Black History Month celebrations were taking place all over PCC’s campus this past February thanks to the efforts of Ujima and Blackademia.
With over 250 students in Ujima, and many more in the Blackademia program, there was no shortage of people celebrating African-American culture. Despite hampered student attendance in the beginning of the month due to it being winter intersession, that did not stop the celebration.
Director of the Ujima program, Gena Lopez, talked about this by saying, “Even though there weren’t as many students, we still need to celebrate and expose the campus to the fact that it is black history month, and that our culture is something that we want to celebrate and expose other people to.”
Ujima and Blackademia kicked off Black History Month by peppering the campus with posters showcasing black history facts. Along with two movie nights attended by the faculty and students, there was a luncheon for Ujima academic scholars who received a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Students were also able to attend the Black College Expo and were exposed to different historically black colleges and universities. The expo took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Feb. 10, with students from all over Los Angeles partaking in the event. Not only do students come to check out colleges, they are able to get scholarships on the spot. According to the National College Resources Foundation, over $300 million have been awarded to students.
On Feb. 17, members of the program participated in the Black History Parade, which marched through the streets of Pasadena. Lopez spoke about how she was proud of some of the first-year students who marched in the parade.
“I’m starting to see some of them grow,” she said. “During the parade, little kids and elderly people were waving, and had smiles on their faces by watching the parade. I watched the students blossom because they are starting to understand the inspiration that they give to the community.”
Once the spring semester began, that is when the real celebration started. On the first day of the new semester, the two programs hosted the African-American Spring Festival. The festival included a wide array of activities and performances highlighting African culture. African dancers and drummers performed, and students were able to paint pictures and create picture frames.
On Feb. 22, the sixth annual faculty versus students basketball game occurred. As Lopez puts it, “This is the event everyone looks forward to. Some of the faculty have been looking forward to this game since July.”
The faculty were looking to achieve their first ever win as they have been beaten the past five times. They were able to shock everyone and edge out the students 47-46 in overtime to claim their first victory.
The month ended with Ujima buying 40 tickets to see the new Marvel movie, “Black Panther” at the Santa Anita Mall, and a continuation of the African-American Spring Festival.
Even with all the fun and games everyone has during this month, Ujima and Blackademia hope that all of this sends out a bigger message.
“[These events] builds a camaraderie between the African-American students and the staff,” said Carlos Tito Altamirano, coordinator for Pathways and participant in the basketball game. “It is always relevant to be supporting our African-American students. It’s great to remind our African American students that they have support, and people providing resources for them to succeed.”
Lopez also commented on the importance of Blackademia and Ujima.
“I love Ujima and Blackademia because it allows me to pour into the lives of black students, which empowers our community, and I am all about the community,” she said. “These are our future leaders and I feel happy that I get to contribute to their success.”
To learn more about the Ujima and Blackademia programs, contact the Black Student Success Center.