Black Community Initiatives
The University of Denver tremendously values its Black community. As the higher education sector grappled with the ongoing pandemic of racial violence across the United States brought into national spotlight in 2020 with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and numerous others in 2020, the University continued to forge forward in refining and developing ways to best recognize, care for, and support Black students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community partners. As part of its DEI action plan, DU is committing resources to address its inconsistent history and uneven, ongoing support of our Black community members. The goal through these efforts is to continue weaving an appreciation of Black people and all they bring throughout the University’s culture, with the hope that members of our Black community can unapologetically bring their full and authentic selves to the institution and thrive while being vital parts of the growth and excellence of the University of Denver both individually and collectively, now and into the future.
Meet DU's Black Community Experience Coordinator
Dr. Andriette Jordan-Fields is a Womanist Ethicist and a graduate of the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology joint PhD program. She earned her PhD in Religion and Theological Studies concentrating in Social Ethics. Her dissertation title is, “Why Does the Caged Bird Sing? A Phenomenological Analysis of the African American Clergywomen and Her Plight in Black Churches: An Ethical Dilemma”. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of ethics, womanist/feminist studies, Black Church, critical race theory, and postcolonial studies with an overall approach to the study of social ethics that engages wide-ranging issues of moral agency, cultural memory, ethical accountability, and social justice.
Dr. Jordan-Fields earned a Bachelors of Science in Political Science from Tuskegee University (Tuskegee, Ala.), a Masters of Public Administration from Northeastern University (Boston, MA), and Masters of Arts in Social Change from Iliff School of Theology (Denver, CO). In addition, she is a Denver 2019 HERS Institute graduate where she received transformational leadership development specifically for women in higher education.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, April 16th, 1963
Reflecting on Dr. King's words and in response to what inspires her to this work, Dr. Jordan-Fields states, "I believe that we cannot allow the atrocities of injustices and murders of African American youth, women, and men such as Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Elijah McClain, Nina Pop, Tony McDade and so many more to continue to go unchallenged. The systemic racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and hatred will continue to flourish if we silently standby. I believe it is our responsibility to stand for justice and equality for all because until we are all free from the 'isms' of the world, none of us are free. As Audre Lorde posited 'Our silence will not protect us…' "
DU's Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Affinity Groups & Organizations
Staff of Color Association (SOCA)
Staff of Color Association Officers
- Co-Chair: Rosalynn.Feagins, Rosalynn.Feagins@du.edu, 303.871.2793
- Co-Chair: Katia Miller, Katia.Miller@du.edu, 303.871.3474
- Secretary: Fatima Rezaie, Fatima Rezaie@du.edu, 303.871.7540
- Treasurer: Josiah Dunn, Josiah.Dunn@du.edu, 303.871.4721
- Webmaster: Tremayne Fisher, Tremayne.Fisher@du.edu, 303.871.2446
- Membership & Recruitment: Rufina Hernandez, Rufina.Hernandez@du.edu, 303.871.7726
- Social Chair: Celinda Miranda-LaBella, Celinda.Miranda-LaBella@du.edu, 303.871.3945
- Staff Advisory Council Liaison: Vacant
- Office of Diversity and Inclusion Liaison: Vacant
Please visit the SOCA webpage for more details
Faculty of Color Association (FOCA)
The DU Faculty of Color Association (FOCA) is a voluntary empowerment and advocacy group composed of faculty members from under-represented racial and ethnic groups within the University community. Meetings are held monthly on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays - send an email to DU-FOCAemail@example.com to join the listserv and receive notifications.
Association of Sisters in Higher Education (ASHE)
Association of Sisters in Higher Education (ASHE) supports, empowers, and mentors Black women at the University of Denver through cultural fellowship, enrichment, and an exchange of ideas. The group is not exclusive to black women; therefore we value and welcome all women faculty and staff at the University of Denver. However, the core focus of group discussions, activities, and initiatives will be issues that are germane to black women.
