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Every year since 1976, February has marked Black History Month in the United States, a celebration of the Black community, their accomplishments, and their contributions to society. It’s also a time to reflect on the struggles the Black community has endured throughout history, as well as the challenges it still faces today as the fight for a more equitable nation and world continues.

In recognition of this important national observance, we’ve asked members of the Booth community to reflect on why this month matters to them and how their identities have shaped who they are today.

Jason Quiara, Weekend MBA, Neubauer Civic Scholar

Jason Quiara

“Black History Month creates space for all of us, both in and outside the Black community, to show appreciation for the courageous sacrifices of countless women and men who paved the way for Black excellence today. It eternalizes a timeless narrative that endures across generations and tells the story of our past, present, and future. Black History Month reminds me that change is the product of individual voices and collective wills. As I reflect upon the heroism of civil rights stalwarts who came before, I hope to honor their legacy—as well as my own identity—by becoming a more forceful catalyst for the change I seek.”

Jasmine Ferguson, Full-Time MBA, Neubauer Civic Scholar

Jasmine Ferguson

“Black History Month is an acknowledgment of the fight my people have made to make this country a better place for all. As a descendant of enslaved people, I keep my ancestors at the front of my mind as the driving force behind my passion. I am inspired by my great grandmother who devoted herself to giving her family a better life after leaving the Jim Crow South, despite facing hardship and racism in Chicago. Their experiences and efforts have made me the woman I am today. As a Neubauer Civic Scholar, I will continue to create an impact by building economic and educational opportunities for those who reflect my community.”

Michael Diarra, Executive MBA Student

Michael Diarra

“Black History Month is the time to reflect on the Black community’s journey. I am the son of African immigrants in France, and I immigrated to the United States as a young adult. I see Black History Month as a time to reflect on the many struggles Black communities have and continue to overcome in North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and the many islands our ancestors were taken to.

“Black History Month is also a month of celebrating the Black diaspora’s many successes. These successes include the monumental contribution of Black people to the construction of our beloved country, the United States of America, as well as gifts to the world from artists like Beyoncé and recently passed Sidney Poitier.

“I am not a stranger to those success stories. When I immigrated to the United States many years ago, attending a prestigious university like the University of Chicago was a distant dream. The Black community still has many challenges to overcome here in the United States and abroad. The University of Chicago has shown me that with hard work, determination, and collaboration with people of all races, sexual orientation, religions, ages, political views, or social statuses, adding our own stories to the stories of great Black leaders like Collin Powell is possible.”

Looking Back through the Generations

Hear members of Booth’s African American MBA Association share stories of family members who inspired them and helped get them where they are today.

Chloe Saddler reflects on her grandfather, who was one of three Black doctors in his graduating class. Tim Thomas III shares how his grandparents have inspired him in their pursuit of education and real estate. Taylor Williams says her grandmother, who was accepted to UChicago in 1950, is a reminder of her own capacity to achieve her dreams. Darren Williams’ great grandmother has shown his family how to lead spiritually and give back to their community, while Chanel Walker sees herself in her grandmother, whose curiosity drove her to constantly learn new things and take on new challenges.

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