Assistant Dean Dana Bozeman introduces programming.
Black History Month at Harris
Harris celebrates Black History Month

Around the theme of “Black Joy,” the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy will celebrate Black History Month with a series of events that begin February 1 with a fireside chat featuring Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. 

Events continue throughout the month, with the February 16 screening of the documentary Madan Sara and conversation with Director Etant Dupain (hosted by the Pearson Institute). A Harris After Hours on February 23 and a February 24 fireside chat with Ariel Investments founder and Chairman John W. Rogers, Jr., LAB’76, and Dean Katherine Baicker and Professor Emmett Dedmon are among other Black History Month highlights. All events take place at The Harris Family Foundation Forum at the Keller Center. 

Dana Bozeman
Assistant Dean Dana Bozeman

February’s exploration of Black joy “is a way of thinking about a positive future,” said Dana Bozeman, Harris’ Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion. “The pandemic has meant we've had some stressful times, some very ‘real’ times that have permeated our mental and physical health,” she said. 

“We wanted to take this moment to look at some positive things — not in a way that is in any way at any time dismissive of what we've been through recently or historically — but to bring a little joy back and to celebrate the fact that there are still a lot of great things here in Chicago, and for Black folks specifically,” Bozeman added. 

This Black History Month, she said, “gives us the opportunity to recognize that obviously there has been pain and oppression. But there's also a lot of joy that's not highlighted, particularly as a part of the Chicago experience.” 


Toni Preckwinkle
Toni Preckwinkle

Preckwinkle, the first Black woman elected to lead the Cook County Board of Commissioners as its president, is deeply engaged in the Chicago experience, and an important voice to begin Harris’ month-long celebration, Bozeman said. Elected Cook County Board president in 2010, Preckwinkle previously was alderman of the South Side’s 4th Ward for nearly two decades, representing neighborhoods including Hyde Park — home to the university that drew her from her native Minnesota to Chicago. Preckwinkle holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago. 

Having “served our community for a very long time, Toni Preckwinkle has witnessed our transitions and our challenges,” Bozeman said. “But she also has been a part of the joy and progress that we've made, as a city.”  

The theme of Black joy will  be picked up by John Rogers, a lifelong Chicagoan and University of Chicago trustee, who will discuss values-based investing and how that allows for more successful, equitable communities. In his chat with Dean Baicker, he will also touch on the ideas of patience and resilience that he attributes to his success as an investor and a public servant. 

John Rogers
John Rogers

In 1983, Rogers started Ariel, the first Black-owned mutual fund company based in Chicago. It has grown into a global, diversified asset management firm with offices in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Sydney, managing assets of approximately $16.2 billion. 

The 2023 Black History Month programming continues the Harris tradition of highlighting contributions made by Black policymakers, scholars, and activists, and fostering meaningful conversations about the faceted Black experience in the United States and around the globe that reflect on the past and look toward a more diverse and equitable future. 

“But this celebration is not just for folks who find themselves within this affinity space,” Bozeman said. “We are looking for everyone to learn more, to grow, and to find ways that, regardless of our backgrounds and identities, we can start to hold each other up and listen to each other.  

“Many of us are not hearing accurate portrayals of history,” she said, “But beyond the struggle part of history, which people seem to be having a really hard time accepting, there's also what happens after, as we see ourselves as a part of this developing story and the continuing history.” 

“That,” she added, “is what I'm hoping for everybody to take with them from this month.”