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Black History Month at UIU

Black History Month is dedicated to recognizing the role of Black Americans in U.S. history: celebrating their achievements, contributions, and rich culture through a variety of engaging and educational programs.

In 1926 the second week of February was observed as “Negro History Week.” That week was chosen because within it fell the birthdays of former President Abraham Lincoln and prominent abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglas. In the late 1960’s the celebration expanded, thanks in large part to the Civil Rights Movement, to include the entire month of February.

UIU alum Nelson Evans came back to campus to speak at a previous BHM event. Click to Read More!

Together, the Multicultural Subcommittee, a subcommittee to the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) Committee, and the newly formed Student Diversity Union, worked to bring both virtual and in-person opportunities to celebrate Black History Month to Upper Iowa University. For updates on the schedule of events and available resources please continue to revisit this page.

In addition, visit daily for the inspiring quote of the day. Quotes from Black leaders from throughout American history were selected to share throughout the month.

Black History Month Quote of the Day


Scheduled Events (all times CST)

Volunteer Reading Series: Every Wednesday

Members of the Student Diversity Union (SDU) will be reading to children at the local daycare and preschool school in Fayette.

Sticker Sales: Every Thursday

Every Thursday between 12-1pm, members of BTQ will be selling Black History Month and Black Pride stickers in the Cove, located in the Student Center.

February 7th at 6:30pm, Student Center Commons: Student Diversity Union Meet & Greet

Enjoy some free mock-tails and meet the members of the Student Diversity Union (SDU). Come join in on the conversation! The SDU was organized this academic year. They’ve had fruitful meetings sharing life experience shedding light on inequity, discussing entrepreneurship, slam poetry and activism, to name a few. All are welcome to join this month’s SDU meeting and learn more about the organization.

The Mission of the SDU is to provide the best quality of life for all of our students on campus regardless of race. The SDU works towards this through providing a safe space to share life experiences, hosting events celebrating different cultural backgrounds, raising awareness, community service, and allowing for a better understanding of cultures other than oneself. The SDU seeks to enrich Northeast Iowa with diverse backgrounds and inspire growth in awareness of the realities people of color face in America today.

Mock-tails available while they last!

February 9th at 12:10 PM CST: A Discussion on Race & Racism in the U.S., Student Center Ballroom A & via zoom

During this conversation, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Nickie Michaud Wild, will give a brief historical/social introduction of the topic of Racism and Lived Experience. Earnest Tucker and Tiffany Parker will focus on issues of race in the context of their lived experiences in school and their early career. This conversation will be accessible in-person and via zoom – see below for zoom link.

Nickie Michaud Wild, is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UIU. Nickie began at UIU in 2019 and has taught at UW-Milwaukee, University at Albany, State University of New York (where she received her PhD), and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Nickie enjoys teaching Sociology because it allows us to discuss not only current social issues, but how and why they came to be how there are. She explains that UIU is a great environment for her, because it has much smaller class sizes than anywhere she’s taught previously, and in-depth conversations can be had. Nickie shared, “I believe discussing race is important because the US is unique among any country in the world. It is almost entirely made up of people whose ancestors did not originate here. Yet we continue to have struggles based on our history of both immigration and the legacy of slavery. The only way to address these issues is to meet them head-on, however uncomfortable that may be. Racism affects everyone in some way, either directly or indirectly, in ways many people don’t even see. For our country to be truly prosperous for everyone today, we must all be knowledgeable of our past and present, the good and the bad.”

Tiffany Parker is an Enrollment Coordinator for UIU. She resides in Bettendorf, IA with her husband Aaron and their two children, Taryn and Tara. She is responsible for recruiting new students as well as advising them throughout their academic journey. Tiffany loves working at UIU because it provides her with “an opportunity to connect with students from all walks of life and support them during their time at UIU.” Tiffany jumped on the opportunity to be a part of this discussion. She explains that, “It is important to discuss race because it plays a large role in our history and continues to impact and influence how we live. Race is the first thing we see when encountering another person, yet, we have been conditioned not to talk about it to avoid feelings of discomfort, defensiveness, and frustration. But it is healthy to discuss race as it allows us to hear and appreciate different points of view, and is an opportunity to educate one another and begin repairing the damage that has been done throughout the course of history.”

