The DEI Leadership Team provides guidance to college leadership on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion as they affect students, faculty, administration, and staff at LaGuardia. The team promotes policies that strengthen and uphold LaGuardia’s mission and core values by encouraging open and engaged dialogue that builds and sustains and equitable and inclusive campus environment.
February is Black History Month, honoring the triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout U.S. history. LaGuardia proudly recognizes the Black Pioneers who played critical roles in the history of African Americans.
Of the roughly 1,500 Black men who took office during Reconstruction, Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback stood out as a trailblazer, becoming the first African-American to serve as governor of a state. The son of a Mississippi white planter and a freed slave, P.B.S. Pinchback traveled during the Civil War from the free state of Ohio to the Union-occupied New Orleans, where he organized several companies for the 1st Louisiana Native Guard. Commissioned a captain, Pinchback was one of the few African Americans to attain officer status in the Union Army. After the war, he became active in the Louisiana Republican Party, ascending to Lieutenant Governor and then Governor following the impeachment of Henry Clay Warmouth. During his short stint in office from December 9, 1872 to January 13, 1873, ten acts of the state legislature became law. Pinchback remained influential in Louisiana politics until the 1880s but then moved to Washington, D.C., as the civil rights gains were rolled back. Pinchback’s life reminds us of the promises and hopes of an interracial democracy at the outset of Reconstruction but ultimately the failure of a nation to achieve political and social equality.
At the 1948 Olympic Games in London, track and field athlete Alice Coachman leaped an astonishing 5-feet 6-inches in the high jump, not only setting a world record but also becoming the first Black woman to win a gold medal in the Olympics. It was a moment of joy for Coachman, and it didn’t come easily. As a young girl in Albany, Georgia, Alice ran without shoes on dirt roads and used homemade equipment to practice her jumping. From 1939 to 1948, Coachman won 25 national championships competing in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), mostly in the high jump but also in the 50-yard and 100-yard dashes. Though in her prime during this era, she was unable to compete in the 1940 and 1944 Olympics as they were cancelled due to World War II. Following her achievements in London in 1948, Coachman returned home and enjoyed celebrity status. She was honored with parades in Atlanta and Albany. African-American women increasingly excelled in US track and field, dominating the sport on the international stage. “I think I opened the gate for all of them,” she observed.
Visual Display: African Diaspora Screen in E-Atrium / Near the Library Visual Display: Display of notable and first African American in the Medical Profession Visual Display: "Vegan and American Soul Food" near Cafeteria, located in the M-Building Film Festival: “Black Cinema”
Wendy Nicholson Executive Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion email@example.com