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Black and white photograph of a demonstration with African Americans during the 1960s.
Black History Month 2021

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

Black History Month 2021

Ohio University celebrates Black History Month throughout the month of February – celebrating Black heritage, encouraging reflection, and renewing our resilience in the face of current challenges. 

Expand to learn more about the 2021 Black History Month theme – The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

The black family has been a topic of study in many disciplines—history, literature, the visual arts and film studies, sociology, anthropology, and social policy. Its representation, identity, and diversity have been reverenced, stereotyped, and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time. The black family knows no single location, since family reunions and genetic-ancestry searches testify to the spread of family members across states, nations, and continents. Not only are individual black families diasporic, but Africa and the diaspora itself have been long portrayed as the black family at large.

While the role of the black family has been described by some as a microcosm of the entire race, its complexity as the “foundation” of African American life and history can be seen in numerous debates over how to represent its meaning and typicality from a historical perspective—as slave or free, as patriarchal or matriarchal/matrifocal, as single-headed or dual-headed household, as extended or nuclear, as fictive kin or blood lineage, as legal or common law, and as black or interracial, etc. Variation appears, as well, in discussions on the nature and impact of parenting, childhood, marriage, gender norms, sexuality, and incarceration.

The family offers a rich tapestry of images for exploring the African American past and present.

Source: Association for the Study of African American Life and History

Black Alumni Spotlights

Earl Hopkins 

Earl Hopkins

When Earl Hopkins learned he was to receive the most prestigious diversity honor bestowed upon an Ohio University student, he was floored.

In honor of Dr. Francine C. Childs, the first tenured African American professor at OHIO and longtime stalwart for social justice and equality, the Dr. Francine Childs Diversity Leadership Award recognizes individuals who promote the principles of social justice, leadership, cultural diversity and service to the campus and/or region.

Hopkins will never forget the moments that led up to walking across the Leadership Gala stage. He’d never been more nervous to accept an award in his life.

“I didn’t have to do a speech or anything, I was just in awe of Dr. Childs,” Hopkins noted. “As I sat at the dinner table with my family, waiting to hear her and Tyrone Carr announce my name to the stage, my hands and legs were nearly shaking the table off its legs. Once my name was called, I walked slowly to the stage where I got to embrace and thank her for the recognition. It meant the world to me, and while Dr. Childs will be missed by many, her legacy will live on.”

A 2019 journalism alumnus, Hopkins said Dr. Childs was a foundational part of Ohio University. To him, she was everything any alumni or faculty member should aspire to be — a transcendent figure at the university and in the local community.

It’s safe to say Hopkins draws much inspiration from Dr. Childs and her role as a change catalyst in the lives of young people.

A general assignment reporter for The Columbus Dispatch and a contributing writer for its subsidiary publications, Columbus Alive, Columbus Monthly and Columbus CEO, Hopkins aspires to become an executive editor for a local news publication. He knows what kind of impact he could have in that position.

“For decades, news leaders have been discussing ways publications can mirror the communities they serve. But that comes with diversifying the world of news, which they’ve often avoided,” he explained. “Without the presence of POC, the stories of Black, Latinx and Asian-American communities aren’t done as effectively. While there are plenty of journalists who are dedicated to covering these issues and do them at a high level, they’re not as capable of empathizing or understanding these communities compared to reporters who grew up in them.”

Hopkins wants to be in a position to give young Black men and women an opportunity to carve out a career in journalism, which, he said, isn’t encouraged as much as other career paths in his community.

“I know a lot of my own family members with similar talents as a writer, who were directed toward other professional directions – some better, some worse,” Hopkins said. “But with having an opportunity to uplift others, it’s a person’s responsibility to ensure other young children have the same resources – if not more.”

As a student at Ohio University, Hopkins had a plethora of resources available to him. He can say with confidence that without these experiences, he wouldn’t be who he is today.

Hopkins was the president of the Black Student Communication Caucus, known for hosting the annual poetry slam and Women in Communication series. He was also a contributing writer for WOUB’s Hardwood Heroes and Gridiron Glory, as well as Thread Magazine, Backdrop Magazine and Fangle Magazine. During his senior year, he worked as a freelance writer for The Athens Messenger, where he started his own “Local Music Series” column for the 173-year-old daily paper.

Between his time in the newsroom, Hopkins was a residential assistant for three years and the president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, Phi Chapter. His time as Phi Chapter president was one of his most difficult, but rewarding, moments at OHIO.

“After juggling MLK week and other programming efforts, I’d be exhausted, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world,” he explained. “With these experiences, I learned how to properly lead and develop engaging programs that positively impacted our student body and the larger Athens community. Without being a part of these organizations and meeting supportive faculty members like Dr. Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, Tyrone Carr, Allison Hunter and others, I wouldn’t have challenged myself to take on these organizational roles and grow as a leader.”

