Chancellor King and SUNY Board of Trustees Statement on Black History Month

February 1, 2024

"This Black History Month, we celebrate the theme of ‘African Americans and the Arts,' and pay homage to the significant contributions Black creators have made to the arts since, and even before, our nation's founding. For Black college students, the arts serve as a powerful medium for cultural expression, affirmation of identity, and a means to voice their unique experiences and challenges. They provide therapeutic benefits, fostering mental well-being and creating spaces of community and belonging amidst often predominantly white institutions. Additionally, the arts act as a vehicle for activism and social change, enabling Black students to advocate for equity, justice, and visibility within and beyond the academic environment. And most of all, they bring us joy, bring us together, bring peace of mind when it is called for, lay out pleas for justice, assuage pain, and expose truths.  

"At SUNY, we think of the trailblazing novelist and former University at Albany faculty member Toni Morrison, the immensely talented, up-and-coming, Grammy Award winning jazz singer, and Purchase College alumna, Samara Joy, as well as the accomplished actor/producer and University at Buffalo alumnus, Winston Duke, to name just a few members of the SUNY family who have truly made an artistic and cultural impact on our nation. 

"Thanks to the diversity that has been at SUNY's core for all of its 75 years, we've been surrounded by artists and art. We will continue to foster an environment that allows great creative talent to flourish without limits, as evidenced by the success of our alumni and the promise of our students.

"While there are those who wish to undo the significant progress made to advance racial inclusivity and equality, we as the nation's largest comprehensive system of public higher education will always make clear that there is a place at SUNY for every New Yorker. We will not waver in our mission to provide an educational environment where diversity, equity, and inclusivity thrive. While we understand there is more work to do to right the wrongs of the past, we are proud of the steps we have already taken and will continue to take to ensure that SUNY is a welcoming place for all."

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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Holly Liapis
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