Earnest Tucker (AKA Coach Tucker) is the Deffensive Back coach for the UIU football team.  Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, he loves helping, molding, and challenging our young people to prepare them for this world. When asked why he wanted to discuss this topic, Coach Tucker explained that, “It is important for me to talk about this topic because racism still exists today, and people may be going through the same things I went through, so my story might give others strength to overcome whatever they are going through.”

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February 15th at 6pm via FB Live: Alumni Speaker Series with Rebecca Francis '19 & '20

Rebecca Francis ’19 & ’22 

Business Administration & MPA Program – Online

Presentation: Purpose on Accident

Rebecca is a supporter and bold advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a practitioner for DEI efforts across business, government, non-profit, and education, she helps organizations assess barriers and prepare to integrate seamless DEI efforts into their business frameworks. Over her 9+ years of leadership, Rebecca has worked with local and corporate, educational, and non-profit brands, supporting the transformational efforts of companies at all stages. Her support brings a mixture of expertise, passion, vision, and creative style to make an organic connection for the ultimate takeaways.

Facing many obstacles as a young college student where she had to push through and find the next opportunity for success, Rebecca knows first hand that our mistakes are not always considered mistakes and that sometimes they happen on purpose. She will talk about how each of us can embrace our “mistakes” and turn them into accomplishments.

All are invited to join the session live through the University’s Facebook page After the event, you can access the recorded session on:

February 21st 8pm at Pete’s Bar & Grill: Savon Bartley, Spoken Word Artist

During this spoken word performance, poet, performer and playwright, Savon Bartley, explores the nuances of masculinity, social justice, identity, love and mental health through the lense of poetry, storytelling, and hip hop. Learn more about the work of Savon Bartley:

There will be coffee and pastries FREE for UIU students.

Fayette & UIU History

Learn more about Fayette and Iowa Black History

Below we provide a brief review of early Fayette and Iowa Black history. In addition, to the right, in “Learn More”, you can learn more about the first black woman to graduate UIU and the family origin of Fayette, Iowa’s Watermelon Days.

1851:            Iowa is the 3rd state to allow interracial marriage.

1852:            Fayette County: An area known as ‘the colored settlement’ was established between Fayette and West Union.  Black and mulatto (mixed) families moved from Illinois to the new farming community north of Fayette.  They built their own school house, and several students continued their education at Upper Iowa University with some becoming excellent teachers.

1857:            Upper Iowa University opens January 7 as an interracial and co-educational institution.  Two years earlier the University of Iowa offered their first classes to both men as women, but it was not interracial .

1857:            Iowa’s Constitution was ratified. After much debate it was decided that ‘Negroes should have the right to provide testimony in court’ and ‘Negroes should have the right of suffrage (the right to vote)’

1861-1865    Civil War.  All Upper Iowa University male students volunteer to fight in Iowa Regiments for the Union Army.[1]

1879:            Upper Iowa University admits Susan Angeline Collins, UIU’s first female African American student.  Others soon followed, and there was likely continuous enrollment of students of African American descent since 1879.

1969:            The Brotherhood was formed at Upper Iowa University ‘to improve relationships between blacks and whites on campus.’ By 1983 this purpose had changed to ‘participate in worthy undertakings for the improvement of all ethnic and minority groups on campus and in the community.’ Alpha Nu Omega fraternity grew out of the Brotherhood.

Click here to learn more about African Americans in Fayette and at Upper Iowa University up to the early 1900s (UIU Library Archive Site)

[1] Not all students actually fought.  One student dropped out when his young wife requested it, and others were not found to be physically fit.

