Department of Africana studies honors activism with plaque installation

Students take the initiative to hold the posters of the founding faculty of the Africana studies department as the wind picks up during the unveiling of a plaque, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, in Northridge, Calif.

Litzy Martinez, Reporter

Fifty-five years ago, approximately 250 police were called to the campus of San Fernando Valley State College after students occupied parts of the Administration Building and held members of the faculty hostage for four hours after George Boswell, a Black member of the college football team, was allegedly assaulted by then-football coach Don Markham. In part because of student demands, departments were established for both Africana and Chicana/o studies, according to CSUN University Library’s Digital Collections.
This piece of CSUN history, also known as the “Storm at Valley State,” was recognized on Feb. 15 with a formal plaque installation at Little Crenshaw, an area between Jerome Richfield Hall and Sierra Hall.
“I feel like I’m standing on the backs of those who made this moment momentous,” Monica Turner, a lecturer in the department of Africana studies, said. “It’s important for students to take once in their life an ethnic studies course, especially living in California, one of the most diverse states in the union. We need to be able to appreciate diversity across whatever boundary has been erected. Race is deflected from the real issue, which is class.”
The event was organized by CSUN’s Department of Africana Studies and CSUN’s Black House with Cedric Hackett, an assistant professor within the department and director of the DuBois-Hamer Institute for Academic Achievement, as the host.
“You can’t even record what emotions I’m feeling,” Deborakh Broadous, a retired department faculty member, said. “As they say; as the pictures go up the tears start flowing.”
The plaque commemorated the formation of the department by honoring students, staff and faculty’s activism in 1968, as well as those who helped found the Black Student Union.
Musical performances were led by percussionist Curtis Byrd.
“I have been trying my hardest to be knowledgeable on Black history, so this event is really important to me,” Ronica Cartwright, a student studying in the department, said. “It’s an honor to be able to watch this event, to be here and to see how far Black students have been able to come.”