplomatic negotiation between enslaved people and the wider evangelical Christian ecosystem in 18th-century Boston. He posits her rhetorical approach was necessary for her survival as an enslaved woman who was expected to remain religious and morally isolated.