Icons of an ear (listen), a brain (learn), and a fist (act).

Combating Racism:
Listen. Learn. Act.
February 2021

The killing of Black men and women; the history of racism in our country, state, and university; the unkept promises and continued impact of systemic racism; and the current iteration of Black Lives Matter and its awareness by the general public have given rise to new fights and demands in an ages-long struggle.

Sharing the theme “Listen. Learn. Act.” introduced by the UO’s Common Reading Program for the year, the resources here provide opportunities for you to participate, contribute and move toward change. They also highlight and elevate work to help create greater understanding of the full heritage of African Americans and BIPoC communities who endure racial injustice and continue with courage, contributions and creativity. We will continue adding resources and highlighting work throughout the academic year as we know this is a journey our community and society as a whole must continuously walk.


Black History Month 2021 over a green, yellow, and red paint lines with a black fist in the center

Black History Month at the UO and beyond

“Black History is history,” says Ellis Mimms, a physics major and Black Studies minor, graduating in 2022. Mimms was a participant in the UO’s Black History Month 2021 roundtable where eight students, faculty, staff, and alumni joined together virtually to talk about the UO Black community, lessons of 2020, and the critical importance of history. A history we all need to understand is the lasting legacy of Black enslavement on the nation, says Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead writer of the New York Times 1619 Project. The multimedia series explores the legacy of enslavement that started 400 years ago when, near Point Comfort in the English colony of Virginia, more than 20 enslaved Africans were sold to colonists. Hannah-Jones and a panel of UO members share insights at this year’s School of Journalism and Communication’s annual Robert and Mabel Ruhl Endowed Lecture during Black History Month. Whether you are tuning into Hannah-Jones’s Ruhl lecture, reading her interview in Around the O, or listening to UO Black History Month roundtable participants, you will be inspired to listen, learn, and act more, not just in February, but all year.

Black at the UO in 2021  
Nikole Hannah-Jones interview

“I think so much of Black history has been stripped from us, the American education system, they just don’t teach Black history at all, or history, if you want to put it that way, because Black history is history.”
Ellis Mimms, physics major, Black Studies minor, class of 2022

Ear icon (listen)


Courageous Conversations logo

Listening Courageously

Conversations about social and racial justice can be difficult, but so necessary. How can we find the courage to have these conversations in a genuine way at the UO? Courageous Conversations is a dialogue series intended to create authentic and civil spaces for discussion around current events centered on social and racial justice. They aim to reinforce community, build trust, and promote alignment as a foundation for positive campus climate change. A recommendation from the Committee on Recognizing our Diverse History birthed a pilot program as part of the UO’s Martin Luther King, Jr. events. Those first Courageous Conversations were facilitated by campus partners representing various Strategies and Working Groups and units across campus. The School of Music and Dance and College of Education have already begun their community conversations, and other units that have identified themselves as early adopters are in the planning stages. Find out how you can join or start Courageous Conversations in your unit or school by emailing the Division of Equity and Inclusion or visiting the DEI website.

Courageous Conversations  

“Our campus-wide dialogue series is about being authentic and courageous with ourselves and each other around topics or issues that are sensitive and often difficult. We’re doing this to listen to each other and create understanding.”
Lesley-Anne Pittard, Division of Equity and Inclusion, Assistant Vice President for Campus and Community Engagement

Brain icon (learn)


Renee Mitchell

The Heart of Resilience

When it comes to the role art can play in empowering and building hope and resiliency in BIPoC youth, there’s no better teacher than the creative revolutionist Renee Mitchell. A well-known columnist for the Oregonian and nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, Mitchell is the creative force behind I Am M.O.R.E. (Making Ourselves Resilient Everyday), a “heART-focused” youth development program. She’s developing I Am M.O.R.E.’s theory of change, Empowered Resilience, as a UO doctoral candidate. Her talk, Art Saved My Life, a conversation about the role art can play in empowering Black youth, was the January installment of Ideas on Tap, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History’s monthly virtual pub talk.

Art Saved My Life

“I am a creative, heart-centered Black woman trying to heal from the wounds of living in a country that is historically grounded in anti-Blackness. I strive daily to be a compassionate human being who tries her absolute best to make a lasting and positive difference in people’s lives. And, that is the best lesson I wanted any of my students to ever learn from me.”
S. Renee Mitchell

Icon of a fist (act)


Two students in a lounge at the Black Cultural Center at the UO

Supporting Student Leaders of the Black Community

Support student leaders with a gift to the new Lyllye Reynolds Parker Black Cultural Center Scholarship Fund. The Lyllye Reynolds-Parker Black Cultural Center is a hub for Black student academic and community activity. Featuring a range of academic and cultural programming, it is a welcoming and supportive space for Black students on the UO campus.. This new fund, created by a lead gift from alumna RoseMarie Beatty, will create 16 scholarships for students active in service, study, and leadership within the LRP BCC or Black community and who have an established financial need. Your contribution will help the LRP BCC Scholarship Fund increase UO’s recruitment and retention of Black students by closing the gap when other UO scholarships do not fully meet students’ financial needs. See the fund’s DuckFunder campaign to make a gift.

Help Open Doors

“I was pondering what I care about, and the legacy I will leave when I am gone. Then I thought, why wait? I can make a difference right now.”
RoseMarie Beatty, BA ’92 (public relations