Belmont University Celebrates 7th Annual Diversity Week

Dr. Mary Frances Berry
Dr. Mary Frances Berry at Belmont University

Belmont University recently wrapped up its 7th annual Diversity Week, which ran from Friday, September 17 – Friday, September 24. Diversity Week at Belmont began in 2015 to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across campus and to foster meaningful conversations within the Belmont community and beyond.

A complete list of this year’s events can be found here.

A sampling of this year’s events included:

With a goal to help students experience various cultures and spark dialogue, the event lineup started September 17 with the playing of the Korean film Minari and the serving of Korean food at Harrington Place Dining Hall.

How Do We Make Diversity a Responsibility for All of Us on Sunday, September 19 at 7 p.m. in the Curb Event Center: This year’s First Year Seminar guest speaker Dr. Mary Frances Berry discussed diversity, equity and inclusion. The recipient of more than 35 honorary doctoral degrees and many awards, Berry’s experience in African American studies is extensive. She currently serves as a Professor of History and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Berry also held a more intimate conversation with the Belmont community on September 20, met with Belmont faculty and staff of color for breakfast on September 21, joined a panel discussion on civil rights on September 21 with Belmont History Professor Dr. Pete Kuryla and Vanderbilt University Law Professor Dr. Karla McKanders and visited Belmont College of Law for an exclusive student-only event on September 22.

Celebrate Chinese Culture: Mid-Autumn Festival on Tuesday, September 21 at 6 p.m. in the Massey Boardroom: Sponsored by the Chinese Cultural Association, this annual event for the Belmont community celebrated Chinese culture and the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival. Presentations were given by officers of the Chinese Cultural Association and Asian American Association. All attendees received free “MoonCakes.”

God of Diversity: Henry Beecher Hicks, Jr. on Wednesday, September 22 at 10 a.m. in the Gabhart Chapel: Rev. Hicks led Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. for 37 years, growing it to become a 6,000-member congregation with more than 60 ministries. Rev. Hicks is the author of five books and was designated by Ebony Magazine as one of “America’s 15 Greatest African American Preachers.”

Minding the Gap: A Diversity in Entertainment Industry Symposium – A Call to Action took place on Thursday and Friday, September 23-24, in multiple locations. This year’s symposium included film screenings, student music performances, conversations and more. Featured events on Friday, September 24 in the Johnson Center Large Theater (Room 115) included:

  • The Narrative that Kills…and Lives! at 9 a.m. : What role does the entertainment industry play in shaping what we know, see, and believe about ourselves and others? Is there a connection between police shootings, what makes us feel safe, and film, media and music? CEMB Professor Dr. Cheryl Carr and guests discussed opportunities for new narratives in the entertainment industry.
  • African-American Music and Musicians in Nashville: A Timeline at 10 a.m.: Don Cusic presented a timeline that spans the history of African American music in Nashville. Dr. Cusic is the author of more than 30 books, including “James Weldon Johnson: Songwriter” and “The Trails of Henry Flipper: First Black Graduate of West Point.” As a record producer he has produced a collection of James Weldon Johnson songs by Melinda Doolittle (co-produced with Mike Curb). Cusic has appeared on numerous TV shows and on NPR. He is Belmont’s Curb Professor of Music Industry History.
  • Reporter Roundtable – Race, Gender and the Entertainment Industry at 11 a.m.: Paige Pfleger, reporter for WPLN, moderated a discussion with Rissi Palmer, host of Color Me Country, and BMI’s Shannon Sanders about race, gender and the entertainment industry.

Movie: “In the Heights” on Friday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m. on the Belmont Lawn: The Student Activities Programming Board hosted a showing of “In The Heights” on the lawn on an inflatable movie screen for the Belmont community.

The Welcome Home Diversity Council is devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across campus. Learn more about the council here.