Welcome to OBSA! The Office of Black Student Affairs (OBSA) is a cultural center and service unit within The Claremont Colleges Services. On behalf of The Claremont Colleges, OBSA is dedicated to providing support, resources and space for students of African descent to feel safe, valued, informed and connected. OBSA offers a range of programming on behalf of enrolled 7C students of African descent, faculty, staff and allies. Our key service areas include identity-based workshops, skill building activities, mentoring, arts engagement activities, student organizational support, professional/career development workshops, the sharing of 7C resources and referrals, heritage-month programming and other celebrations, and collaborative partnerships with 7C colleges, departments and organizations. OBSA’s physical locations are currently closed in response to the threat of coronavirus. As such, swipe access to the OBSA main house and bungalow is suspended and our staff will be on a telecommuting schedule, and available to respond to inquiries and requests as they are received, whether via zoom, email or phone. For the 2020-2021 academic year, OBSA is excited to offer virtual events and activities among the many ways we intend to remain connected to our communities.
OBSA Peer Mentorship has been operating virtually since September 2020. Recruitment for Peer Mentors began February 2021 and will continue through summer.
PEER MENTOR RECRUITMENT (DEADLINE EXTENDED! Apply now to be considered. Applications received after April will be selected on a rolling basis) We encourage students who wish to mentor in the 2021-2022 academic year to apply at https://bit.ly/2021OBSAMentorship. Please expect to be contacted for selection and pairing with a mentee over the summer.
MENTEE RECRUITMENT (applications accepted June-September each year) Incoming students of any 5C College can apply to OBSA Mentorship starting in June 2021.
Alumni can use the page to share information, learn about OBSA’s specific initiatives directed to alumni and engage with one another on a range of topics.
All students are invited to participate in the Alumni Mentoring program, the annual alumni weekend brunch, and to use OBSA’s networks to connect to Black alumni of The Claremont Colleges.
Alumni Weekend Brunch
As of spring 2015, OBSA hosts a yearly alumni weekend brunch to welcome alumni, share information about OBSA’s current initiatives, and make connections with students.
Black Alternabreak Program
Black Alternabreak is an annual week-long community engagement trip during Spring Break.
Students commit their spring break to volunteering with organizations in the larger community, addressing social issues such as environmental justice, community uplift, homelessness, and hunger.
Coordinators lead three trips each spring to San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
Building a network of local California area of Black alumni of The Claremont Colleges that participates in various programming including networking events and workshops, OBSA anchor programming, speaking engagements for Black Graduation and other events.
We will only contact you if you indicate on the survey that you want to be part of the initiatives listed above. All contact information is confidential and for office purposes only.
Be sure to attend our yearly alumni receptions hosted in OBSA during your college’s alumni weekend. Stop by and visit OBSA when you are in town or make an appointment to chat with our staff!
Black History Month
Black History Month
Black History Month at The Claremont Colleges
Our virtual celebration of Black History at the Claremont Colleges includes events offered by OBSA staff and collected from around the colleges, including students, faculty and staff, allies and partners. We’ve created a comprehensive list of submitted events that can be accessed at https://linktr.ee/obsaclaremont.
Events are free and center Black experiences and perspectives, culminating with OBSA’s 5th Annual Black Intersections Conference (Feb 22-27, 2021), a digital exhibit showcasing work from our communities, chat rooms, streaming experiences and an interactive workshop to close the week. Click on the conference icon to learn more!
Black Intersections Conference
Black Intersections Conference
The Fifth Annual Black Intersections Conference: Justice and Black Joy | Feb 22-27, 2021
The Black Intersections Conference, an annual a forum to discuss pertinent issues and events impacting Black communities locally and globally in a supportive, culturally engaging environment, appears as a digital exhibit for 2021. The conference is a space for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members of African descent to share their scholarship and converse around the factors that shape and impact Black identities and lived experiences.
VIEW THE BLACK INTERSECTIONS CONFERENCE WEBSITE AT https://www.blackintersections.com
Featuring chat rooms, a spotify community playlist, streaming experiences, uploaded research papers and presentations, artwork, video, vocal performance and more. Presented in partnership with the Pomona College Museum of Art and the Queer Resource Center.
Feb 22-27: Digital exhibit of submitted media from students, faculty and staff at The Claremont Colleges (external institutions welcome) No registration required to view the exhibit. Link to exhibit will be posted to the OBSA website main page. Exhibit experience includes chat rooms. streaming content from the Pomona College Museum of Art and a Black Intersections Conference Spotify playlist.
Feb 23: The Queer Resource Center and OBSA present “Trap [Q]araoke”: Perform in groups or solo at this karaoke event centering Black music, self expression and joy. Open to queer identified BIPOC communities and allies. Registration required and will be announced soon!
