University of Minnesota Alumni Association

Alumni Stories

Documentary Examines Black History at the U of M

On February 18, This Free North premiered at Northrop Auditorium.

On February 18, This Free North, a Twin Cities PBS (TPT) documentary about Black history at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, premiered at Northrop Auditorium. Attendees watched the documentary, which examines the rich but often hidden history of Black students, alumni, faculty, and staff on campus from the late 1800s to the present. In the act of looking back, this documentary reminds the viewer that history is complicated, divisive, and ongoing. It examines the influences Black history has had over the years and still has today, both on campus and within the community.

The event was followed by a panel discussion featuring producer and alumnus Dan Bergin (B.A. ’90); alumna Makeda Zulu-Gillespie (M.P.A. ’18), executive director of the U of M’s Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC); undergraduate and Black Student Union President Sharon Ogata; alumnus and former faculty member John S. Wright (B.S. ’68, M.A. ’71, Ph.D. ’77), and alumnus Abdul Omari (B.A. ’08, M.P.P. ’10, Ph.D. ’15), a former member of the Board of Regents, all discussing what comes next for communities of color at the University.

Funding and assistance for the documentary was provided by the Alumni Association and the Office for Student Affairs, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, and the Multicultural Student Engagement group at the University.

See photos from the Premiere event here.

Please take a look at the documentary below and/or share your reflections, thoughts, or feedback after viewing to keep the conversation going in the comments section.

This Free North originally aired on February 24, 2020 on TPT.

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