Celebrating Black History Month 2023

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Vice-Chancellor in charge of student affairs Stephen Sutton; Takiyah Jackson director of African American Student Development and co-chair of the African American Initiative Steering Committee Vice Provost for the faculty Victoria Plaut and Associate Vice Chancellor for People & Culture Eugene Whitlock released the following message on Wednesday, March 13,

February is Black History Month. It’s an opportunity to pay homage to and honor the immense sacrifices and achievements of Black communities and people. It’s also an opportunity to consider ways to improve the culture, imagination as well as the leadership qualities of Black people today while ensuring the space for Black hopes and dreams for the future. The national theme for this month is “Black Resistance,”” asking us to think about our roles and responsibilities and opportunities that we all are given as individuals to help advance social justice and equality across campuses.

The fall of 2022 was the first time we returned to a campus that was populated by students following the outbreak of COVID-19. It was a moment to recognize all that we have overcome and endured. In addition, with the help of constant leadership and support from important campus and staff organizations like that of the Black Staff & Faculty Organization and the Black Staff & Faculty Organization, the Black community was able to take advantage of numerous opportunities to begin the new year together and celebrating on the campus. It was organized by the Black Recruitment & Retention Center The Annual Welcome Black Celebration welcomed over 100 people from the community at the initial Black Wednesday gathering in front of the Golden Bear cafe; and hundreds of more students, faculty, students family members, alumni, and families were part of the second annual calendar of Black Homecoming celebrations. In addition, the Black Student Union also played part in welcoming students returning to campus. We are aware that they’re engaged throughout the year by engaging and inspiring the entire community.

We grew our African American Theme Program this year, bringing the number of students to more than 90 and from a seminar course to two. This has provided students, such as those in 5th cohort of African American Initiative (AAI) Scholars program the chance to take part in the development of leadership and community collaboration by Black scholars, theorists, and activists.

Another important milestone to celebrate during this time is the 6th year anniversary of the Fannie Lou Hamer Black Resource Center. Since its inception, the center has evolved into a center for Black student life. It is buzzing every day with seminars, events or studying sessions. The center’s leadership programs began in 2017 with just eight students. It has since increased to more than 30 students, including graduates as well as undergraduates. Collaborations on campus with teams from Letters & Sciences Advising, the Educational Opportunity Program, Financial Aid & Scholarships, University Health Services, Student Tech Services as well as Black Engineering and Science Student Association. Black Engineering and Science Student Association offer students the much-needed support and satellite services.

The African American Initiative is making steps to help UC Berkeley genuinely live into its long-standing tradition of excellence in higher education. AAI’s African American Student Development Office, AAI leadership, and University Development and Alumni Relations will co-host AAI Celebration. AAI Celebration on the 21st. The celebration will recognize the class that was the first to graduate of AAI Scholars and also welcoming the new group of scholars. This is the fifth event of this kind, and is now an AAI signature event.

Black Lives at Cal (BLAC) will be a three-year program to research, preserve and make public the history of Black people who attended UC Berkeley. BLAC was created by the African American Student Development Office and is offered in collaboration and with the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues. The organization is hosting two events in the month of April which are both listed on our “Commemorating and celebrating Black History Month” webpage.

Funded with The Andrew W. Mellon Just Futures initiative The Black Studies Collaboratory was launched in the year 2000. It is a three-year initiative which aims to unite activists, artists and scholars to further enhance the inter-disciplinary as well as the political and world-building research that is the hallmark of Black Studies. This Collaboratory team has devotedly planned numerous events in the spring semester. Please check out their website for more details.

In the spirit of spring We are thrilled to announce we are pleased to announce that Department of African American Studies Ph.D. Program will celebrate its 25th anniversary by hosting an all-day symposium that will feature alumni in the coming month. The full-day symposium is supported partly from the department’s Abolition Democracy Initiative.

Faculty-Link is a faculty-led program. Faculty-Link promotes connections across campus through programs, events, mentorship for career and support. The program is comprised of four parts that include on-demand, one-onone counseling; forums; discussions and identity gatherings that are specific to the culture. These are held by faculty Link Core Advisors and Senate faculty as well as clinicians, adjunct faculty co-extension specialists, and adjunct faculty are encouraged to participate. More details regarding coming events like the Identity Gathering for Black staff that is planned for in the spring of this year, will be coming soon.

If you’re seeking the complete list of gatherings and events celebrating Black History Month across campus-including the UC Berkeley vs. UCLA women’s basketball match on the 17th of February featuring the an honorary coach Dania Matos! – please visit E&I’s website. The site will be regularly updated through February, so make sure to check frequently!

The CalMessage is written by collaboration with the co-chairs on the AAI Steering Committee, Takiyah Jackson, Brooke Hendrickson, and Olufemi Ogundele. Their expertise, insight and experience contribute to making our school a friendly place for Black students and faculty, staff alumni, as well as community members. We appreciate their leadership.