UC Black History Month applauds Black triumphs with lasting impact

Dynamic events weave a tapestry of stories into one singular history

In a spirited tribute to the indelible mark made by Black students, faculty and staff at the University of Cincinnati over the past two centuries, February unfolds with a cascade of activities. 

During Black History Month, each event spotlights unparalleled achievements, feats and an ongoing wave of positive social transformation.

'Kuamka,’ a Swahili expression signaling new beginnings, orchestrates a week of exciting events championing Black excellence. The 25th annual Kuamka Ball: Diamond Edition on Feb. 3 at UC’s Tangeman University Center Great Hall — hosted by the African American Cultural & Resource Center — promises an evening where the coronation of the newly elected Mr. and Ms. Kuamka will be nothing short of regal.

In mid-February, UC Blue Ash eagerly anticipates the presence of Bettina Love as the keynote speaker, guiding an afternoon of discourse on her bestselling literary creation, "Punished for dreaming: How school reform harms black children and how we heal." Find  a comprehensive list of AACRC-sponsored BHM events online.

UC Alumni Association’s African American Alumni Affiliate will play host to the 10th Onyx & Ruby Gala again on Feb. 17. This glitzy affair, doubling as the primary fundraiser for the Shani Scholarship – bolstering students pursuing study abroad and international co-op opportunities – will honor six outstanding local luminaries. Register and find more details online.

Throughout the month, UC’s Taft Research Center orchestrates Black FUTURE Month reflective dialogues, including the Department of Anthropology Colloquium Series titled "The social microbiome: What anthropology, race, and equity have to do with microbes." Find a complete list of Taft events online.

Black impact: A symphony of medicine, music and art

Portrait of UC's Dr. Alvin H. Crawford holding his clarinet with human spine in background

Alvin H. Crawford, MD

In the realm of medicine, Professor Emeritus Alvin Crawford, MD, boasts over 35 years of clinical expertise in orthopedics at UC Health. The retired founding director of the Crawford Spine Center at Cincinnati Children’s recently published his autobiography, "The Bone Doctor’s Concerto: Music, Surgery, and the Pieces in Between."

The narrative intricately weaves Crawford's link with his undergraduate music degree and his time spent harmonizing in jazz bands across the segregated South with his perseverance toward high achievements in medical school.

Rooted in his story are both systemic and deeply personal encounters with racism throughout his illustrious career. Crawford's autobiography serves as a poignant testimony to segregation, integration, ambition, hard work and audacious risk-taking.

“This book is crafted for universal understanding,” says Crawford. “My early foray into music equipped me with the memorization skills crucial for medical school, akin to musical note, timing and cadence memorization. I hope this book ignites a spark in others to embrace music education and reach for the pinnacle, regardless of their background or circumstances.”

Meanwhile, at UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, students enrolled in Professor Theresa Leininger-Miller’s art history course, “The Black Body in European Art,” are set to embark on an eight-day cultural immersion in the heart of New York City over spring break. 

Amidst the grandeur of historic and contemporary Black art exhibitions, the students will encounter firsthand the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s "Before We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period," the American Folk Art Museum's "Unnamed Figures: Black Presence and Absence in the Early American North" and the Guggenheim Museum’s "Going Dark: The Contemporary Figure at the Edge of Visibility," among other captivating showcases, just to name a few of the events. 

“Not only are we examining images featuring people of African descent by Europeans, but also counter narratives and contemporary art by African Americans,” says Leininger-Miller.

For more information, contact theresa.leininger@uc.edu

As the month-long events reflect and honor the strides made in academia, medicine, arts and beyond, UC is not only acknowledging Black history; it is actively shaping a present and future where diversity, equity and inclusion are integral components of its identity.

Featured image at top: Tribute to Black History Month/Courtesy of Unsplash.

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