February 5, 2024

Warriors in the Community, Episode 40: Celebrating Black History Month

Warriors in the Community is a radio segment that features short, insightful interviews with key figures from Wayne State University about the many ways in which the university and its programs make a positive impact on the metro area and on the lives of Detroiters. 

For episode 40, we sit down with Ollie Johnson, Ph.D., the Chair of the Department of African American Studies, for an insightful conversation about Black History Month, its ongoing relevance and how WSU preserves and promotes Black history all year round.

Announcer: This is Warriors in the community, brought to you by Wayne State University, and now to learn about how Wayne State is positively impacting our communities. Here's Darrell Dawsey.

Darrell Dawsey: Today we are joined by Ollie Johnson, PhD, the chairperson of the Department of African American Studies, and he's here to help us kick off Black History Month.

So let's just talk a little bit about why Black History Month remains relevant.

Ollie Johnson: Black History Month remains relevant because

Ollie Johnson, Ph.D., chair of the Department of African American Studies

our people continue to confront and live in a society that experiences racism, sexism, discrimination, exploitation, oppression. We have to educate and motivate. Black folks and all Americans to take seriously our situation.

Darrell Dawsey: Can you share any anecdotes that illustrate for our listeners the importance of Black History Month?

Ollie Johnson: Maybe my most moving experience as a member of the Department of African American Studies, I teach a course on Pan-Africanism and Pan-Africanism refers to Black unity, Black solidarity at all levels.

It's about lifting our people to our traditional and historical greatness. And so one of my former students took this class, got into a tough financial situation, and she was being evicted from her apartment. Who did she call? The Department of African American Studies. And so the administrative assistant and I went to her apartment.

And as the sheriffs were removing her stuff, we helped her put her stuff to the side. We made sure that she had transportation to move from that apartment, and we helped her get housing. And I was just so proud of us because we were helping a sister out — and I just feel that that's what we are about.

We're helping. We're about helping our students.

Announcer: This has been Warriors in the community. For more Wayne State News, please visit us online at today.wayne.edu/wwj and join us here next Monday at the same time for more Warriors in the community.

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