February is Black History Month and the University of Montana has planned several special events for the public to attend.

Professor Tobin Miller-Shearer is the Director of the African American Studies Department and described one of the premiere events to be held on campus in February.

“The jewel of our plans is the now annual Black Solidarity Summit that the African American Studies and Black Student Union students plan every year, bringing students together from across the northwest and from as far away as Michigan,” said Miller-Shearer. “They’re gathering to discuss and strategize and think about how they can improve African and African American Studies programs across the country.”

Miller-Shearer provided more details about the event.

“It will be this weekend, February 15th and 16th on campus,” he said. “There is a keynote address on Sunday evening by a woman named Rachel Cargle, an activist speaker and writer who focuses on race and womanhood. She’ll be talking about things like ‘how to talk to your family about racism on Thanksgiving’, ‘what it really means when you say all lives matter’ and ‘when white people are uncomfortable then black people are silent’. It promises to be a provocative and informative evening, and that event is free and open to the public.”

Miller-Shearer described one event in which he will be the speaker.

“On February 25th I’ll be giving a speech as part of the community lecture series entitled ‘Trains, Dolls and Demands on the Devil, the precarious position of minority rights’ in which I’ll be looking at the history of protections that have been put in place, how they were put in place by the African American community, and what we can learn about that process.”

Miller-Shearer expanded on the meaning of Black History Month in Montana.
“One of the things that Black History Months allows us to pay attention to is the long and distinct history of African Americans specifically in Missoula,” he said. “There have been recent efforts to try to draw attention to the African Methodist Episcopal Church that used to worship here downtown, to the legacy of 24th and 25th Divisions out of Fort Missoula which were made up of Buffalo Soldiers or African American soldiers and the contributions they made to the military, and then to ask again how can we acknowledge, celebrate and build on that history to ensure that Missoula is a place that welcomes all of its citizens regardless of their racial identity.”

Attending the entire Black Solidarity Summit is free for students and $40 for non-students.