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Black History Month Story Ideas and Experts at The University of Texas at Austin

February marks the celebration of Black History Month, a remembrance of important people and events in African American history.

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February marks the celebration of Black History Month, a remembrance of important people and events in African American history.

Faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin are available to discuss issues ranging from racial rhetoric in the United States to the “Oprah effect” or racial disparities in health and education. Below are potential story ideas to mark Black History Month and University of Texas at Austin researchers who are available to discuss these topics.

America’s Conversation on Race

Possible topics:

  • Why parents should have direct conversations with their children about race
  • The state of race relations in the United States
  • Media coverage of racially charged remarks made by celebrities and politicians

John Hartigan Jr.
Professor, Department of Anthropology

Hartigan examines how we don’t — but should — talk openly about race in the United States. His research on the rhetorical maze of racial discourse in American culture is detailed in his recent book “What Can You Say? America’s Conversation about Race.”

Rebecca Bigler
Professor, Department of Psychology
Director, Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab

Bigler examines children’s views about the U.S. presidency and race, gender and ethnicity. She has published several studies on how young children view race, and how attitudes and beliefs towards race and gender may be formed.

African Americans in Sports

Possible topics:

  • The influences of coaches and physical education teachers on African American students
  • The history and legacy of pioneering black athletes
  • African American children and sports celebrity role models
  • The public perception of black athletes and racial stereotypes perpetuated by the media

Ben Carrington
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Carrington has published widely on race, sports and culture, including topics such as nationalism, masculinity, the politics of race and sport policy, and blackness and celebrity sports culture. He is the author of “Race, Sport and Politics.” Read his QandA for more about his work.

Louis Harrison, Jr.
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education

Harrison researches how African American racial identity influences physical activity/sports choices and performance. Through his work he hopes to determine ways that physical education teachers and coaches can change African American students’ identity development and professional goals.

African American Business and Entrepreneurship

Possible topics:

  • The most influential black business leaders of all time
  • The state of black-owned businesses in America
  • The legacy of Oprah Winfrey as she introduces her new network

Juliet Walker
Professor, Department of History

Walker researches African American business, intellectual and women’s history. She is working on a book manuscript, “Oprah Winfrey: An American Entrepreneur,” for Harvard Business School Press.

Beauty Shop Politics

Possible topics:

  • Beauty parlors as platforms for political activism
  • The creation of the modern black female identity
  • The everyday operations and rich culture of black beauty salons and their role in building community

Tiffany Gill
Assistant Professor, Department of History

Gill examines the role of African American beauticians and beauty salons in 20th century social, political and economic movements. Her research and teaching specializations address the impact of race, class and gender on constructions of American identities. To learn more, read her QandA on beauty shop politics.

Political Mobilization of Black Churches

Possible topics:

  • The dynamics of political decision making within the black church
  • The landscape of religious life for African Americans in the United States

Eric McDaniel
Assistant Professor, Department of Government

McDaniel’s research areas include religion and politics, African American politics and organizational behavior. His work targets how and why African American religious institutions choose to become involved in politics. He also examines the role of religious institutions in shaping African American political behavior.

Issues Facing African Americans in Education

Possible topics:

  • Narrowing the achievement gap between black and white students
  • Milestones in African American education
  • The effects of the No Child Left Behind law

Kevin Cokley
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education

Cokley studies the psychological and environmental factors that influence African American student achievement and identity development. He stresses that his scholarship so far offers a wealth of evidence to challenge the view that African Americans are “anti-intellectual.”

Anthony Brown
Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction – Social Studies Education, College of Education

Brown is an expert on the educational experiences of African Americans, specifically regarding the identity development of African American males, the experiences of male African American teachers and the portrayal in historical texts of African American males.

Jennifer Jellison Holme
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, College of Education

Holme examines the relationship among school reform, equity and ethnic/cultural diversity in schools. She studies school desegregation, high stakes exit level testing and school choice policy.

Allison Skerrett
Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction – Cultural Studies, College of Education

Skerrett analyzes the ways in which students’ racial and cultural diversity is addressed in school curriculum.

Richard Reddick
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration, College of Education

Reddick examines diversity in higher education, particularly mentoring relationships between faculty and African American students. He has co-authored and co-edited books on the African American family, historically black colleges and universities, and the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling on diversity in American education.

African American Health Issues

Possible topics:

  • Racial disparities in health care
  • Manageable prevention for African Americans with type 2 diabetes
  • Stress-related illnesses among African Americans who suffer disproportionately higher rates of poverty and unemployment
  • The history of mental health services and policies for African American populations

Mary Steinhard
Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, College of Education

Steinhardt is a nationally recognized expert on resilience and has conducted a large-scale study on how resilience can help African Americans alleviate the negative physical affects of stress, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

King Davis
The Robert Lee Sutherland Chair in Mental Health and Social Policy, School of Social Work

Davis specializes in mental health policies and services and the history of public mental health care particularly for people of color. He served a recent three-year term on the Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council.

Carolyn Brown
Professor, College of Pharmacy

Brown examines the patterns of complementary and alternative medicine use by African Americans. She says the actions people take to treat their health conditions are heavily influenced by cultural and ethnic background.

Campus Event: “When I Rise” Award-Winning Documentary Screening, Performance and Panel Discussion at The University of Texas at Austin

Possible topics:

  • African American pioneers in opera
  • The history and legacy of celebrated black musicians

Contact: Kathleen Mabley, Graduate School, 512- 232-3633, kmabley@austin.utexas.edu; Erin Purdy, Briscoe Center for American History, 512-495 4692, erin.purdy@austin.utexas.edu; Leslie Lyon, College of Fine Arts, 512- 475-7033, leslie.lyon@austin.utexas.edu

The Graduate School, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin will present a series of events to celebrate Black History Month featuring a panel discussion with celebrated mezzo-soprano Barbara Smith Conrad and the worldwide premiere of the documentary “When I Rise,” 6:30 p.m., Feb. 3 at the LBJ Auditorium. The film tells the story of Conrad, a gifted University of Texas at Austin music student who became a target of racial discrimination and who ultimately ascended to the heights of international opera. The series of events will also include a Black History Month concert 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Bates Recital Hall.