February 1, 2022
Dear Berkeley City College Community,
Today marks the first day of Black History Month. Berkeley City College is blessed to have such remarkable and diverse members in our community centering black beauty and brilliance.
Later this afternoon, I will be joining a ceremony to mark the first day of Black History Month organized by Ramona Butler titled “Black History is American History.” I would like to take a moment to recognize the significance of the title because it holds so much truth.
We look back and recognize the African American experience has been the fulcrum by which most social change hinges. The building of the foundation of this country by the cruel toil and violence of slavery. The loud, compassionate voices of the ancestors calling for justice and equal representation during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Today, we are living in a new wave of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Lives Matter. This movement is spurred by the tragic injustices we continue to see in our own community and across the nation. The voices demanding that we as Americans, and members of a Global Community, see each other as a society, as human beings working together, to love one another, are most loudly lifted by members of marginalized communities. That is Black History. That is American History, and our Future.
We see every day in our news and on social media that the fight to remember and preserve Black History as American History continues. There are leaders today in parts of the country who act upon bold cowardice trying to disrupt this uplifting momentum. Book banning, voter intimidation and disenfranchisement, union busting, suppression of ideas being taught in schools. These are age-old tactics that have been used over, and over, and over again, yet the will of all of us are bound to overtake them, beginning with acknowledging truth.
Ms. Nikole Hannah- Jones is a 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist who contributed to the New York Times 1619 Project, which was named for the year that slavery began in the colonies that would become the United States. The Board of Trustees for the University of North Carolina denied the journalism department’s recommendation to grant her tenure, leading many to see this as a direct response to her work on the 1619 Project. Last week, I had the privilege to hear her remarks to a group of community college educators and was reminded of the power of self-reflection and of moving to action. There are two memorable points that she made: 1) the movement for anti-Critical Race Theory work is a movement towards anti-history and anti-truth and 2) as bridges to ancestral knowledge it will take a daily commitment from each one of us to change a 400-year system of oppression and anti-blackness.
We are doing our part as a College to be a place where Black History is American History. It is a crucial part of our mission to represent all our histories. That is why we continue to tell these stories and keep these ideas alive.
I hope you are able to take time to remember the vibrant history of Black Americans over the course of this month, and over the course of the semester. Our colleague, Ramona Butler sends out daily examples of Black Americans for us to know and celebrate.
Please join the Black History Month Kick-Off today at 12:20 – 1:20 pm in the Student Lounge or Via Zoom.