Cal Poly Pomona celebrates Black History Month to spread awareness, educate and celebrate the African American community and their achievements.
Along with several other events, the Black Resource Center collaborated with poet, artist and engineer David J. Oliver in hosting the Black Alumni & Friends Poetry Slam Feb. 3 in Pomona. The event allowed CPP students, along with Oliver, to share their stories and have their voices heard in the form of slam poetry.
The event was held by Oliver at the Alliance Community Cultural Center, which is affiliated with the African American Advisory Alliance. Their motto “BEMORE” promotes Black Empowerment Movement of Reconciliation and Equity, hosting multiple events, activities, surrounding Black issues and movements students can attend and offering free collaborative workspaces to all community members. These workspaces are free and offer many resources geared towards academic success.
During the slam poetry event, Oliver shared some of his biggest achievements and spoke on his views about Black History.
“I don’t necessarily think it is important for every race to understand Black History” Oliver said. “It is important for you (a Black person) to understand yourself. It’s not a preaching thing. It’s a living thing. Black History is now. We are still doing it. I am one of the first artists to ever have a mural here (in Pomona). That’s history right now. It’s not just past. Live like its history now, and they will want to know about it. Inspire them. Be the best you can be, and they will want to know.”
Oliver went on to further explain some of the hardships he faced that shaped him into the man he is today.
“I moved from Inglewood to the Inland Empire in the year of the Rodney King Riots” Oliver said. I was one of the only Black kids for a long time because there was systematic racism. I had to be an advocate for myself and for others.”
Many Black students attending college are often faced with distinctive challenges regarding lack of support from their peers. Ami Rollins, kinesiology student & the current BSU president, gave her perspective on challenges she has encountered leading BSU.
The Black Student Union’s current goal focuses primarily on improving their culture centers assets & tools.
“It’s important to provide Black students the opportunity to successfully navigate higher education; however, without funding there’s a lack of resources,” said Rollins. “With the implementation of set objectives we become more proactive as a community and begin to foster student growth.”
Taking time out of the month to acknowledge the history of racism, it is important to note that despite the struggles, Black people still keep fighting to be heard.
“We don’t just celebrate Black History Month but rather celebrate being Black every day,” Rollins said.
Elom Attipoe, a civil engineering student and a member of the Black Student Union at CPP, said he is looking forward to the different events taking place for Black History Month. He emphasized excitement for “Dropping Gems,” a thought-provoking session that discusses Black women’s relationships toward technology.
“One of my favorite events has to be Dropping Gems with JD Dantzler,” Attipoe said.
Jazmin Dantzler is a doctoral student at CPP, studying anti-Blackness and how Black women interact with technology.
“She (Dantzler) is very outspoken and knowledgeable,” said Attipoe. “She is also relatable in the sense that she is a Cal Poly student. She does a great job of educating other races about issues in the Black community as well as successes in the community.”
A few more events celebrating Black History Month include screening of the film called “The League,” which highlights the impact of Black Baseball teams in America, karaoke night with BSU, which celebrates the different types of music in the Black community and occurred Feb. 1 as well as the alumni gathering event Feb. 10 , allowing former students to share their experiences.
Organizations like BSU are instrumental in providing the necessary support to students of color. The significance of a beautiful vibrant life of Black culture continues to be celebrated at CPP.