Carnegie Mellon University
February 08, 2021

CMU Community Celebrates Black History Month

By Heidi Opdyke

Jason Maderer
  • Marketing & Communications
  • 412-268-1151
Julie Mattera
  • Marketing & Communications
  • 412-268-2902

Carnegie Mellon University is celebrating Black History Month by showcasing the work of our Black students, faculty, staff and alumni. Each year, Black History Month endorses a theme, and the 2021 theme is "Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity." Here are a few members of the CMU community who exemplify professional and academic excellence. Below is a sampling of their work, with more added throughout the month.

— The Freedom Struggle —

There are two fundamental reasons to celebrate Black History Month, according to Carnegie Mellon University's Joe William Trotter Jr.

"First, and perhaps most important, enslaved African people enriched the United States through their labor: that is through the production of the nation's major cash crops — tobacco, rice, sugar and cotton — during the preindustrial era and later as workers in automobile, meatpacking, steel, rubber and other mass production jobs during the urban-industrial age," said Trotter, the Giant Eagle University Professor of History and Social Justice and past Department of History chair at CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "Second, the African American freedom struggle helped to expand the base of American democratic institutions from the American Revolution through the closing years of the 20th century."

A longtime CMU faculty member, Trotter was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019 for his pioneering work in the development of U.S. urban, labor and working-class history. He also is founder and director of CMU's Center for African American Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE).

"Over the years, Carnegie Mellon has been an exciting place for me to research, write, publish and pursue diverse public history projects with an eye for bridging the divide between the university and the surrounding community," Trotter said.

His scholarship includes a wide range of books, essays and articles in professional journals and edited collections. His most recent work, "Pittsburgh and the Urban League Movement," was published in November.

"African Americans not only helped to build and enrich American cities and the nation through their labor and liberation politics, they also creatively forged their own dynamic communities within the larger context of predominantly white cities," he said. As Black History Month celebrates its 95th anniversary, Trotter said he hopes the next 100 years brings more social justice movements to end the persistence of systematic racial and class inequality.

— Social Media —

Meet the Provost's Inclusive Teaching Fellows. This year's group is exploring ways to promote diversity, equity and...

Posted by Carnegie Mellon University on Thursday, February 11, 2021

Michael McElroy shines as a luminary on Broadway and as a leader committed to inclusion, diversity, belonging and equity...

Posted by Carnegie Mellon University Alumni Association on Saturday, February 6, 2021

Meet Lindsay Powell - this Heinz alumna is pursuing equity and change right in Pittsburgh, one initiative at a time.

Posted by Carnegie Mellon University Alumni Association on Tuesday, February 2, 2021

— Events —

Highlighted Event

2021 MLK Keynote Lecture featuring Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

In this moderated question-and-answer discussion, part of the University Lecture Series, bestselling author, historian and antiracism researcher Dr. Ibram X. Kendi will lead conversations on antiracism education at the university level, initiatives to advance antiracism, engagement and responses to public discourse around antiracism framework and the role of policy-based initiatives in creating societal change.

5 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Feb.10

This event has passed.

A Conversation on Diversity and Inclusion with Chief Carmen Best
Noon EST, Friday, Feb. 12

This event has passed.

This presentation is hosted by the Center for International Relations and Politics and co-sponsored by the University Lecture Series and features Chief Carmen Best, former police chief of Seattle, Washington.

Intersex 101: History, Activism, Binaries & Spectrums
4:30-6 p.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 18


The Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion brings you a Intersex 101 presentation focusing on what is Intersex, history, being an ally / better ally, and current events impacting the Intersex community.

Conversation On Building Sustainable Communities
Thursday, Feb. 19

Alex Hiniker, executive fellow for Sustainability Initiatives, and Mark Chambers  (CFA 2001, HNZ 2002), director, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, NYC Mayor’s Office.

CAUSE, Heinz College Speaker Series on Racial Disparities in American Policing and Health Care Systems: Alondra Nelson
4:30-6:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Feb. 19


Nelson will discuss "Contemporary Movements to Combat the Racial Disparities of Covid-19 Compared to Past Efforts to Address Epidemics and Pandemics in the United States." Nelson is president of the Social Science Research Council and Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. A scholar of science, technology and social inequality, she is author, most recently, of "The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome." Her publications also include "Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party" and the "Fight against Medical Discrimination"; "Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History"; and "Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life." She is also editor of "Afrofuturism," an influential special issue of Social Text.

A Fireside Chat with Eddie Glaude, Jr.
6:30-7:30 p.m. EST, Monday, Feb. 22


The inaugural Black Futures Summit Presentation featuring Eddie Glaude, Jr., chair and James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Princeton University

Presented by the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion and The Humanities Scholars Program in collaboration with the Department of History and CAUSE. This presentation is supported by The Smith Family Endowment in the Humanities.

Learn more about Eddie Glaude.

MLK Selected Reading Discussion
12-1 p.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 25


In February, the Center will be discussing Eddie Glaude's book "Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own."

More information on our selected readings is listed below.

If you would like a copy of "Begin Again," please contact the Center by emailing

Tartan Allies: Session 2
1-3 p.m. EST, Friday, Feb. 26


Tartan Allies is a series of sessions offered to CMU faculty, staff and students to foster a network of people who are committed to working toward an affirming environment for all at CMU. In particular, the series focuses on being an ally to those in the LGBTQ+ community. Tartan Allies is made up of three progressive sessions, with participants free to choose the number they wish to complete. As our name suggests, being an ally is not a passive behavior. Good and effective allies listen, learn and act. Join us for Tartan Allies sessions if you are interested in becoming a part of this inclusive and supportive community.

Algorithms of Deception: A Case for Nuanced Election Data
Noon - 1 p.m. EST, Friday, Feb. 26


In "Algorithms of Deception: A Case for Nuanced Data," Allison Clark draws upon her social science and civic engagement experience to investigate how the data science of campaigns can replicate the biases of the humans who create them.

Learn more about Allison Clark