February is Black History Month

A message from the President’s Desk:

It is February, a month caught between the cold dark days of winter and our hope for an early spring. It is also when we celebrate our loved ones on Valentine’s Day. And, certainly, for those of us at Union and beyond, February is another chance to reflect upon and celebrate the contributions of African Americans to the life of America.

I was in Washington, D.C. earlier this month and saw the emerging National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open on the national mall as the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution in May 2016.

As a historian, I am gratified that the Smithsonian and its many supporters are finally coming together to recognize the contributions to our history and culture by generations of African Americans who have remained largely invisible in our history books. The museum creates an opportunity to see how important African American history is for each of us by creating a place for recognition, collection, research, teaching, learning, and enjoyment of African American history and culture. Not too far from the new museum is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. In my mind, the new museum and its contents will represent the rich fabric of African-American lives over the centuries. The statue represents the power of the mind, body, and soul of a man who inspired all of us to seek the best of our humanity in serving others. Together, the two structures anchor America’s capital with a fitting tribute to the countless contributions of African Americans to America’s greatness.

Since its inception 50 years ago, Union has always been true to its commitment to diversity and providing quality education to people looking for a relevant and rigorous education. A signature offering in our Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program – and soon to be a certificate program – Union’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. specialization brings together scholars, practitioners, faculty, and students – all dedicated to furthering the legacy of Dr. King. Each time I have an opportunity to interact with our MLK scholars, I come away enriched by their fierce compassion for Dr. King’s teachings as well as their drive to make a difference and transform lives and communities as they enhance their education and their careers. Each time I have an opportunity to visit with our faculty, I am impressed with their dedication to Union’s mission and their commitment to mentoring and supporting our students in accomplishing their individual dreams.

America has struggled for many years over issues of race. Last summer, we faced new challenges that need new, creative, and lasting solutions. We hope that Union’s programs and its dedication to each individual will serve as an example of how we can all work together to bridge gaps and gain understanding. Dr. King stated, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” I urge you to take Dr. King’s words to heart during Black History Month and every month. Think intensively and think critically about his words, your education, and your character. Think about this and the many contributions African-Americans make to our lives every day. Also take a moment to view brief spotlights on just a few of Union’s many notable alumni who, through Union have been engaged, enlightened, and empowered toward a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D.

Union Institute & University

Some of our most notable alumni are featured below

Charles Simmons

Dr. Grace Jones
Dr. Leon Tarver