BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University’s 2021 Diversity Celebration, held April 8–9, marked the 20th anniversary of this annual event. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebration offered primarily virtual events as well as an in-person festival on Sanford Mall — all focused on showcasing diverse cultures.
Lamont Sellers, App State’s director of intercultural student affairs, said the Diversity Celebration is designed to give attendees a sense of “what differences and commonalities we all have” and that attendees had a chance to “celebrate what makes us a great and increasingly diverse community.”
The two-day celebration included:
- The Black Student Association’s Black Arts Gallery Walk, available through May 5 in Plemmons Student Union.
- A performance by Paul Tran, an award-winning slam poet and author. Tran also presented a creative writing and poetry workshop during the celebration.
- An opportunity to listen and share stories through the Way of Council-facilitated dialogue.
- A lecture focused on the role of environmental racism in amplifying health inequities in minoritized and underserved communities.
- A festival on Sanford Mall with a live DJ, museum displays, dance lessons, giveaways and global cuisine offered through Campus Dining’s partnership with local food trucks.
- Virtual presentations by two App State students — one who shared a personal experience of living on three different continents and one who described the cultures, languages and ethnicity, food and music of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- A lecture by an App State professor about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion within the academic fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Diversity Celebration began 20 years ago as the idea of App State alumna Amy Hathcock ’01, then a graduate student in student development who worked with two App State staff members to host the first event.
In 2006, the celebration partnered with the Unity Festival, a local community festival scheduled around Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, to feature hands-on educational and entertainment activities from other cultures.
Prior to COVID-19, hundreds of K–12 children from area schools participated in the Diversity Celebration. They did not participate this year for safety reasons due to the pandemic. The Diversity Celebration Planning Committee consisting of students, faculty and staff members plans to explore including K–12 students in next year’s event.
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About Diversity and Inclusion at Appalachian
Appalachian State University is committed to developing and allocating resources to the fundamental task of creating a diverse campus culture. We value diversity as the expression of human similarities and differences, as well as the importance of a living and learning environment conducive to knowledge, respect, acceptance, understanding and global awareness. Learn more at http://diversity.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.