Dear UMPI Community,
This February, the University of Maine at Presque Isle celebrates Black History Month and honors the contributions and sacrifices African Americans have made to and for society, as well as their inspirational impact upon this nation and our world. This recognition is particularly critical today, as our nation continues to struggle with its racial history. Indeed, two years into a global pandemic that has coincided with—and exacerbated—social, economic, and political turmoil, the challenges of such disruptions remain disproportionately felt by people of color. I hope that we can all find inspiration in the achievements of Black Americans and their historical—and ongoing—struggle against adversity and inequity.
Heroic individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and accomplishments we celebrated last month, or Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, John Lewis, Malcolm X, and Harriet Tubman, are widely recognized in terms of their leadership and sacrifice. But heroes, of course, possess a multitude of talents and abilities, from great artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Aaron Douglas, and Alma Thomas; to medical pioneers such as James McCune Smith, Charles Richard Drew, and Regina Marcia Benjamin; to writers such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and James Baldwin; to scientists and researchers such as George Washington Carver, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Mae Carol Jemison, and Gladys West. From athletes, to performance artists and musicians, to financial and business entrepreneurs, their accomplishments remind us that Black history is human history.
Just as important, though, are the countless individuals who—unnoted by formal records or accounts—established and maintained a culture of resolve, resilience, and resistance.
I hope we all take time this month not only to celebrate the achievements of those memorialized by history—but also of all those who are indeed, each and every day, making history and change in our daily lives.
The University of Maine at Presque Isle is committed to building and sustaining an inclusive community in which students, staff, and faculty of all experiences and backgrounds have the opportunity to achieve distinction in whatever programs and accomplishments they so choose, so that they might become the leaders, athletes, artists, and scientists of our future.