P-SPAN #676: Peralta Colleges African American Graduation

P-SPAN #676: Peralta Colleges African American Graduation

October 5, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: Thank you so much. While you’re standing, in the
African tradition we cannot move forward unless an
elder give us permission. Do we have anybody in
the house that’s over 90? Anybody over 80? Let’s give her a hand. [APPLAUSE] Do we have your
permission to proceed? She says yes. I’m going to ask the host
pastor of this church, my friend and my brother, we
want to thank him for allowing us
to use his space. This is a sacred space. And I will come back and
give some instructions after he gives you greetings
and bless the house. Dr. Charley Hames. [APPLAUSE] CHARLEY HAMES JR:
Again, we bring you greetings from Beebe
Memorial Cathedral. I’m Dr. Charley
Hames, Jr. Some of you all probably recognize
me now from 102.9 KBLX, but that’s the voice. So it’s not an older guy. It’s me, all right? So glad to have you here. I’m so excited to see
so many graduates today and their families
celebrating their hard work and their accomplishments. [APPLAUSE] So as we continue to stand,
let us go ahead and pray. Gracious and eternal
God, we thank you today for all of these students
who are now graduates. We praise you, oh
God, for everything that they have accomplished,
all of the hard work, all of the sweat, all of
the blood, all of the tears that have gone before. We thank you for
every professor who have poured into their lives,
who have critiqued them, who have held them
accountable, who have made them who they are today. Now, as this is a beginning
point to their career, as we pray, oh god,
that you not only bless them to transform their personal
lives, but their community. God we call on our
ancestors, oh God, as we stand in the 65-year
anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s case, we pray
God that you bless them with that spirit of
determination and persistence. Bless us, oh God, as we
continue to move forward. And we’ll get this
graduation on and poppin’. In your name we pray, Amen. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: You
now may be seated. Can somebody say wow? AUDIENCE: Wow. SPEAKER 1: This is
an exciting moment. I want to again thank
you all for being here. If you have your cell
phones, check them. While you’re checking it,
make sure you check in at the Beebe Church. We need to let everybody
know where we at. It is a privilege and an honor
to be here on this occasion. This is the 11th
annual celebration of African-descent people
in higher education. Really want to
thank those of you– for some of you students this
might be the first person that graduated in your family. If you’re here and you’re a
first-generation graduate, would you stand? [APPLAUSE] Come on y’all, we can
do better than that. These are first-time graduates. [APPLAUSE] We salute you all today. You may be seated. On the program next, we have
one of God’s greatest thinkers. She is Dr. Siri Brown. [APPLAUSE] She is an Academic Affairs Dean. And she will grant
us why we are here. Dr Siri Brown. [APPLAUSE] SIRI BROWN: Class of 2019,
how are you feeling today? [APPLAUSE] I don’t hear it,
I don’t feel it. How are you feeling today? [APPLAUSE] This is a blessed day. It’s an honor day. Many of you stood up to be
the first in your family to graduate from college. What you have done and
what you have accomplished has transformed our community. It has transformed your family. It has transformed your
future generations. This is not a small occasion
that we are here today. This is a grand celebration
for the class of 2019. [APPLAUSE] The theme for our
graduation this year, the 11th annual African-American
and African Peralta district-wide graduation. We have to clap that up because
it was 11 years ago today that Dr. Reverend
Vanhood had the vision and pulled us together. And every year we get
bigger and every year we get stronger in celebrating
this class of 2019. The theme this year is
reclaiming our narrative, looking back and moving
forward together, which calls together
the concept of sankofa. An Akan word that means, in
essence, go back and fetch it. And if you’ve seen the sankofa
symbol, the Akan symbol– there are a few– but the one that really
calls us forth today is that of a bird
who’s facing forward, but who is looking back, a
bird that is moving forward, but that is looking back. And it says to us that we
are to look to our past for our direction
for the future, that it would be dishonorable
to just ignore our ancestors, to not know our own history,
that if we move forward with our necks and
faces forward and we don’t look back, that
we are moving forward on a blank slate. And you cannot move forward like
that in the most proper way. Our people are divine great
amazing, talented, brilliant, creative people. And our history and our
past illuminates that. The theme today is for us to
remember that, to claim that. And I’m calling on the class of
2019 to remember that this day, you did not get
here on your own. There are people on your path
that you should be grateful to. There are counselors
and faculty. There are friends and family. There are classified
professionals and administrators who you
never saw that assisted. There are people
who prayed for you. And god almighty was
there the entire time. [APPLAUSE] And I know that y’all
pray because I saw you at the financial-aid line
praying for that check to come. [APPLAUSE] Saw you at the grocery outlet
praying that I could just pull it together to get it through. You prayed, and
prayed, and prayed, and asked God to see you through
this to this time, to this day. What a great moment
that today is. And you should pay
them that gratitude and thank everyone around you. Those of you who don’t know who
assisted you and helped you, those of you who know who
assisted you and helped you, give them thanks today. Be humble in what
you have achieved. Be humble, don’t be
braggadocios about it. Don’t look down on someone who
doesn’t have their education. Remember that your degree
is for you to serve. This is really not
even about you. This is about the work we
have for our community, for our people, the
work to step forward. [APPLAUSE] Your degree is for you, but
it’s really for our people. It’s for our race. It’s for our community, to pull
ourselves to a higher level. And if we look back
on our ancestors, we can find so many
amazing examples that would tell us that we have
prevailed like our people have prevailed. And the challenges
that are before us today are much smaller
than those of our ancestors in so many ways. Today I want to give a few
words about an ancestor that really, really inspires me. I’m a historian. And I read and study
everything about our history. It amazes me. And Frederick
Douglass stands out in the many, many stories
that we have to tell, because he became that
famous orator, and speaker, and advocate to end slavery,
and he became that honored elder and ancestor. But how did he get there? Where did he come from? What did he traverse
to get to the point that we recognized that name? Even people who haven’t
had the opportunity to study our history,
they recognize that name. How do you become that
Frederick Douglass? Frederick Douglass, as you know,
was born on a slave plantation. He was the product of
rape, like so many. His master, he wasn’t
sure, but the rumors were that that was his father
but he never recognized him. He didn’t know his father,
he knew the slave owner. His mother was an
enslaved black woman who– as the system did– when he was
born, she had to give him away. And she would sneak
off of the plantation and walk 14 miles to get to
where her baby, Douglass, was and she would hold
him for an hour or so when she would
put her baby back down, and walk back another 14
miles, and wake up at dawn, and do the slave plantation
work every single day. Douglass said he didn’t even
know when his birthday was. Imagine what our
people have been through to be born
in such a situation where you are treated like
chattel, like an animal, not even recognizing your birth,
not recognizing family bonds and ties. What is that like to be a child? And we’re talking
about Douglass, but we’re talking
about millions, and millions, and
millions of our people, all up and down the
Western hemisphere, and even off to Europe,
who experience this. And everyone who is African,
African-American, this is your family line. We have to give gratitude
and honor to that. Douglass, when he was just five
years old, in his narrative he said he witnessed the most
horrific scene that entered him into the life of slavery. Because when you were a child
on the plantation, you know, children are just– this is the reality. But they actually got to play
and have some bit of normalcy as a child. But an aunt of his would
not succumb to a slave owner who was trying to rape her. So he stripped her
down, the slave owner, and he tied her up to a joist. And he whipped her, and
beat her, and whipped her, and called her dumb,
and cursed her out until blood dripped
down to her ankles. And she screamed she hollered. And Douglass, as a child,
was sitting in the closet, hiding with fear, terrified
at the reality he had seen. And he says in his own
words that it was then that I entered the bloodstained
gates of the horror that would be slavery. He describes, in his own
words, how he, himself, was the victim of such violence,
that the slave owners would whip his back to the point
that a grown man’s finger, you could put it
into the grooves of the notches on his back. How do people survive that? How do you give
gratitude to that today? Douglass, he’ll
tell it, he’ll tell how he, himself, survived it. He learned that although
my body is in slavery, my mind is my own. My soul is my own. My spirit is my own. [APPLAUSE] And he learned that
through what you all have done, by
getting an education, by becoming literate,
you free your mind. Douglass, of course, didn’t get
to go to school like we did. He didn’t get a chance to have a
formal education, and certainly not to college. But he had a white
mistress who was ignorant to the ways of slavery. And so she taught him a little
bit about reading and writing. When her husband found out,
the master, he scolded her. And he said, you cannot
give black people– he didn’t use that word– you cannot give
black people an inch. Because if you give them
an inch of literacy, they will take it a whole yard. [APPLAUSE] Douglass said to himself, I
heard that master say that and I knew with his wicked ways
that if he says don’t do it, I’m going to do it. And he worked year after
year, teaching himself how to read and write, tricking
the little, poor, white kids in town and giving them bread,
and sneaking little lessons until he taught himself
how to read and write. And it’s at that moment
that he said to himself that I am no longer a slave. My mind is free, I
just have to figure out how to get my body to it. That’s what education does. And I’m speaking to
everyone in the audience. The graduates here know that
I’m speaking to everyone. Tell yourself, tell your
neighbors, tell your friends, tell your children, you must
get a college education. It is your duty. It is not an option. The profit colleges are
free for most students. Come full-time and it’s tuition
free, there is no excuse. You have people all
behind us in here who are there to support you. We’re waiting for you to tell
people to enroll and come and liberate your minds. Help our community
with your education. Douglass had a
second transformation and this one is a beautiful one
if you’ve read the narrative. Now he’s growing into
his young manhood and he was 16 years-old. And he ends up being
sold so many times he ends up on the plantation
of the worst slave-breaker in the entire county. His name was Covey, Mr. Covey. He was a wicked, wicked man. He would trick and pit the
slaves against each other and do all kinds. He would whip you
just to whip you, just to let you know that
he was running things. So Douglass took it for
a while and then he said, you know what, I don’t
know what happened, but the spirit came over
me and I decided to fight. It’s the best part of the book,
16 years old he whoops the– I can’t– we’re in church. I’m just trying to
say he beat this man. It was a two and a half hour
fight, two and a half hour fight. And Douglass whooped Covey’s– yes. But it wasn’t just
winning the fight, with Douglass says after
that is so profound. He said for the first
time, I felt like a man. I felt like a human being. And I realized that this system,
this white-supremacist system, this racist system, this system
that tries to squash and deny us is false. We can beat it. We can overcome it. We can move forward. We can whoop it. And from then on he
said, I was done, I would no longer be a slave. He ended up running
away and becoming the Frederick Douglass
whose name we recognize, an orator, a speaker. They say he spoke like
Martin Luther King, that people would
be moved to tears. There’s no recording
because it was so long ago. He ends up speaking brilliantly
in so many different speeches, but not just
speaking, he advocates for the freedom of others,
like you, graduating, you are not done. We got work to do. Douglass could have gotten
the freedom and said, I’m free, let me kick back,
get me a wife, you know, and just kick it,
have a good time. He did not. He said, now what do I have
to do to free my people? And he joined the
abolitionist movement. He ends up forming
his own newspaper, an all-black newspaper. He goes on to be the Frederick
Douglass that we know. He found his purpose. Your education is
not just your major. Your education is
your divine purpose. [APPLAUSE] Why are you here? Why did you get this degree? What are you going to
do with this degree? If your degree is
in nursing, how are you going to utilize it
to benefit our people who have no health care? If your degree is
in real estate, what are you going to do
around the housing for those who can’t afford all
these high-priced condos? If your degree is
in education, what are you going to do to help
either fix OUSD from the mess or build an independent
black school? What are you going to do
with your education that will benefit the community? That is the central
question before you, your divine purpose. A lot of people
spend time talking to God, praying and
asking for stuff, but how much time do
you sit and just listen? Because if you
listen, god is going to tell you why you are here,
that each and every one of us has a divine purpose, for
good, for transformation, for justice, to do
for those who do not have what you have today. The theme today is
reclaiming our narrative, looking back and moving
forward together. The answers that we can
call upon are boundless. Why do we know Harriet Tubman? How many African enslaved
people did she free? Not a couple hundred,
but thousands. How do we know the
name Marcus Garvey, who organized the largest black
movement in history and they don’t tell you about him
because they don’t want to know? They don’t want you to know. They don’t want you to
know what he was really about when he was building
his philosophy, his ideology. We have so many
ancestors to pull upon that we need to study, and
learn, and sit, and reflect on what our people
have contributed. Malcolm X speaking the
truth, speak your truth. So many ancestors to pull
upon, Rosa Parks sacrificing, she wasn’t a tired old
woman, she was an organizer. A long time she
had been organizing against the rape of
black women, she’d been organizing
for desegregation for voters rights. She didn’t just
sit down one day. That was a political,
conscious act, that I will allow myself to get
arrested for the just movement. Study and learn
about our ancestors. Class in 2019, I hope I’ve given
you something to think about and to consider as
you move forward. And the last words
that I’ll say to you are the words that were
said for the departed Nipsey Hussle, what a beautiful,
brilliant brother, a model of what it is
we’re talking about here. I saw an interview of him,
David-D, a local DJ David. He’s just, he’s young. He says, how come you don’t have
all those gold chains and all that stuff a lot of rappers got? He said, I want to
own real estate. I was like, damn, who is this
little 16-year-old with all this brilliance and knowledge. The words said at his funeral
were, the marathon continues. Class of 2019, the
marathon continues. Do the good work of the people. Stand up for your community. Make a mark in this world. Listen to God and know
what your purpose is. And celebrate yourselves
and give gratitude. Thank you, Thank you,
thank you, thank you, and congratulations,
congratulations, congratulations. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: Now when somebody
sees Dr. Siri, you tell her– she told me, oh,
Lawrence, I’m just going to do about two minutes. [LAUGHTER] We got two minutes, all right. Listen, this has
been a great day. And thank you, Dr. Brown. By the way, she is
our Vise Chancellor. [APPLAUSE] She’s responsible to make sure
that the grades and everything come out all right. I’ve got a couple of
people that I really need to thank that are here. 11 years ago, while we were
under the leadership of, at one time, ex-mayor Elihu
Harris And a few other people allowed us to come together. Trustee Handy was one of
those people that continued to help push us through. I’m going to ask that Rose would
come, CJ Rose Adam would come. There’s a couple of people
that made this possible. We’ve been on the phone. We’ve had to travel. We’ve had to make
some things happen. And I would like for Ramona
and Doug to come down. We want to honor them today. [APPLAUSE] Where’s Douglas Cobb? He’s probably someplace working. But hey, [INAUDIBLE]. [APPLAUSE] We’ve been on the phone
together, these programs. Dr. Audrey Trotter, who was
actually our slave driver, she’s still working
all the way from Texas. And we want to thank her
and this committee of five. There’s a couple of people
from every college that help us to make this happen. And this is to Douglas Cobb for
years of dedication, service, commitment, and contributions
to the Peralta community college district and your
African-American graduation, May 18, 2019. He says the same thing
for Ramona and Butler. I want to just say thank
you to the both of you for your hard work,
picking up programs, changing things around,
we’ve done so much together. So if you can give them around
of applause along with others. [APPLAUSE] Here go your box. I would ask him
to have a speech, but they may do
me like Dr. Brown. [LAUGHTER] It was it was so great
to hear her to remind us why we are really here. And I have a few people I
just really want to thank. In your program there’s
a slip of special thanks. And I don’t want to miss anyone
because we have so many people that we need to thank. We will honor our
presidents of each college. They felt enough of you. Every president is here. And I’m going to let
the chancellor introduce her own president. I do want to say this, a
little salty, thank you President [INAUDIBLE],,
because you now have, for the
first time, a woman at the helm, and three women
presidents of colleges. One for you, buddy. [APPLAUSE] So, men, we have
to honor our women. But it is definitely their time. They didn’t ask our permission,
they just start taking over. So I want to just
say to the president, thank you all so very much. They help us to
make this happen. They help us with funding. They help us with speakers and
students and the whole nine yards. I just want to thank them. But on your list,
I just happened to want to thank Chuck. He was the executive director. He went someplace. He is the director, executive
of the 100 black men. The 100 black men are here
in volunteer capacity. I want to thank them. [APPLAUSE] If you see these
guys in purple– oh there he is. Thank you, buddy. I ride an iron horse. For those of you who
slow, that’s a motorcycle. And I’ve got the buffalo
soldiers, President Jean Gillian, and they are
all over the place with these purple shirts on. Not only do I have
the ability to teach, but I also am faith
leader myself. My church is across, right
here in West Oakland. So I’m a pastor as well. And so my church
members are here. Attorney Theresa May
and others are here to help serve as volunteers. I want to thank you all. We have volunteers
from each college. And I can’t name
everybody’s name, but if you can definitely
take a look at your programs. We want to thank
Peralta foundation. They helped us to
make sure that we got the money to the different
people to make things happen. They also voter registration
out from Nate Miley’s office. If you’re not registered to vote
think about what Dr. brown just talked about. You have a obligation to vote. [APPLAUSE] If you’re not registered,
if you’ve moved, please register to vote. For those of you who
have family members, we also have people
that can help you to register for
classes, to get signed up to become proud to
students so that you can move from the stands,
into these chairs, with these caps and gowns. So we have that information. We’ve got photographers
on every end. We also will be moving
back toward the fellowship hall for cake, and fellowship,
and pictures, and socials. So please when you
move from here, let’s go to the
fellowship hall just right through this door
on the other side. I just have so many things
that I want to say to you, but I got to get some
of this time back. So I’m going yield
some of my time that I was going to
thank you everybody. [LAUGHTER] And I’m going to see
what’s next on the agenda. And that is to honestly
bring our commander in chief. She is the first woman to sit
in the Chancellor’s chair. Dr Frances White. [APPLAUSE] FRANCES WHITE: Good morning. AUDIENCE: Good morning. FRANCES WHITE:
It’s still morning but Dr. Brown got the spirit. And we kept thinking, oh boy,
this is going to roll on in. You having a good time? [APPLAUSE] FRANCES WHITE:
Everything all right? AUDIENCE: Yeah. FRANCES WHITE: Let me
hear you say [INAUDIBLE].. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]. FRANCES WHITE: On behalf of
the Peralta community college district, it is my
pleasure to welcome you to the 11th annual African and
African-American graduation. We are here– [APPLAUSE] We’re here today
to celebrate you, the graduating class of 2019. We’re here to celebrate
your accomplishments. We’re all proud of you. And we wish you Godspeed in
all of your life pursuits. It is my pleasure to
introduce our podium guests. And I’ll start from this end. We have our student
trustee, Ms. Aisha Jordan. [APPLAUSE] President of Berkeley City
College, Dr. Rowena Tomina. [APPLAUSE] President of Merritt college,
Dr. Marie-Elaine Burns. [APPLAUSE] Peralta trustee, Linda Handy. [APPLAUSE] Peralta trustee, Meredith Brown [APPLAUSE] And you all know Dr. Brown. [APPLAUSE] President, Laney college,
Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson. [APPLAUSE] President of the College
of Alameda, Dr. Tim Charis. [APPLAUSE] And of course, the ever
hardworking and loyal person, Dr. Herbert Kitchen [APPLAUSE] And finally, seated next to
Dr. Kitchen, is Carlos McClain. [APPLAUSE] I will be up later to bring more
words of thought, so to speak, but in the meantime, I
want to say congratulations to the class of 2019. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 1: Thank
you, Dr. Burns– I mean Dr. White. I want to say this, we have
professors, faculty, and staff in the choir [INAUDIBLE],,
and some people are actually out in the audience. Let’s just give them
around of applause. They’re here. [APPLAUSE] So that we can get back some
time, the student speakers information, It’s
in the program. We hope that he’s just
as dynamic as Dr. Brown so that we can remember him
as well, Dr. Demond Wilson. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER 2: Boy, I tell
you, he know how to put the pressure on me, don’t he? [LAUGHTER] God bless you all, good morning. AUDIENCE: Good morning. SPEAKER 2: You know,
before I start speaking, this is an amazing,
amazing time for me. And I’m looking out
amongst the crowd. And before I speak to any group
of people, the one thing I share with them first, I
love you, I care for you, and I’m consistently praying
for the best for you. Don’t let this day go by
without doing your best. I want to thank some folks. And we’ll go down
