During the month of February, the Graduate School joined the nation in celebrating Black History Month. However, the celebration of Black history and culture goes beyond any set number of days on a calendar.
We invite you to explore a series of Q&A interviews with graduate students as well as faculty and staff in the arts, sciences and interdisciplinary programs. Their individual journeys to Georgetown University may differ and the ways they honor their culture are varied, but at the heart of it is a voice that articulates how Black history is American history — one that we should strive to honor throughout the year.
Role at Georgetown: Graduate student; GradGov Senator for Environment & Sustainability Management
Q&A with Solange:
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. As the daughter of a Georgetown alumnus, I grew up hearing tales from my mother of just how much Georgetown University impacted her life, shaped her into a better person and opened her world to a variety of enriching experiences. It was her dream for me to experience all that Georgetown had to offer, but sometimes things take time.
Prior to 2022, I did not see myself getting a master’s degree; however, when my mom shared the Environment & Sustainability Management program curriculum with me, I knew it would be just what I needed to unlock my fullest potential. When I learned it would also be the inaugural year of the program, I jumped on the opportunity to fulfill both of our dreams. This degree and the impact that I can have in the world are my passion. This opportunity is a full-circle moment for my mom, who has looked forward to me being a Georgetown student for so long.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. This month is a time to celebrate and honor black excellence, innovation and creativity. It is an opportunity to further explore our connection to Black history and culture in America. Black History Month demonstrates how much is possible for myself and other people of color globally.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black history and culture? A. I celebrate by honoring the Black heroes who have paved the way for me to be where I am today – whether through activism, inventions or influencing culture. It is important to always remember and teach others about those who have helped to shape society and the world over the years. I also enjoy attending Black History Month events and listening to Black musical artists that inspire me like Rihanna and Beyoncé.
Q. What’s your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture? A. My favorite movies are Do the Right Thing (1989) and Black Panther (2018).
“Black History Month demonstrates how much is possible for myself and other people of color globally.”
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. I’m a social worker interested in how societal discourses (on diversity, mental health, etc.) shape policies, media narratives and technologies that impact vulnerable and/or disenfranchised communities.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. Black History Month is an opportunity to engage others in honoring Black culture with depth and intentionality. I enjoy celebrating through music, art and literature. I fill the month with reading, watching and listening to Black creators new and old.
Q. What is your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture? A. “God and Nature first made us what we are, and then out of our own created genius we make ourselves what we want to be. Follow always that great law. Let the sky and God be our limit and Eternity our measurement.” – Marcus Garvey
Role at Georgetown: Graduate student (1st Year); GradGov Senator for Global Health
Q&A with Kerren:
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. Georgetown University struck a chord with me. I particularly found the curriculum of the program to be linked with what I am seeking as a graduate student. For instance, the Field Research Module caught my attention because it gives students hands-on experience and understanding of global health issues that continue to impact our world by conducting research in developing populations.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. Black History Month is a celebratory time in which we can commemorate past and present Black icons that have fought and overcome various obstacles to pave the way for a better and brighter future.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black History and culture? A. I am always supporting Black-Owned Businesses and Restaurants, museums, films and books, and embracing who I am by being a proud Black woman in America… AS I SHOULD!
Q. What is your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture? A. “The time is always right to do what is right.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. I came to Georgetown because of its rich history, beautiful campus and location. There is no better place to study policy than at one of the most prestigious schools in the nation’s capital!
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. To me, this month is a way to shine light on the overlooked achievements and everyday items in our lives created by black people, especially in science, that most people do not know or think about. As a Black woman in STEM, I am appreciative of all the Black women who paved the way for me to excel in a field that has not always been inclusive.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black history and culture? A. I am participating in the Well-Read Black Girl Instagram challenge titled “Reading Black Beyond” created by Glory Edim. This challenge focuses on reading black authors and sharing your experience.
Q. What’s your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture? A. “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” – Dr. Mae Jemison
Role at Georgetown: Assistant Director for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and Graduate Student (1st Year)
Office: Office of Graduate Enrichment
Q&A with Kyra:
Q. What brought you to Georgetown?
A. After graduating from Kenyon College, I moved to Maine and worked at Bowdoin College. I made the move to Georgetown University in the hopes of landing at a place where I would have access to a more diverse and vibrant community of people with whom I could connect.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you?
A. Black History Month is a time for me to reflect on the ways in which my community has sacrificed, grown, triumphed and remained hopeful throughout history. It is an opportunity to recognize the creativity that is inherent in our experiences whether past or present. And it is a reminder to me to always strive to choose the Blackest option in my daily life. The boldest, the most daring, the most out of the box, the most authentic.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black history and culture?
A. More than anything I love witnessing Black people walk in their purpose and explore the things they love. I also enjoy celebrating our culture by being in community with my family and friends, engaging with our various artistic endeavors, cooking and enjoying our food, traveling to places where we have made space for ourselves, laughing as often as I can, and imagining a future where our joy outweighs our pain.
Q. What’s your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture
A. One of my favorite movies is Dreamgirls. I love that we are able to see the talent, creativity and resilience of Black women on display while getting an honest portrayal of the challenges that emerge along the way. Not to mention the cast, music and drama is truly top tier.
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. My decision to grow professionally here at Georgetown was based on the location and its cultural atmosphere, in addition to the career opportunities combined with the access to enjoyable attractions including museums, parks and monuments.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. It’s a commitment to recognize the story of African Americans: highlighting the history and accomplishments that have had great influence on the development of America as a whole. This includes different inventions and discoveries that have changed the course of American history, and provides an opportunity as a collective to examine the journey and different obstacles in totality.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black history and culture? A. I enjoy taking extra time to further my knowledge of Black history in all fields and understanding its contemporary impacts by going to different creative events and showcases where individuals display their talents rooted in black culture.
Q. What’s your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture? A. Movie: Don’t Be a Menace by Shawn and Marlon Wayans; Play: “Gem of the Ocean” by August Wilson
“Highlighting the history and accomplishments that have had great influence on the development of America as a whole … provides an opportunity as a collective to examine the journey and different obstacles in totality.”
– Maurice Green
Professor Caleb McKinney
About Professor McKinney:
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Role at Georgetown: Interim Assistant Vice President of Masters Program Administration & Development and Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. The unique opportunity to leverage my science background to reinvent my career toward supporting students and postdocs.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. Among many feelings, I find it a time to appreciate and learn from the trailblazers before me and a time to remind myself to pave a way forward for others.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black history and culture? A. Cooking is a great passion of mine, and I feel so nourished when I whip up and enjoy a nostalgic home-cooked meal using a recipe that my mom and grandma used for decades.
Q. What’s your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture? A. “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’” – Toni Morrison
Professor Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
About Professor Sullivan:
Hometown: Harlem, New York
Role at Georgetown: Associate Professor of English
Teaching Specialties: African Diaspora literature, Queer Literature & Theory, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Creative Writing
Q&A with Prof. Sullivan:
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. I came to Georgetown in Spring 2022, so it still feels fairly new to me. I’ve been excited to be part of the vibrant community of thinkers and learners here on campus. I’ve loved connecting with students and colleagues in English, Creative Writing, Women’s and Gender Studies and African-American Studies. As a native of Harlem, NY, it’s also been great to discover the fabulous creative communities and resources of DC.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. Black History Month is a time to reflect on the breadth and expansiveness of Black experience in the U.S. and across the globe. For me, this means reflecting on the history of race and racialization in national and transnational contexts. It also means devoting our resources to supporting, amplifying and engaging contemporary voices (including artists, writers, scholars, activists and other visionaries) central to Black culture. Black History Month offers an opportunity to be intentional about how we think about and value these voices, and to make political commitments that last year-round.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black history and culture? A. As a creative writer and literary enthusiast, Black History Month is usually a busy time, with the many lectures, readings and celebrations of black life that take place all month. I enjoy sharing my own writing with a broad range of audiences, and discovering new artists and new critical perspectives when I attend Black History Month events.
Q. What’s your favorite movie or quote that celebrates Black culture? A. “I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive.” – Ntozake Shange
“Black History Month offers an opportunity to be intentional about how we think about and value these voices, and to make political commitments that last year-round.”
– Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
B. Dexter Sharp, II
Hometown: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Role at Georgetown: Director of Graduate Student Affairs for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Office: Office of Graduate Enrichment
Q&A with Dexter:
Q. What brought you to Georgetown? A. Georgetown provided a unique opportunity to work closely with graduate students and develop a welcoming and inclusive environment. As a student affairs practitioner, I found this to be a great opportunity to learn more about the university and the DC area.
Q. What does Black History Month mean to you? A. Black History Month is an opportunity to think about the past, present and future. It’s a time to reflect and acknowledge the titans that came before me. Celebrating our living heroes, while also trying to make an impact on society and those I come in contact with. Most importantly, being a part of the development of our future Black leaders.
Q. What are ways you enjoy celebrating Black history and culture? A. I enjoy diving into the fine arts: whether it’s paintings, music, storytelling or other forms of creative expression. Viewing our history and culture through this lens is a constant reminder of our creativity and innovation.