Frank Herrera, Cal Poly Humboldt Social Justice Equity and Inclusion coordinator points out some of the black panther photos in the Green and Gold room in Founder's Hall on Feb. 18. Looking at the poster remind him of growing up and seeing, "big guys in leather jackets," going around doing community work when the black panther movement was at it's height. Photo credit: Abraham Navarro.

Umoja Center hosts Black History Month Art Exhibit


by Lex Valtenbergs

Student-made poster boards detailing the lives and legacies of Black artists and activists filled the Gold and Green Room in Founders Hall during the Black History Month Art Exhibit hosted by the Umoja Center on Feb. 17.

The exhibit was an opportunity for Cal Poly Humboldt’s Black students to express themselves and celebrate their African heritage, much as their forebears did before them in a self-determined push to resist the injustices of slavery, segregation and ongoing oppression.

“It is a creative way to show our unity and stand for everyone who identifies as Black,” said Demi Ogunwo, a Masters student at Cal Poly Humboldt and Charter President of the National Society of Black Engineers. “It’s a lot of activists, a lot of people who broke out of the norm of oppression to make a name for themselves.”

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Asia Anderson, a Cal Poly Humboldt chemistry senior stands next to a photo of her great aunt Marion Anderson.

Biochemistry senior Asia Anderson comes from a line of radical Black women who defied the norm during their lifetimes. She made a poster board about her late great aunt Marian Anderson, a renowned Black opera singer. It was a popular exhibit among the attending students.

“I don’t sing worth beans, but I do chemistry,” Anderson said. “I still think about her strength and not letting a ‘no’ close doors. That was passed down through the line of women in my family.”

Jovie Garcia-Diaz, a senior majoring in Environmental Engineering, was a student attendee at the exhibit. Her favorite poster board detailed the appropriation of Black culture in popular social media culture.

“That’s something that I see a lot on social media that stands out to me,” Garcia-Diaz said. “People who aren’t Black get praised and get popular for [appropriated elements from Black culture.]”

Cal Poly Humboldt students and faculty alike visited the exhibit as the evening went on. Frank Herrera happens to be both. He is a student pursuing a Masters degree in Business Administration and the Coordinator of the Social Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Center on campus.

A collage poster board about the life of Fredrick Allen Hampton, former Chairman of the Black Panthers, stood out to Herrera. Herrera was alive in the final years of the Black Panthers’ existence before it dissolved.

“I had met folks who were involved, I just remember the guys in leather jackets and the energy,” Herrera said. ”It’s amazing what they were doing, the bravery and courage they had during the time.”

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Students look at posters of black leaders and events in history during the Black History Expo in the Green and Gold room in Founder’s Hall on Feb. 17.

According to Ogunwo, the art exhibit in general characterized three of the seven guiding principles of the Nguzu Saba, or African heritage, that the Umoja Center stands They are Kuumba (creativity), Umoja (unity) and Kujichagulia (self-determination).

“The pillars reinforce what we stand for and how we want people to see us,” Ogunwo said.

Anderson feels a deep connection to her great aunt and to her heritage that empowers her. To her, the exhibit was a chance for Black students to see themselves in the trailblazers before them.

“They weren’t the first,” Anderson said. “You’re not going to be the last. It feels good because one day, those boards are going to be about you.”

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on reddit

More Stories

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Cowboy Daddy's Drummer and Keyboard player Conner West, 25, and guitarist Skye Freitas, 24, jam out at the Gutswurrak Student Activity Center on April 28.

Local bands rock the Gutswurrak

by Ione Dellos Band members wait in front of the bathrooms, eyes anxiously fluttering from the stage to the growing audience in the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center. After the deepest sigh one could possibly take, they make their way to

Travis Allen pole vaults at the Green and Gold Track Event on Feb. 12 Photo by Morgan Hancock.

Athlete’s outperform at decathlon

by Carlos Pedraza The Cal Poly Humboldt Track and Field team participated in the Stanislaus State Multi-Event from Thursday April 7 to Saturday April 9. The team participated in over 10 different events, all of which were multi-day involving different

Photo by Morgan Hancock | Izzy Star hits a home run in final softball game of the season at the Bear River Recreation Center in Loleta, California on Saturday, April 30.

Cal Poly Humboldt plays its last softball game of the series

by Eddie Carpenter On April 30, Cal Poly Humboldt Softball played the last two games of their series against Cal State San Marcos. Due to weather conditions, the softball games had to be relocated to the Bear River Recreation Center

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply