UHart Celebrates Black History Month

January 28, 2021
Black History Month

A Look Back

Black History Month is a time to recognize African Americans' central role in history and celebrate their achievements. We have compiled a list of 28 people and events that have shaped our University - one for each day of the month. 

  1. Danielle Hood ’08 was UHart’s first player drafted by a WNBA team. The Atlanta Dream selected her with the 32nd pick of the 2008 draft. She scored 534 points in the ‘07-‘08 season. That remains the Hawks women’s single season record. 

  2. Latasha Jarrett Raineault ’08 D’10 is UHart’s only recipient of the NCAA Div I Sportswoman of the Year Award. In 2008 she showed integrity and honesty by pointing out a mistake by judges that lead to her placing 3rd in the high jump and missing the NCAA regionals. 

  3. As proposed by the student-led Afro-American Organization in 1969, when UHart’s first residence halls opened in 1970 some were named for black heroes, W.E.B. Dubois, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey.

  4. Robert N. Davis ’75 was appointed by Pres George W. Bush to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in 2004 and was Chief Judge from 2016 to 2019. He founded the Journal of National Security Law and speaks on national security and terrorism. 

  5. Marian Anderson HON ’58, the first African American singer to perform at the White House and the Metropolitan Opera, sang at Hartt’s Fuller Building dedication in 1963, the same year she was elected to UHart’s board of regents. 

  6. Bass-baritone Phillip Boykin ’95 made Broadway history in 2017 as the first African American Boatman/Lee Randolph in Sunday in the Park with George and played TonTon Julian in the 2018 Tony Award winning revival of Once On This Island

  7. The National Society of Black Engineers wants to see 10,000 Black engineers graduate by 2025. UHart’s student chapter is doing its part to reach that goal by supporting its members to excel academically and positively impact the community. 

  8. The African Student Union (ASU) promotes African cultural heritage to the University community, supports new African students, and talks about issues in Africa. The group welcomes anyone interested in learning about and supporting African culture. 

  9. The University of Hartford is open to all students, regardless of their background. Today, nearly 16 percent of the University’s 4,084 full-time undergraduates identify themselves as Black or African American.

  10. Established in 1964, Brothers and Sisters United (BSU) is the oldest student group on campus. Begun as an African American advocacy organization, membership is open to all races and ethnicities. 

  11. In 1970, UHart supported the growing national Black Arts Movement with a two-week series, “Black Americans Speak Through the Arts,” that brought to campus notable African-American artists such as poet Sonia Sanchez.

  12. In 1968, legendary jazz alto saxophonist, composer, and educator Jackie McLean began teaching at The Hartt School and established the African American Music Department that now is the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, one of the nation’s premier jazz programs. 

  13. In Sept. 2014, UHart marked the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Speakers included Ruby Sales, Robert Moses, Eva Jefferson Paterson, Guion Bluford, the first African American astronaut, and Elizabeth Horton Sheff M’12, Hon’13, whose lawsuit integrated CT public education.

  14. Academic, activist, and author Angela Yvonne Davis was the keynote speaker at the University's annual "Keeping the Dream Alive" observance of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in February 2018. Davis received an honorary degree during the program.

  15. America’s first African American president, Barack Obama, spoke in the Sports Center on the need for federal gun control legislation on April 8, 2013, less than four months after 20 first-graders and six educators, including a UHart alumna, were killed in Newtown.

  16. Astronaut Bernard Harris HON '08 was the first African American to walk in space. “Education is your launching pad,” he told the first graduates of University High School of Science and Engineering in 2008. Over 20 years, he traveled 7.2 million miles in space.

  17. Johnathan Lee Iverson ‘98 hit it big when he became the first African American and youngest ringmaster for Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1999. After a 20-year career, the circus closed and he is using his talents in other performance areas.

  18. Vin Baker ’93 finished his playing career at UHart with 2,238 points, a school record that still stands. His jersey (#42) is the only one ever retired. He was the eighth player taken in the 1993 draft, selected by the Milwaukee Bucks.

  19. Five years after his 1985 induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Arthur Ashe received a UHart honorary degree. He was the first black player selected for the U.S. Davis Cup and only black man ever to win Wimbledon, the US Open, and Australian Open.

  20. Chaz Davis ’16 lost his vision while a freshman at UHart. He’s blazing trails as a visually impaired runner. In 2016, he ran in the Rio Paralympics, then set a new American marathon record for the T12/B2 visual impairment category. 

  21. In 2014, Mia Love ’97 became the first Haitian-American and first Black Republican woman elected to Congress. After two terms she became a CNN correspondent and non-resident senior fellow at the U.S. Studies Center, University of Sydney. 

  22. One year after coming to UHart to teach a master class and receive an honorary MFA, Misty Copeland became the first African American female principal dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre in 2015, changing the face of ballet. 

  23. Constance Baker Motley, HON ‘73 was lead trial attorney in many significant U.S. civil rights cases and the first African American woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and to become a federal judge. 

  24. In October 1963, American Muslim minister Malcolm X spoke at UHart at the invitation of combined sociology, international relations, and political science clubs. 500 people came, twice the auditorium capacity, so the event moved outdoors. 

  25. As UHart remembers Dr. King’s dream of justice and equality this month, we also remember Bayard Rustin HON ’79 who organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where the speech was made and other events of the Civil Rights era.

  26. Bass-baritone opera singer Ryan Speedo Green ’08, alum of The Hartt School, performs for leading opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera. He won numerous awards and honors including the 2018 Marian Anderson (Hon. ’58) Vocal Award. 

  27. World-renowned poet Nikki Giovanni received an honorary degree and spoke with students about her creative work influenced by the civil rights movement on Feb. 5, 2020. She joins a number of famous African Americans who have received UHart honorary degrees.

  28. UHart knew how important Martin Luther King, Jr was before the whole world knew. In 1959 King was invited by UHart to speak at the Bushnell Memorial as part of the Keller Memorial Lecture Series. He spoke on “The Future of Integration,” a controversial topic at the time.

Upcoming Events

The University of Hartford will offer serval virtual events tied to Black History Month both this month and beyond. 


Join the faculty, students, and alumni of The Hartt School as they perform a special tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King revolving around this year's observance theme, Resistance, Activism, and Getting into Good Trouble. You can visit our website to learn more about the MLK celebration, or tune into the livestream of this performance anytime during the month of February. 


The University welcomes Dr. Yusef Salaam of the "Exonerated Five" as the featured speaker for this year's Martin Luther King Annual Observance. The conversation will be moderated by Dean of Students Aaron Isaacs and Russell Johnson '22. 


The Rogow Distinguished Visiting Lecturer Series presents, "How to Address Health Care Equity and Communities of Color." The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting communities of color at much higher rates than the population at large. Distinguished healthcare leaders will discuss systemic inequities, historical injustices that feed mistrust, and possible solutions.


The UHart community is invited to join a virtual discussion on “Covid 19 Recovery – The Role of Community in Prioritizing Education and Health for Children and Families of Color,” a conversation with Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Superintendent, Hartford Public Schools. 


The Rogow Distinguished Visiting Lecturer Series will host a discussion on the topic of "Policing, Campuses, and Communities of Color" on March 25, 2021.