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Honoring Black history at NC State

NC State community,

Black History Month provides an important opportunity to learn, reflect upon and celebrate the diversity of experiences that unite our community and make our Pack strong. NC State joins in this celebration not just in February, but every day of the year. 

The NC State of today is much different from the institution that Ellen McGuire went to work for in 1889. McGuire, one of NC State’s first African American female employees, worked at the university for 50 years before retiring in 1939. NC State’s first Black undergraduates — including Irwin Holmes, the university’s first Black graduate — were admitted 17 years later, in 1956. Today, we have nearly 2,000 Black staff and faculty members, and the Black Alumni Society has around 15,000 active members. Last fall we also welcomed NC State’s most diverse incoming class ever.

This week and throughout the next month, join me in honoring Ellen McGuire and all of those who paved the way — and continue to do so — for greater equality, both within our Pack and beyond it. There will be many opportunities to recognize and appreciate the tremendous contributions of Black, African and African American people to our nation, our state and our university community. 

For example, the African American Cultural Center, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary of being located in Witherspoon Student Center, is sponsoring many of the month’s events with campus partners. Please take a moment to learn more about the center and its impact, as well as this month’s theme of Black Euphoria: Just B.E., which focuses on wellness, peace, contentment, tranquility and love. To learn more about all planned campus events celebrating Black History Month, please visit this calendar listing.

Although this month is a celebration, it’s also important for us to recognize that racial injustice still exists in our society. We mourn the loss of Tyre Nichols in Memphis and the many others we have lost to violent acts affecting our communities. I want to acknowledge the pain felt by members of our Pack. If you or others you know are struggling or need support, please take advantage of the many campus resources that are available to help.

As we work to create a more inclusive and welcoming community at NC State, each of us must continue to remove barriers and biases whenever and wherever we see them. That’s what it means to be a part of our community and advance the greater good in our world. 

Our university’s commemoration of Black History Month is an extension of our core values — particularly those dedicated to community and inclusion. Your sense of belonging and well-being are integral to your success, and I hope you seek out opportunities this month to engage, learn about and connect with Black history.

Randy Woodson