The mission of Black@DU is to provide an atmosphere of cultural and social networking among Black staff and faculty at the University of Denver. This organization is dedicated to improving the quality of the Black experience at DU by fostering a campus climate that is inviting, unified, encouraging, and promotes upward mobility. Black@DU exists to enhance communication and champion diversity, inclusion, opportunity and social justice—while challenging racism within the University.
Sistah Network is committed to helping Black women who are graduate students at the University of Denver contend with the pervasive challenges they face related to graduate student socialization and academic persistence. Examples of community development include two meetings per quarter, quarterly writing workshops, faculty and resource connections, and defense practices.
Liaison: Anthea Johnson Rooen, Anthea.Johnson@du.edu
Black Student Alliance (BSA)
The University of Denver's Black Student Alliance is an organization dedicated to promoting cultural awareness and solidarity on campus. One of our organization's main focuses is to foster the personal development of our membership, and to encourage them to become active community contributors.
President: Mathew Solomon
Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA)
The Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) at the University of Denver (DU) was founded on 18 February 2011. It is a student organization by, for, and about graduate and professional students at DU who identify as Black and/or African American.
President: Cory Jackson
African Students United (ASU)
The mission of ASU-African Students United is to create a space to celebrate educate, and participate in the understanding of the many rich, diverse cultures of Africa. Through African cultural events, we will introduce multiple features of African food, dance, music, etc. The organization's purpose is to serve African students and allies at the University of Denver to create an inclusive institution. We plan to make an impact on the outside African community through service projects, community outreach, etc. We also encourage college seeking African students to seriously consider making DU their new home. This would help Du create a space where cultural diversity is truly present on campus. African Student United (ASU) ultimately aims to make this a celebrated and appreciated identity on campus.
Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI)
The Excelling Leaders Institute (ELI) seeks to create an open and inclusive campus environment for students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds as they transition to DU. ELI is a four year leadership development and community-building program that focuses upon and accentuates the strengths of all participants.
Please visit the ELI webpage for more details
Black Alumni Affinity Group (BAA)
Affinity Groups at DU are a great way to stay connected in an area of personal interest. Groups are organized specifically around a special interest or unifying purpose.
The African American Alumni Association or "A4" exists for the purpose of recognizing and upholding the value of higher education while honoring the history and legacy of African Americans. Our goal is to promote lasting connections among Black alumni, students, staff and faculty. We value a sense of shared community and giving back to the world by affecting the future.
Membership in A4 is open to DU alumni, staff, faculty and students (past and present) who identify as African American, Black, or as people of African descent, including, but not limited to, people from North America, South America, the Caribbean and Africa.
President: Theo Chapman
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA)
The goal of the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) is to provide assistance for incoming students of color and promote an atmosphere that will facilitate learning by all students. We sponsor and cosponsor numerous events featuring speakers covering a wide range of topics including minority participation in law firms, public interest concerns and other relevant legal issues. We also participate in mentoring programs and support various community activities. BLSA provides academic, social and emotional support.
President: Aron Assefa
Please visit the BLSA webpage for more details
Past and Upcoming Events
June 18th-20th: Denver Juneteenth Music Festival
- DATE: June 18, 2021 to Jun 20, 2021
- SCHEDULE: June 18, broadcast and kickoff BBQ; June 19 and 20 street festival; see online for details
- COST: Free entry, vendor prices vary
Hang out in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood and celebrate Juneteenth, marking the end of slavery and African American independence in the U.S. Enjoy live music, dance, food, vendors, and an award ceremony highlighting individuals who have made a positive impact in the community. The festival will have a broadcast element online and socially-distanced in-person events.
June 17th, 5:00pm: Juneteenth Day of Reflection, The Water Connects
Juneteenth: Day of Reflection event, The Water Connects, on Thursday, June 17th, at 5pm at the Community Commons Patio and Grand Forum.
This event is in partnership with Vicki Myhren Gallery, Black Graduate Student Association, Black Community Advisory Board, and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The Water that Connects is an event celebrating the end of slavery in America and acknowledging our ancestors' hardships. Thank you for joining us.
