College Marks Start of Black History Month[VIDEO]

Story By: Elias Cardenas, Reporter

Fresno City College on Monday launched the 2015 African American History month celebrations during opening ceremonies in the Old Administration Building Auditorium.

Dottie Smith, the former secretary of the State Center Community College District board of trustees, gave students a blueprint for success.

“Don’t shoot down your opportunities; don’t shoot down your integrity,” Smith said. “Don’t shoot down your character; don’t shoot down who you are and your purpose of being here.”

Continuing her inspirational message, Smith said, “You will not be able to breathe if you shoot those things down, because you won’t have a life.”

Smith also expressed disappointment at the dismal attendance and questioned why instructors did not bring “history students, social science students [and] English students” their classes to the event.

“To me, it is a travesty,” she said.

Throughout February, the African American Faculty and Staff Association will host programs which relate to the black experience and introduce strong important topics the college community should never forget, said Gennean Bolen, president of the association.

Bolen said that Black History Month is a celebration of life and accomplishments, “to unite like minded individuals and expose the many successful lives of many African Americans throughout our history.”

The events include film screening and speeches; the first three Wednesdays, the film “Hidden Colors” parts I, II and III will be shown at the OAB auditorium, starting at 3:30 p.m.

Faculty, staff and student volunteers wore “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter” T-shirts which they will also be given out at events throughout the month.

The first Black History Month was honored in 1915, 50 years after the 13th Amendment ended slavery in the U.S. First called “Negro History Week,” it was officially changed to National African American History Month in 1976.

Among speakers scheduled to speak are Angela Wright, Dr Joseph L. White and Ernie Hudson. “Freeway” Rick Ross will speak on how he turned his life around for the better. The messages from the speakers will be a mix of reality and common sense advice.

Cindy Dunn, VP of the African-American Faculty and Staff, said Ross’ presentation will be “ about encouraging young students on how to not get involved with that lifestyle.”
This story was contributed in part by Chueyee Yang.