2001 African American History Month Campus and Community Program a Huge Success
By Donald Dorsey
In February, thousands of students, faculty, staff, administrators and community residents participated in the four-week Foothill celebration of African American History Month (AAHM).
The Opening Ceremony featured a performance by Fua Dia Congo, West African Dance Company, the spoken work artistry of Deaidre White and Jamal Oakleys reading of the African American History Month Resolution adopted by the committee which included the following key points. First, Americans of African descent helped develop our nation in countless ways with little or no recognition. Secondly, African American history reflects a determined spirit of perseverance and cultural pride in its struggle to share equality in opportunities of a nation founded upon the principles of freedom and liberty for all people. Third, The history and contributions of African American citizens have been consistently overlooked and undervalued in the curriculum of public education institutions. Additionally, African American citizens have participated in every effort to secure, protect, and maintain the essence and substance of American democracy. And finally, it is, therefore important that the history curriculum in American schools, at every level, reflects the experiences of men and women of different racial, religious and ethnic groups so that each student has an opportunity to understand the common humanity underlying all groups, develop pride in his or her own identity and heritage and understand, respect and accept the identity and heritage of others.
Following the opening ceremony a reception was held in Semans Library for Paul Awuzie, the artist whose work was exhibited during the entire month of February in the Semans Library Gallery. Mr. Awuzie spoke with students studying art at Foothill by accepting invitations to speak in classes. The exhibit was great and the reception was well attended. Dr. Jean Thomas, Counseling Division, coordinated the exhibition.
Noted Bay Area Poet, broadcast and performance artist, Avotcja, accompanied by Tarika Lewis on violin and Destiny the Harpist on the Harp, were the featured artists for the AAHM Read-In on African American Literature during the first week. This annual event co-sponsored by the Language Arts Division allowed our campus community to join other colleges and universities across the nation in the two-day African American Literature Read-In sponsored by the National Council for Teachers of English. Mary Bell and Natalia Menendez, both faculty in the Language Arts Division, coordinated the Read In.
The 3rd Annual Hip-Hop Generation Showcase and BSU after party featured the spoken word styling of the
Blue Candle Players- Roxanne, Ghetto Girl Blue, Nercity Poet and J-Crow, and selected Foothill talent in a show that will be remembered. The Foothill talent showcased included, Xtra Phat, JBDL (Deaidre White, Jacinta Martin, Liz Boettcher, BeBe Khalili), the B-Boys (Mario Rodriguez, Miguel Caballero, Javier Rodriguez, and the Rebbel), Herz Full Power Entertainment (Imersheytil, Image & Herz) and the Mt. Olive Baptist Church choir (several foothill student members). Hundreds of potential students joined our students on campus for this annual exciting spoken word and hip-hop culture experience. Showcase committee included Jamal Oakley, April Henderson, Caritha Anderson, Daphne Small, Deaidre White, Donald Dorsey, Don Phillips, Kwesi Weusi-Puryear and Melanie Pla-Richard.
Louis Robinson and Louis Cullen coordinated the highly successful history lectures series. Professor Arif Gamal, Ph. D., U.C. Berkeley, returned to campus as the AAHM History Scholar in Residence. Students were able to earn UC-transferable credit and staff earned Professional Growth by participating in the three-part lecture series on the African experience, from ancient to modern times. The event was co-sponsored by the Business & Social Science Division and Staff Development Office.
Foothill was included in Dallas Black Dance Theatres (DBDT) West Coast tour for the sixth consecutive dance season. The company was in residence at the college during the second week and exposed more that 1,600 students and residents from the community to African American dance as an art form through a lecture demonstration, master class or community performance. As evidence of the community excitement surrounding the DBDT residency, feature stories were published in every major community newspaper in the South Bay about the Foothill residency program. The DBDT committee included Charley Dillard, Rose Deslondes, Donald Dorsey, Bubba Gong, Stephen Mitchell, Joe Ragey, Daphne Small, Cynthia Smith and Debra Watkins. Week three featured two forums on contemporary issues. A well attended Bridge the Gap discussion on AIDS in the African American Community was co-sponsored by Health Services and the Minority Transfer Program, and was organized by Caritha Anderson, Herlissa Hamp and Kwesi Wesui-Puryear. Additionally, Tess Hansen of the Language Arts Division and Daniel Mejia facilitated a very successful discussion on racial profiling. The discussion was very provocative and enabled a large number of those attending to participate.
