FCC Celebrates the 22nd Anniversary of the Wall of Honor


Photo by: Tamika Rey

President of the SCCCD Board of Trustees, Deborah J. Ikeda with the family of inductee (posthumously) Sam U. Lane Jr. at the 22nd Anniversary of the Wall of Honor event, Thursday Feb. 28, 2019 in OAB 251.

Story By: Tamika Rey, News Editor

The African American Historical and Cultural Museum, with sponsorship from the State Center Community College District, recognized Sam U. Lane (posthumously), Paul Binion, and Renee Craig-Marius’ service to the district, placing them on the Wall of Honor on Thursday, February 28 .

AAHCM is a nonprofit that was founded in 1985 by Fresno Police Department Homicide Detective Jack Kelley. He was the first African American sergeant in 1969.

Artworks involving prominent African Americans within the San Joaquin Valley is displayed at the museum. The Wall of Honor was established at the AAHCM in 1996.

As spectators enjoyed hors d’oeuvres in OAB 251, music played in the background by a live DJ on a keyboard with speakers and mic in tow. The room was filled with people of all ages, races, and creeds.

Lucy Ruiz, Executive Director of Public & Legislative Relations for SCCCD gave the welcoming remarks followed by an overview of upcoming events at AAHCM from Christian Gregory, a member of the board for the museum. Later, a message from the museum was presented.

“Without the backbone of the community, and this partnership, we wouldn’t be able to do this at all,” Julia Dudley-Najieb, a member of the board for the museum, said. “This legacy is going to keep going. How can you better yourself without knowledge of your history?”

Dudley-Najieb went on to explain that we, “Have the right to fill our walls with history right from our backyard.” She explained that what’s happening to the black community on a macro level is also happening on a micro level.

Deborah J. Ikeda, the SCCCD Board President, gave a message from the board of trustees to the audience and congratulated the inductees. A message from the SCCCD chancellor, Dr. Paul Parnell followed.

“I can remember Jack Kelley carrying around artifacts in the trunk of his car,” Parnell said of some of the very pieces that still line the walls of the museum today. Parnell went on explaining how much funding was successfully brought to the West Fresno district, totaling a staggering $15 million worth of educational buildings.

Dorothy Smith, a Wall of Honor Committee Member, gave the introduction of honorees. She gave the message to reach out to others within the black community and for accomplished predecessors to be their ladder and pull or push them up into success.

The first inductee of the night, Paul Binion born in Fairfield Alabama, has been the pastor at Westside Fresno Church of God in West Fresno since 1977. He also participated on the Measure C Bond Committee which resulted in a $485 million bond passage.

“47 years ago, I accepted the call from Christ on the way to USC to graduate school,” Binion said. Binion received his Doctor of Divinity from the Southern California School of Ministry.

Binion thanked the board for, “firing him up,” and he said that his plans are to continue to bring more sources and change to the community. “I am more inspired and more encouraged than ever before,” Binion said.

Clovis Community College now has the Pastor Paul and Lady Binion Scholarship, established in honor of Binion.

The second inductee, Renee Craig-Marius, the vice president of student services at Reedley College, was one of the founders of the Black Faculty & Staff Association at Reedley College. She works to minimize equity inefficiencies.

Craig-Marius explained she was glad to have been picked up and carried along the way by the trail blazers who inspired her. “I am thankful to have a lot of firsts in my family.”

These firsts included her aunt, the first African American teacher in Clovis unified and the first surgeon in Fresno whom is her father-in-law. Her father is also on the wall for his athletic achievements.

“My mom taught me to be a strong woman,” Craig-Marius said. “My own kids gave me the opportunity to practice patience and be the village for them,” she said. She says it also takes a village to raise and educate students.

“If you were born an apple, don’t try to be an orange,” Craig-Marius said recalling what her dad used to tell her. She challenges everyone to, “Do you,” as her son instructed her to do.

The third inductee, Mr. Sam U. Lane, Jr. was honored posthumously. His wife Cheryl, daughter, son, were in attendance to accept his award on his behalf.

Lane was born on Feb. 11, 1946 and passed away Dec. 4, 2018. He worked then retired from AT&T after 45 years of committed service.

Lane was a natural healer, self-made lawyer, and student activist. He negotiated the program that initiated black studies at FCC when he was a student here in 1968 as the vice president of the Black Student Union.

Lane’s family thanked everybody there for honoring him and for keeping his legacy live and going.

The event ended with Smith giving the message to do good works because, “If it comes from the heart, it’ll touch the heart.”