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Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Soul of San Francisco State celebrates members of Black community

To kick off Black History month, a new organization on campus hosted their first event of the semester
Dr.+Shanice+Robinson-Blacknell+points+to+the+photos+at+the+first+annual+Black+Wall+of+Fame+celebration+in+the+Cesar+Chavez+Student+Center+on+Monday%2C+Feb+5%2C+2024.+%28Gustavo+Hernandez+%2F+Golden+Gate+Xpress%29
Gustavo Hernandez
Dr. Shanice Robinson-Blacknell points to the photos at the first annual Black Wall of Fame celebration in the Cesar Chavez Student Center on Monday, Feb 5, 2024. (Gustavo Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress)

Staff, students and members of the public gathered to recognize past and present members of San Francisco State University in the newly opened Black Wall of Fame on Feb. 5 to reflect on the contributions to the Black community on campus and their achievements in higher education.

The Black Wall of Fame in the Cesar Chavez Student Center features photos and stories of those who fought for Black rights by recognizing Black faculty, staff, students and alums. Groups like the Third World Liberation Front, Dancing Divas, and professors who impact SFSU students through their contributions to the Black community on campus lined the art gallery’s walls. 

Dr. Shanice Robinson-Blacknell is an SFSU alum and current lecturer. Robinson-Blacknell and her colleagues founded the Soul of San Francisco State, which organized the Black Wall of Fame event. The Soul of San Francisco State is a new organization formed in 2020 to uplift and support Black students through events and community building.

“Each year, we’re hoping to do this as an inaugural event to kick off Black History Month; It’s never been done before,” Robinson-Blacknell said. “I feel like sometimes the university can be very performative in its efforts for Black History Month.”

Denise Robinson, Mother of Dr. Shanice Robinson-Blacknell pose in front of the Soul of SF State portion of the Black Wall of Fame in the Cesar Chavez Student Center on Monday, Feb 5, 2024. (Gustavo Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress) (Gustavo Hernandez)

Robinson-Blacknell and her colleagues have multiple events planned this semester to highlight and uplift Black students. A mixer will be held in the Black Unity Center on Feb. 7 and a Malcolm X Mural celebration at the Student Center in Jack Adams Hall on Feb. 20.

“Students want to feel empowered, they want to feel celebrated, and seeing their pictures or maybe their peers or maybe their favorite professor on the wall, that’s very empowering,” Robinson-Blacknell said.

Tachelle Herron, who co-founded the Soul of San Francisco State with Robinson-Blacknell, is a fellow lecturer at SFSU who owns a nonprofit called Ain’t I a Scholar.

Ain’t I a Scholar is a resource that provides educational and professional advice to Black students. Herron wanted to engage students and utilize the community and resources SFSU students and faculty have at their disposal. Due to a lack of funding, she hosted multiple fundraisers to fund the Wall of Fame.

“I did some fundraising activities selling cookies, braiding hair — you know, basic things. I funded this because it needed to be done,” Herron said. “It has never been done on campus and I said, ‘Let me do it.’”

Both Robinson-Blacknell and Herron are active leaders within the SFSU community. They said they are working towards fostering a more open community that celebrates its Black students, staff and alums.

Anaya Block, whose preferred name is Nye, is a senior at SFSU studying kinesiology. Block is a member of the Dancing Divas and Jabulani — both are student organizations on campus celebrating Black students and culture.

Block is featured on the Wall of Fame for her contributions to the Dancing Divas, Jabulani and campus culture.

“They told me that I was gonna be on here. I wanted to come in to check it out,” Block said. “I know all the lovely folks here, and I think it’s a good thing for us because you don’t get to see a lot of representation of the achievement that we do over the semester.”

Block sees the Wall of Fame as a celebration of the achievements of her and her fellow students, as well as those of those who came before her.

Dr. Shanice Robinson-Blacknell, family and friends pose at the first annual Black Wall of Fame celebration in the Cesar Chavez Student Center on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (Gustavo Hernandez / Golden Gate Xpress)(Gustavo Hernandez)

Jermesha Hall is a junior studying Child & Adolescent Development. They are the director of the terrace art gallery in the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

Similar to Block, Hall helped organize and sees value in the exhibition.

“I feel like a lot of us [want] to see ourselves being recognized and there are only so many events that celebrate us,” Hall said. “So an event like this, I think it adds to that narrative that we built here on campus.”

Multiple alums attended the Black Wall of Fame opening, including Monika Brooks, who graduated in 2003. Brooks was the president of the Black Student Union when she attended SFSU and has stayed connected with the community since her graduation.

Brooks attended SFSU due to its historic connection to ethnic studies. He says her responsibility as an alumna is to return to events such as the Black Wall of Fame to support the Black community at SFSU.

“It needs to be done; it’s part of my job,” Brooks said. “I’m one of the people who speaks out more for Black and Latino alumni; we don’t get recognized in the alumni office.”

Brooks proudly refers to herself as an activist and community member. She aims to support and encourage students.

“I did protest. I did shut it down. I did all the things, so now my goal is to help them,” Brooks said.  “Having people who can actually say I’ve been there and done that. How can we help you? That makes things more doable.”The Soul of San Francisco State has events scheduled throughout the month to celebrate the culture and identity of Black students. Follow Associated Students on Instagram to stay updated with upcoming events organized by the Soul of San Francisco State.

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About the Contributors
Jonah Chambliss, Staff Reporter
Jonah Chambliss (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in sociology. He was born and raised in Oakland, California. He lives in San Francisco, California, while working full-time and attending San Francisco State University. He previously contributed to The Cabrillo Voice, the student newspaper of Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, California. He served as a staff reporter for Golden GateXpress last semester, covering arts and entertainment, and will cover student life and club events this spring. During his free time, Jonah is an avid cyclist, motorcycle rider, and mechanic. Jonah is also a huge fan of Bay Area sports, specifically the Oakland Athletics and Golden State Warriors.
Gustavo Hernandez, Photographer

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