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Posts Tagged African American Studies

Faculty Spotlight: Merritt College’s Jason Seals

13 April 2017

Jason I Class photoAs coordinator of this year’s Black History Month activities, Jason Seals drew speakers from the Oakland community where he grew up. Many of the authors, teachers, leaders, activists, and artists who spoke to the Merritt community had either mentored him or helped shape his future in some way.

Jason credits their influence with who he is today: a newly tenured faculty member, instructor, and chair of African-American Studies Program at Merritt College. As he talks about the decisions he made early on, he knows that his life could have turned out very differently if it hadn’t been for the people who had influenced him the most—starting with the one living right there in his home growing up.

“My mother was a single parent raising me in Oakland when it was the murder capital of the world,” he says. “Most of my friends were getting into trouble and I could have walked left or walked right. But my mother always wanted me to go to college and always told me to be the best I could be, and I never forgot that. It was because of her that I went in the right direction.”

While at San Jose State University studying sociology, he got connected with Leadership Excellence, a nonprofit organization committed to empowering African-American youth for social and personal change (now called Flourish Agenda) that would jumpstart his career.

“I held every position working with kids, from basketball coach to camp director, and I also worked in the YMCA, mental health organizations, and juvenile hall while I was in college,” says Jason. “Being in those environments began to shape my love for working with youth.”

He also could empathize with many of the youth he was working with, knowing how easily his life could have turned out the same way.

“My father was incarcerated for the first 10 years of my life,” says Jason. “One of the hardest lessons to learn without a man in your life is how to become a man.” Jason says he could identify with the boys he worked with, adding, “I never looked at their case files because I didn’t want to be influenced by what they’d done. I just wanted to see the good in them.”

Through all of his experience and education, Jason also realized how much he loved to teach. So after completing a master’s program in Africana Studies on a full scholarship from CUNY, Albany, he packed up his Volkswagen, drove home, and started his career as a “freeway flyer,” teaching part-time at colleges scattered all over the Bay Area.

Jason was introduced to teaching at Merritt College in 2007 by an acquaintance named Siri Brown who asked him to teach a high-school dual-enrollment class in “Racism in America” at Skyline High School. And, after following that class with several more off- and on-campus, Jason was hooked. He became full-time at Merritt in 2013.

“I loved the students at Merritt, and I became passionate about developing my own style as a teacher to help them,” he says. “ I respect the fact that most students here have other responsibilities in addition to getting an education. They want to be here but they have ten other things on their plate. So we need to take that into account but also have high expectations for students. So it’s a balancing act. But overall I want to create a safe space for the students. Because if they don’t feel safe, how do they learn?”

In his role as department chair, Jason sees one of his strengths as working and helping the community where he grew up. “I want to address some of the disparities on this campus and in the community and create a pipeline for our young people who don’t think they can go to college,” he says. “If they can develop skills and cultivate leadership in their communities, they will be more likely to say ‘I have a future,’ instead of foregoing success for doing something they will regret.”

 

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Outstanding Grads: Cyntheria Owens, Merritt College President’s Medallion Award Winner

18 May 2016

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Cyntheria Owens is Merritt College President’s Medallion Award winner for 2016. She is very proud that she was accepted to so many universities and in her own words, says, “I applied to 4 states and 3 UC’s and got accepted to 4 states and 3 UCs, the schools are Northridge, Cal Poly, San Francisco, East Bay, UC Riverside, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley.”

Here are some of her other accomplishments: My discipline(s) are African American Studies. Social Science and Behavior, and Health Science. I will do a study abroad in Accra Ghana in the summer of 2016. I am a PTK (Phi Theta Kappa honor society) member

I will attend UC Berkeley in the fall of 2016. My current G.P.A is 3.7. My major is Social Work and Ethnic Studies. I feel I can […] assist people of all walks of life with [an] emphasis in black and brown communities. Strengthen[ing] relations are apparently needed in this area.

I originally came from Redondo Beach, moved to Sacramento and [have] been a bay area [resident] since 2012, [living] in Oakland for 4 1/2 years. I have an X-ray license that I use when volunteering at the West Oakland Health Center in the Radiology Department. I participated in the Oakland Project, which is a community awareness [project concerning] the impact of Gentrification [on] black and brown people of Oakland.

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Peralta Matters – African American Studies at Merritt College

2 July 2014

This week on Peralta Matters, we’re meeting the African American Studies Department at Merritt College.  The first African American Studies Department in the nation was started at Merritt College, and no one is more proud of this legacy than Department Chair Dr. Siri Brown.  She is followed by her former student, now a professor, Danae Brown.  Next up is former student Durwin Brown, who describes unique challenges for African American males.  And finally, current student Domonicke Dunlap tells her story and success in the African American Studies Department at Merritt College.

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Merritt College Malcolm X Birthday Commemoration featuring Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, May 13

7 May 2014

asante-flyer-jpeg1-e1398736496408Tuesday, May 13, 5:30 p.m. in the Merritt College Huey P. Newton/Bobby Seale Student Lounge

Merritt College is proud to announce that Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, Professor and Chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Temple University, will speak  at Merritt College on Tuesday, May 13, at 5:30 p.m., in the Student Center.  Considered by his peers to be one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars, Asante has published 74 books.  Dr. Asante became chair of the African American Studies Program at Temple University where he created the first Ph.D. Program in African American Studies in 1987.  He has written more than 500 articles and essays for journals, books and magazines and is the founder of the theory of Afrocentricity.  You can find more information about Dr. Asante at http://www.asante.net. All are welcome and encouraged to attend this event.

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Peralta News – African American Studies at Merritt College

23 September 2013

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded African American Studies at Merritt College a 2012-2013 Groups Project Abroad Grant to develop curriculum related to the African presence in Brazil, S.A. as a means of enhancing student learning related to the African diaspora. African American Studies Professor, Dr. Siri Brown, talks about the importance of traveling to expand the understanding of one’s own culture.

For more information, please visit click here.

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Malcolm X Celebration!! May 15th by BSU Merritt College

8 May 2013

Malcolm X Celebration, May 15th by the Merritt College Black Student Union and Department of African American Studies. 11am-2pm, D-Quad.

Merritt College Black Student Union

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Black History Month: Merritt College – Loving Africa! February 13

18 January 2013

ASMC and African American Studies invites you to join us in our annual Black History Month celebration at Merritt College. See main event details, and month long calendar here and attached. All events are free and open to the public.

Black History Month: Merritt College - Loving Africa!

Black History Month: Merritt College - Loving Africa!

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