Black History Month: MSU’s Tough Talks series reflects on 2020

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — At Missouri State University, Black History Month has been a time of celebration and serious conversations.

MSU plans to host three more events before February ends.

In Missouri State’s Tough Talks series, students, faculty and staff will get a chance to reflect on what has happened in 2020.

“The goal is to have people have the chance to ask questions, to hear different viewpoints,” said Dr. Lyle Foster who is hosting MSU’s Tough Talks series.

Before Black History Month comes to an end, Dr. Foster will continue MSU’s Tough Talks series on what he calls a historical reckoning.

“We want to think about was 2020 just 2020 or was that some built-up resentment, anger, pain, hurt,” Dr. Foster said. “Was it something about our history, about our past? Was George Floyd a moment in time or was it something with a much larger narrative?

“And of course 2020 wasn’t just George Floyd, but we certainly had protests, we had marches, we had what we could call reckoning not only in our nation but around the planet.”

He wants people participating in the Zoom meeting to think about what these events mean.

“So, it’s a chance to think about what is our role at this moment in our history,” Dr. Foster said. “What can we learn from it, how can we grow from it and what we learn so that we won’t repeat that again?”

A day after Dr. Foster’s event, African-American studies professor Renee Sims from the University of Pudget Sound will host another Zoom chat.

“The things that I plan to talk about are different factors that I think universities should pay attention to so that you can recruit and retain black faculty at your institutions,” Sims said.

Sims will also talk about what colleges should prioritize during the hiring process.

“Things like mentoring once people arrive on campus,” Sims said. “Thinking about bringing black faculty together so that it reduces the instances of alienation and isolation.”

Sims also plans to share what her experience has been like teaching at a predominantly white school.

Foster’s event will happen Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2021, at noon, and Sims will host a Zoom chat on Thursday at 1 p.m.

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