Chabot College is proud to introduce its first ever mural located outside the El Centro/700 building titled; TOMORROW’S WORLD IS YOURS TO BUILD.
The mural proposal was initiated in 2018, and went into 4 years in the making, by the Stay Woke Collective, a group of student activists that hope to bring the community together for a collective social change. The project is supported by students and staff of the Ethnic Studies program, club advisor Professor Kay Fischer, chair members of the Public Art Committee Professor Juan Pablo Mercado of Chicano Studies, Dean Deonne Kunkle-Wu, and the rest of the Public Art Committee. Funding was made possible through the Student Senate and backed by Chabot College President Susan Sperling and her staff.
A statement, in thanks to Professor Kay Fischer, from the Stay Woke Mural proposal for the Public Art Committee;
“Stay Woke Collective is proposing an outdoor mural on campus that seeks to center themes of social justice and equitable representation that reflect the multicultural backgrounds of students,[as well as], Chabot College’s mission and values statement around diversity and civic engagement. Murals help create a sense of community and belonging, especially when people can see reflections of themselves, their cultures, and their history.”
The project began for artists, alumni Elizabeth Blancas and her team Jessica Sabogal, Shanna Strauss, and Malaya Tuyay, on September 15, 2021 to illustrate the wall featuring the key message that embodies the whole campus and its people.
The quote “Tomorrow’s world is yours to build” came from the words of Yuri Kochiyama (May 19, 1921 – June 1, 2014), a legendary Japanese American activist and leader based in the Bay Area. She was incarcerated with her family during WWII under President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 during the Japanese internment of 1942-1945. In her later years, she fought alongside Malcom X and communities of color for justice, liberation, and against imperialism, wars, and racism.
For Ms. Blancas, Kochiyama’s words spoke to her and fueled her creativity during times of need and confusion. “She was one of the voices I kept coming back to when designing the mural. A large part of the design process happened amidst a chaotic time, 2020-2021. With an ongoing pandemic, state sanctioned violence, civil unrest, and climate catastrophe all occurring– “tomorrow” felt so bleak. I hope Kochiyama’s words offer our community the [same] solace and empowerment they gave me.”
As for the representation for the mural, Ms. Blancas chose to feature two of her dearest friends, Salimah “Mrs.Mak” Shabazz and Taufa Setefano.
“The muses, Mrs. Mak and Taufa, I got to know in Ethnic Studies campus and Stay Woke organizing meetings. When I think back on myself first arriving at Chabot fresh out of [highschool] , confused about my next step, I can feel how impactful it would have been to see this mural, to be greeted by Black & Brown joy, words of resilience. I am grateful that future generations will have this affirmation to greet them on campus.”
Taufa Setefano, is a student activist and leader, who also served on the Stay Woke Collective club, student senate, and a student in the Change it Now! learning community. In addition, not only founding the Nesians Unite club, she, and other Pacific Islander students, collaborated with Prof. Fisher of the Ethnic Studies program in creating the first ever course focusing on critical Pacific Islands and Oceanic studies now known as Ethnic Studies 6.
Mrs. Mak is a long-time Stay Woke Collective member and leader. She supports many Chabot students, as well as one of the most involved students on campus. She serves as an Ethnic Studies tutor and Learning Assistant for 2 or 3 years, a student senator, a Change It Now! club leader, and organizer of the Stop the Violence campaign at Chabot for almost a decade.
In the midst of a very painful and raw moment in her life, Mrs. Mak found comfort and positivity in being featured in the mural.
She expresses, “I want to convey that I am humbly honored for being the inspiration for the mural. I became aware that I was being featured during one of the most difficult times of my life. My Daddy, My Hero, My Rock, had just passed away from a massive heart attack, and my son (Shakur) was in the hospital preparing for a surgery. I couldn’t even go to the hospital to support him. I was in a major state of depression. A few days later I became aware that I was being featured in the mural and it brought some light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”
Grief and sorrow is only a part of what makes the mural’s message so strong and it’s what the creators and supporters hope to convey to the whole of the student body and the Hayward community.
Lesley Avendaño, an alumni member of Stay Woke and former Vice President of the Chabot Student Senate, relayed her hope towards the ongoing and future students of Chabot saying;
“This mural [conveys] the beautiful power of students, community, and social justice through art. [It] allows students and staff to reflect on [their] perseverance, [how they] pushed through adversity, and their ability to impact change; whether it’s individually, on-campus, or in their community and families. [The mural] highlights two leaders, but it ultimately allows us to reflect on how we, as a campus and as individuals, can join together to build a future without racism, classism, and any other form of oppression.”
Throughout the course of time that the college has changed and improved, many programs and support services have flourished to further support students in their academic careers as well as in their personal lives. Programs such as, EOPS (Educational Opportunity Program and Services) and CARE offer extensive services with personalized student counselors and in the prime of the pandemic, offered stress relief management and community game night zoom meetings for students to participate in. To participate in these programs, information can be found on the Special Programs and Services page within the school website.*
Thinking about the destiny of Chabot and its students, as well as the community of Hayward, Mrs.Mak imparts this message;
“I often wondered what legacy I would leave to my grandchildren as well as my great grandchildren, well being featured on the mural answers that question. Now when I leave this earth, my existence at Chabot college and in life will never be forgotten…I want future students to look at the mural and know that Mrs. Mak went from tragedy to triumph. From being a victim to being a pessimist to becoming an activist.”
An unveiling is expected in Spring semester 2022 and in accordance, will uplift, support, and encourage everyone on campus. With the completion of the mural, more projects like the mural are in hopes to increase throughout the entire campus. Ms. Blancas joyfully exclaims when asked about taking on more projects;
“Absolutely! When this project was initially being proposed a few years ago, I could only dream of painting this wall. While I was working on the mural, I was so grateful to receive feedback from the Chabot community about a yearning to see more of my work on campus and in the larger community. I know there’s more to come and I can’t wait to continue creating for and with my community.” *
Students and staff, at least those who park in Lot G, are now welcomed immediately by the beautiful mural seen at the front of the school, right beside the campus driveway. Come and see!