The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Black History Month highlights inclusion of all races

February is Black History Month. January marked Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Last December, Nelson Mandela died. The contributions of black world leaders are part of the ongoing conversation and have been for decades.

Yet leaders like King and Mandela resonate with the world because their messages go beyond skin color, believe City College academics. When Nelson Mandela accepted his Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, he described the similarities in his intents and those of his fellow Nobel winner, “statesman and internationalist, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“We speak here of the dichotomies of war and peace, violence and non-violence, racism and human dignity, oppression and repression and liberty and human rights, poverty and freedom from want,” said Mandela.

Although she has personal memories of participating in civil rights activities in her segregated youth growing up in Oklahoma, City College President Kathryn Jeffery also speaks of the struggle in more universal terms.

“I reflected on every single individual…who was African and came to the bondage, and everything they did to make things better, not just for me, but for everybody, because what makes living conditions better for one, can’t help but make living conditions better for others as well,” says Jeffery.

“You can’t do something or have an accomplishment for yourself that in some way doesn’t impact the lives of others,” she adds. “Maybe it’s a law of the universe. It just can’t be done.”

Jeffery was one of the 5,000 or so participants in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march held Jan. 20, the day before the spring semester began.

“As I was trying to wake myself up, I just had this thought that some people have done some pretty major things in their lives to even put me in the position of being able to ponder the question of whether I would get up and participate,” says Jeffery. “For me, being part of the march was truly symbolic and truly my own personal commitment to affirming that marching for a cause, standing for a cause, was really important.”

Robert Perrone, executive director of Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, believes that King’s efforts had a direct effect on unions.

“Martin Luther King was beginning to move in the direction of more inclusiveness in his struggle,” says Perrone. “He was moving away from just focusing on civil rights to focusing on human rights, the rights of working people.”

Perrone, careful to stress that these are his opinions and not representative of the union, sees these issues as interconnected.

“We owe it to working people to support the struggles of other peoples for freedom. It strengthens us and it strengthens them,” says Perrone.

Perrone also notes that February commemorates the assassination of Malcolm X.

“Malcolm X had moved away from his narrow focus on seeing white people as enemies to the more inclusive view of the connectedness between the struggles of black people and other peoples for freedom,” says Perrone.

Investigation: The soft tabs viagra investigation of the patient includes: Serum Testosterone Penile Doppler study 5. Atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), high blood pressure and it only becomes apparent upon examination prescription free levitra by a physician. The purchase female viagra center for aesthetics at Idaho falls has a well developed program for hair transplant and laser hair reduction. The benefits of exercise on 100mg viagra professional your arteries last long as you keep performing on a regular basis. Perrone says he finds the juxtaposition between Mandela and King an interesting one.

“Martin Luther King was certainly an advocate of a nonviolent struggle,” says Perrone.

“Then, Nelson Mandela, while he certainly preferred nonviolence, was not reluctant to engage in and lead armed struggle. I think he recognized that nonviolence does not always work — particularly against the kind of regime that South Africans were fighting against.”

City College History Professor Riad Bahhur also notes that vital difference between the two men.

“Of course, Mandela and Martin Luther King are connected in many people’s minds because they both defied the oppressive systems of their day, and they somehow also became icons of anti-oppression struggles, even though their tactics sometimes differed,” says Bahhur.

“He embodied persistence and strength in the face of oppression and is honored throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America by people who relate to the South African struggle against Apartheid,” says Bahhur and recommends reading or listening to Mandela’s Rivonia Trial speech.

Mandela was jailed for 27 years for his involvement in violent insurrection, and his words from the defendant’s dock at that trial go far to explain his actions.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,” said Mandela in 1964, almost exactly four years before the thoroughly nonviolent King died for his ideals.

Jeffery says she still thinks about the state of mind of a man who has had so much time, so much opportunity, to think about his actions and intentions.

“I think what we all have seen in looking at the history of [Mandela’s] release and his life following his release is that he maintained true to the cause, but he approached it from a different perspective,” said Jeffery.

After his release, Mandela continued the fight for freedom with an emphasis on reconciliation.

“Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice,” Mandela said in 1995 as president of the country that imprisoned him.

Jeffery remembers seeing Mandela speak during his 1990 trip to Oakland.

“So I was in this crowd of people and all of the energy – and I can even start to feel it now – it was just huge, the level of energy and the level of respect within that collective group of people who were from every walk of life, every possible ethnic group, all kind of together to see who this was who had endured what he had endured but yet had this statement that he was making about how people – about how it’s so important for people to overcome some of the things that kept them apart,” says Jeffery, “and it was probably one of the most moving group experiences I’ve ever had.”

Donate to The Express

Your donation will support the student journalists of Sacramento City College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Express