Black History 2021 - Year of Recognition

Black History Year 2021

Upcoming Events

Check out upcoming MCC virtual events that celebrate and honor Black history.

Employee Spotlight

We recognize and celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of MCC employees.


Learn about the origins of Black History month and view a timeline of historical Black events.


Explore resources for Black History celebration.

Celebrate With Us

In celebration of Black History, Mesa Community College (MCC) presents Black History 2021 - Year of Recognition. MCC will honor the achievements of Black people past and present by hosting events from February through December 2021. We hope you will join us!

By celebrating the entire year vs a single month of February, we will have a greater opportunity to reflect on Black history and culture, further acknowledge and learn about the trauma of historical and modern injustices, and find ways to move forward as a community.

We invite you to participate and engage in each of the events and programs listed below.

Upcoming Events

Each month we will explore the impact Black Americans have made in areas such as our local community, entrepreneurship & STEM, education, film and arts; politics & law, and much more.

Community Resilience: Queer. Black. Trans.

Monica Jones, Executive Director of the Outlaw Project, will lead a panel discussion on Blackness, Queerness, and Trans Identities. Guest panelists will share their intersectional experiences with the audience.

Date: Wednesday, February 24 at 6 pm
Virtual event link:
Password: YY54S5

Contact Erick Tanchez (480) 461-7291 for accommodations or questions.

Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

A year following the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Rev Dr. Martin Luther King posed the question, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?" Today, we find ourselves in a similar moment as a country amid our current social and political climate. Join Richard Crews as he leads us in an interactive discussion paralleling our past to our present and ultimately challenging those in attendance to answer the question, Where Do We Go From Here? Will We Choose Chaos or Community?

Date: Thursday, February 25 at 10 am
Virtual event link:
Password: 9XRiSJ

Contact Erick Tanchez (480) 461-7291 for accommodations or questions.

View Past Events

Employee Spotlight

We will share the accomplishments of African American employees who have advanced diversity, equity, and inclusion at MCC and/or excelled in their area of expertise.

This month we are highlighting the accomplishments of Michelle Traveler and Luis Ellis.

Michelle Traveler, Ph.D., MBA - Faculty, Computer Information Systems (CIS)

Michelle Traveler headshot

Dr. Michelle Traveler is a Computer Information Systems (CIS) faculty member at MCC. She has worked for the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) for over 26 years in a variety of student support and technology roles at five of the 10 colleges.

After earning an Associates of Arts (AA) from South Mountain Community College, Dr. Traveler earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis in Information Systems Management from the Keller Graduate School of Management, and a Ph.D. in Information Technology with a focus on Cloud Computing from Capella University. She was recently recognized by Apple, Inc. Higher Education for her work with diverse students developing apps using Swift and Xcode.

Read more about Michelle

Luis Ellis - Academic Advisor for Student Success Programs

Luis Ellis headshot

Luis Ellis has over 15 years working in higher education. Within that time, Ellis has worked in various capacities throughout the Maricopa County Community Colleges District (MCCCD). Currently, Ellis works as an academic advisor in the department of Student Success Programs. He is the co-advisor of the Black Student Union and the Male Empowerment Network (M.E.N.).

Ellis grew up in Panama City, Panama and at the age of 18, he relocated to the United States to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Arizona State University. Upon completing his degree, he enlisted in the United States Army. During his six-year active duty term, Luis served both stateside and abroad in Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, and Kuwait. While serving his country, Luis received extensive leadership training, worked side-by-side in unified efforts with various branches of the military, and interacted directly with the civilian population in humanitarian relief efforts alongside allied forces.

Read more about Luis


Black History Month is celebrated every year in February across the nation. Surprisingly, it was 20 years in the making. Harvard-educated Dr. Carter G. Woodson, author of the Miseducation of the Negro, sought to change race relations by “promoting the scientific study of black life and history." In 1915, Carter attended a celebration hosted by the state of Illinois, commemorating the 50th anniversary of emancipation. It was a three-week celebration that honored and shared the accomplishments of Black people since emancipation from slavery.

Carter believed if society could be educated about the intellect, ingenuity, and hard work Black people contributed to society; race relations would improve. He created The Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) and later The Journal of Negro History in 1916 to dispel the myths about Black people.

In a desire to reach people of all classes of society and extend the February celebration within Black communities around Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays, the ASNLH created Negro History Week in 1926. The goal was to offer lessons for school children and local communities about the achievements of Black people. As an educator, Dr. Carter knew Lincoln had not freed the slaves, but rather the Union army comprised of Black servicemen. The celebration of the everyday Black citizen is whom Carter desired to celebrate come Negro History Week.

