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Black Heritage Month at USF Kicks Off Feb. 1; Runs through Feb. 24

Look for the Institute on Black Life’s Annual Conference, USF’s first Black student returns, the Intercultural Student Leadership Conference and much more.

The team of Office of Multicultural Affairs Graduate Advisors (l-r) Jasmine Prince, Nyasha Bailey and Jorge Velasquez - headed by Bailey - helped organize Black Heritage Month at USF into a cohesive and dynamic series of events. 
Photo by Aimee Blodgett | USF News

By Barbara Melendez
     USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2016) – Black History Month is celebrated in the United States and Canada in February and in October in the United Kingdom. At USF the celebration is Black Heritage Month with a number of events for the entire university community. This year’s theme is “Sankofa: Incorporating our past into the present to make progress for the future.”

First-year graduate student Nyasha Bailey has taken on the task of organizing the month’s worth of activities and it’s her first time leading such an initiative.

“I have never shied away from challenges and view this as a growing opportunity professionally and personally,” she said and her hopes are high.

“I am excited about leading these events and the planning component but at the same time I think a lot about what the USF community will take away from this month. Yes, I want this month to be a celebration of Black culture and the progress Black individuals and groups throughout history have made, but I also want the USF community to take away a level of awareness for Black culture and that as a society we can to do more in this respect.”

Bailey doesn’t have to look far for assistance as she works in the Office of Multicultural Affairs where she is a graduate advisor.

“It has been challenging reaching out and inspiring involvement in functional areas where I may not know anyone, or not be as familiar with but the support and guidance of the people in my office has also been a large part of my preparedness to take on this task,” she said, singling out her fellow Graduate Advisors Jasmine Prince and Jorge Velasquez. “They have been there since the beginning of the school year with ideas and solutions that keep me invigorated about planning this month.”

Bailey added, “A majority of the Student Affairs departments have also been a great assistance to me and willing to encourage their students and colleagues to participate in Black Heritage Month.”

She also credits the Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Equal Opportunity with providing assistance as well and hopes the events she pulls together will attract a diverse audience. In addition, helming this project is providing Bailey with great experience as she’s majoring in college student affairs, a graduate-level program in the USF College of Education.

“I really want a multitude of faces and involvement in Black Heritage Month from staff, faculty, and students from all over the campus of USF,” she said. “I’m looking to have representatives from Campus Recreation, academic offices, global departments, housing, the Alumni Association, the School of Theatre & Dance, student organizations, etc., to submit program proposals or attend a program on the Black Heritage Month calendar and to also encourage their colleagues to do the same.”

An International Perspective

Born in Jamaica, Bailey came to the United States when she was five years old and she experienced a stark difference.

“It was the first time I was in environments that consisted of predominantly white individuals and the beginning of thinking of myself as ‘different,’” she said. “As the years progressed and I continued to interact with people of different races, some that looked like me, I realized that no two people of the same race or ethnicity have the same experiences or identity and learned to appreciate everyone’s differences.”

During the Black Heritage Month Opening Celebration Feb 4, the Office of Multicultural Affairs will celebrate the achievements of members of the USF community. Then Multicultural Affairs will highlight an outstanding diverse student leader among the USF community on its Facebook page, selecting from students nominated for exhibiting “academic leadership and having made notable contributions toward the development of leadership qualities in their fellow students and themselves, leadership in co-curricular activities, and/or extra-curricular activities at the university,” Bailey explained.

“I hope people who participate learn something new about Black culture and the significant accomplishments of many Black individuals of our past and the future. I also hope Black Heritage Month promotes opportunities for open dialogue and personal interactions between many cultures. These conversations and interactions can lead to a better understanding and appreciation for what experiences and daily dilemmas each of us goes through as we all try to make contributions to our families and our larger society.”

Among the month’s highlights are the Institute on Black Life’s 30th anniversary celebration and conference as well as other standouts.

Last year's Intercultural Student Leadership Conference attendees.

