Featured Image: ELLE P STEWART YOUNG WOMEN OF EXCELLENCE CHAPTER WITH PRINCIPAL TERESA QUIIN AND DR DURANT, KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Emily Jackson

February is Black History Month and the University of Toledo commenced the celebration with an annual luncheon, honoring a few of the community’s African American leaders.

UT’s Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted the Black History Month Kickoff Luncheon Saturday Feb. 3 at 11:30 a.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

DREW WILLIAMS SINGING LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING
DREW WILLIAMS SINGING LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING

The theme of this year’s celebration was “A Different World: Honoring Our Past, A Journey to Our Future.”

Guyton Mathews, chair of the Black History Month Committee, said they chose the theme based on the 90’s television show, “A Different World.”

“We decided to add the tagline ‘Honoring Our Past, A Journey to Our Future’ to show that we do respect and acknowledge what has been done in the past and the groundwork that has been laid for our advancement,” Mathews said in an interview with UT News.

The committee chose Romules Durant, superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, to give the keynote address.

Michelle Feliz, assistant vice president for Student Success and Inclusion, said the committee chose Durant based on his role in the community.

“We were looking for a leader in our community, a leader in the African American community, someone who’s making a difference in the community, Feliz said. “And so his name came to the top.”

KEYNOTE SPEAKER DR. ROMULES DURANT
KEYNOTE SPEAKER DR. ROMULES DURANT

During his speech, he shared the story of his father, who was a former gang member, and how he turned his life around to raise successful children like Durant, Feliz said.

She said Durant also spoke about Martin Luther King Jr. and his quote ‘If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl but, whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.’

“He talked about our charge to make the world a better place, whether we’re crawling, walking or running… what should we be doing to fly? For the young people, that is getting an education,” Feliz said.

About 180 people came to hear Durant’s speech, many of them TPS and UT students.

WAITE HIGH SCHOOL YOUNG MEN OF EXCELENCE
WAITE HIGH SCHOOL YOUNG MEN OF EXCELENCE

“My ultimate goal is that I can inspire someone toward greatness by sharing the challenges I’ve faced and the goals I’ve accomplished,” Durant said in an interview with UT News.

Feliz said that the kickoff luncheon is a signature event for Black History Month, one that UT will continue to offer so that the community can be engaged with the UT community.

The Office of Multicultural Student Success and a number of UT organizations will continue to host events honoring Black History Month, including Black Trivia and the Black Student Union Fashion Show, throughout February.

For a full list of these events, please visit here.

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