Article submitted by Dr. Tiffinie Zellars
On June 17, members of the new Belmont Community for Diverse Faculty & Staff (BCDFS) participated in Belmont’s Juneteenth celebration by narrating a poster presentation entitled The Freedom Plaza Story: One Campus Community’s Desire to Embrace Hope and Inclusive Excellence to Help Reweave the Social Fabric.
This poster was authored by Dr. Tavajay Campbell, College of Pharmacy; Dr. Anthony Blash, College of Pharmacy; Dr. Darcie Finch, College of Education; Dr. Michelle Guinn, College of Sciences and Mathematics; and Dr. Tiffinie Zellars, College of Health Science.
This piece told the story of the enormous contributions enslaved persons played in the development of the Belmont property in 1850, the tragic murder of George Floyd in 2020, then correlated how these seemingly unrelated events lead to a community-wide discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The poster illustrated how these discussions led to the recognition of these enslaved individuals by etching their names into the fountain in front of McWhorter Hall, now called the Belmont Freedom Plaza.
After the poster presentation, the group surveyed Juneteenth participants on how their knowledge of Freedom Plaza has impacted them personally. Survey results will be published to encourage other universities to explore similar opportunities for their institutions to acknowledge their histories to embrace hope and inclusivity that will aid in reweaving the social fabric of our embattled country.
The BCDFS is an organization that was created in 2021 to serve Belmont’s diverse faculty and staff by providing a network of professionals that support each other through mentoring, research collaborations, teaching and social networking.
For more information or to join BCDFS, please contact Dr. Tiffinie Zellars at firstname.lastname@example.org.