“One of the programs that I think will garner a lot of interest, is the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity’s plan to bring the first Black student at USF, to do a question and answer presentation,” Bailey said. “And this is the first time the Intercultural Student Leadership Conference will be held in February. Usually it’s showcased in April. I think it will be a great addition to the BHM programs as ISLC is designed to strengthen the engagement and retention of underrepresented students at USF.”

Above all, Bailey is excited about sharing her personal vision.

“For me Black Heritage Month is a time for me to reflect on Black Identity. Not just my own but my Black peers and colleagues. I look at Black Heritage Month as a way to celebrate and become more educated on the many faces of Black Identity.”


Look for the Black Heritage Month Kickoff on Monday, Feb. 1, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the MSC Atrium (sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs).

Feb. 2 Freedom and Justice: Perspectives on Civil Rights Lunch and Learn Video Series, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m., Grace Allen Room, USF Library (sponsored by the USF Institute on Black Life for Africa and the Diaspora and the Black Faculty and Staff Association).

Feb. 4 – The formal Opening Celebration will be held 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., MSC 2708, a dinner featuring speaker Katrice Albert, Ph.D., vice president for equity and diversity, University of Minnesota. Attendees will also learn the winners of this year’s Black Heritage Month Awards (sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs).

Feb. 5 Diversity Lecture Series: “But They Can’t Have Our Souls: Bearing Witness, Writing Wrongs, and Managing Racial Battle Fatigue in Higher Education,” 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., MSC 4200 (sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity).

Feb. 10 An Evening with Dr. Ernest P. Boger II, USF’s First Black Student,” 7 p.m., MSC Ballroom A (sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Inclusions and Equal Opportunity).

Feb. 11 Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Politics in Colombia, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Grace Allen Room, USF Library, with Aurora Vergara Figueroa, Ph.D., director of the Afrodiasporic Studies Center of Icesi University in Colombia and Ulrich Oslender, Ph.D., assistant professor of geography at the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, Florida International University (sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC)).

Feb. 16 – Poetic ‘N Pink, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., MSC 3707, Spoken word, singing, poetry and music highlights Black history while showcasing talented USF students (sponsored by Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc.).

Feb. 17 – Homegrown Humanities: “Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production: Diaspora and Black Transnational Scholarship in the United States and Brazil,” 3 p.m. – 5 p.m., Grace Allen Room, USF Library. Researchers, collaborators and allies in relationship with communities of color representing the fields of sociology, political science, anthropology and the humanities reflect on their multidimensional experiences (sponsored by the Department of Sociology and the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean).

Feb. 17 – 19 – Tunnel of Oppression, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Juniper Polar Hall. An interactive social justice theater experience with examples of privilege, oppression and power (sponsored by USF Housing & Residential Education).

Feb. 18 and 19 – Activism Matters: Scholarship, Engagement and Action!, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Part of the USF Institute on Black Life’s annual conference celebrating the program’s 30th Anniversary.

Day 1: At the Patel Center for Global Solutions: Morning plenary featuring scholar-activist Assistant Professor Bianca Williams, Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder, founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Denver, followed by workshops, seminars, a spoken word performance, book signings and a student poster session.

Day 2: At the Robert Saunders Library: Young local activists and elders discuss “Working Together Across Generations.” Interactive workshops.

Feb. 18 – Erasing the Stigma: Black Mental Health, 6:15 p.m. – 8 p.m., Marshall Student Center. An interactive seminar and workshop featuring a panel of Black therapists (sponsored by the USF Black Student Union).

Feb. 18 – KI Coffee House, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m., Marshall Student Center. An interactive discussion about the Black Lives Matter movement designed to help develop a list of steps to end police brutality and promote equality (sponsored by Kappa Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.).

Feb. 20 – Intercultural Student Leadership Conference, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Marshall Student Center. The conference provides time and space for educational sessions and discussion, and concludes with the creation of individual Dream, Believe, Achieve Action Plans outlining steps to help participants reach their goals (sponsored by the USF Office of Multicultural Affairs).

Feb. 24 – The Source is B.L.A.C.C., 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Black, Latino, African, Caribbean, Combined professionals will speak about their experiences and answers audience questions (sponsored by the African Student Association).

To find out more, click here or visit

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563

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