Seize the Opportunity

Dear Tulane Community:


“Seize the opportunity” was the phrase used to proclaim Black History Month as a national observance for the first time back in 1976. “Seize the opportunity,” Americans were urged, to honor the achievements and contributions of African Americans “in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”


At Tulane, we can well attest to these contributions. We would not be the university we are, nor the one we hope to become – more inclusive, welcoming and supportive of students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds – without the contributions of countless African Americans. This includes members of the Tulane Trailblazers, whom we are now giving long-overdue recognition.


While it received official designation in 1976, Black History Month has been observed on college campuses since 1969. Tulane joins universities around the country in continuing this tradition. We will wrap up the first week of Black History Month by honoring the 15 African American medical students from Tulane who recently took a group photo, in their white coats, standing in front of former slave quarters.


The 15 White Coats, whose photo is fast becoming a national icon, will be recognized during the Tulane Green Wave men’s basketball game at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse. The students who will be honored are creating their own black history by using the momentum from their iconic photograph to generate positive change. Efforts are underway to fund the placement of the photograph in primary and secondary classrooms around the world and to provide scholarships to aid medical school applicants as they pursue their dreams of enrolling in medical school and becoming physicians.


Black History Month at Tulane will also include the Dreyfous Lecture, which will feature the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as numerous other special events that will be listed on the university’s calendar. I urge you to “seize the opportunity” to attend one of these events and join in celebrating the many ways members of the African American community have shaped Tulane’s past, present and future.