Black organizations and citizens across the nation took up the charge to celebrate Black achievements. Carter’s fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, created a Negro History and Literature Week in 1924. Educator and activist, Mary McLeod Bethune, created the widely circulated Negro History Bulletin in 1937. By the 1940s, Blacks in West Virginia began celebrating Negro History Month. In 1976, Carter’s Association extended Negro History Week to one month. Since then American society has celebrated Black History Month each February to commemorate the achievements of a group of people who despite the obstacles, continue to dream, imagine, create and contribute. Let’s celebrate!

Timeline of Historic Events:

1619 The first African American indentured servants arrive in the American colonies. Less than a decade later, the first slaves are brought into New Amsterdam (later, New York City). By 1690, every colony has slaves.
1739 The Stono Rebellion, one of the earliest slave revolts, occurs in Stono, South Carolina.
1793 Eli Whitney’s (1765 – 1825) cotton gin increases the need for slaves.
1808 Congress bans further importation of slaves.
1831 In Boston, William Lloyd Garrison (1805 – 1879) begins publication of the anti-slavery newspaper the Liberator and becomes a leading voice in the Abolitionist movement.
1831-1861 Approximately 75,000 slaves escape to the North using the Underground Railroad.
1846 Ex-slave Frederick Douglass (1818 – 1895) publishes the anti-slavery North Star newspaper.
1848 Augustus Saint Gaudens (1848 – 1907) is born in Ireland. His family soon emigrates to the United States.
1849 Harriet Tubman (c. 1820 – 1913) escapes from slavery and becomes an instrumental leader of the Underground Railroad.
  • Congress passes another Fugitive Slave Act, which mandates government participation in the capture of escaped slaves.
  • Boston citizens, including some of the wealthiest, storm a federal courthouse in an attempt to free escaped Virginia slave Anthony Burns (1834 – 1862).
1857 The Dred Scot v. Sanford case: congress does not have the right to ban slavery in the states; slaves are not citizens.
1860 Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) is elected president, angering the southern states.
1861 The Civil War begins.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation proclaims that all slaves in rebellious territories are forever free.
  • Massachusetts 54th regiment of African American troops led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (1837 – 1863) marches out of Boston on May 28th, heading into combat.
  • The Civil War ends.
  • Lincoln is assassinated. Seventeen-year-old Augustus Saint Gaudens is so moved by the sight of Lincoln’s body lying in state that he views it twice.
  • The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting slavery, is ratified.
  • The era of Reconstruction begins.
  • The “Black Codes” are passed by all white legislators of the former Confederate States. Congress passes the Civil Rights Act, conferring citizenship on African Americans and granting them equal rights to whites.
  • The Ku Klux Klan is formed in Tennessee.
1868 The 14th Amendment is ratified, defining citizenship. This overturns the Dred Scot decision.
1870 The 15th Amendment is ratified, giving African Americans the right to vote.
  • The era of Reconstruction ends.
  • A deal is made with southern democratic leaders which makes Rutherford B. Hayes (1822 – 1893) president in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South and puts an end to efforts to protect the civil rights of African Americans.
1879 Thousands of African Americans migrate out of the South to escape oppression.
  • Tennessee passes the first of the “Jim Crow” segregation laws, segregating state railroads.
  • Similar laws are passed over the next 15 years throughout the Southern states.
1887 Augustus Saint Gaudens unveils the “Standing Lincoln” statue in Lincoln Park, Chicago.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson case: racial segregation is ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • The “Jim Crow” (“separate but equal”) laws begin, barring African Americans from equal access to public facilities.
1897 Augustus Saint Gaudens unveils the Shaw Memorial in Boston Common.
1954 Brown v. Board of Education case: strikes down segregation as unconstitutional.
1955 In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005) is arrested for breaking a city ordinance by refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man. This defiant act gives initial momentum to the Civil Rights Movement.
1957 Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968) and others set up the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a leading engine of the Civil Rights Movement.
1964 The Civil Rights Act is signed, prohibiting discrimination of all kinds.
1965 The Voting Rights Act is passed, outlawing the practices used in the South to disenfranchise African American voters.
1967 Edward W. Brooke (1919 - 2015) becomes the first African American U.S. Senator since Reconstruction. He serves two terms as a Senator from Massachusetts.
1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
2008 Barack Obama (1961 - ) becomes the first African American to win the U.S. presidential race.
2021 Kamala Harris (1964 - ) becomes the United States' first female vice president, the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, and the first African American and first Asian American vice president.