Archive | June, 2014

English Professor Rachel Williams Promotes the Arts at West LA College

9 Jun
Featured Speaker, Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong'o

Featured Speaker, Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

Professor Rachel Williams, a tenured faculty member in the Language Arts Division at West Los Angeles College, is passionate about the arts and education.  She has dedicated her time and efforts to promoting students’ global awareness and intellectual and cultural development through major academic and cultural arts enrichment programs that have attracted hundreds of people, not only from the campus community, but also the local and greater Los Angeles communities.  Last month, May 14, 2014, at 7p.m. in the Fine Arts Complex at West Los Angeles College, Professor Williams coordinated a spectacular program, “Arts, Sciences and Human Rights:  Africa” featuring internationally renowned Kenyan novelist & literary critic, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and multi-instrumentalist, Bennie Maupin & Ensemble.

There were dance performances and a concert by jazz legend Bennie Maupin–an original member of Miles Davis’ troupe–and ensemble.  Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’ o read from his memoir and one of his novels at the post event meet-and-greet.    Renowned sculptor, Michael Chukes, unveiled one of his latest sculptures to the audience.  There were donations for the prizes for the event drawings from many organizations and individuals.  1st Prize: A Collection of Signed Literary Works by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, 2nd Prize: A Collection of CDs by Jazz Legend & Multi-Instrumentalist Bennie Maupin,  3rd Prize: Picasso’s L’Amitie (Framed 22×32 inches),  4th Prize: Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet,  and 5th Prize: Laithwaite’s Wine Collection (12 Top-Estate Spring Reds and Whites).  Sponsors of the event included African American Heritage Month Committee, Los Angeles Community Colleges District Black Faculty & Staff Association, Women’s History Month Committee, Associated Student Organization, and Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society.  For more information, download the Arts, Sciences and Human Rights Flyer.

Stay on the lookout for Professor Williams’ cultural programming at West LA College at Culver City.  Some of the artists, scholars, and events that Professor Williams is responsible for bringing to West LA include:

  • Quincy Troupe, an award-winning poet and the author of Miles: The Autobiography of Miles Davis and The Pursuit of Hapyness, adapted into a major film featuring actor Will Smith
  • Renowned poet Wanda Coleman, known as “the L.A. Blueswoman” and “the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles.
  • Historians, such as Levom Marashlian, an expert on Armenian genocide
  • Prominent poet and English professor Marilyn Chin
  • Renowned sculptors and fine artists such as Toni Scott, Charles Bibbs, Synthia SAINT James, and Neville Garrick, who was the creative designer for all of Bob Marley’s album/CD covers and whose fine art exhibition at West featured historical sites and images of Ethiopia, its culture, and peoples
  • An Ethiopian traditional dance troupe
  • A Capoeira Brazil dance troupe
  • Fine artist Barbara Mendes, whose exhibition at West featured oil paintings related to Israel and Israeli history and culture
  • English professor and poet Miriam Glazer, who read Israeli women’s poetry
  • The late Afro-Cuban jazz legend and UCLA Professor of Music Francisco Aguabella
  • Bobby Matos’ Latin Jazz Ensemble
  • The Elliot Caine Sextet
  • Vail Johnson and other members of Kenny G’s ensemble
  • The late American Indian Movement (AIM) leader, actor, and author Russell Means
  • Noted actor Alan Tafoya, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe

We want to see programming like this at all of the Los Angeles community colleges.

7th Annual Pan-African Studies Forum at CSULA with Dr. Cornel West

7 Jun

Cornel West FlyerThe LACCD BFSA supported the Department of Pan-African Studies’ 7th Annual Forum celebrating 45 years of its program.  The theme of the program was “The Indispensability of Black Studies for Understanding the Falsity of Post-Racialism.”  Dr. Cornel West was the featured speaker.  CSULA’s Pan-African Studies department has been involved in a recent struggle to make their courses part of the General Education program.  Read more here:

In support of the CSULA’s Pan-African Studies department and of the scores of students who will eventually attend the university, the LACCD BFSA donated $500 toward the endowment of the Pan-African Studies Department’s Dr. C.R.D. Halisi Scholarship.  The scholarship provides support to outstanding Pan-African Studies majors each year…those who reflect the vision, intellect, commitment and humanity of former department head, Dr. Halisi, who passed away in 2013.

For a glimpse of Dr. Cornel West’s talk, watch the short video and photo stream below by notable Los Angeles based photographer, Leroy Hamilton.


LATTC’s Umoja Spring 2014 Induction Ceremony

7 Jun

Umoja, a Kiswahili word meaning unity, is a culturally responsive learning community and student support service dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of African American and other students.  This year marks the progam’s second annual Spring Induction Ceremony, where students make a pledge toward personal and academic excellence.  Students who have been selected to be part of the program and who have maintained the required grade point average, were officially inducted into Los Angeles Trade Technical College’s Umoja Community.  At this special pinning ceremony, students took a pledge toward personal and academic excellence and were presented with Kente stoles.

Dr. Keneesha Tarrant gave inspirational words from the president’s office and Deborah Campbell, counselor and Black Student Union advisor, also came to congratulate the students.  This year, the students asked Garnet King, an LATTC staff and Umoja supporter, to present Linda Cole, Michael Hopper, and Dean Dorothy Smith with gold trophies.  They wanted to thank them for their tireless dedication to the students and the program.  Faculty members Thurman Robinson, Michael Hopper, Elton Robinson, and Gerald Mock, along with staff member, Garnett King, made up the receiving line to congratulate the students.

The Culinary Arts program, led by Steve Kasmar, prepared a wonderful lunch for the event.  Guests feasted on chicken parmesan, salad, and homemade rolls.  The culinary arts department also made a delicious chocolate cake, blueberry lemon parfaits, and an assortment of homemade cookies, tarts, and other delicious desserts.

Counselors, Maurice Burnett and Derek Majors were the original advisors of Umoja.  They attending the required professional development training and set the ground work to officially bring the Umoja Community to the campus.  After a lack of resources and financial support, the program was archived.  But in 2012, faculty advisors, Linda Cole, Michael Hopper, and Dr. Ayesha Randall officially relaunched Umoja (oo-moe-juh).  Dean Dorothy Smith, dean of student services, and Linda Cole provided seed support for its launching.

For more about LA Trade Tech’s Umoja program, visit

2014 LACCD Black Graduation Celebration

4 Jun

blackgrad2014-2On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, the 2014 Los Angeles Community Colleges District Black Graduation Celebration took place at Cougar Field at Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC). This year’s theme was “A Cultural Celebration of Academic Achievement.”

This year’s committee was co-chaired by Dr. Tangelia Alfred and  Chauncine Stewart.  All nine of the Los Angeles Community Colleges District (LACCD) campuses were represented.  Los Angeles Southwest’s interim president, Dr. Yasmin Delahoussaye and LACCD interim chancellor, Dr. Adriana Barrera, welcomed the audience.  

The celebration began with the Dembrehrah West African Drum Ensemble leading the processional to Cougar Field.  Rhodesia Jackson, an LASC student, gave the libation.  Linda Cole, chaplain of the Los Angeles Community Colleges District Black Faculty and Staff Association (LACCD BFSA) gave the opening prayer.  Actress, performer, director, writer and activist, T’Keyah Crystal Keymah from In Living Color and That’s So Raven, led the Negro National Anthem.

Dr. Lawrence Bradford, LASC Vice President of Academic Affairs, spoke about the purpose of the Black Graduation Celebration.  There were words from LACCD Trustee, Mike Eng and ASO president and future LACCD student trustee, LaMont Jackson.  Dr. Ayesha Randall from Los Angeles Trade-Technical College introduced the keynote speaker, Dr. Corliss Bennett-McBride, the director of the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs at University of Southern California, who gave a spirited talk encouraging graduates to prepare for the next chapter of their lives. Continue reading