Week four featured a panel of scholars that included Dr. Harry Saterfield and a taped statement from Mumia-Abu Jamal in a forum entitled, The case of Mumia-Abu Jamal: A Challenge for the Criminal Justice System. The forum was coordinated by David Dumars and Kathleen Soboleska and had a standing-room-only audience.
By popular demand, excerpts from George C. Wolfs movie The Colored Museum were once again used as the focus for a Foothill student panel discussion facilitated by Natalia Menendez. Language Arts Faculty during week four.
Make a Joyful Noise XII co-sponsored by AAHM committee and the Gospel Chorus rounded out week four. Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir was special guest this year and provided a walk through history from Negro spirituals to gospel. The program included performances by the Foothill Gospel Chorus, under the direction of Baomi Butts; Foothill Mass Choir, under the direction of David Wells; Carl Brown Gospel Rap presentation, Mutama, directed by Kelly Orphan. Mistress of Ceremony for the program was Virginia Groce-Roberts. This annual event, in its 12th year at the Smithwick Theatre was presented to a near capacity crowd. Davida Vance Lee coordinated the concert with the assistance of Baomi Butts, Bill Lewis, Louis Robinson and Donald Dorsey.
During the fifth week the Muslim Student Association co-sponsored a well attended lecture by Amir Abdul-Malik on The legacy of Malcolm X in Caesar Chavez Plaza. The week also included the Third Annual African American Scholars & Achievers Program, which was co-sponsored by the Student Success Office. This event recognizes outstanding scholarship, leadership and achievements by African American students at Foothill College as well as students from San Mateo and Santa Clara county high schools. The event included a keynote address by Ralph Garvin, former student and current President/CEO of WOOSH, Inc., plaques and certificates awards, a college tour and lunch. The 14 students from local high schools were recognized. Nineteen Foothill students were selected for recognition by the faculty and staff of the college (see names listed else where in this issue of the Griot). Coordinating committee included Maria Elena Apodaca, Patricia Davoren, Nicole Gray, Herlisa Hamp, Frances Gusman, Daphne Small, Lisa Lloyd, Janice Carr, Jean Thomas, Melanie Pla-Richard, Willie Friesen, Louis Robinson, Deaidre White and Donald Dorsey.
The month ended with very successful Africa Day celebration during college hour. This event was organized and sponsored by Shades of Africa. The multifaceted program included art and photography displays, poetry reading, music, and a fashion show featuring African traditional attire.
The Foothill College 2001 African American history Month Committee included Jamal Oakley, Chair; Caritha Anderson, Mary Bell, John Bostic, Janice Carr, Erin P. Clifford, Juanita Croft, Louis Cullen, Michael Cunningham, Tricia Davoren, Charley Dillard, Donald Dorsey, David Dumars, Jerry Fell-Kessi, Willie Frieson, Nicole Gray, Bubba Gong, Joseph Francis, April Henderson, Joyce Henderson, Tess Hansen, Warren Hurd, Brenda Johnson, Natalia A. Menendez, Stephen Mitchell, Rose Myers, Romeo Paule, Melanie Pla-Richard, Joe Ragey, Louis Robinson, Daphne Small, Kathleen Soboleska, Jean Thomas, Davida Vance Lee, Debra Watkins, Kwesi Weusi-Puryear and Diedra White.
African American History Month events were made possible by contributions from the Associated Students of Foothill College, Foothill Business & Social Science Division, Foothill Computers, Technology & Information Systems (CTIS) Division, Foothill Multicultural Relations Office, Foothill Dance Department, Foothill Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), Foothill Fine Arts Division, Foothill Health Services, Foothill Language Arts Division, Foothill Student Success Office, Foothill Student Activities & Student Affairs Offices, Coca-Cola, Pacific Bell Telephone, Peninsula Community Foundation, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, Rho Sigma Lambda Chapter, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, Sigma Lambda Chapter, and Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators.