“Sojourner. Harriett. Rosa. Audre. Alicia. Me?”
A Six-Word Story by Lisa Jackson
Director of Special Events in University Advancement
The times we find ourselves in have caused a stir of emotions. Sadness, anger, fear, resentment, anxiety and stress, pride, and too many others to name! As I thought about this project and where the world is, looking through a Black lens, the following stories started to come forth:
The revolution’s been televised, now what?
Black Lives Matter … why shouldn’t they?!
Sojourner. Harriett. Rosa. Audre. Alicia. Me?
damn. Damn. DAMN! We’re here again!
But, what I would like to put forth is, “Sojourner. Harriett. Rosa. Audre. Alicia. Me?”
Sojourner Truth, an American abolitionist, and civil and women’s rights activist. Harriett Tubman, abolitionist and the most famous conductor of the Underground Railroad. Rosa Parks deemed the “first lady of civil rights” by the U.S. Congress. Audre Lorde dedicated her life to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. Alicia Garza, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Women dedicated to fighting injustice and putting it all on the line to be the change they wanted/want to see in the world. These are my superheroines, my inspiration, the epitome of Black Girl Magic. I am sure they experienced the same emotions that I am feeling but they pushed through them to make this world a better place … even if doesn’t currently seem like it! So, I asked myself, what can I do to tap into that magic of change? I started by leaning into the work of BFSA, I accepted the chair position for University Advancement’s DEI work, and I offered the idea of “In Six Words …” to begin sharing the struggles and triumphs of our collective work and experiences. I invite you to tap into your power and take one step for all of us to listen, to learn, to educate, to bring the human race to a higher level.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” an old saying goes. What doesn’t get communicated in this adage, however, is how wounded, bruised, bone-deep weary and worn you can get in the process. Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Audre Lorde, Alicia Garza, and yes, our own Lisa Jackson, would know this well. Over the past several months, LMU’s Black undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty, alumni, and administrative leadership have endured, persevered, and engaged the university in an ongoing dialogue about racism, about the costs of continually resisting anti-Black racism as part of what it means to be Black in the United States. Even closer to home – what it means to be Black at LMU. LMU’s Black community has brought its demands to university leadership for the sake of future generations, so that LMU fully embodies a place where all members of the Black community can be authentic to themselves and thrive.
In this column, we wish to honor Black leadership in our LMU community; leaders who occupy varied roles at the university, bringing different life experiences and perspectives, along with grit, determination, and passion to create change. They are undergraduates, graduate students, alums, Board members, staff, faculty, and administrative leaders. They, along with many others – non-Black allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators who have acted in solidarity with their Black colleagues — have dedicated themselves to institutional change. And change is happening. Through addressing demands. Through the anti-racism project. And more recently, through the proposed strategic plan, in which the President’s commitments to an inclusive, diverse community, an anti-racist, inclusive climate and culture, as well as education, are key outcomes by which the university will judge its future success.
We lift up a sampling of some of the groups that are making a difference at LMU, and have adapted some of their own words to provide the brief descriptions below. There are far many more individuals, campus units, and organizations who are not specifically named, however, so this list is far from exhaustive. We salute you, who are not named, too.
Presidential Black Leadership Advisory Council
The Presidential Black Leadership Advisory Council (P.B.L.A.C.) has been created to provide guidance, feedback, and support to the university on the Anti-Racism Project. This work includes providing recommendations that will help shape future policies and processes at the university. The overarching goal of the P.B.L.A.C. is to center the concerns of Black students, faculty, and staff and to provide informed insight and constructive support – given multiple roles, constraints, and realities of university functioning – that will help the university function as an anti-racist institution.
Faculty Leaders: Stefan Bradley, Ph.D., chair, Christina Eubanks-Turner, Ph.D., Cheryl Grills, Ph.D., Mitchell L. Hamilton, Ph.D., Eric Miller, L.L.M., Bill Parham, Ph.D., ABPP, Brad Stone, Ph.D., Charles Swanson, M.F.A.