Resources to Learn More & Engage

Black Artists + Designers Guild

This nonprofit, created by Malene Barnett, was created to carve out space for Black design talent, creating opportunities for our members to thrive and reaching out to industry allies to support the great work of visionary Black artists and designers. BADG is building a more equitable and inclusive creative culture by advancing a community of independent Black makers in creative industries.

Black Culinary History

Black Culinary History was started to preserve and pay homage to the collective Black culinary heritage. “Black people from all over the African diaspora have come here, by force and by choice, since the birth of this nation and literally built what we call American cuisine. There are amazing, diverse, and talented Black food folks who are brilliant writers, historians, chefs, educators, farmers, winemakers, mixologists, and activists. This site endeavors to showcase all of these facets …”

Black Histories, Black Futures

Learn about defining moments in the past and present, and the future of the Black experience in the United States. From videos, stories and the arts, this site provides many ways to explore and learn more:

Black Lives Matter

The official #BlackLivesMatter Global Network builds power to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe:

24/7 Black Leadership Advancement Consortium

24/7 BLAC seeks to advance economic equity and vitality for Black communities. Located in Waterloo, Iowa, this non-profit’s objective is “To create access through education, employment opportunities and participation in programs that are centered in blackness and impact the ability to generate wealth, advance professionally, and leverage talent in entrepreneurship and business.”

Black Mental Health Alliance

An organization that connects individuals with therapists and provides professional training:

Black Youth Project

The Black Youth Project is a platform that highlights the voices and ideas of Black millennials. Through knowledge, voice, and action, the organization works to empower and uplift the lived experiences of young Black Americans today.

BEAM – Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective

BEAM is a national training, movement building and grant-making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness and liberation of Black and marginalized communities.

Civil Rights Digital Library

The Civil Rights Digital Library promotes an enhanced understanding of the Movement by helping users discover primary sources and other educational materials from libraries, archives, museums, public broadcasters, and others on a national scale.

Civil Rights Trail

Learn more about the U.S. Civil Rights Trail in this interactive map. Just choose your state and go on a Civil Rights Trail tour:

Explore the Greenwood district of Tulsa Oklahoma

The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 is among the worst racial terror attacks in the nation’s history — as well as the government’s culpability. What happened was deliberately hidden in history but The New York Times pieced together archival maps and photographs, with guidance from historians, to construct a 3-D model of the Greenwood neighborhood – known as America’s Black Wall Street – as it was before the destruction: Here you can read about thriving 100 block Greenwood district of Tulsa Oklahoma, explore the photos and interactive map and learn about the massacre that ended it all.

Inclusive Cultural University

Based out of Des Moines, Iowa, this non-profit’s mission is “To empower each person with the consciousness of the part they play to promote an inclusive, safe, and equitable society.” ICU works with schools, corporations and organizations to create “safe zones”; a space that generates conscious thinking into positive actions.

National Museum of African American History & Culture

An interactive, multifaceted educational space dedicated to helping visitors connect and engage with African American history and culture in ways that expand perspectives, spark curiosity and creativity, and increase knowledge. Explore the exhibit virtually:


An organization that works to disrupt inequality, dismantle racism, and accelerate change in key areas including criminal justice, health care, education, climate, and the economy.

NAMI’s Sharing Hope Program

Sharing Hope is a three-part video series that explores the journey of mental wellness in Black communities through dialogue, storytelling and a guided discussion.

National Urban League

The National Urban League is a historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization with 90 affiliates serving 300 communities, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than two million people nationwide. www.nul.og

Official Black Wall Street

The largest platform for Black-owned businesses with thousands of options for customers who want to support Black-owned businesses.

Professional Diversity Network

This job connection resource is designed specifically to promote diversity in the workplace.

Saint Heron Community Library

This growing media center provides access to an expansive range of Black and Brown voices in poetry, visual art, critical thought and design. “The library’s focus is education, knowledge production, creative inspiration, and skill development through works by artists, designers, historians, and activists from around the world.”


UIU Library Resources
for Black History Month