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MSU President Smart On Importance Of Black History Month, Anti-Racism Initiatives

Missouri State University

In this month's episode of Engaging the Community, Missouri State University President Clif Smart talks about the importance of Black History Month, and what the university is doing to stand up against racism in the community. You can listen to the audio for this program below:

Smart said it's important that the university recognize the contributions of all citizens.

"So many times, we focus on our Founding Fathers, and it is predominantly a white history. And so it is really appropriate what everyone in the history of our country has brought to the table," Smart said.

One of the upcoming events is a faculty member from a visiting university presenting, "The Beauty and Burden of Being a Black Professor."   Smart said that is a particularly important topic, based on his experience leading the university. 

"Many of our faculty and staff of color face additional challenges, more issues than our white faculty and staff do," Smart said.  He shared an example of a Sociology professor who receieved a grant to incorporate anti-racist initiatives into his curriculum. A stranger learned of the grant and sent the professor a negative email saying the initiative was worthless.

"People have to manage through that all the time. So we've got to support. We've got to encourage. We've got to be there side by side with our employees of color to tell them they make a difference," Smart said. "They are meaningful. They are particularly important to our students of color, and we want to make sure they know that."

Smart said in addition to prioritizing diversity within the student body and faculty and staff, MSU has also taken the lead in the Facing Racism Institute,  the area's leading program for uncovering racism and understanding its impact on individuals and the workplace. You can find out more about the program here.


Here are some of the Black History Month events yet to take place this month:

Feb. 22

  • Leslie David Baker (Stanley from “The Office”) presented by SAC, 7 p.m., PSU Theater 

Feb. 24

  • Tough Talk: A Historical Reckoning facilitated by Lyle Foster, Noon, Zoom    

Feb. 25

  • “The Beauty and Burden of Being a Black Professor,” Renee Simms, University of Puget Sound, 1 p.m., Zoom