His growth didn’t stop upon graduating from OHIO. Each day, Hopkins sets out with a goal to learn something new. He doesn’t want to be in a position where he’s not gaining knowledge in his day-to-day.

“I think that’s why I chose to be a journalist. I learn something new with each assignment,” said Hopkins, who also owns his own photography business, Armani Photography. “When your curiosity begins to wane, you stop growing. It’s my mission to learn something new each day, whether by listening to a podcast, reading a book or going down a random rabbit hole of Google searches, we have to make a conscious effort to expand our minds.”

As the Ohio University community celebrates Black History Month this month, Hopkins urges people, especially those who are not Black, to do the same — make a conscious effort to expand their minds. He said it’s important non-Black people learn more about Black culture on their own, rather than rely on past recollections from school textbooks and the like.

“In time, they will get a true sense of our impact in this country and gain a more well-rounded perspective,” Hopkins added. “It's important to acknowledge that Black history transcends beyond the month of February. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up acknowledging February as a time of added recognition, but we need to honor our history and celebrate the contributions of prominent and lesser known figures every chance we get, not just 28 or sometimes 29 days out the year. Black History Month is a vital part of American history and should be respected as such.”

The journalist said Black History Month is representative of what most Black people already know: this country wouldn’t be what it is without the presence of Black social activists, scientists, politicians, educators, inventors, and so on.

“While I think Black History Month should be celebrated, our contributions can’t be encapsulated in a month’s time,” he said. “It’s not enough.”

According to Hopkins, the best way to uplift Black voices every day, not just during February, is to listen. Often, he finds that’s the most difficult aspect of having these kinds of conversations.

“To aid the oppressed, you have to know what’s suppressing them. It also helps when people who are able to articulate these concerns are given a platform, or at least room to create their own,” Hopkins noted. “As OHIO has done in the past with the Scripps’ 90 Minute Series, the university developed programs around race and diversity, and allowed the audience to engage in the conversation.”

Jasmine Lambert 

Jasmine Lambert

There’s a public defender in South Carolina who walks into her office at work each morning, motivated and inspired to help people that can’t afford private attorneys. In that office, you’ll find a photo of Athens, Ohio. 

To Jasmine Lambert, it’s much more than a picture of a small town in Southeast Ohio. Some of the most inspiring moments of her life took place at Ohio University. 

She remembers young Black men marching along the Athens bricks during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Silent March each year. She thinks back on the Blackburn Spencer Homecoming Pageant when her fellow scholars gathered together, dressed to the nines, and all felt so much love and inspiration in the room. 

“My time at OHIO was nothing short of amazing,” said Lambert, who graduated from OHIO in 2017 with two bachelor’s degrees in political science and journalism. “I definitely could not have asked for a better place to go to undergrad.” 

One of the best experiences Lambert had at OHIO was being a part of the Templeton Scholars Program, a comprehensive scholarship program designed for academically talented students. The Program honors John Newton Templeton — OHIO’s first African American graduate, Class of 1828 — and his legacy, with an emphasis on academic excellence, leadership, and campus and community involvement at Ohio University. 

“It gave me and many other diverse students the opportunity to leave college without any student loan debt and for that, I’m extremely grateful,” Lambert noted. “We were required to maintain a certain GPA, so it always pushed me to do my best with my schoolwork. We also had to take different types of leadership courses every semester and that helped provide me with leadership skills that I use today.”

The Templeton Scholars Program encouraged Lambert to make the most of her time at the University. As a result, she was president of the Ohio University Association of Black Journalists; she was a member of Black Student Union and the Black Student Cultural Programming Board; and she was an OMSAR scholar. 

Lambert was a peer mentor for OHIO’s Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention (OMSAR), and she went on the first-ever study abroad trip to Jamaica that OMSAR sponsored. 

“I received departmental honors in political science, so I wrote an honors thesis on welfare policy in the United States,” Lambert added. “I can honestly say that all the people in the OMSAR office shaped me, especially Alison Moore and Dr. Jacob Okumu. Winsome Chunnu in the Multicultural Center was one of my go-to people to talk to. I also really enjoyed President Roderick McDavis and his wife (he was president of OHIO my entire time). I had the opportunity to speak with them multiple times and they were always so encouraging and gracious with their time. I had a very thriving social life and met some of my lifelong friends that I still talk to almost every day.”

Upon graduating from Ohio University, Lambert and two fellow Bobcats, Alexis Apparicio and Jarman Smith, all attended The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law together. While law school was one of the biggest obstacles she’s faced thus far, Lambert knew she wasn’t alone.

