Black History Month

February 6, 2023

Dear Berkeley City College Community –

Today marks the sixth day of Black History Month. I am honored to serve as President of Berkeley City College, where the diverse community of students, faculty, classified professionals, administrators, and alumni actively strive for racial justice and work tirelessly toward building an anti-racist and pro-Black community.

This past Saturday, I was at the 14th annual professional development summit for the African American Regional Educational Alliances held at CSU East Bay. Joining me on a panel were representatives from the UC, CSU, and K-12 systems, as well as a UC Berkeley student. The theme of the day was “Dialogue Across the Diaspora: An Intentional Opportunity to Align, Build, and Connect.” Grounded in supporting Black student excellence, the day provided rich intersections of students, such as the Young, Gifted, and Black program, and educators from all educational systems coming together – Harambee! Harambee derives from the Swahili word, meaning synergy and to “pull together.” It’s all about working together, helping each other, and being part of the community.

It is great comfort to me that so many in our institution have pledged toward working together for equitable student achievement and completion, and that these goals are being written into the very framework of Berkeley City Colleges Educational Master Plan for years to come. I am a firm believer that education is key to overcoming poverty, gentrification, and political oppression that historically minoritized communities have faced throughout our nation’s history. We must educate ourselves on the African Diaspora and the roles we must each hold to dismantle oppressive and anti-black structures.

I’m saddened to see the news reports from around the country about high schools and universities ending their African American Studies programs, often at the behest of state and local governments. These acts of censorship and fear only highlight the necessity of continuing the conversation about the intersection of Black History and American History, because there is no American History without Black History. The stories are entwined, often with different viewpoints and understanding, but entwined, nonetheless. Our very own colleague, Ramona Butler, sends us daily messages throughout Black History month to learn about change agents among the African-American/Black community. Take the time to review those, share them with your families, friends, and students. Engage in active learning and dialogue to be an ally. Only through constant dialogue of education and understanding may we find peace and action towards equity and racial justice.

The California Community Colleges have the statewide “Black Student Success Week,” April 24 through April 28, calling on every one of our colleges to center the experiences, success, and completion of Black students. Please keep an eye out for upcoming student-led events that will hold space for these types of discussions throughout Black History Month, so that we may grow our college community at the cultural and individual level.

In Community, Harambee!

Dr. Angélica Garcia