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Douglass Residential College

Douglass Programs Honor Black History Month

Dr. Barbara Ransby

Throughout the month of February, Douglass programs have gathered virtually to celebrate Black History Month—making space for students to share their stories, examine the College’s own evolution, and engage in critical dialogues.

This past semester, Douglass began Black Women’s Voices, a series of mentoring and discussion sessions hosted by Douglass staff members Imani Johnson DRC’15, Kayla Fowler DRC’17, and Madinah Elamin. The initiative's focus is to spark personalized conversations in which staff can prioritize open communication between Douglass and its students.

“As three Black women staff members at Douglass, we created the series with the impetus for fostering belonging and connection for Black women, who oftentimes find it difficult to secure and utilize resources, find allies, and simultaneously be themselves,” said Madinah Elamin, Director of the Douglass Global Village. “Our hope is that this series will implore our students to find their community, stay connected, and make space for other Black women students as they navigate Douglass and Rutgers.”

Thus far, meeting topics have included daily life at the University, reproductive health, self-care and mental health, the representation of Black women in the media, and more. In addition to the meetings, students connect outside the sessions, building community through messaging apps and sharing interests such as music and art.

“These small group sessions seek to build community for Black Women at Douglass in a safe environment,” said Elamin. “Now more than ever, these group conversations are so important for students who are having difficulty finding and building community—especially in our virtual world—and having many important albeit difficult conversations.”

“Programs like Black Women’s Voices run by Black staff mentors … reminded me that my experiences are real and that I have always mattered,” writes Rachel Antwi-Boasiako DRC’20 in her forthcoming op-ed in the Douglass Now, out later this semester.

In addition to Black Women's Voices, The Dean's Series: Critical Conversations on Black History continued this month with Dr. Barbara Ransby. Dr. Ransby presented her talk, "Freedom Dreams in Urgent Times: Finding Your Power and Using It" to the Douglass community on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. In the talk, Dr. Barbara Ransby, the John D. MacArthur Chair and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), discussed the critical need for racial equity and freedom in the current moment. Dr. Ransby drew on her long history as a scholar, author, and activist to offer her insights on the future of the Movement for Black Lives. She also offered the Douglass community reasons to remain hopeful that change is on the horizon. To view the recorded talk, please check back at the Douglass Webinar Library. To learn more about the Dean's Series, click here.