More than 50 students, faculty and staff preemptively celebrated the birthday of American
civil rights activist Rosa Parks at the San Diego Mesa College Transit Stop on Feb.
The birthday recognition was the first event in a full schedule for Black History
Month celebrations at Mesa College. As a part of the day’s activities, Black Studies
professors Thekima Mayasa and Candice Katungi offered a libation – a traditional African
ritual of pouring a liquid offering in memory of someone – to honor Parks.
“We gather here today because our world is changing,” Mayasa said. “American society
is going through a very important transition and institutions of learning – like San
Diego Mesa College – are important to understanding what that change is, and how we’re
all impacted by that change.”
Black Studies and Psychology double major Jeffrey D. McKennie read Maya Angelou’s
poem “Still I Rise” during the event. He said he was inspired to read the poem because
he said it is a powerful poem that speaks to everyone.
“We all have different trials and tribulations that we go through, and the one thing
that we need to understand is that we need to ‘rise,’” McKennie said. “The only thing
that can hold us down is ourselves, so I just wanted to share that with everybody
that way they understand that they are powerful and that they are greatness, and that
they can still ‘rise’ no matter what’s going on.”
In attendance were many students, faculty and staff from the campus, including Mesa
President Dr. Pamela Luster.
“It’s important for our community to know that Mesa College is a college that celebrates
diversity, equity and inclusion, and that that’s who we are,” Luster said. “I think
that every single voice and every single action matters – and informed action matters.
You need to inform yourself about what actually happens in the world.”
One student in attendance, Clifford Smith, spoke to the crowd of the importance of
representation of people of color in mainstream media.
“Representation of us as black people is not really seen – we always see the lighter
individuals, but we don’t see the dark individual with the nappy hair like me,” Smith
said. “We need the system of colorism to be destroyed, diminished if we’re going to
unify as people and as human beings.”
Larry Maxey, Dean of Student Success and Equity, said that events like the Rosa Parks
Birthday Recognition on campus can help students to feel a sense of belonging at Mesa
College and that he hopes that students don’t “hold themselves back because of fear.”
“I feel so encouraged by our students’ expressions – to hear that they understand
and recognize the sacrifices that individuals like Rosa Parks made in order for them
to be here and have the opportunity to be successful in college,” Maxey said.
For more information about the upcoming Black History Month events, contact Thekima
Mayasa via phone at (619) 388-2352 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Judy Sundayo via email at email@example.com.
Tags: Black History Month, Black Studies