Some 70 years ago, Contra Costa College emerged as the premier learning institution to bring college-level instruction to a community in dire need of higher learning opportunities.
Over the years, people who have made indelible impressions on society have used the oft forgotten San Pablo campus as a stepping stone on their path toward notoriety.
Legendary names like Pumpsey Green, who became the first black player to suit up for the Boston Red Sox, got his start as a Comet and Chris Dixon, the first indoor football quarterback to throw 500 touchdowns, also made his name at CCC.
Despite the changes that have occurred over the seven-decade life of CCC, one thing has remained as the driving force of campus evolution — students.
Decades ago, when students from surrounding neighborhoods felt slighted that no African American studies courses were offered in its course curriculum, it was the Black Student Union members who held picket signs for days to highlight the disparities.
Their act of defiance eventually proved successful and classes to teach historic and culturally relevant information to a community in dire need for it was ultimately adopted.
It was because of their efforts and sacrifices that students today can choose to learn of the California Connection — From Africa to America, the Map of Ancient Kush, Kushite Princes, Pyramids of Nurl, Great Pyramid of Giza and the Olmec Civilization.
Nearly a decade later, in 1970, Mexican American students upset that La Raza classes lacked transfer credentials threatened to disrupt the CCC graduation rate unless the disparities were addressed.
Once again, the students’ voices prevailed.
It’s no accident that students were inspired to bring about change in their campus and community in years past as many speakers visited the campus to inspire action in the campus community.
Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at CCC in 1964 and Cesar Chavez made two appearances in San Pablo in 1972 and 1974.
In the era they were presented, many of the speakers were deemed problematic and none were met with more skepticism than “Black Power” advocate and member of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Stokley Carmichael.
Nearly 1,500 people packed the CCC Gymnasium to hear the 1968 address, which centered on controlling the institutions that affect the black community and taking them by any means possible.
The campus has come a long way since its glory years of producing professional athletes and hosting world-renowned speakers.
Now, guests are generally presented by faculty and leave much to be desired in terms of radical ideas and calls to action to inspire systematic change.
In the past, these types of events were organized by students for students.
Today, students are more interested in fun campus events than being inspired to change the world, and they can’t even do that right.
It’s been said that people who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it, however, much of the great history of CCC is forgotten and students on this campus would be lucky to have an opportunity to repeat it are the true example of leadership on campus.