May 25th: The Anniversary of George Floyd's Murder & the Tulsa Race Massacre
Today not only marks the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, but this week also marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. This massacre is an event completely, and selectively, left out of historical teachings - many Americans have never even heard of it. The New York Times put together an excellent, interactive retelling of the events of the massacre and the stories of what was lost for Black family businesses and Black family wealth.
We encourage everyone to take some time out of your day to read through this article and consider its societal implications, as well as its implications on Black wealth, philanthropy, and social mobility today.
Watch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzyTc_v5f14
May 15th, 4:00pm: Concert
Concert (with pre-concert discussion held on May 13th)
Special Guests: Linda Twine, Rosephanye Powell
May 13th, 5:00pm - 7:00pm: Black Community Mixer
Let's amplify our black joy, elevate black futures & uplift black communities! We are here and we would love to meet you! Undergraduate and Graduate students are welcome!
Sponsored by: the Black Community Advisory Board
May 13th, 4:00pm: “I am Moses the Liberator”: A Womanist Listening to Black Messianism in Nkeiru Okoye’s opera Harriet Tubman
This moment of historical retrieval illuminates the discontinuity in our retelling of historical accounts and oral music transmission. However, some American music reviewers seem to misrecognize Okoye’s compositional methods such as “extended vocal techniques” that are uniquely African American. To explore my method of anti-oppressive listening, I conclude by comparing media reviews with Okoye’s intentional composition strategies that privilege her cultural insights as an African American culture bearer.
Panelists: Dr. Nkeiru Okoye, Angela Brown, Rev. Dr. Lisa D. Jenkins
May 12th, 2021, 5:30 - 6:30pm: Redefining Mental Health with Common
As we are all facing ongoing adversity, we are learning to navigate our struggles in innovative ways. Join our conversation with Common, Grammy and Academy Award winning artist and activist, and Dr. Apryl Alexander, prominent psychologist, as they discuss the many paths we can create to cope and come together with our communities to begin healing.
April 29th, 4:00pm-5:30pm: Sonic Resistance
This panel will consider the way music and sound challenges the spaces of settler society. As part of The Spirituals Project’s thematic focus on “The Year of the Woman,” the panel will engage Indigenous female scholars, performers, and activists from both North and South America to consider the ways that sound and resistance intersect.
Panelists: Veronica Pacheco, Viki Eagle, Jacinta Toribio Torres, Brenda Child
Facilitator: Angela Parker
April 15th, 12:00pm: The Derek Chauvin Trial and what it means for Racial Justice and the Criminal System, Co-Sponsored with the American Constitution Society
We will hear from nationally recognized DU psychology professor Apryl Alexander, criminal defense lawyer and associate dean for clinical legal education at Northwestern Law (and former DU Law professor!) Prof. Robin Walker Sterling, and founder of the Criminal and Juvenile Defense Clinic at the University of St. Thomas School in Minneapolis Prof. Rachel Moran.
April 14th, 12:00pm: SCOL DEI Storytelling Series NFL Star Benne Fowler & Mom Teresa Gueyser, JD
We will hear from NFL star Bennie Fowler and his mother, lawyer Teresa Gueyser. They will discuss their respective journeys and the values and lessons that guided them on their paths. Fowler is currently a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, having first played for the Denver Broncos and Michigan State University. Gueyser has served as the superintendent of Detroit Public Schools, counsel for the city of Detroit, a clinical law professor, and a solo practitioner.
October 21st, 6:00pm-7:00pm: Expanding the Table for Justice
University of Denver's Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion has teamed up with the Black Student Alliance, Black Graduate Student Association, and ACLU of Colorado (American Civil Liberties Union) for a community conversation to learn about the issues that impact you and your communities. Expanding the Table for Justice is a statewide listening tour organized by ACLU of Colorado to gather feedback about the pressing issues that are occurring throughout the state and the change that Colorado communities hope to see.
When: Thursday, October 21st @ 6-7p.m.
Where: University of Denver - Community Commons #1600
What: Food, drinks, and group conversation!
RSVP: Click here!