the line again. Be patient with me. The reverend and doctor,
Lawrence Vanhook. I appreciate this
brother just meeting him. He’s a beautiful brother,
Chairperson Rose CJ Alan. [APPLAUSE] You guys can give a hand clap. Even though it’s over
again, it’s all good. Ramona Butler. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Audrey Trotter. [APPLAUSE] Dr. Herb Kitchen. [APPLAUSE] The Chancellor,
Dr. Francis White. [APPLAUSE] Now I want to thank all
the presidents who came. From Laney college,
Tamil Gilkerson. Merrit College, Marie-Elaine
Burns, Berkeley City College, Dr. Rowena Tomaine,
College of Alameda Timothy Currs, and last but not least,
a very special person to me, Dr. Cherry, thank you so much Now that I have those
pleasantries out of the way. 2019, black graduates, if we
we’re in the building say hey. AUDIENCE: Hey. SPEAKER 2: That’s what
my Oakland Peralta school sound like. I love it. For the parents who
support the students here, let me say all right. AUDIENCE: All right. SPEAKER 2: That didn’t
sound good enough. Parents, can I say all right? AUDIENCE: All right. SPEAKER 2: We in the building. Let’s go. I want to share
something with you. The outside world told us
we’re not worth anything. We hear this in the
news constantly. We hear it on social media. But that’s not so. There is a person who is
the founder and president of the Children’s Defense
Fund, and her name is Marian Edelman Wright. She had a quote
and the quote says, Oh, man, they believed
in us and we, therefore, should believe in
ourselves, quote. So much and yet hasn’t
changed in our society today. The narrative,
the stories that’s been told about our lives, has
been incorrect, and we know it. The spin that they put
on it, it’s not good, that we’re limited on
what we can imagine and what we can really
be in life, overshadowing of a lot of great stories. I’m a golfer. I watched Tiger Woods win
the masters, just recently. But all we heard was the
trials and tribulations that he had before
he won, ignoring the fact that he beat
some of the greatest golfers in the world. The purpose of our narrative
is to rewrite and retell our story. Each one of us here has a story. Each one of our stories
has not been beautiful, it’s not been given to us
by chance, but we’re here. The contributions of great
scientists and inventors like Norbert
Rillieux, the inventor of the multi-effect evaporator,
an energy-efficient means of evaporating water in the
1900’s, or Odis Boykins, inventor of the control unit
for the pacemaker in 1968. I’ll have to share with you,
two months ago my mother had a pacemaker put in her
heart, and she’s here today. [APPLAUSE] Political leaders like Ralph
Bunche, an academic UN diplomat whose peacekeeping
efforts in the Middle East and Africa and the Mediterranean
earned him a Nobel Peace Prize. These are people we
don’t hear about. Shirley Chisholm, who became
the first African-American Congresswoman in 1968. These great men and women laid
the foundation, brick by brick, for us– sorry– they laid it brick
by brick for great inventors, for stories being written
by leaders like Cory Booker, US senator, New Jersey
representative Elon– oh gosh, I’m so nervous,
forgive me ya’ll. [APPLAUSE] Being the first person in
my family to graduate– [APPLAUSE] — It’s dynamic and I
don’t know what to say. [APPLAUSE] I want to thank Kamala Harris,
US senator from California and, of course, Barack
Obama, the 44th president, our president of United
States of America. Thank you. Now is the time
for us to step up and onto this yellow-brick
road built with the sacrifice, and determination,
and diligence, and hard work,
and collaboration. Some of you may not know
what that yellow-brick road means but it’s from my
favorite movie called The Wiz. Oh, I’m glad that some of
you guys have watched it. On the Wiz, my favorite people,
Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Lena
Horne, and Ted Ross. We must add to this
yellow-brick road our contributions for our
families, communities, and our country as inventors,
scientists, business leaders, artists, and politicians. We must make our contributions
from the past known. My own story of my
past to the present has been filled with highs
and lows before this day, right here. I started my journey at
Laney College in 1987. And I really had no
clue of what I really wanted to do with my life. So I started working jobs,
building someone else’s dream and not thinking about my
own, from one job to the next. It doesn’t matter if you
graduate in two years, in four years, or 30
years like myself, you never stop learning. [APPLAUSE] It is never too late
to write and rewrite your journey of success to
add to that yellow-brick road. Tell our stories of
contributions and success so that they can become light in
the shade of perpetual stories of lace and despair. Tell our stories, the
