Where It Starts

Lives and identities are shaped by decades and centuries. They can be forever altered in minutes or seconds. For the individuals and communities who continue to make Black history at the University of Minnesota and beyond, change starts wherever the powers of creativity, vision, and joy meet.
  • Chino Nwakama sitting with children in a classroom

    Sharing his love of science

    Chino Nwakama (’23, Neuroscience, College of Biological Sciences) is creating opportunities for historically marginalized and low-income students to connect with science.

  • Abygail Andebrhan standing next to a microscope wearing a white coat

    Determination and education prove unstoppable

    Abygail Andebrhan graduated in 2022 from the College of Biological Sciences with a degree in genetics, cell biology and development. Originally from Eritrea, her story speaks to the power of education and the opportunity she found at the University of Minnesota.

  • Junita Flowers smiling inside of a commercial kitchen

    Finding sweet success

    Alumna Junita Flowers is building a cookie business that sparks dialogue and empowers women by normalizing the conversation around abusive relationships. Flowers founded Junita’s Jar, which recently launched in 320 Target stores nationwide.

More stories from Black History Month

Lulete Mola wearing leather skirt and dark suit jacket in front of dark blue cloudy background

Who SHE is

Lulete Mola’s purpose is to build power with individuals, families, and communities for real change.

J'Mag Karbeah in a medical examination office

A shift in the conversation

Doctoral candidate and 2017 Master of Public Health (MPH) graduate J'Mag Karbeah has been involved with numerous high-profile research efforts at the University of Minnesota centering around reproductive health and justice in the African American community.

Tomme Beevas

Focusing on the issues

After winning the Food Network’s “Food Court Wars” in 2013 at Pimento Jamaican Kitchen’s Burnsville Center location, Tomme Beevas opened a second location: Pimento Jamaican Kitchen on Eat Street in South Minneapolis.

Ayanna Rakhu

Mother may I swim?

U of M PhD candidate Ayanna Rakhu is working to understand the reasons why many African American parents and their children don’t swim through her dissertation, titled “Mother May I Swim?”

Governess Simpson

Defeat turns to growth

In the heartbreak of rejection by her desired major, Governess Simpson found a new capacity to help others.

Bryant Jones wearing face mask in greenhouse with seedlings on wooden table

From planted seeds

While cooking for 20-hour days to feed the thousands who gathered after George Floyd’s killing, Bryant Jones was struck by an idea that grew into a garden ... and a community.

Manyi Ayuk poses for photo with her family

So much pain, so much joy

Manyi Ayuk reflects on the dualities she’s experienced as a Cameroonian American and as an activist for social change.

Hilaria Ponce standing outisde next to pine trees with snow on them

Realizing her dream

Hilariia Ponce has just one semester of college under her belt, and while she doesn’t have all the answers, she’s certainly not afraid to go looking for them. She credits her experiences in the National FFA Organization as key to her development, and her mother—for always being there.

Kyle Skye in the studio

Developing our next generation of leaders

While Kyle Skye grew up in a football family—his grandfather was the first African American athlete for Valparaiso University—music has also always been an important part of his life.