OHSU's African American Employee Resource Group and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion sponsored the annual Black History Month Celebration on Wednesday, February 12, 2014.
The event, which was also in partnership with School of Dentistry, and Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, saw 150 people in attendance from both the OHSU and greater Portland communities. The celebration brought to OHSU the 'who's who" of leaders from Portland's African American community, including the Revs. William G. Hardy and T. Allen Bethel; Urban League President Michael Alexander; Senators Margaret Carter and Avel Gordly; The Skanner publisher Bernie and Bobbie Foster; Joann Bowman Hardesty; and others.
Chatter about the delicious soul food lunch provided by Momma's Country Kitchen quieted as Executive Vice Provost, David Robinson, began the program. OHSU's Lisa Huggler led the room in the Black National Anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," before Dr. Norwood Knight-Richardson took to the podium to give his remarks and introduce the program's speaker, Dr. Alisha Moreland-Capuia.
Dr. Knight-Richardson first paid his respect to those who have made possible the advances of the Black community, saying, "I got over on the blood, the sweat, and the tears of those who have come before me."
Dr. Moreland-Capuia is one of only four licensed and board-certified Black psychiatrists in the state and completed a fellowship in addiction medicine at OHSU. She currently leads "Healing Hurt People Portland," trauma-informed violence prevention program helping to heal young males of color.
In her keynote "I, Too, Am America," Dr. Moreland-Capuia explored the concept of inclusion through the works of Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes. She started with a look at Hughes' poem, "I, Too" in which the narrator, "the darker brother," is not allowed to sit at the table to eat, instead being sent to the kitchen. The narrator contemplates how "Tomorrow, / I'll be at the table / When company comes." Dr. Moreland-Capuia dug into this idea of being at the table and asked the room to reflect on "If I am at the table, am I really at the table?"
This question of inclusion was posed for the entire room to contemplate. Dr. Moreland-Capuia engaged the audience in exploring the true meaning of inclusion. Did the end of chattel slavery mean that African Americans were truly free? Does sitting at the table really mean one has a seat at the table? The "I Too, Am America" presentation brought to light many pertinent issues that society should examine, most of all, the notion of inclusion and what it means to diverse communities.
The African American Employee Resource Group hosts networking and professional development events that emphasize cultural competency and diversity. The group promotes inclusion and community for African Americans at OHSU. For more information, contact Bobbie Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Jillian Toda, Diversity Communications Assistant