Students, Faculty Release Virtual Event to Celebrate Black History Month

The event—a musical collaboration to listen, reflect, and share during Black History Month— can be viewed virtually.

Students in the Student National Dental Association and Hispanic Student Dental Association at the UConn School of Dental Medicine teamed up with faculty and members of the community for a virtual event in honor of Black History Month: Participation, Access, Rights, Equity (P.A.R.E.): Reflecting with Music and the Arts.

This virtual event, released on YouTube this week, includes musical pieces, spoken word, 6-word memoir tributes and personal testimony.

“Racial discrimination, attitudes and systemic problems persist to this day,” said Dr. Sarita Arteaga, associate dean for students at the School of Dental Medicine and event participant. “Systemic injustice and racism have deep historical roots in this country and its impact can be found in many facets of education, business, media and day to day life.  Music serves as a tool to educate and touch others as well as for people to define themselves and their culture.  That is why we have formed P.A.R.E., as an artistic collaboration to share with the educational community, spiritual community, and friends. It is exciting to experience the teamwork of students, faculty, and friends to see this work come together.  We all need to continue to reflect on how we can make a change.  I hope listening helps us all take future steps to unity.”

Arteaga is joined by Dr. Alan Lurie, professor and chair of Oral and Maxillofacial Diagnostic Sciences, Dr. Chris Carrington, part-time faculty in the division of Endontology, and dental students Frank Amaefuna, Carlos Cardenas, Talia Staiger, Patricia Hare, and Nizida Acharte.

“Everyday I look at the inequities, big and small, that individuals of color face on a daily basis and all I can do is wish that I had the power to do away with these inequities, with the hopes that it would bring about a more beautiful world for us all to live in,” said Frank Amaefuna.

Gregory Sneed, Chief of Police at Central Connecticut State University, Dr. Steven Minkler, CEO, Middlesex Community College (MxCC), and students from MxCC also participated in the event with UConn.

“Music is a universal language if ever there was one, and I have been a performing classical pianist for my entire life,” said Dr. Lurie.  “I was very excited and honored to be asked to participate in this program, as it hopefully reaches across race, gender, religion and age and plays a role in people developing greater compassion, understanding and tolerance of each other.  I was blessed to be raised by two renowned professional musicians who lived P.A.R.E., and was privileged to share these attitudes through the coupled sadness and beauty of Joplin’s music.”