CSUMB’s All Black Gala Goes Virtual and Local

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By Walter Ryce

UPDATE: A recording of the event is available in line.

CSUMB’s “Strength Through Diversity” awareness campaign aims to reinforce our ongoing commitment to inclusive excellence. Stories, social media posts and special events throughout the academic year will celebrate diversity and highlight the many identity groups represented by the students, faculty, staff and alumni who make up the CSUMB community. . February is Black History Month.

“The All Black Gala is an opportunity to honor Black History Month with a formal event that brings the community together,” said Brian Corpening, Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence and Chief Diversity Officer. “As it is at the end of February, it becomes the highlight event of the month.”

In the past, it has been held at the University Center, featuring guest speakers including activist and scholar Dr. Angela Davis, writer and activist Shaun King and BlacKkKlansman screenwriter Kevin Wilmott.

This year it’s taking place virtually, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 26, and the theme is “Reconnecting to Monterey County’s Historic Black Community: Honoring Past, Present, and Future Black Excellence.”

The itinerary will include a surprise announcement from President Ochoa about the Center for Black Student Success. And members of the CSUMB and Monterey County community will be honored for their work and contributions to the black community, including longtime civil rights activist Seaside and civic activist Helen Rucker.

“The fact that we honor our local pillars is important,” says Corpening. “There are people in every community who have sacrificed themselves and helped make communities what they are. We want to recognize them.

The event celebrates the lives and achievements of black people, but is inclusive and welcoming to all, regardless of race and ethnicity. “All black” refers to attire, with participants dressing all in black.

“The All Black Gala began as an event during Black History Month in 2017, coordinated by Jessica Newman, who was coordinator of the Otter Cross Cultural Center at the time,” said Steven Goings, professor and advisor at the Personal Growth and Counseling Center.

This year it may prove to be even more inclusive due to its virtual modality which further facilitates participation.

There will be greetings from President Eduardo M. Ochoa; Monterey County Branch NAACP President Yvonne Thomas; and Corpening and Goings (in his capacity as director of the National Coalition Building Institute CSUMB Affiliate).

Brooklyne Greene, president of Black Students United, will serve as emcee during the event; CSUMB Assistant Professor and new Monterey County Poet Laureate Daniel Summerhill will perform spoken word; and Black Excellence Award winners include:

  • Undergraduate student, Zah-Rah LaTour
  • Graduate Student, Marcus Garrett
  • 2014 CSUMB Alum, Antoinette Anderson
  • 2013 CSUMB Alum, Advisor Tyller Williamson
  • Former CSUMB staff member, Jessica Newman
  • Former CSUMB Advisor/Faculty Member, Lynne White-Dixon, LCSW
  • Community Elder, Edward Armstrong
  • Community Elder, Helen Rucker

The All Black Gala is jointly organized by the Office for Inclusive Excellence, the NAACP, the Center for Black Student Success and the Otter Cross Cultural Center. The event will be recorded and made available afterwards.

Register for the All Black Gala.

More information at csumb.edu/AllBlackGala.

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