The night’s honorees were U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, who represents the 13th Congressional District in the Bay Area; Cal State LA Pan-African Studies alumnus Akinyele Umoja, chair of African American Studies at Georgia State University; Teri Williams, president and chief operating officer of OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the nation; and Nana Lawson Bush, V, professor of education and the newly appointed chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA.
“I visit many, many colleges and universities around the country and I get a chance to meet professors and heads of departments and students, and I just have to say that this is number one if you ask me,” said Lee, who received the Black Community Honors 2018 Peace and Justice Award. “What a moment this is—in the middle of all that I am doing—to be here with you to be revived and rejuvenated and inspired and motivated to keep fighting the good fight.”
Pan-African Studies is housed in the College of Natural and Social Sciences, which is headed by Dean Pamela Scott-Johnson.
Abdullah, who introduced the night’s honorees, also recounted her experience taking Black Studies courses while attending Berkeley High School in the Bay Area and the profound impact it had on her life.
“It planted seeds in me,” said Abdullah, who served as chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies for nearly nine years. “So for me, the work that we do in Pan-African Studies is definitely about the subject matter, but more than that it’s about the pedagogy and the epistemology—it’s about the way that we teach and the way that we do our work in communities.”