“Law school is very intense and it requires a lot of time management,” she said. “I will definitely say that my journalism education helped a lot with my legal writing classes in terms of grammar and writing precision. I also went to law school with two fellow Black Bobcats, Alexis and Jarman, and we really looked out for each other.” 

Lambert is practicing criminal defense today, with a career goal of becoming a judge. But, she’s still putting her journalism skills to good use. Another goal she has is to grow her food blog, Brunch in the Summertime, where she eats yummy food and writes reviews about it. 

Additionally, Lambert aspires to start a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of children with incarcerated parents. She believes that everything starts at home.

“People are never born criminals, they just sometimes feel like they don’t have any other choices and end up in the prison system,” Lambert explained. “I want to show kids that there are other options besides following in their parent’s footsteps, because it is likely that their parents also grew up with unfortunate circumstances.”

Lambert knows that often times, children yearn for a shoulder to lean on, someone to advocate for them, and for someone to listen. 

As the Ohio University community recognizes Black History this month, Lambert urges people to take the time to listen. 

“During Black History Month and even year-round, there are a lot of Black voices sharing stories and tributes and I think it’s important for people not of color to listen to those and understand that is their truth whether they disagree or not,” Lambert said. “I also think it’s important to be a vocal ally. I think a lot of people not of color consider themselves allies to Black people, but it really means nothing if you see injustices or mistreatment and don’t say or do anything because instead of uplifting Black voices you are being complicit in tearing them down.”

As a Black woman, Lambert reflects on and stands strong in her culture daily, but she believes it’s important for people of all races to take a moment to reflect on the history of Black people, because it’s a large part of the history of America. 


Explore Black History

  • Ohio University Black History Pinterest Board

    Peruse materials related to Black history & African-American student life at Ohio University from collections of University Archives, Mahn Center for Archives & Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.

  • Black History Tour of Athens

    This virtual tour focuses on achievements of African Americans in Athens, many of which emplaced the foundations for future successes of African Americans in and outside of our community.

  • Reading List from Alden Library

    Alden Library offers a collection of general and subject-specific materials on anti-racism.

View All 2021 Black History Month Events

Please check back regularly as event information will be added and updated throughout the month.

Download 2021 BHM Calendar (PDF)

Featured Events



Black History Month Series - Hosted by the NAACP

Every Monday in February, join the NAACP for lectures on the following topics:

February 1 - African American Political Economy
February 8 - African American Political Thought
February 15 - African American Social Movements
February 22 - Intersectionality and the Black Diaspora

Each of these events will be held virtually via Zoom.

Zoom Log-in information: Meeting ID – 995 1410 6755  |  Password – BHM2021



Colorism and Anti-Blackness in the Latinx Community

Wednesday, February 10th, 7 p.m.

Hosted by: Latino Student Union and EL787

Join us as we discuss colorism and anti-blackness imbedded in the Latinx communities and ways to start fighting back these norms.

Email latinostudentunionou@gmail.com to obtain the Zoom link.


Picture of Nimco - Guest Presenter for the event.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): An African Issue, with an African Solution

Thursday, February 11th, 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.

Brought to Ohio University by the AHA Foundation. Co-Sponsored by the Women's Center and Multicultural Center. Nimco Ali, co-founder of The Five Foundation, will speak about her experience of female genital mutilation (FGM) within a broader context of what audience members can do to end FGM. Through her story, we will learn more about what FGM is, the rates of FGM, and the psychological and physical impact of FGM. Audience members will leave with some next steps as to how they can support global initiatives to end FGM, as well as how they can provide support to those who have survived FGM, as a friend, family member, social worker, teacher, or medical service provider.

Please register by February 9th. Log-in information will be sent to those who register the day prior to the event.




Donna Brazile

A Conversation with Donna Brazile

Wednesday, February 17th, 5:00 p.m.

Hosted by the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, BSCPB, and the Multicultural Center. 

This event with be hosted virtually, via Zoom. Log-in information will be sent to those who register the day prior to the event.

About Donna Brazile

Veteran political strategist Donna Brazile is an adjunct professor, author, syndicated columnist, television political commentator, Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation at the Democratic National Committee, and former interim National Chair of the Democratic National Committee as well as the former chair of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. 

Ms. Brazile is a contributor to Fox News and was formerly a contributor to ABC News and CNN. Ms. Brazile was the recipient of a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Program, Good Morning America (2016-2017) in connection with her work with ABC. She has also been a syndicated newspaper columnist for Universal U’Click and a prolific writer with articles appearing in nearly every major newspaper in the nation. She moonlights as an actress and is especially honored to have made three cameo appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife, and two cameo appearances on Netflix’s series House of Cards. She most recently appeared on BET's Being Mary Jane. Ask her and she’ll tell you that acting, after all, is the key to success in politics. 