Staff and Administrative Leaders: Bryant Keith Alexander, Ph.D., Hon. Irma Brown ’73, Beverly Clayton, Branden Grimmett, Ed.D., Charles Mason, Chris Pearson, J.D. ’06), Erica Privott, Alicia Sissac, Jade Smith, Henry Ward
Graduate Student Leaders: Steven Fuller (SOE ’20), Eden Teferi (LLS ’22)
Undergraduate Student Leaders: Lauren Morrison (BCLA ’21), Amaya Lorick (BCLA ’22)
Black Faculty & Staff Alliance
Throughout the academic year and during the summer, the LMU Black Faculty and Staff Alliance (BFSA) provides members of the community with opportunities to: ENGAGE –experience opportunities for social and professional connection among African American/Black community members at LMU; HONOR – acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Black faculty and staff on and off campus; SHARE – provide information about upcoming programs, resources, and connections that support the efforts of Black faculty and staff; and MOBILIZE –provide capacity for Black faculty and staff to address and/or respond to critical issues facing the Black community and LMU community, in general.
A note from executive board member Erica Privott: BFSA wishes the LMU community a happy Black History Month! As the nation currently contends with the manifestations of anti-Black racism, it is vitally important for us to acknowledge, celebrate, and reflect on the past experiences of Black people. BFSA encourages members of the community to take advantage of Hannon Library and other resources to enhance their awareness.
Executive Board 2020-21: Stefan Bradley, Ph.D., Christina Eubanks-Turner, Ph.D., Lisa Jackson, Erica Privott
#BlackatLMU works to ensure a strong, vibrant, and inclusive community for Black students at Loyola Marymount. This group strives to lay a strong foundation for an active body of students, ensuring the community upholds Jesuit values regarding race and inclusivity. Collectively, this group works for the promotion of Black voices both on and beyond the bluff. #BlackatLMU is not a student club or organization, and not formally affiliated with Loyola Marymount University. Instead, #BlackatLMU is envisioned as the overarching idea propelling LMU’s Black organizations to strive for inclusion and promotion within LMU.
Student Leadership: Dezmin Hemmans (CBA, ’22), Christian Jackson (CBA, ’22), Amaya Lorick (BCLA, ’22), Lauren Morrison (BCLA, ’21), Alexa Walls (BCLA, ’22)
Black Law Students Association (BLSA)
The goals of the BLSA are to encourage and promote academic excellence for members by helping to improve academic preparedness and exam-taking skills; to increase the number of Black students admitted and enrolled each year; to maintain solid community interaction and assistance; to improve employment and training opportunities; to develop and maintain solidarity with Black law students and graduates in achieving common goals; and to increase awareness of national and international issues confronting Blacks and other people of color.
- Watch Now:
Truth and Reconciliation: The Sin of Jesuit Slaveholding – February 4, 2021
Featuring panelists: Tim Kesicki, S.J., president of the Jesuit Conference; Cheryllyn Branche, president of the GU272 Descendants Association; and Danielle Harrison, co-director of the Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation Project.
- Reflect, View, and Use:
Eyes to See: An Anti-Racism Examen from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and University (AJCU)
OIA’s list of LMU This Week articles, archived from September 2019
- Learn and Engage:
Register for the next series of pedagogy workshops with the Center for Teaching Excellence. This year, Teaching Toward Justice: Anti-Oppressive Pedagogy and Curriculum 101 will begin on March 19.
Systemic Analysis Report Out session on March 2, 2021, from 4-5 p.m. The Office of the President and Intercultural Affairs will present on unit systemic analysis and DEI work.
Reminder that all units are encouraged to submit a Progress Report. Units who are submitting for the first time or those who are providing updates to previous work are invited to do so by March 10 in order to be included in the spring semester update to OIA’s Data & Accountability website, which is now live and reflecting unit progress. Several units are doing excellent work in this area but have not yet submitted their reports (and are encouraged to do so).
In Six Words for Women’s History Month. We will feature more six-word stories next month, so use your words and join the conversation.