Dear CEE Community,
Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of members of the Black community and honor their contributions to our nation and society. In light of the difficult racial and social climate that we find ourselves in today, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the start of this very important month.
In CEE today we value equity and justice for all, and we draw on the experiences and knowledge that come with diverse identities for our strength. Historically, that has not always been the case. Our department was founded in 1837; it was not until 50 years later, in 1887, that the first Black student graduated from CEE (and engineering). That student’s name was Frederick Pelham, and I encourage you to learn more about his life and achievements here.
Today we honor Pelham’s trailblazing legacy through our Pelham Scholars Program, which provides tuition support and professional development opportunities to master’s students who share our commitment to diversity. The program is jointly supported by industry sponsors who generously offer resources and time. We are working hard to expand this program further in the coming years.
Throughout the month, we will be featuring stories and advice from Black CEE alumni on Instagram. I also encourage you to attend one of the many events organized by groups across campus in celebration of Black History Month, including:
- February 1: A Conversation with Thought Leader and Change Maker LaTosha Brown (Multi Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA))
- February 5: Flash Talk: Ancient Africa in the Time of Black Lives Matter (Kelsey Museum of Archaeology)
- February 9: Broadside and Lotus: Black-Owned Presses in Detroit (University Library)
- February 12: Douglass Day 2021 (University Library)
- February 12: Deepening Democracy through Equitable Climate Action (School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS))
- February 15-19: U-M Africa Week (University-wide)
- February 19: Representations of Empowerment and Resilience in the Black Experience (William L. Clements Library)
- Throughout February: Pan-African Pulp Exhibit (University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA))
Not only do we support Black Lives Matter, but we acknowledge the great contributions and sacrifices made by the Black community to advance our society. Today may be the beginning of Black History Month, but that does not mean that our commitment to advancing racial equity and justice for all stops at the end of the month. Please join me in working toward a more equitable and just future every day of the year.
Jerome P. Lynch
Professor and Donald Malloure Department Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering