CSUSB Perspectives on Education During Black History Month
By Dianne Anderson
What it means to be Black in America is turning the corner on activism from the streets to the classrooms, which means getting parents to the table and getting money to the students.
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. may have had their differences, but Anthony Roberson said the one thing they both wholly agreed on was that education was the key to the future.
This year, Roberson takes the lead on the Pioneer Scholarship Celebration at CSU San Bernardino, which is usually held as the pioneer breakfast, if not for the pandemic.
“We wanted to make it about Black students and to make sure that they had scholarships and resources, and give them an opportunity for reflection,” said Roberson, advisor to the Student African American Brotherhood, and Associate Director of Operations with Santos Manuel Student Union.
On Friday, February 26, Roberson presents the 9th Annual Pioneer Scholarship Celebration from 10:00-11:00 a.m. via Zoom where student winners of the Black Faculty, Staff and Student Association 2021 Cynthia Linton Creative Expression Competition will be recognized for their poems, essays and videos with up to $500 in scholarships. Namesake scholarships include retired CSUSB professor and education advocate Dr. Mildred Henry, Terrilyn Monette scholarship and the Overton Scholarship. The event also pays tribute to several Black leaders for their lasting legacy of contributions at the campus.
Those eager to go deeper into activism and inspiration are welcome to join up February 18 from 4-6:00 p.m. when the Black Student Empowerment Symposium hosts its annual event. It’s open to all applicants and admitted CSUSB students to take advantage of a myriad of student resources to help them through their college experience, and beyond.
On Monday, February 22, the Pan African Student Success Center and the Pan African Collegiate Scholars Kicking presents “Kicking Knowledge: Pac II Pacs What’s Next For Us?” gets political with why the Black agenda should take center stage with the incoming Biden Harris Administration.
On February 23, join CSUSB Pan African Student Success Center facilitator Charles Gaylord to virtually meet and greet students from 11:00 a.m. to noon. There, the Coyote Learning Circle will Zoom in on the origins of African American Studies, the community, the struggle, and the timelessness of the Black Power Movement.
After all these years, access to information and money is still a primary struggle. The solution starts with understanding the benefits of Cal Grant, and other available financing, Roberson said.
Most Black students qualify for over $14,000 free money each year to pay for most, if not all, of their higher education.
“We’re talking about financial literacy. My biggest thing is educating our Black parents in the community because a lot of our students are first-generation [college goers],” he said.
To help bridge the gap, Roberson came up with the idea for the Inland Empire African American Parent Engagement Collaborative to work more closely with their successful community partners. The cohort approach would help educate Black parents on how to take an active role, how to go over the financing fundamentals, such as how to fill out FAFSA and Pell Grant, and filling out a college application for CSU.
One problem, he said, is keeping the lines of communication open with their high school counselors. Parents are often out of the loop, or counselors are not putting Black students in the right classes.
Student funding is also contingent on parent tax information. It’s another wall. Whenever they hold a Black Student Empowerment Symposium, students call their parents up for information, and the push-back starts.
“They call their parents, what’s my social security number? I think it’s ingrained in us as Black people, what do you want with my information? Culturally that also plays a part,” he said.
Recently, he is excited for their new collaborative partners, including COPE and the Blu Foundation, but he also emphasizes the need to bring in more local programs into the same space to share their specialty areas with parents.
Too many parents and students in the community are still missing out on information.
Parents also may not know if their teens have fulfilled their A-G requirements. If not, it will prevent them from being college-ready.
“We want to fill the gaps, how can we help if you need resources through community organizations? We came up with this because sometimes the right-hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” he said.
In their cohort model, he envisions bringing in 30 or 40 parents to a 4-6 week class to cover timely topics, such as Imposter Syndrome, another hindrance facing many Black students in their first year at the university.
Being the only Black student in the class can be stressful.
“They have anxiety and do I belong here? Yes, you belong here, and you deserve to be here,” he said.
To participate in CSUSB BHM Zoom events, see https://www.csusb.edu/bhm