Black History Month 2024

As we enter Black History Month, we’re excited to share some stories from the past year that celebrate members of CLA's community who identify as Black, African American, or African and that highlight important work being done in Black studies at UMN.

On this page, you’ll

  • Meet scholars and artists whose work confronts inequities while leaning into hope and joy.
  • Learn about figures and events from history through the scholarship of CLA students, alumni, faculty members, and community partners.
  • Find resources and opportunities to get involved, find community, and provide support.


The Dream Initiative

Archival image of Martin Luther King, Jr. in front of a crowd in Washington D.C. with a gold to maroon gradient over


In 2023–24, the College of Liberal Arts commemorates the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered the historic “I Have A Dream” speech. Inspired by historical and contemporary justice movements, the Dream Initiative invites Twin Cities organizations and communities to engage in opportunities that commemorate, foster reflection, educate, and amplify our shared, social justice aspirations and actions for change.

Explore the Library Guide

Explore this specially created library guide, "The Civil Rights Movement and the March on Washington, 60 Years Later."

The Dream Initiative Art Exhibition

The Dream Initiative virtual art exhibition features local and national artists inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous dream, and the impact the historic March on Washington had on our country and world.

What’s Next for the Dream?

Spring 2024 events in the What’s Next for the Dream? series will ask these questions.

  • What's next for economic inclusion? 
  • What's next for voting rights?
  • What's next for housing?
  • What's next for education?


Connecting with Community


Courses in Black, African & Diaspora Studies

Spotlight course: Introduction to African American Studies

Collage Black activists with the word "banned' in red and all caps stamped over part of the image
Illustration: Marta Parszeniew

AFRO 1011 - Introduction to African American Studies is an introduction to the study of people of African descent in the United States with linkages to Africa and connections to the African diaspora.

We will explore why people of African descent have occupied an oppressed position in this culture and globally and how they have resisted this oppression creating social change. Our major form of analysis is historical sociology, as well as the arts and humanities. We will examine changes over time and employ sociological, economic, cultural, and political tools for understanding the historical and contemporary positioning of African Americans. We will be centrally concerned with how domination, race, gender, and class shape Black life in the US and how resistance and change have occurred.

In our analyses we take seriously the deep intersectionality of systems of oppression as well as historic resistance to oppression. Critical race theory and Black feminist theory are important frames for our work. Moreover, the significance of the cultural creativity of African peoples is foundational to our understanding. We must be concerned with how Black people see themselves today. How social change is imagined in the 21st century informs our work.

3 credits
Fall 2024
Wednesdays, 5:00 – 7:30 PM
Fulfills: Race, Power, and Justice in the United States

Registration opens on





Where the Civil Rights Movement History Becomes a Reality: Walking in the Footsteps of Giants

The spring ‘24 course MLK 3000 - Civil Rights Research & Social Justice Immersion is designed to deepen students' understanding of the history of racism, justice movements, and the limitations of knowledge about historical figures to examine the social, economic, and political impacts of the civil rights movement, also known as the Black Freedom Movement.

At the heart of the course is an immersion experience, in which students will connect with the past while actively engaging with and moving toward the aspirations that inspired the civil rights movement: equity and justice for all regardless of race

Students will spend their spring break visiting significant locations of the civil rights movement and meeting with and interviewing leaders, historians, and civil rights icons who are still with us. Locations include:

  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery Alabama
  • Jackson and Philadelphia (Neshoba County), Mississippi

You can support these students by making a gift to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program Support Fund.

Support the MLK Immersion Experience 


Spotlight on CLA Departments & Programs

Department of African American & African Studies

Seeking to understand, explore, and invigorate our cultural heritage, the Department of African American & African Studies aspires to continue interrogating our past, to understand our present, and to promote a better future for humankind.

Degrees offered:

Make a gift to the Department of African & African Studies 

Center for Race, Indigeneity, Disability, Gender & Sexuality Studies

The RIDGS center supports interdisciplinary, intersectional research regarding questions of race, indigeneity, gender, and sexuality.

African Studies Initiative

A Title VI Comprehensive National Resource Center, the African Studies Initiative is changing narratives about Africa through transformative research, teaching, public engagement in African Studies University-wide, and providing outreach to K–16 educators and general audiences.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program

Situated CLA and with all CLA undergraduates eligible to join, the MLK Program specializes in serving students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or students of color (BIPOC). It is both an academic advising community and a social justice education community.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in CLA

The core values of the College of Liberal Arts include

  • freedom of thought and expression.

  • respect, diversity, and social justice.

  • excellence in all we do.

  • efficiency and adaptability in the achievement of our mission.

Learn about DEI in CLA

Make a gift to CLA's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Fund



Nationally, there are nine historically Black Greek letter organizations (the "Divine Nine"), and UMN currently has seven.






The Everlasting Legacy of MLK – A Peace of My Mind

Photos of students with quotes about what motivates them to graduate.


January 25 – March 17, 2024, Coffman Memorial Union Second Floor Gallery

View “The Everlasting Legacy of MLK” online

This exhibition was created by the organization A Peace of My Mind; a multimedia arts project. They set up their studio for CLA’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program and asked, “How is Dr. King’s legacy crucial and relevant today?”


Colorful heart with the words, Paint to Express.  Beige background. MTM, Liberal Arts Engagement Hub and Chicano and Latino Studies logos
Join Chicano Latino Studies and MTM in a relaxing artistic space to paint, eat, (there will be tacos!) y convivir. Canvas and painting materials provided. For those interested in making a heart for Mira Mi Corazon, we will also have wooden squares for you!

February Paint to Express Workshop: What Does Your Heart Say?

Thursday, February 1
4:30 – 6:30 PM
Liberal Arts Engagement Hub, 120 Pillsbury Hall
310 Pillsbury Dr SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Come paint with Memorialize the Movement (MTM) and the Department of Chicano & Latino Studies as part of MTM's Community Creates Series at the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub. MTM is a Black-led grassroots organization created in the wake of George Floyd's murder with the goal of collecting, preserving, and activating protest art.


A blurry photo of Fannie Lou Hamer with the letters of her name floating backwards on top
Bill Gaskins, Blackboard #15: Fannie Lou Hamer

Bill Gaskins: Black Mystery Month

March 26 - April 13
Regis Center for Art
405 21st Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55455

The exhibition is comprised of thirty black-and-white photographs with text. The artist will give a presentation about the exhibition on Thursday, April 4, 2024, at 12:00 PM in the InFlux Space, Regis Center for Art.

Learn about Black Mystery Month

Bill Gaskins artist talk

Share on: