Two weeks ago, two different groups from Merritt had the opportunity to attend the conferences that empowered and inspired them. On Wednesday, November 3, five employees attended the first California Community Colleges Organization de Latinx Empowerment, Guidance, and Advocacy for Success (COLEGAS) Annual Conference in Long Beach.
The conference had representation from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Washington, the State Chancellor's Office, and the Community College system Latinx leaders and staff from across the state. The workshops focused on Race Consciousness, Hispanic Serving Institutions, UndocuAllies, Social Justice, Anti-Racism, and more. Every aspect of the conference was intentional, providing people the opportunity to share best practices, expand their professional networks, uplift and validate each other, and support student advocacy work at all colleges.
The Statewide Umoja Conference commenced on Thursday, November 4, in Anaheim, with our Sankofa Program sending a delegation of three to the event. The conference provided the opportunity for students to examine, explore, reflect, understand, and celebrate the rich and diverse traditions of Black identities and culture in the United States. The keynote speaker was Symone D. Sanders-Townsend, who served as national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during his 2016 presidential campaign, and later as chief spokesperson and a senior advisor for Vice President Kamala Harris after the 2020 presidential election. Our students came away with several keys to becoming advocates for change, taking to heart the exhortation for them to be willing to “stand in the gap, confront adversaries when necessary, and be unafraid to take risks. Coordinator Tauheeda Anderson shared that she was particularly impressed with the “intentionality of the conference and the emphasis on collaboration with our Latinx brothers and sisters.”