In commemoration of Black History Month, the University Library system decided to do something a little more than usual this year.

The University Library-sponsored MLK Day Committee, along with the School of Information and the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, among others, created the History of Race at U-M display in the Hatcher Library. The exhibit opened to the public on Jan. 20 and will be on display through the end of February.

While the committee holds a yearly commemorative program for MLK day, this is the first year the group created an exhibit to examine diversity and acceptance throughout the University’s history. In prior years, the committee has hosted speakers to discuss racial issues. Last year, political activist Angela Davis spoke at the University.

Darlene Nichols, librarian for diversity and inclusion at the University, said the exhibit aims to contribute to the conversation about race on campus by “providing an education experience that could draw people in differently.”

The committee worked with staff from the University’s Bentley Historical Library and research assistants from the School of Information graduate program.

Rackham student Madeline Sheldon, a research assistant on the project, said the history of diversity is very important at the University.

“To see that displayed in the exhibit made me feel proud that I can be associated with that,” Sheldon said.

The outer portions of the exhibit features more contemporary information about campus diversity, while the inner sections display information dating back to the founding of the University in the 19th century.

Nichols said while some of the information used in the exhibit was previously known, the research team uncovered new information using old documents, including historical newspapers and reports from the Board of Regents from the University’s early history.

One exhibit panel describes the beginning of the current Rackham Barbour Scholarship for female students from Asian countries in 1914. The scholarship’s recipients must contribute to their native countries upon entering their careers.

“Getting to meet someone from another country was pretty unusual in this part of America in the dead of the Midwest,” Nichols said.

Another panel at the exhibit asks students what diversity at the University means to them. Students can place their own answers to that question on the panel with provided sticky notes.

“Something I really like about the exhibit is that no matter what your background is or what you’re looking for you can find some content that connects with you and speaks to you,” said Rackham student Molly Malcolm, a research assistant on the project.

Nichols said the there are plans to present the exhibit online when the physical location closes this month.

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