The Ethnic Studies Building stands still at SF State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Tam Vu/ Golden Gate Xpress) (Tam Vu)
The Ethnic Studies Building stands still at SF State on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Tam Vu/ Golden Gate Xpress)

Tam Vu

Making Black History campaign raises money for Africana Studies Scholarships

Over $8,000 was raised by alumni, faculty, staff, students and parents

February 27, 2023

In celebration of Black History Month at SF State, the Africana Studies Department –– in partnership with the College of Ethnic Studies –– conducted their annual “Making Black History” fundraiser. The event raised $8,354 in four days to support student scholarships and faculty endeavors. 

The campaign ran from Feb. 20 through Feb. 24 and featured a total of 40 donors reaching 80% of their targeted goal of 50. According to the totals on the event page, 55% of the donors were alumni, 30% were faculty and staff, 5% were outside community members and 6% were students and parents. 

“Africana Studies here at San Francisco State is the mecca of Black Studies,” said Dr. Abul Pitre, SF State’s department chair for Africana Studies. “It was the first Black Studies Department in the whole country, and so when we look at Black Studies all across the United States, the students who graduated from the program, or students who took courses from the program, they are deeply vested in it.”

Three alumni made significant matching donations. Kimberly Brandon currently serves on the SF State Foundation board as the immediate past chair and has been re-engaged with the university for the past 10 years. As an ambassador to alumni, she says donating to the department is usually a certainty for her, but the desire to take part in the fundraiser was amplified when she noticed that Robert Harris, a friend and mentor of Brandon’s, pitched in by matching $1 per $1 donated up to $2,000. Brandon followed suit, matching $1 per $1 donated up to $1,000.

“I think it’s a huge opportunity for all students,” Brandon said. “Any financial assistance that the university can give, especially to students of color, makes a huge difference and a huge impact on their postgraduate activities, whether it’s self-employment or employment. As we know, a lot of students of color don’t have that generational wealth to be able to depend on. So we have to make our own way. And with a superior education, we’re able to make a huge difference in society.”

Brandon reached out to her fellow SF State Foundation board members to spread the word about the campaign. Coraetta Smith, a member of the Board of Directors for the foundation, also ended up matching $1 per $1 donated up to 1,000. 

“That is pretty cool that four foundation board members, who are all volunteers, are raising their hands, ‘how can I help SF State’ and this is just one example of how they’re helping Africana Studies by raising funds for student scholarships, but also helping to spread the word beyond the local community,” said Alex Sanchez, the executive director of development at the College of Ethnic Studies.

Sanchez says the campaign efforts have been planned since the last academic school year and will be allocated to boost financial support for the Africana Studies Scholarship Fund and the department’s student ambassador program. The scholarship programs will be managed by Pitre and Dr. Crystal Edwards, an assistant professor. 

A portion of the donations will be used to support faculty endeavors such as providing stronger research efforts, effective outreach in regards to community activism and teacher preparation symposiums, according to Pitre. 

Pitre says he also expects the department to continue to ramp up in-person projects it wasn’t able to produce during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as honoring past Africana Studies alumni and creating monuments for significant Black Student Union members. He also showed interest in engaging with the community over key issues by bringing students outside of California, noting Florida as a destination with current examples of racial tension. 

“What we’ve seen over the years is that students who take Africana Studies as a major or a minor are not just experiencing a set of classes,” Pitre said. “These courses change their lives in terms of the way they see things, how they see themselves and how they interact with their communities.”

Africana Studies has also been in ongoing conversations with SF State’s Ed.D department about possibly establishing an Africana leadership doctoral program, which Pitre says would be “the first degree program of its kind anywhere in America.” If the proposal doesn’t come to fruition, the plan will be to form a specialization in Africana Leadership Studies at the school.

“You got a police chief, a mayor, a school superintendent and the clergy,” Pitre said. “That would be four major components of a community. Now, if the major components of those communities get deep knowledge in Africana Studies, they could literally change the condition of Black people overnight because it would create consciousness in them as leaders.”

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About the Contributors
Photo of Steven Rissotto
Steven Rissotto, Managing Editor
Steven Rissotto (he/him) is co-managing editor for Golden Gate Xpress. He is a journalism major with an education minor. A native of Pacifica, Steven attended Archbishop Riordan High School, where he played baseball and wrote on their award-winning newspaper, The Crusader. Before transferring to SFSU in Fall 2022, he attended Skyline College for two years and wrote for The Skyline View. He also covers the San Francisco Giants for SF Giants Baseball Insider on Sports Illustrated.  In his spare time, Steven enjoys cracking jokes, watching documentaries and sports, reading biographies and recording his baseball podcast, RizzoCast.
Photo of Tam Vu
Tam Vu, Photo Editor
Tam Vu (she/her) is a Vietnamese-American photographer for Golden Gate Xpress and Xpress Magazine. She is a fourth-year photojournalism major with a minor in Asian American studies. She originally entered SF State as a print and online journalism major, but switched to photojournalism in her second year after finding her passion for visual storytelling. Her special interests include Asian American identity and music journalism. In the near future, she hopes to make a video documentary on her parents' immigration story to highlight the generational impact that the Vietnam War has on many families. Outside of school, she loves to attend live music shows, find new music, and crochet.

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