We exist to center and elevate the collective Black voice and experience at Butler University.
We strive to lead the disruption and continued dismantling of systemic racism.
We will cultivate the collective Black strengths to build and maintain a more inclusive community.
The Hub for Black Affairs and Community Engagement was established in 2020 in response to the killing of George Floyd, Jr. to address systemic and institutionalized racism from the vantage point of the Black intellectual tradition. Butler University was founded in 1855 by abolitionist attorney Ovid Butler, who believed higher learning should be open to all, regardless of race, gender, or religious affiliation. The Hub honors and reflects this founding mission and exists today as an institutional command center to address systemic racism and Black oppression in keeping with Butler's broader commitment to creating an intentionally diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning and working environment.
Featured Hub for Black Affairs and Community Engagement Initiatives
As we look to the future, the Hub is focused on six key goals for the 2021-22 academic year:
- Visiting Black Intellectuals: This is a series where Black intellectuals are invited to come to the campus for several days to interact with multiple stakeholders, including our community partners, speak to classes, conduct some type of workshop/seminar, and to give a public address/performance. In connection to this series, there is a community read that accompanies the fall semester Visiting Black Intellectual to prepare incoming students and to coordinate significant community partners in this project.
- Black Faculty/Staff Affinity Group – Due to the relatively small number in particular of the Black Faculty members (21 out of 300 plus faculty) and Black staff (approximately 80 – not including the contractual staff with Bon Appetit, the foodservice company) it is best to connect these two groups for mutual support. This collective gathered on at least two occasions last year virtually and will be looking to network and support one another going forward both virtually and in-person.
- Black Student Union and other Black-student serving campus organizations – During the last school year the Hub helped to sponsor the annual Black graduation program, specifically working to ensure greetings from key Black faculty and staff as well as President Danko, and expressions of gratitude by graduating seniors. This year the Hub is co-sponsoring an annual event by the Black Student Union called “Melanin Monologues,” and looks to continue partnering in other events and projects.
- Mentoring Program: There is currently a pilot mentoring project underway, developed by Dr. Nick Mmbaga of our Lacy School of Business, that is in partnership with our Black Alumni Association. This mentoring project is based on a model of the Ph.D. Project of which Dr. Mmbaga was a beneficiary and found it very empowering. Mentors (Faculty/Staff/Alumni) are paired with students after going through an application process and there are specific guidelines provided to make the connections successful and sustainable. We expect this program to aid in both recruitment and retention efforts and in our ability to thrive at Butler.
- MLK Oratorical Contest: In partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), we hope to eventually launch an oratorical contest for IPS students in grades 7-12 during Black History Month in February, with an accompanying essay contest for younger students. Butler students will help prepare IPS students to deliver their speeches, the finals of which will be hosted on Butler’s campus. Modeled after the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest, this contest will connect IPS students in a meaningful way with Butler and help to inspire local IPS students to consider Butler for their collegiate experience.
- Hub Physical Space – Key to the healing and empowerment of Black students, faculty, and staff is to have a physical gathering space that presents as familiar, as a sanctuary, and as an entry point for community members on to the wider Butler campus. The daily encounters of being minoritized at a predominantly white institution can be debilitating if you are moving in isolation. There is a dedicated space currently in Jordan Hall complete with three offices (Faculty Director, Student Apprentices, and Project Specialist) along with a public suite space and a workroom (with refrigerator, microwave, coffee machine, and plenty of cabinet space for supplies). This space is in ongoing development and is open for both chance/informal connections and intentional open houses and social events.