Office of the President

Celebrating Black History and Truth-Telling

February 1, 2023

Black History Month is a time to celebrate and commemorate the achievements of Blacks in America. It is also a reminder that we should all strive to understand and appreciate the true history of Blacks in America -- not just in February but all year long.

Black History is characterized by complexity and contrasts. It is full of pride and pain. Accomplishment and anger. Inspiration and inhibition. This truth is why Black History is something we must contemplate as much as we celebrate.

I invite you to do both by actively participating in the events at Cal Poly Pomona this month and in the communities where you live. I also encourage you to engage with our organizations such as the African American Student Center, the Black Faculty and Staff Association, and the Black Alumni and Friends chapter. Please also participate in the Black Thriving Initiative and join one of its upcoming listening sessions.

As you engage with these events and organizations, I urge you to open yourself up to hearing the truths of our Black community. For Cal Poly Pomona to fulfill our aspiration of being a truly inclusive polytechnic university, we need to acknowledge and understand both the positive impact of Black excellence, and the negative impact of anti-Black racism, in America and in our institution. This shared understanding is fundamental to our ability to create the culture, climate, and environment that we desire on our campus and in our communities.

For if we wish to build cultural humility and prioritize racial healing, it is critical that we honestly address that past together, even when it is disturbing or difficult. As the late civil rights leader, journalist and educator Ida B. Wells said, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

Our campus community is committed to this work, and it will take time, but it is a journey that we must take together.


Soraya M. Coley, Ph.D.