The Department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University has been in existence now for over 40 years. It's Martin Luther King Luncheon is well attended and features not only a remembrance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's accomplishments and dreams, but also inspirational speeches, performances, and awards. This year, the MLK Luncheon was held at the new Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union's Montezuma Hall.
The main coordinator for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Luncheon was Dept. of Africana Studies Administrative Coordinator, Mrs. Kaia Brown http://africana.sdsu.edu/index.htm . She greeted people, made sure the events inner workings quietly unfolded around us.
This year's theme was "Breaking the Cycle" with a focus on justice in education, employment, and society, personal agency in societal interaction. Masters of Ceremony, Dr. Charles Toombs, Department Chair of Africana Studies and Sandra Bullock, Office of Employee Relations and Compliance, opened the program with a flourish and kept it program flowing smoothly.
San Diego State University President Dr. Elliot Hirshman welcomed the faculty, staff, and dignitaries from the San Diego community with a warm greeting and a brief remembrance of Dr. King's importance to America and the world.
As is tradition at the luncheon, James Weldon Johnson's Black National Anthem http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/black-authors-spoken-word-poetry/lift-every-voice-and-sing/ is sung. This year, vocalist Jalen Swank (an SDSU student) sang a soulfully beautiful a cappella stylization of the historic poem turned into song.
Libation to elders and those who are ever near was given by international scholar and Dept. of Africana Studies professor, Dr. Adisa A. Alkebulan. A sumptuous buffet kept audience conversation lively as Dr. Toombs and Sandra Bullock segued into the next portion of the program.
Vocalists Rhonda Beard and Monique Brooks sang an inspirational duet.
Each year an unsung hero award is given to a San Diego State staff member whose exemplary work behind the scene with administrators, faculty, students, other staff members, and sometimes the community, has been noted throughout the years of their service. 2016's Unsung Hero Award recipient is Ms. Bessie Watkins from the School of Communication.
A few friends at my table were: Jennie L. Hamilton, founder and director of Community Actor's Theater in San Diego, CA.
Kathryn Irey, founder and director of Stage 7 School of Dance, relaxes from her busy teaching and choreography schedule.
Young opera singer Nicholas Newton stopped by to chat and enjoy the luncheon. He was on his way to an audition later that afternoon.
Dr. Tanis Stark led the audience in several verses of "We Shall Overcome" at the end of the event after a dynamic speech by Pastor Terrell Fletcher. Time for a photo op!!!.
San Diego State University's Department of Africana Studies is gearing up for its 37th annual Black Baccalaureate this year.
In a year during which talk by a few politicians which hints at dismantling the U.S. department of Education after the 2016 election is slowly surfacing, and opposing concepts of educational access are heatedly discussed across the United States, celebrating African American educational achievement and excellence is a most timely acknowledgement.
"God of our silent tears, God of our weary years, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way..."
Excerpt from James Weldon Johnson's Black National Anthem
Delores Fisher . . .