United Black World Month
Each February, The Ohio State University, through the Multicultural Center and the Office of Student Life, celebrates United Black World Month, bringing awareness of Black history and culture to the university through speakers and presentations. This year, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion presented the following signature events.
The first event, on February 12, 2014, was entitled “An Evening with Dr. Wilburn H. Weddington, Sr.” where over 70 people listened to Dr. Weddington tell of his journey from a sharecropper’s farm in Georgia to a family doctor and member of The Ohio State University Department of Family Medicine. He joined the Ohio State medical faculty as an instructor in 1969 and was appointed associate dean in the College of Medicine in 1991, the first African American to hold that post. The Weddington Society for Future Health Care Professionals, named in Dr. Weddington’s honor, provides support and assistance for any undergraduate student in pre-health programs at Ohio State. Dr. Weddington said of his life, “It was a struggle, and struggle makes a stronger person. What was most important to me was that I brought my knowledge back to those who needed it the most, to help those that were still struggling.”
The second event was the Bell Resource Center’s 6th Annual Historical Lecture Series with William C. Rhoden on February 19, 2014. Around 120 attendees listened to Mr. Rhoden, an award-winning New York Times writer and best-selling author of Forty Million Dollar Slaves. Mr. Rhoden’s talk centered on the challenges African Americans face – whether they are athletes or not – and how those challenges differ in 2014 from what they were in 1954. Mr. Rhoden indicated that African Americans are in a battle for the minds of their children and must fill in the gaps and half-truths about African American history and culture. Mr. Rhoden also noted how critical it was, in what he called “a cultural civil war,” for change to be supported by all.
The final event was “A Candid Conversation with Maurice E. Clarett” on February 20, 2014. Over 300 people came to the Ohio Union to hear Mr. Clarett share details of his life before and after helping Ohio State win the 2002 National Championship. He stated that some Black athletes believe they “can only succeed with their legs,” and that those athletes must realize that they also can be successful off the field. After falling on hard times, Mr. Clarett decided to change his life and become a role model for other youths. He now speaks to groups about his story, helping others to realize that it’s never too late to change the direction of their lives. One of Mr. Clarett’s current endeavors to assist youth is the Comeback Project, a charitable organization formed by Maurice Clarett and Nate Ortiz that is dedicated to reaching out to young people, giving them hope no matter their situation.