The University of Maryland released on Wednesday afternoon a new online tour exploring the history of black people at this university and their contributions to the campus community.
“From its antebellum founding through the present day, Terp life has been shaped by more than just those who wrote the official version of history,” the tour website reads. “There was a time when students and visitors of color were outsiders here, but through the sacrifices of earlier pioneers—reflected in our campus fabric—each brick and blade of [grass] belongs to them as well.”
The tour, created by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, features 17 locations on the campus, including the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building, the Nyumburu Cultural Center, Cole Field House and Maryland Stadium. It begins with this university’s founding — when Maryland was a slave-holding state — and treks through the legal battle to desegregate the campus, a fight led by Thurgood Marshall and some of the first black students to attend this university.
“All of us need to learn this important history,” university President Wallace Loh said in the news release. “These stories of African-American struggles and contributions span the history of our campus and our nation. We need to make them part of our shared memory.”
The newly released tour is self-guided and was commissioned by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, expanding upon a presentation that was created and shared with campus groups by Kim Nickerson, assistant dean, equity administrator and diversity officer in the behavioral and social sciences college, the site reads.
“The evolution includes telling a more complete history of our campus by acknowledging the painful past, but also celebrating the triumphs,” Nickerson said in the news release. “We hope this work serves as a source of affirmation and inspiration and that it invites other diverse voices to share their stories.”
Guided tours will be offered later this spring, according to the news release.
The Student Government Association earlier this month voted to allocate $5,000 to a separate campus black history tour app. The group will research potentially including more cultures, including Latinx and Native American contributions, into its virtual tour app, said Taylor Green, a sophomore enrolled in letters and sciences who sponsored the initial bill.
This university “is committed to creating a safe and inclusive campus for its entire community,” the news release reads.
After a black Bowie State University student, 2nd Lt. Richard Collins, was killed on the campus in May, this university created a task force to look into hate bias and diversity issues. It also announced in November that it would hire a hate bias response coordinator and issued new policies to address hate bias incidents, including maintaining a hate bias incident log updated as incidents happen with opt-in email updates and codifying how university entities tasked with responding to hate bias will interact.
In January, this university opened a climate survey to gauge the campus community’s thoughts on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The hate bias response coordinator has not yet been announced. University spokeswoman Jessica Jennings wrote in an email that “the hiring process is ongoing for this position.”
“Our historical legacy is an important part of the campus climate for diversity,” Chief Diversity Office Roger Worthington said in the release. “The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is pleased to support this important initiative as we continue to work together toward unity, respect and inclusion.”