Bakersfield College

African-American History Month at Bakersfield College

African-American History Month 2018

Bakersfield College celebrates African American Heritage Month with numerous events on campus and participation in events in the community. In particular, this year we welcome Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, author of "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America."

History and Resources

African American Heritage Month began as Negro History Week in 1925. Started by historian Carter G. Woodson and the organization he founded, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), the celebration of Black history and promotion of awareness was expanded to a month in 1976. Discover more about African American Heritage Month and the importance of Black history in the development of the American nation by visiting these sites:

Events at Bakersfield College Panorama Campus

Events are brought to you by the BC African-American Initiative Committee.

Thursday, February 1st

Black History Month Kick-off

11:30 AM–1:00 PM | Campus Center Main Stage
Join us for the kick-off Black History month at the Bakersfield College with Gospel Music from James Tyson, Gospel Singer, and the Bakersfield Community Group.

Thursday, February 8th

Martin Luther King Jr. & (African) American Leadership in the 21st Century

7:00 PM–8:30 PM | Indoor Theater
Distinguished Speaker & Cerro Author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will give a presentation about Martin Luther King at 7:00 PM in the Bakersfield College Indoor Theater. For more information about this event, visit the Distinguished Speaker Series: Michael Eric Dyson Event.

Thursday, February 8th

Tears We Cannot Stop Open Discussion Forums

10:00 AM & 2:00 PM in the Fireside Room
Two Open discussion forums with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson about his book Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America will be held at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM in the Fireside Room. For more information visit the Tears We Cannot Stop Discussion Forum Event.

Thursday, February 8th

African-American Initiative Presentation

11:15 AM | Fireside Room
Presentation by the African-American Initiative group at 11:15 AM in the Fireside Room special guest Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will also attend. For more information, visit the Tears We Cannot Stop: African American Initiatives Presentation Event.

Monday, February 12th

HBCU Caravan

11:00 AM–2:00 PM | Campus Center & Renegade Crossroads
From 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, representatives from over 25 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) will be in the Campus Center and Renegade Crossroads giving information and offering transfer guarantees to qualified students. For more information, visit the HBCU Caravan Event.

Tuesday, February 20th

Transformational Policing: Bridging the Racial Divide

11:00 AM – 1:00 PM | Norman Levan Center
From 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, in the Norman Levan Center, BC Professor Tommy Tunson, Criminal Justice, will moderate a discussion with:

  • Lyle Martin, Bakersfield Police Department Chief
  • Scott Kimble, McFarland Police Department Chief
  • Ron Seldon, California Highway Patrol Commander
  • Jose Moreno, FBI Resident Agent in Charge
  • Scott Spielman, Assistant District Attorney

Tuesday, February 27th

Dr. Horace Mitchell – Brown Bag Discussion

11:30 AM–12:30 PM | Fireside Room
Bring your lunch and join us for a discussion with Dr. Horace Mitchell, 4th President of California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB).

Events In and Near Our Community

Saturday, February 3rd

African Americans in Citrus

UCR graduate student Megan Suster giving presentation on African Americans in Citrus at California Citrus State Historical Park in Riverside. For more information, visit the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Friday, February 9th

Second Annual CSUB GospelFest

6:30 PM | California State University Bakersfield (CSUB) Icardo Center

Saturday, February 10th

Black History Month at Allensworth

A celebration of black history month at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park, BC's CHAP will host a booth with African-American West historian, Luara Hooton, PhD Candidate at UC Santa Barbara, collecting local histories. Docents will be dressed in period attire. For more information, visit the California Department of Parks and Recreation Allensworth Event. or Bakersfield College Delano CHAP.

Saturday, February 24th

Black American History Parade

10:00 AM at 21 st. and V st.
Enjoy the parade and watch for Bakersfield College!

Sunday, February 25th

Pearls of Beauty & Educational Excellence

4:00 PM in Harvey Auditorium at Bakersfield High School (BHS)
Celebrating historical Black colleges and universities featuring “Little Miss Ivy Angels”; presented by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in collaboration with Bakersfield Ivy Legacy Foundation, Inc. For ticket information email

Bakersfield College History

Professor Odella Johnson Remembers Ossie Davis

Six African-American's walking across campus
(left to right) Odella Johnson, Ossie Davis, Larry Robinson, JEsse Bradford, Charles Anderson

The year was 1977 and actor Ossie Davis, a civil right activist and humanitarian came to Bakersfield College to speak to students, staff, and faculty about higher education and its connection to social change. Davis asked a question of us all. “What can you do to make a difference?” Ossie Davis had attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and he had come to understand early in this life that he would use his career as a actor, a writer, and a producer as a platform to facilitate change. Change according to Davis is “what transforms our thinking and those around us.” When change occurs, it creates a momentum, a whirlwind, some might say, that facilitates a change within us and others.

Now, some thirty-six years since first hearing that question, I received this photograph and was immediately reminded of the day Davis graced us with his presence, but more importantly how that question impacted me. I recall the passion in his eyes and the serious turn of his body. A sudden sprinkling of nervous laughter and mumbled sounds had filled the Fireside room as those who listened felt a need to repeat the question out loud. Bakersfield College faculty, including Larry Robinson, history professor Jesse Bradford, and I, looked around the room waiting to hear what the students would say.

Both Bradford and Robinson are no longer physically a part of the Bakersfield College faculty roster. However, their legacy much like the question that Ossie Davis left with me on that day still remains. The gift is a commitment to student success, engagement, and learning because, at least a partial response to the question, “what can you do to make a difference?” has become part of the solution, not the problem. We can create the educational opportunities to promote change in the lives of our students. Just think what we can collectively do if we focus on this common goal.

Use this Centennial occasion, to contemplate the question raised by Davis, “what can you do to make a difference?” While we recognize, celebrate, and rededicate ourselves individually and collectively as faculty, staff and students of Bakersfield College to become positive change agents who brighten, enlighten, and touch lives, we commemorate Davis, Robinson, Bradford and so many other faculty, staff, and students who have made a difference here. No banners, trumpets, or accolades will be hung, sounded, or exclaimed to honor our gifts and talents: this institution stands as a testament to what we all have contributed. For me, the talented and bright stars I was privileged to walk beside on that day, February 8, 1977 will forever remain in my heart and my mind as will the question Davis posited.