History of Cal
For over a century, Black Students at the University of California, Berkeley have lifted a voice of resilience and resolve in the lonesome wilderness of higher education. With His voice, Alexander Dumas Jones, the first Black person to enroll into Cal in 1881, sung a song. A song based on the precedence of the faith that the dark past has brought us-the Black National Anthem. Following in his footsteps Charles Edward Carpenter and Vivian Rodgers lived a life, full with the hope the present brought as they became the first Black graduates in 1905 and 1909, respectively.
Although these trailblazers, amongst many others, paved the way for our presence in the University of California today, they did not stand alone. They were supported by a committed strong, and vibrant community that provided them with all the help they needed. Community, like the Black steward from the Oakland A’s club who hired successive generations of students as busboys where they could study at night. Community, like a Black Chef from Monterrey who moved to Oakland near campus “where he might give employment and financial aid to minority students.”
By enrolling in the first UC, Black students at Cal agreed to a life full of difficulty to be enjoyed by life-long students and friends in the struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and liberation. When Walter Gordon became the first Black man to make the football team, graduating with a B.A. in 1919 and a J.D. in 1922, his success provided a standard for Black student success. Ida Louise Jackson, sung by example when she ‘gave-back’ by becoming the first Black person to teach in the Oakland public school system. Virginia Stephens sung to a tune of achievement when she became the first Black woman to pass the California Bar exam after graduating from Cal.
Because of their legacy, we must accept the torch, reignite the flame, and reconnect with our larger communities. In honor of their legacy, we must face the rising sun of our new day, marching on 'til victory is won. In the shadow of their love and prestigious achievements, May we forever stand, True to our God, True to our native land.
We welcome you to the 2012, Afrikan Black Coalition Conference (ABC) at the University of California, Berkeley.