Ms. Brazile has worked on every presidential campaign from 1976 through 2000, when she became the first African-American to manage a presidential campaign. She is currently on the board of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Ms. Brazile is the proud recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Louisiana State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically Black, Catholic institution of higher education in the United States. 

She is the founder and managing director of Brazile & Associates LLC, a general consulting, grassroots advocacy, and training firm based in Washington, DC. 

Register for this event by February 14th. Log-in information will be sent to registrants the day prior to the event.



Picture of Dr. Derrick E. White

First Ted Rose Lecture Series - College Sports, Social Justice, and Historical Memory

Thursday, February 18th, 6:00 p.m.

The First Annual Ted Rose Lecture Series presents Dr. Derrick E. White 

About Dr. White

Dr. White is a Professor of History and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. White earned his Ph.D. in history from The Ohio State University. He was a visiting associate professor of History at Dartmouth College and been awarded fellowships and grants from the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of Florida, the University of Kansas, and the University of North Carolina.

He is the author of Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Jake Gaither, Florida A&M, and the History of Black College Football (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) and The Challenge of Blackness: The Institute of the Black World and Political Activism in the 1970s (University Press of Florida, 2011; paperback 2012)He also co-edited Winning While Losing: Civil Rights, the Conserva-tive Movement, and the Presidency from Nixon to Obama (University Press of Florida, 2014) with Kenneth Osgood.

The lecture series is cosponsored by the African American Studies Department, the History Department, the Political Science Department, the National Association of Colored People (NAACP), and the Black Student Organization Coalition and Multicultural Center (MCC).

Find registration and log-in information via the University Calendar.


Andrew Jackson Davison

Andrew Jackson Davison Club

Tuesday, February 23rd, 3:00 p.m.

Hosted by the Athens Middle School Andrew Jackson Davison Club, BSCPB, Division of Diversity and Inclusion, and Multicultural Center.

Check back soon for registration and log-in information.


"Avant-Grad: OHIO’s Trailblazers” podcast

Featuring President Emeritus Dr. Roderick J. McDavis

Wednesday, February 24, at Noon and 7 p.m.

The next episode of the @ohiou "Avant-Grad: OHIO’s Trailblazers" podcast features Dr. Roderick J. McDavis, OHIO’s first Black president. Catch the video premiere next week via YouTube, on Wed., Feb. 24 at 12 noon and 7 p.m.! To register, visit https://lnkd.in/e_iSefj. OHIO students and alumni who attend get a chance to win $50 to spend at The Bobcat Store!


Emanual movie cover

OHIO Challenging Dialogues for Contemporary Issues Lecture Series - Featuring Documentary "Emanuel" by Alumnus Dane Smith '84

Tuesday, February 23rd, 7–9:15 p.m.

As a part of this virtual event, we will collectively watch a 75-minute documentary Emanuel, a film about the 2015 Charleston, SC church shooting that killed nine Black members in an act of terrorism, the history of race relations in Charleston, and the significance of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the national conversation of race in America today.

Following the screening, you'll hear from alumnus, Dane Smith '84 (BSC, Organizational Communication), who was the Executive Producer of the film and will moderate a discussion with two family members of some who were lost.

Learn MoreRegister

Ebony Bobcat Network logo

EBN Panel

Wednesday, February 24th, Noon

Hosted by EBN and Division of Diversity and Inclusion

Check back soon for registration and log-in information.


Picture of Nimco - Guest Presenter for the event.

Fractured Freedom: Navigating Race, Identity, and Self Promotion Online

Wednesday, February 24th, 6:30 p.m.

Co-Sponsored by the Women’s Center, BSCPB, Multicultural Center, and the AAUW Student Group.

Freedom is a lofty goal for many of us and an unattainable one for most. This is most evident when feminists across genders express, share and promote themselves online. While we are free to do so, navigating the challenges—including trolls, mansplaining and pushback—is part of what comes with that freedom.

Joshunda Sanders is an author and proud Bronx native. She was the recipient of a Hedgebrook Residency in 2017. Her work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Teen Vogue, Salon, Publishers Weekly, Bitch Magazine, Gawker, The Week, The UTNE Reader, Kirkus Reviews, on NPR and in dozens of anthologies, newspapers, magazines, websites, textbooks and encyclopedias. She gave a TED talk in 2013, the same year she presented at South by Southwest Interactive. Her publications include: Single & Happy: The Party of Ones, How Racism and Sexism Killed Traditional Media: Why the Future of Journalism Depends on Women and People of Color, the novella, All City and a memoir, The Beautiful Darkness: A Handbook for Orphans. She is writing a sequel to All City & a collection of short stories & a work of historical fiction. She lives in New York City.

Register for this event by February 22nd. Log-in information will be sent to registrants the day prior to the event.