Dear Editors,

I can’t say that I’m surprised…just a bit disappointed.

As the chair of the Saint Mary’s “44 Days Honoring Black History” program, I reached out to The Collegian on the first day of school informing them that the College’s inaugural Black History Month celebration was in full swing! In an email, I offered them dates for events, told them that I could provide pictures and commentary, and directed them to students who attended the events to provide quotes. I also shared with them that Tarana Burke, founder of #MeToo and arguably the most relevant and influential woman on the planet at this current time, would be our featured speaker, gracing the Soda Center stage on Monday, Feb. 27 to inspire the Saint Mary’s community and the entire Bay Area.

Unfortunately, I heard nothing back from The Collegian. I then called their listed number hoping to speak to a representative, but I only got their voicemail, with no callback.

So, as the “44 Days” celebration and the nationally recognized Black History Month celebration came to an end, I scanned through The Collegian’s first publication of the Spring 2018 semester, hoping to at least see an article, a picture, or even an honorable mention of this groundbreaking celebration, but there was nothing. Not even a mention of Black History Month!

I said to myself, “Perhaps they are waiting for the next issue to cover this celebration.” After all, even the East Bay Times published an article of our programming. How naïve of me to think this. The next publication came without a single mention of “44 Days” or Black History Month in general.

Again, I wasn’t surprised, just a bit disappointed.

As the Chair of 44 Days and Coordinator for Black Student Achievement, it is my calling, my honor, and my duty to inspire the Black student population on the Saint Mary’s campus — the ones who are often overlooked, marginalized, and silenced.

To the Editors at The Collegian, I challenge you to get on board, to give a voice to the overlooked and unheard, to use all voices and share all journeys, and to celebrate and recognize all students and cultures. Again, it would be an honor to collaborate with you to lift up, highlight, expose, and bring awareness to the voices and faces of color here at Saint Mary’s College. I invite you to join in with our 44 Days sub-theme of “collective courage”.

But in the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to honor them and their hard work. So I will gladly be the news reporter and let our Saint Mary’s readers know what an outstanding month our black students co-created. 

We called our program “44 Days Honoring Black History” as a positive nod to our 44th President, Barack Obama. This was an inaugural Saint Mary’s Black History Month celebration, as it is the first time that Saint Mary’s College has provided institutional dollars and resources for an official Saint Mary’s College Black History Month celebration. The celebration began on MLK day with a kick-off mass (thank you Fr. Hai) and ended on Feb. 27, with our featured speaker, Tarana Burke, with over 700 people registered for the event! The committee offers many thanks to the Office of the President and all of the other Saint Mary’s departments, committees, and centers that donated funds and resources.

During the 44 days celebration, we took 44 students to see the premiere of “Black Panther,” provided opportunities for community service, collaborated with various Saint Mary’s academic departments who screened award-winning films, brought notable speakers to campus, and highlighted the contributions of women of African descent. We painted the “SMC” sign red, black, and green (the Pan-African colors), held the first Annual Black Convocation Breakfast, invited award-winning documentary filmmaker director Dr. Gillian Scott-Ward to host a “healing workshop” for our students of color, highlighted the work of two talented Saint Mary’s students who are published authors, and celebrated black culture by attending the Black Joy parade in Oakland.

This was a packed 44 days that celebrated many facets and complexities in the black community. The committee worked hard to provide students, faculty, staff, and, most importantly, black students with programming and events that would inspire, motivate, and spark their own creative minds to enhance themselves and their Saint Mary’s community.

To my people, this situation reminded of a powerful African proverb that reads, “Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” You are beautiful, intelligent, and powerful lions discovering your story! Although your student newspaper did not cover your story, it needs to be heard! Do not wait for others to give you permission to tell your story…Grab the mic, and speak your truth! We will listen and glorify your story.



Calvin Monroe

This article has 5 comments

  1. Gloria Aquino Sosa, Ph.D.

    Thank you, Calvin, for your great work leading this committee and with students, faculty, and staff who feel the true passion to honor the silenced. I completely agree with your words in this Letter to the Editor, and was also disappointed by the lack of coverage of this inaugural and powerful series of events. I sincerely hope the Editors of The Collegian will take to heart the impact of ignoring this celebratory and somber series, and in the future reach out proactively, or at least respond to those who alert them of important events, especially those, like this one, that align directly with the mission of the college. As we begin the configuration of what will be the college’s first Latinx Heritage Month committee, I urge the Editors to join in understanding the need for coverage and reporting on these events, and perhaps even be a part of the committee, and the future 44 Days 2019 committee.

    With hope for the future,

  2. Thank you Calvin for your powerful words and for your leadership on this inaugural event. I thoroughly enjoyed Tarana Burke’s powerful words and am excited about the collaboration that went on around campus.

    Thanks for the inspiring words for our student as well. Peace –

    Legacy Lee
    Assistant Director, Intercultural Center

  3. Tom R. Muyunga-Mukasa

    Thank you Calvin
    Thank you BSU/ASA
    Thank you Collegiate Staff

    Thank you for making this a space to grow.
    Thank you for organizing a fantastic Black-led Leadership event at SMC.
    Personally, I cannot point to one thing that defined and refined Black History Month.
    It was a fusion of energies and rebirth.

    The experiences, the strategic guidance, the opportunities for education, the real-life persons who animated it and the actual events in which not only Black students were introduced to a fulfilling immersion were so phenomenal. It is the talk of the entire SMC. It is the trend-setter. It is as fresh now as it was in February. Thank you.

    I am sure it is possible to have stories written and sent for publication in the Collegian. Even sending the stories to them via email is a convenient way if one cannot make it to the storyboard meeting. I used to be a member of The Collegian Writing Board last semester. This semester, they meet on a day when I cannot join them because the meeting coincides with my work schedule. I encourage all and sundry to write an article on any subject too. I know a story can be written any time and we can still have it in one of the sections they have for community events or Movie reviews. Black History Month and the events therein are as fresh now as yesterday. English is a powerful language and through it a story of this calibre can be made alive forever. For instance, let us take the first quarter of 2018 at SMC. Black History is by far the most happening experience followed only by WISE…… Somebody take up this strand and weave a yarn of Black visibility at SMC’s Collegian.

    I am sure we shall read about so much of interest in the Collegian not only now but subsequently. Am positive.

    Wakandan spirit,

  4. The Collegian eh “fish wrap”.

  5. Thank you, Calvin, for your beautiful and inspiring words! Your Letter to the Editor is so, so important, and I thank you for it.

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