Our mission with Black Community Initiatives is to seek to uplift Black people and communities at the University of Denver. We are guided by the question, “How can we ensure that Black-identified faculty, staff, and students not only choose DU but also feel a profound sense of ownership and belonging here?” We strive to make the University of Denver a destination for Black community members to thrive by providing access to resources, community engagement, and programming that celebrates Black life, culture, and history. As an initiative, we are dedicated to addressing the specific challenges Black communities face by promoting restoration, justice, and equity. We work to educate the larger university community and create opportunities for Black students, faculty, staff, alumni, and external community members to connect, engage, and build relationships that foster success.
As part of its DEI action plan, DU continues to commit resources to address its historically inconsistent and uneven support of our Black community members. The primary goal through these efforts is to weave an inclusion of Black people and all they bring throughout the University’s culture and structures. Our intention is that members of our Black communities 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. We endeavor to create space for them to do so both individually and collectively, now and into the future.
The vision of Black Community Initiatives is to create a vibrant and inclusive community at the University of Denver where Black individuals in their full humanity, can personally and socially thrive, advance scholarly inquiry, cultivate critical and creative thought, and generate new knowledge. We believe in creating an environment that fosters personal and professional growth, celebrates diversity, embodies artistic expression, and supports Black community members toward achieving their full potential. By prioritizing thriving & healing, community engagement, and individual and institutional capacity building, we aim to cultivate a stronger, more informed community that is better prepared to contribute to the common good.
Healing and Thriving (Intra-community)
Our focus on healing and thriving centers around creating a safer and more supportive environment where Black community members can feel seen and valued. We aim to do so by providing the space and access to resources that they need to better understand and reconcile with the trauma of systemic anti-Black racism, discrimination, and oppression. We will also create spaces for community members to gather, celebrate Black culture, and build relationships that foster healing and persistence.
Community Engagement (Inter-community)
Our focus on community engagement centers around building bridges within and between Black communities at the University of Denver and the larger community. We believe that by engaging with the larger community, we can promote understanding, raise awareness of important issues, and build support for Black communities. We will organize events, workshops, and other programs that bring together community members from different backgrounds and create opportunities for learning, growth, and collaboration centered on Black experiences, cultures, and practices.
Our focus on capacity building centers around engaging with individuals and departments within the university to expand the understanding of topics related to “the Black experience” and advocate for more inclusive policies, programs, and development opportunities. We aim to create long-lasting alliances and structures that promote personal exploration, professional development, leadership development, academic achievement, and career success.
John Miller, IV, M.E.d.
DEI | Associate Director of Black Community Initiatives
John Miller IV (he/him) is the new Associate Director of Black Community Initiatives at the University of Denver. As an inclusion educator, he seeks to develop an affirming environment for others to build their understanding of cultural humility. He also utilizes his ancestral radical Black imagination to advocate for the liberation of minoritized communities within systems of oppression.
Originally from Charleston, SC, John gains his foundation from the strong Black women throughout his life. John holds a master’s in higher education administration and a bachelor’s in psychology with a concentration in arts entrepreneurship, both from North Carolina State University. Before this role, John brings a wealth of experience from Duke University, North Carolina State University, Elon University, and the University of Colorado Boulder. Contact at DU.BCI@du.edu
Lexus Vann, MSHE, DEI | Program Coordinator
Lexus Vann (she/her/hers) is a Program Coordinator for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Denver, providing support to, Black Community Initiatives, (BCI), and the Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (in)Equality, (IRISE). She was a first-generation college student who had completed a Master of Science Degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education from Colorado State University. Lexus has professional experience working in education, both secondary and higher education, for the past several years while living in Denver.
Reginald Byron, Ph.D, BCI Faculty Director
I am a tenured Associate Professor of Sociology and the Director of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of Denver. I graduated from the Ohio State University in 2009 with a PhD. in Sociology, hold a MA in Sociology from Ohio State (2005), a MA in Psychology from SUNY Buffalo (2003), and a BA in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo (2000). After graduating from Ohio State, I went on to work as a Sociology professor at Southwestern University for 13 years before coming to DU.