While it’s the shortest month of the year, Chabot College and the Black Education Association (BEA) made sure to recognize Black History Month this year with a whole arrangement of events. The highlights included screenings of prominent Black movies like “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” “Queen and Slim,” and “Black and Blue” to more significant events that honor African American students on campus like the Black Arts Festival and Black Scholars Family Night.
“Although it’s the shortest month in the year, it’s about recognizing black people’s struggles, accomplishments, how far we come, but also how much further we have to go.” said CIN student Salimah Shabazz, more commonly known as “Ms. Mack.”
There was something for everybody to celebrate in Black History Month!
All of the events are under a series, Embracing Ujima: Collective Work & Responsibility for the African American Community. This February started with the event, Black History Month Kick-Off — Embracing Ujima.
Ujima is one of seven principles in African heritage, with its meaning associated with collective work and responsibility. Keynote speaker Dr. Matais Pouncil kicked off the series on Feb. 6, and spoke about black history as well as what Ujima meant for him.
Keynote speaker Dr. Pouncil, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at West Valley College, “is the first African American man to earn an Ed.D. from UC Irvine,” said the Coalition of Black Excellence. Pouncil conducts research on black culture, diaspora, and sociocultural and economic class.
The Feb. 11, keynote speaker Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud talked about what it means to be a student while Black, discussing the collective responsibility that comes with having an education.
Stroud has been head of numerous college districts, with 35 years in education. Stroud also served as a presidential appointee on the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability of Young Americans for President Barack Obama, according to the Peralta Community College District, where she is currently the Chancellor.
Student organizations demonstrated the collective responsibility to support the community. Many students came to the events, especially the keynote, with prominent Black student organizations on campus coming to show strength in numbers.
My Sister’s Keeper is an organization that empowers women on campus by developing leadership skills and self-love. Their members were particularly inspired by Dr. Stroud.
“A lot of people in this room may not know her name or recognize her and the work that she’s done. But she’s done a lot, locally, and nationally,” said student Sara Costa, Secretary of My Sister’s Keeper. “It’s important to see a black woman having this much power while also being humble and willing to come and talk to us and share her experiences.”
G’Neva Winston, Community Engagement Officer of My Sister’s Keeper, agreed and brought up the famous Malcolm X quote, “the black woman is the most disrespected person in America.”
Winston also attended the Black Arts Festival on Feb. 19. Currently a film major, she was excited to see black filmmakers at the event. “I even took my mom to see it, and she was so supportive!” said Winston. Filmmaker Caleb Jaffe presented his short film, “It’s Not About Jimmy Keene,” in the Chabot planetarium. From Sundance, the film is about a police shooting of an unarmed black teen, which causes friction within a mixed-race Los Angeles family.
Spoken word artists Tongo Eisen-Martin and Landon Smith began the event with performances along with an open mic and artist discussion.
For film screenings, Mack coordinated the screening for the documentary “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” and the discussion that followed. She suggested the movie be shown after she was introduced to the author in her “English 101: Evolution of a Black Writer” class. “Because of Toni Morrison, I’m taking a fiction class,” Mack said. “I want to be the next Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, and many more.” Morrison was a novelist and writer who wrote the celebrated trilogy, “Beloved,” and was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993.
Brian Augsberger, a counselor at EOPS, took part in organizing some of the events, particularly the Black Scholars Family Night. “I’m encouraged by seeing the community of Chabot coming together to celebrate something important,” Augsberger said. “These events are not just for the Black community but the entire community.”
While Black History Month is over, Ms. Mack says, “every day is Black History Month.”