The Commission for Blacks is a body appointed by the Chancellor to advise on planning, implementation, and evaluation of university programs, policies, and services as they relate to Black students, faculty and staff. The Commission reports to the Office of the Chancellor.
The Commission for Blacks recommends changes in or additions to university policies and procedures to reflect concerns specific to blacks. The group also makes suggestions for new and existing academic and extracurricular programs related to blacks; encourages research to identify the problems and progress of blacks on campus; and encourages black faculty, staff and student involvement in all aspects of campus life.
CFB Rally Statement, Resources, and Counter-Events
The Commission for Blacks is committed to the protection and retention of Black and African American students, faculty, and staff at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The Commission for Blacks seeks to enhance the campus racial climate and provide a space where a civil discourse around issues of race, racism, and biases can occur in our roles as faculty, staff, and students. We stand in solidarity with colleagues at the University of Virginia as they strive to offer a civil and secure climate to their campus community in the aftermath of violent protests spurred by White supremacy, racism, anti-semitism, and racial hatred.
We join the American Educational Research Association (AERA) in condemning racism in all its forms and will work with others throughout the campus and the nation in the call to eradicate hate, injustice, and racial violence. We remind everyone as to the importance of using our educational institutions as a means of “studying, analyzing, and broadly communicating about” patterns and structures associated with White supremacy, racism, antisemitism, religious persecution, homophobia, and xenophobia. As scholars at UTK continue to contribute to our understanding of the inequities within our educational institutions, we will support the dissemination of the “knowledge and evidence” that supports “understanding and respect of others” while disrupting “the divisive patterns of disparity and denigration.” The Commission for Blacks sets as our goal for UTK that “No one should leave our classrooms or campuses believing that the symbols of oppression and killing are mere logos.”
As we anticipate another hate-inspired rally in the Fort Sanders area on the edge of our own campus this weekend, the Commission for Blacks wants to ensure that the university community has multiple spaces to voice their concerns and help maintain physical and emotional safety. To that end, we have provided a list of events being organized in response to the upcoming rally. We also provide a list of mental health resources because we acknowledge the impact of racism on the mental health of targeted groups. We include a brief list of educational resources for individuals to continue to educate themselves about the historical and current history of White supremacy and racism in our country.
List of Counter Events that will take place on Saturday August 26th in the Knoxville community:
This event is set for 12:00pm and people will meet on 17th Street between Laurel and Clinch. This counter protest is intended to take a stand against White supremacy, racism, and White nationalism. It is being advertised as a non-violent event.
The Tyson House will also offer a place of peace and healing. Their common room and chapel will be open from 10:30am-4:30pm. Throughout the day, Tyson House will offer prayer on the hour as well as have clergy on-hand for personal counsel and prayer. Water and snacks will be available.
A Kindness Rally is set for 1:00pm in the Krutch Park Extension of downtown Knoxville. The rally is intended to give people who seek an outlet to express support for their fellow Knoxvillians a peaceful, safe and supportive place to gather.
The Women’s March Coalition will sponsor a “re-coup tent” in nearby James Agee Park for those who need to cool off and regroup. They will have snacks, water, camp chairs, and basic first aid supplies. This is for individuals who would like to participate, but do not want to be involved in a direct protest.
Local Mental Health Resources:
University of Tennessee Student Health Counseling Center (865) 974-2251
Employee Assistance Program (855) 437-3486
List of Educational Resources:
Call for CFB Membership
If you are interested in being a part of the Commission for Blacks (CFB), we invite you complete the online membership interest form for the 2016-2017 academic year.
The Commission consists faculty, staff, students, and external community members. Members are appointed by the Chancellor on an annual basis.
If you are a currently serving member of the commission and have an interest in continuing your membership with the Commission or if you are interested in getting involved with the Commission for the first time, please complete the form for consideration for membership appointment on the Commission. Deadline for submitting the membership interest form is May 15, 2016.
2016-17 Trailblazer Award Series: Wardell Milan
Wardell Milan is a New York City based visual artist known for his drawings, collages, and photography. After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2001, he obtained his Masters of Fine Arts at Yale University. In 2007 he was awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. His first solo show in 2005 was glowingly reviewed by The New York Times: “Mr. Milan’s work has plenty of finesse, but also feels flexible, on a growth curve. An auspicious debut.” The same publication called his 2010 exhibition of drawings “inspired.” The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art have acquired several pieces for their permanent collections.
The Trailblazer Award is dedicated to recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of African Americans affiliated with the University of Tennessee that are trailblazers in their disciplines or within the fields of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Commission for Blacks jointly organizes the speaking series.
Click here for more information on the 2016-17 Trailblazer Series.