stories of success, graduation despite seemingly
insurmountable odds. Now we all have an obligation
at this time of the leaders that preceded us. 2019, black graduates
of Peralta College, it is now your turn, not
tomorrow, not next year, starts today, baby, and
we got to go get it, to build that road of success. And last I will say the
Ashanti people of West Africa. They said, there’s nothing
wrong with going back and to fetch what once was lost. Thank you for
allowing me to share. I love you all. [APPLAUSE] SPEAKER 3: Good
morning, graduates. For the Peralta community
college district, 2019, congratulations. [APPLAUSE] And for your student speaker,
who did such a fantastic job, please give him another round
of applause, Damon Wilson [APPLAUSE] It gives me a great pleasure to
introduce our keynote speaker. We go kind of way back now. We both were Assistant Deans
at Laney college together, back in the day before they were
turned into Deans and before the Deans returned in the VPI’s. But more importantly, I’d like
to think of Fran, Dr. White, as around the way,
our home-girl. As you can see from
her bio in the program, she’s one of y’all,
Graduate of Merrit College. [APPLAUSE] California University, East Bay. [APPLAUSE] UCB or UC Berkeley. [APPLAUSE] She has read some of
the highest pinnacles, for not only California but
community colleges, nationwide. That bottom paragraph
kind of outlines that, support of women,
the national trustees, and Merrit’s president, even
mentoring fellow presidents. She is what you call an
educator, by the highest means and esteem. So I won’t take up
more time, but I really wish that you would give her
a wonderful round of applause for our first
female Chancellor– forget interim– first female
Chancellor for the Peralta community college district, my
colleague Dr. Frances White. ” FRANCES WHITE: That’s one of
the other things you learn, is as you’re going
up, there’s always people who will be
there along your path, and they remember you,
and you remember them. And it’s good to have
someone from your past to be able to stand for
you and say something good. Thank you, Anita. [APPLAUSE] And thank all of you,
the Peralta Association of African-American affairs,
board of trustees, presidents, Peralta staff, Peralta
faculty, families and friends who are here today,
and of course, our beautiful, graduating
honorees and award recipients. And to the larger
class of 2019, it is a pleasure and
honor to be here today to celebrate with you. I hope you always
remember this day as one of your proudest
moments, and see it as another milestone toward
your own personal, continuous achievement. I’m not going to
be up here long. We’ve heard some pretty
inspirational speeches today. But I do want you to know that
it’s my hope that I will offer some encouragement, some insight
into what your responsibility will be after you complete
your graduation today. So with that, I’d
like you to know that I do subscribe
to the school of three B’s for public speaking. They are be brief, be concise,
and of course, be seated. [LAUGHTER] This is about you. This is not about any of us. But it is good that
we’re able to come before you, and particularly
in light of your theme today, which is
reclaiming our narrative, looking back, and
moving forward. So I’ll talk a little
bit about looking back. 51 years ago I was in your seat. 51 years ago I was a
married college graduate. At that graduation
I sat with students who had taken classes
with me, laughed with me, and sometimes cried with me. We said goodbye
on graduation day. And over the years, we each
moved in separate directions as we lived our lives. I continued my higher
education goals. And with each degree, I became
more confident and certain about making good things
happen, and making a difference. While achieving my
higher education goals in the early
years of my marriage, there was a struggle,
even with two incomes. And of course,
during those days, you didn’t make a lot of money
if you had a bachelors degree, and you were working your way
up to masters, or whatever. But we both worked while
we were going to school. My husband was also
a married college graduate, as a matter of fact,
I met him at Merrit College, yeah. [APPLAUSE] And I’m happy to say
we’re still together. [APPLAUSE] There was a price and
sacrifice to accomplish what we set out to do. We look back now on
those days of desire and wishes and know that
it was all worth it. And it is a reminder
that nothing comes easy worth having. My best memories of being a
student at Merritt college was singing in the college
choir, teachers who inspired me and motivated me. And some other names, I
still remember very well. I’ll never forget them. During my years at the
college, Martin Luther King was assassinated, Bobby
Kennedy was assassinated, and Malcolm X was murdered. In my last year at the college
the Black Panthers locked down the campus and locked
