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Michael Washington
Michael Washington is a history professor and the founder of Black Studies at Northern Kentucky University but says that’s his title in name only. 

“I don’t teach history,” he says. “I teach students.” 

History is something Washington is well-versed in, both academically and professionally. Washington, who arrived in January 1979, is the first African American to earn tenure in NKU’s College of Arts & Sciences (1984) and the longest-tenured Black faculty member at NKU.

Washington originally taught at the University of Cincinnati until a job became available at NKU in the Learning Assistance Center to help students with their study skills. Because of his success at teaching history to academically at-risk students, he was recruited into the Department of History under the chairmanship of Dr. H. Lew Wallace. 

Throughout his tenure, Washington has seen NKU change. He has served under presidents from A.D. Albright to Ashish Vaidya, has seen the construction of numerous buildings and a campus-wide rebrand effort in 2002, which is still present today.

After creating the Black Studies Program during the mid-1980s, Washington co-founded NKU R.O.C.K.S. during the mid-1990s.

"It was conceived of and designed to improve the retention and graduation rates of Black students,” he said. 

“I don't consider what I do work. I consider it a lifestyle of empowerment."

Washington has noticed in recent years that students are taking more initiative when it comes to shaping their campus experience. He used the example of one student who is taking 21 credit hours and still advocates Black Studies projects to improve graduation rates of Black students. He is also impressed by the number of White students who have expressed  their concerns about the lack of Black Studies courses in the curriculum. 

“The students themselves are beginning to organize,” he says. 

Outside of NKU, Washington's international experiences consist of speaking engagements and research both in southern Africa and in Japan. He has received both Malone (1991) and Fulbright (2001) Fellowships. As a Malone fellow, he studied Arab history, culture, politics and religion at the American University at Cairo in Egypt, at which time he also traveled to Kuwait, Abu Dabi and Qatar. As a Fulbright Fellow, he was invited to teach at Kyoritsu Women's University and Tokyo Christian Women's University in Japan. He has also taught at Nan Zan University in Nagoya, Japan. Most recently, earlier this month Washington served as the Humanities Scholar for a project in Malvern Arkansas that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 1922 lynching of John Henry Harrison. 

"I don't consider what I do work. I consider it a lifestyle of empowerment,” he insists. 

As Black History month winds down, for Washington the month “is an opportunity to legitimize my daily experience,” he says.