CSUF News Center

Black History Month Celebration

“Dear Black People, We exude beauty and excellence beyond measure in every capacity … so, embrace the melanin, embrace the hair, embrace every detail that creates the uniqueness of being black. … We can accomplish anything we so please, so with that, dismiss your doubt and dismiss your fear, because as black people, nothing and no one can hold us down.”

Student Dorrien Mohammed-Matkin spoke these heartfelt words. The kinesiology major and emcee was among campus members who read their “Love Letters to the Black Community — A Night of Affirmation and Support” at the Feb. 4 Black History Month reception. Hosted by President Fram Virjee and his wife, Julie, the celebration featured live jazz music, the screening of “Dear Dark-Skinned Black Girl,” and a menu of culturally relevant foods, such as jollof rice, popular in African countries, fried sweet plantains and collard greens.

‘My Dearest Community’

“... While we do want to resist and challenge racism in every form and everywhere we go, we also need to put the same amount of energy, if not more, into loving ourselves and healing our deep wounds that come from being black in an anti-black world and other struggles,” shared Mei-Ling Malone, lecturer in African American studies.

An Evening of Affirmation and Support

Students, faculty, staff and alumni danced to jazz music and socialized at the Black History Month reception. “As we celebrate and observe the richness of our history and community during the month of February, we hope that the festivities serve as an opportunity to learn, reflect and grow,” said student Tahnea Carter, one of the event’s emcees.

‘Letter to the Heart of a Little Gay Black Boy on the Eve of His 50th Birthday’

Edward L. Robinson, lecturer in African American studies, gets emotional reading his love letter of self-reflection:

“On the eve of your 50th birthday, Little Ed, you will be doing exactly what you dreamed of doing when you first went to kindergarten. You will become the master teacher you always dreamed of becoming. You will meet people from all around the world, impact young minds and make dear friends.”

Reflecting on Black History and Resilience

“I see your pride, as you stand tall, straight and true. … I see your joy, as you smile and laugh, hold hands, and feel the warmth of the Fullerton sun that shimmers across your faces,” relayed CSUF President Fram Virjee in his “love letter” to the Titan black community, who posed with him following the love letter readings.

Jazz Time

Jazz musicians of the band “Katalyst” entertained the campus crowd at the president’s Black History Month celebration.

Building a Community of Justice, Inclusion and Love

CSUF President Fram Virjee delivered welcome remarks, calling on everyone to stand up for justice, equity, inclusion and love. “We, as a nation, as a state, as a community, and as a campus are at a crossroad in history. A crossroad that calls upon us not only to stand with those living in the absence of justice, but to stand on the right side of history, to truly purvey justice for all.”

‘My Love Letter to Myself’

At the event, attendees wrote their own love letters on brown paper, using a gold marker: “I love your spirit to persevere through life’s ups and downs. You made it through by being fostered and educated, hurt ... In spite of this, and many other storms, you remain resilient!” penned Vita Jones, associate professor of special education.

‘Love Letter to the Community’

In his love letter, alumnus Torrell Foree, coordinator of the African American Resource Center, recounted his journey as a college student — the friends he made, the support he found, the books he read, including the “Autobiography of Malcolm X.” “My community has molded me, shaped me into the man I am and what I’m still becoming. It loved me at times when I didn’t love myself.”

Break Dancing the Night Away

Ronald Kitchen, 7, son of Natalie Graham, associate professor of African American studies, takes the dance floor with his break dance moves as onlookers cheer.

‘A Letter Uplifting Black Boyhood and Its Light in This World’

In her love letter to her three sons, Trey, 13; Malcolm, 11; and Mason, 9, who were in the audience, Bobbie Porter, assistant vice president for diversity, inclusion and equity, read a poignant tribute: “The work that I do every day is to make a better world for you. I am doing my part so that you will not have to endure what many of us have already faced when we set out on the path to achieving our dreams.”

For more information about Black History Month campus events, visit the African American Resource Center or call 657-278-3230.

The “love letters to the black community” are on display in the Pollak Library exhibit “Black History Heritage Month: Letters of Love and Affirmation” in the first-floor wall case through Feb. 27.