up the academic senate– it’s not a good
management technique. But they locked them up
demanding an ethnic studies program. That’s right. [APPLAUSE] They were locked up
for almost a week. Some of my teachers
were locked up, but I came to school, anyway. I just couldn’t believe
this was happening. Subsequently, and over
the years afterwards, the college district did adopt
an ethnic studies department and ethnic studies program,
as did other colleges and universities across America. [APPLAUSE] It was a tough time
to be in America. The Civil Rights Act
had been acted in 1964. The Vietnam War was ongoing. There were riots
all over the country and nearly every major city. And there were riots
on college campuses. So it was pretty tough
to keep going to class, a lot of times, because either
your faculty were locked up or you were participating in
a march, all for good reasons. And I know no one will
take that out of context. [LAUGHTER] I have to say, when you’re
19 and all of these events are happening around
you, back to back, it affects your identity
and your thinking about how you fit into
the larger society. What is going on, and why
are these things happening, and what is it going
to mean going forward? I am certain that my
sense of determination has been marked by many of
those events I just described. I am proud of my
identity and who I am as an educator, leader,
and advocate for equality and social justice. I know what the
personal, social, and professional
struggle is like. And I value persistence
and determination. The ’60s were turbulent times
and it did change America. But we can’t dance yet. It’s not time to
relax and believe everything is OK or will be OK. Happy days are not here
again for many people who continue to be marginalized,
overlooked, and forgotten. We read examples of the plight
of Americans, immigrants, children, homeless
individuals, and others with various
disparities, every day. There is lots of
work to be done. And my question to
you today is will you be ready to make a difference? Moving forward, that’s
what you need to do. You need to make a difference. What will be the price
to become successful, so you can make a difference? What will you strive for, so
you can make a difference? And what kind of person
do you want to be, so you can make a difference? These are questions
only you can answer. Over time, you will
achieve results. Will they be the
results you aimed for? Will they be the
results you want? Will you be proud
of the results? How high do you plan to aim? I’ve been around
a long time and I can tell you the pendulum swings
back and forth all the time. It swings back and
forth on the economy. It’s swings back and
forth on the labor market. Sometimes we’re up,
sometimes we’re down. Life is the same way. There are good days and
bad days and nothing or no one really stays the same. I was retired for nine years
before I was recruited back to work, and I’m enjoying
every single moment of it. [APPLAUSE] I feel a strong connection to
the Peralta college district. And believe that this district
has been a part of my success, personally– former graduate– it’s
been a part of my success, professionally– former faculty
and administrator. And it was time to help. When I was recruited to come
back, it was time to help. It was time to give back. It was time to
try to do whatever I can to make things better. It was time to
make a difference. Although there have been
ups and downs, I’ve endured. I’m still here. I’ll be 72 years old this year. I don’t know what else
I’m going to be doing. [APPLAUSE] I can tell you, no
matter how hard it seems, your aim, your goal,
your desire, your want, no matter how
insurmountable it seems, and no matter how hard or
difficult things may become, we’re strong, and
we can prevail. Some people dream of
success, while other people get up every morning
and make it happen. As Woody Allen once said– you
all know who Woody Allen is– 80 percent of success
is just showing up. There are no secrets to success. And the price of
success is hard work, dedication to the job at
hand, and the determination to see things through. When we apply ourselves
to the task at hand, putting our heart, mind, and
soul into even the smallest acts, we succeed. Today is not the
end of your journey, but a new beginning toward
greater accomplishments and success. Be a good father. Be a good mother. Be a good friend. Be a good wife. Be a good husband. Be a good worker. Be a good sister. Be a good brother. Be a good neighbor and citizen. Be a role model. And give back by helping others. Continue to fight the
good fight for equality and social justice. Never stop and never give up. Thank you for the opportunity
to speak to you today. I wish her all
success and happiness. And once again, congratulations
to the class of 2019. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC PLAYING]