AUBURN — Throughout February, Auburn University’s College of Science and Mathematics (COSAM) Outreach offered a Cafe Series celebrating Black scientists and mathematicians. COSAM Outreach Program Coordinator Christopher Martin spoke about what inspired him to organize this series.
“One of the biggest things that made me want to do it was reflecting on my childhood and the lack of representation in distinguished roles like that,” Martin said. “So being able to bring people who are making such a big difference in the community and highlight them to show people of color the opportunities that they could have in the future.”
To ensure this idea became a reality, Martin utilized some of AU’s many other programs that foster community involvement and inclusion. He partnered with COSAM’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion director, Kimberly Mulligan-Guy.
According to Martin, both parties felt that Black History Month is often used to tell the same important stories, but that the stories and impact of those who make a difference through everyday life are not told enough.
“One of [Mulligan-Guy’s] key takeaways was that in February, we highlight the important people — MLK, Rosa Parks and all these people that have pushed civil rights, pushed equality — but we never really highlight just the average person that’s constantly making a difference in the community,” Martin said.
Through the Black History Cafe Series, Martin hopes listeners will feel empowered to pursue their dreams and ideas through speakers who have done so much for inclusivity in STEM [science-technology-engineering-math].
“They were making black history every day,” he said. “Not just these big events, and I thought that was also very important.”
This series has highlighted the community’s desire for other similar series that would celebrate other marginalized groups.
Martin said he has received “a lot of feedback from the community about potentially doing a Women’s History Month for March or an Asian History Month for May, opportunities that I didn’t even think about.”
COSAM Outreach events are “catered to reach K-12 kids and just educate them and expose them to STEM at an early age,” Martin said. “We cater to underprivileged communities.”
Martin encourages anyone interested to get involved to help continue to open up STEM opportunities for children and those who have been historically excluded.
“If people want to get involved, we want as many volunteers as possible,” he said. “Reach out to our Instagram and Facebook @cosamoutreach. We love the opportunity for people to just come see what we’re doing.”