Commemorate Black History Month by Learning Our History

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom posthumously pardoned gay civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, ensuring he can be recognized as one of the nation’s influential figures in the cause of justice. Though Rustin was an organizer of the March on Washington and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, his legacy has been tarnished for years after a 1953 conviction in Pasadena, under laws that targeted LGBTQ people.

Assemblymembers Dr. Shirley Weber and Scott Wiener, of the Legislative Black and LGBTQ Caucuses, respectively, requested the pardon overturning the conviction. In agreeing, the Governor also announced a new clemency initiative and process that will enable pardons for individuals prosecuted in California for being gay.

Educating ourselves about our racial history is a critical part of CFA’s commitment to engage in a transformation rooted in anti-racism and social justice.  Expanding the reach of Ethnic Studies is one way to do this. Ethnic Studies is the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity that focuses on the lives of people of color from their own perspective. It offers a comprehensive understanding of the unique experiences of American Indians, Asian Americans, Blacks, and Latina/Latinos in the United States, as well as an intersectional analysis among the different communities.  Sponsoring AB 1460, which would ensure every CSU student graduates having passed one Ethnic Studies course, is one of the many ways that CFA is putting our guiding principles on anti-racism and social justice into action.

The next big step in the legislative process will be a Senate floor vote – which could happen as soon as this week or next. We urge faculty and students to contact their state senators today and ask them to vote Yes on AB 1460.

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth, it is justice.” Founder of the Equal Justice Institute (EJI), Bryan Stevenson’s often quoted wisdom invites us to dig deeper and insists we learn more about injustice in order to achieve racial justice.  The EJI publishes an interactive “History of Racial Injustice” calendar to educate and remind readers about the scope and persistence of injustice that is found through US history. The calendar is an excellent resource and online, interactive tool that can help expand our collective education.  For another easy action you can take to mark Black History Month, bookmark this calendar and read up on the too-often untold history.  Members can also attend any of the many Black History events happening across CSU campuses this month.