‘The history of African Americans in our country provides lessons of perseverance, tragic exploitation, and achievement’


Jim Henderson, Interim Chancellor

February is Black History Month, and I encourage you all to take some time this month to engage in the activities on campus to highlight the remarkable achievements and history of the African American community and to learn more of this history. Whether reading of the remarkable heroism of the Tuskegee airmen or the tragic use of unsuspecting patients in the Tuskegee experiment, we all have much to learn. Health care issues for African Americans provide one area of emphasis during this month, with the disparity in health access a focus of the speaker Keven Newell at our MLK event last month. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated wide-ranging differences in health care access and associated wellness not just for African Americans, but for other marginalized populations as well.  How this disparity has developed and its impact on our future deserve our attention.

As we reflect on Black History Month, I ask you to spend some time with Martin Luther King’s celebrated Letter from the Birmingham Jail or Nobel Prize winner Tony Morrison’s “Beloved” to gain insight into the African American experience. Review the statement from Rep. Barbara Jordan during the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearings in 1974 on her view of the Constitution and African Americans. The history of African Americans in our country provides lessons of perseverance, tragic exploitation, and achievement. If you haven’t visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, I encourage you to do so, or at least make use of the resources they provide online. And I also hope that you’ll celebrate the African American history on our campus, from the first African American student to graduate from UW-Whitewater in the 1960s to the upcoming celebration of the life of Dr. Roger Pulliam and the renaming of Starin Hall as Pulliam Hall. Let’s continue to learn from the past as we forge a brighter and more inclusive future at UW-Whitewater. 

Jim Henderson

Interim Chancellor