The Black History Month banners on Trousdale

High school students with muralist Noni Olabisi, USC President C. L. Max Nikias, and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

You’ve probably noticed the stunning banners up and down Trousdale Parkway this month. They were conceptualized and sketched by local high school students, who drew their inspiration from the stories and experiences of USC’s African-American community. Their work was then transformed into bold, colorful paintings by acclaimed muralist Noni Olabisi. They’re flying above our campus and they’re also in L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Press Room.

As USC News wrote, the images show “elements of love, struggle, rebellion, achievement, and Egyptian royalty.” As you can see in the photo that accompanies this post, a common theme in the images is the sun. Olabisi has said, “The Yellow Dot on mostly everything I paint is a representation of the Sun within as well as without. It is the giver of life. It’s also my way of honoring, paying homage and my gratitude for life that connects us all as one.”

As we contemplate the beauty and power of these banners, however, they should also give us pause as we walk through campus, and we should ask ourselves: What does Black History Month mean at USC?

For me, as Provost, it is a daily reminder of our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity. We are working on a number of fronts to recruit more African-American students, faculty and staff. We need to continue – and build upon — our pipeline programs for students and faculty. And, we need to always welcome diverse viewpoints, perspectives and experiences to be the local partner and global leader we aspire to be.

– Michael W. Quick, February 19, 2018