Caravan for Racial Justice
I have struggled for the past several weeks, trying to find the right words to say regarding what is happening across our nation and the world. As a black man with three black brothers and many black nephews, this moment in our history is certainly difficulty to comprehend and accept.
I have spent my entire career focused on closing the access and equity gaps faced by students of color. I have specifically created programs and supported policies that directly address the needs of African American and Latino males. More than the creation of policies and programs, I have been committed to personal mentorships with men of color, because I want them to have the opportunities I had.
The past few weeks have been a traumatizing experience for me, as I am sure it has been for you as well. I continue to watch the protests across the country, the state and even here in Contra Costa County. I am reminded of the 1992 Rodney King Riots, when I witnessed from afar the city I grew up in nearly burning down the ground, including my mother’s home. This is paralyzing! I am also reminded of the many times that I, myself, as a teenager, was thrown against a police car, only to later learn it was a case of mistaken identity. That was paralyzing! I reflect on so many people who have faced harsh consequences for protesting institutional racism and white supremacy in this country, including Colin Kaepernick, for simply taking a knee. Paralyzing!
I reflect on the way this country was built on the backs of disenfranchised communities, enslaved Africans, and Indigenous Americans. I am reminded of the utter devastation to “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921) and the Rosewood Massacre (1923). And, yet, in 2020, we are still experiencing the same horror, as we cry out for men and women like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. My heart and soul ache for the families of victims past and present.
As a college, it is our job to teach tolerance. This is who we are at Contra Costa College. We speak out when there is an injustice in society. Please know that we are here for you, and I share the pain of recent racist acts, understanding that this is something many of us have carried our entire lives.
I invite you to speak up, and attend the Caravan for Racial Justice in honor of the life of George Floyd on Tuesday, June 9. We will be gathering at 9:00 a.m. in the student drop off area. The caravan will proceed down 23rd Street, concluding in a rally at Kennedy High School. Please bring your signs, decorate your cars and remember to adhere to social distancing while wearing a face covering. Also, you should have already received a meeting invite for the CCC Town Hall meeting. The Town Hall is scheduled for Wednesday, June 10th at 4pm. I would love to hear your voices and commitments to the best way to move our college forward in this climate.
Racism and bigotry have absolutely no place in our college, our state, our country, or in our world. As former Senator Paul Wellstone said, “We all do better, when we all do better.”
Damon A. Bell, Ed.D.