#BSLT2013: ABC hosts Black Student Leadership Training

Over 80 students attend a three-day training September 13-15 UC Berkeley focused on Black student organizing. The training was organized by the Afrikan Black Coalition.

Over 80 students from eight of nine UC campuses throughout California came to Berkeley on September 13-15 for the first annual statewide Black Student Leadership Training hosted by the Afrikan Black Coalition. The training featured workshops and networking sessions, as well as efforts to improve the ABC organization.

“The basic intention of the training aimed to provide Black student leaders with the information, network, and context necessary to be more effective in our work,” training organizer and ABC’s Interim Executive Director Salih Muhammad said. “By providing a balance of history, grassroots organizing skills, and vision for the future, we hoped to students left prepared to amplify the activity of your Black Student Union.”

The three-day training included workshops meant to provide historical context of Black student organizing, grassroots organizing skills, and effective strategies.

The first day of the training rooted participants our collective history. Nzingha Dugas, director of the African American Student Development office at Berkeley and a former organizer, provided context about Black student organizing. James Taylor delivered the keynote speech. Friday afternoon began Merritt College professor and Africana Studies Department Chair Dr. Siri Brown discussing the origins of Black Studies in higher education, followed by an Elder’s Panel. The panel included: Sister Mikenya, the “Mother of Kwanzaa” and first Black women student body president at Merritt College; Leo Bazille, founding member of the Soul Students Advisory Council, forerunner to the Merritt BSU; Dr. Jimmy Garrett, a former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizer who started the first BSU at San Francisco State College; and Fred T. Smith, former Merritt College student body president who helped lead the charge to form a Black university. The panel was moderated by Reginald James. Friday ended with engaging and interactive workshops with lead trainer, Calvin Williams, of Urban Strategies Council.

"The basic intention of the training aimed to provide Black student leaders with the information, network, and context necessary to be more effective in our work."

–Salih Muhammad

The second day focused on real ways to apply that knowledge to improve our communities. Williams facilitated workshops on grassroots messaging, power mapping, and strategizing. James presented a workshop on media literacy and using social media and technology for student activism, while Muhammad continued the discussion of Power. The day ended with a workshop on conflict management and group dynamics.

Sunday focused on building stronger organizations. After a meeting between the chairs of the various Afrikan and Black student organizations, the morning began with the Harambee workshop, a networking session led by James. Students later organized themselves into groupings based on their positions at their various campuses. That afternoon, UC Berkeley’s Black Recruitment and Retention Center (BRRC) and UC Santa Barbara’s Black Student Union shared case studies on their successful efforts on campus and in the community.

The training ended with the delegations present approving three motions. First, attendees approved the adoption of a new structure and vision for ABC, as outlined in Muhammad’s “Moving ABC Forward” presentation. Next, attendees approved the drafting of position descriptions for the Executive positions of Political Advocacy Director, Economic Development Director, and Regional Chairs. Finally, attendees appointed Muhammad and James as Interim Executive Director and Communications Director. All motions passed unanimously.

BSLT attendees included BSU’s from Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Merced, and Santa Barbara, UCLA African Student Union, Riverside Afrikan Student Alliance, and Santa Cruz African Black Student Alliance. San Diego did not attend.

ABC’s next steps include: individualized leadership trainings on each campus, statewide collective training for organization Presidents/Chairs, hosting a Black Student Leadership camp this winter.

“We went through an intensive leadership training that will be known by our progeny as the building blocks of a renewed Black Student Movement,” said Muhammad.

Afrikan Black Coalition