Black History Month Features Shoebox Meals, Education, Encouragement

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February 22, 2022 | Midwestern University

Student looking at posters of black history month posters Midwestern University held activities on both campuses in honor of Black History Month.

In celebration of Black History Month, Midwestern University’s Diversity Support Services on both campuses offered information, a community service program, and samples of a Shoebox Meal. Students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to learn more about the history and significance of the meals that were essential during the Jim Crow-era. At this time, African/Black Americans could face prejudice, danger, or a refusal of services while traveling because of their skin color. Although a list of safe places for Black travelers was collected and published in a guide known as The Green Book, these places were limited in number and location.

As a result, black travelers often carried homemade shoebox lunches which generally included fried chicken, boiled or devilled eggs, fruit and vegetables, and pound cake. These lunches featured food that was less likely to spoil or require utensils so travelers could remain safe on the road.

“Black history is American history. Every generation needs to know the struggles, failures, and successes of forming 'a more perfect union'. Black Americans are part of the original framework of this country and over 100 million captured souls gave their lives for freedoms they would never experience in this country. I recognize the importance of Black American History every day but, in February, I get a little ‘louder’ and wish others would too,” said Catherine Rent, Manager Residence Life/Diversity Support Services. “As an institution that is responsible for educating the next healthcare providers, it should be our priority to read the current narrative, to understand what’s missing, and to ‘fill in’ the gaps. When we pause to observe, we recognize the importance of standardizing the contributions that Black Americans make to the advancement of medicine and medical research. Black Americans are more than civil rights activists, advocates, and entertainers. Black Americans are integral parts of the STEM community,” she added.

In addition to the shoebox lunches, information about Black history, Black leaders, historically African American national sororities and fraternities, and local Black-owned businesses were made available to the campus community throughout the month of February. “Black History Month celebrates the achievements of some of America’s healthcare pioneers and honors the significant impacts they have made on healthcare and society. At Midwestern University, diversity is central to our academic life, campus community, outreach, and clinical practice; thus, it is important that we learn about the contributions of Black innovators who have helped to shape modern healthcare,” stated Victoria Franks, M.Adm., Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

On the Glendale Campus, students, faculty, and staff participated in a community service project and wrote more than 100 inspiring and encouraging letters to local school districts as a way of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. “Black History month reminds me of Midwestern University’s commitment to service, particularly to underserved and underrepresented communities of color in the Phoenix and Chicagoland areas. In my 24 years as Dean of Students and Director of Community Outreach, Midwestern has always supported community outreach efforts to our underserved and underrepresented communities, whether they were initiated by the University or by individual students who had a great service project in mind,” said Ross J. Kosinski, Ph.D., Dean of Students. “To best prepare our students to serve those communities and honor those who took the first steps to be physicians and healthcare providers of color, we, of course, have to provide our students with the best education possible, not only academically and clinically, but also culturally. In my view, community service, particularly clinically-based community service, not only serves those in need, but provides our students with wonderful opportunities for non-classroom-based experiences that are essential to better understanding the clinical needs of those underserved and underrepresented communities. Community outreach also allows our students to meet and interact with community leaders who may call on them to return after graduation as practicing clinicians,” he added.


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