Feb 27: [B]laughter: on Black Laugher–a HANDS ON clown/comedy workshop hosted by professor and actor, Carolyn Ratteray, Cirque du Soleil performer, Michelle Matlock, and Bindlestiff Cirkus performer, Lex Alston. Join us for a workshop + discussion exploring the importance and power of blaughter (blackness + laughter). Registration required at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9GRGYSB
[B]laughter workshop leader bios:
Michelle N. Matlock is a native of Washington State, where she studied theater at Western Washington University for three years and then went on to graduate from the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York City. She was the first African American Woman to create a main character/clown for a Cirque du Soleil show. The character was “Ladybug” and the touring show was OVO. Previously, Michelle spent 15 years in New York and enjoyed acting, clowning and creating shows while working with the Big Apple Circus, Circus Amok and the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. Her critically acclaimed solo show, The Mammy Project, has been produced several times in New York City and all over North and South America. Currently, Michelle lives in Tacoma, WA and is the founder of Circle Up Productions, a live entertainment and performance education company focused on producing a blend of theater and circus arts shows, leading performance arts workshops and curating special events. Visit Circleup.fun for more information.
Lex Alston (they/he/she) is a NY based performing artist and actor. Using physical comedy, and pantomime, Lex creates work that is interactive, encourages curiosity and joy, and attempts to inspire a sense of togetherness among audiences. In March of 2019, their interactive one-person clown show Falling on Purpose premiered at Purchase College. Most recently, Lex has been working as a teaching artist with Bindlestiff Cirkus After School, teaching youth circus skills and values as a part of their free programming.
Carolyn Ratteray is an Emmy nominated actor, director, and writer based in the Los Angeles area. She has performed off broadway and in regional theatres as well as in TV, commercials, and video games. Carolyn has studied theatrical clown with Philip Gaulier, Chris Bayes, David Bridel, and Angela De Castro and is currently developing her clown show, “Both, And” with Boston Court Theatre. She is a Resident Artist at A Noise Within Theatre and a member of Antaeus Theatre Company.
Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson Service Awards and Black Graduation
OBSA hosts the annual Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson Service Awards and Black Graduation together each May to commemorate the many contributions of students, faculty and staff and to celebrate students obtaining degrees from each of The Claremont Colleges (both the graduate and undergraduate institutions). The order of events for the day traditionally includes the OBSA Dean’s welcome address, the singing of the Black National Anthem, followed by the service awards, the alumni keynote, the graduation ceremony and the closing lunch reception. Claremont Colleges Black faculty and staff are invited to wear their regalia and register to be seated onstage to cheer on and support students during the ceremony. Each graduate is welcome to make a brief speech to acknowledge those who supported them in their journey. The Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson Service Awards and Black Graduation occurs on the Friday before graduation, so that graduates, their friends and family and the community at large can attend. It does NOT serve to replace each of the colleges’ graduation ceremonies, and students are encouraged to attend both Black Graduation and their college’s event. Degrees are not conferred at Black Graduation; however all graduates receive a congratulatory certificate from OBSA signed by the Dean and Assistant Dean. Following the tradition of hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States, Black Graduation is a unifying, community centered event that provides a sense of belonging, particularly for students of African descent attending colleges where they are few in number. Black Graduation offers space for students and their families to express joy freely and in the spirit of love, inclusion and acknowledgment. Registration for graduates begins in February. For our virtual semester Black Graduation will occur remotely.
INFORMATION FOR GRADUATES
If you will graduate in 2021 and wish to receive The Office of Black Student Affairs’ annual recognition gift to graduating classes of ALL seven Claremont Colleges, we invite you to register using the link below by March 30. Graduation packages include class of 2021 kente stoles, a printed graduation program acknowledging each Black graduate by name and a certificate of congratulations from the OBSA Dean and Assistant Dean. Once you receive your stole in the mail, tag us in photo or video using #obsablackgradchallenge on Instagram (@obsaclaremont) and Facebook (Obsa Claremont)! We want to celebrate your accomplishments all spring and summer long!
Please note that we will mail to domestic and international addresses and the form must be complete to be eligible. Our mailing begins April 1 in the hopes that graduate receive their materials by May. We will continue the mailing as requests come in after March 30, however arrival times may vary—so we encourage you to sign up now! There are no costs associated with any part of Black Graduation.
BLACK GRADUATIONVIRTUAL ALUMNI KEYNOTE with Pambana Bassett (Scripps 2013)
Friday May 14 2021 at 1pm PST
We invite the entire campus community, friends and family to hear this year’s annual alumni keynote delivered by Scripps College alum, Pambana Bassett (class of 2013), activist, advocate and journalist. Register now to receive the zoom link for this event: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N3CYS5Q
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration
The Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration is traditionally a 7 college and TCCS celebration, occurring on a rotating host campus. The event is comprised of a lecture, a student session and dinner open to the 7 colleges and TCCS.
In 2021, the celebration occurred virtually and was presented in partnership with the Scripps Presents program. Yara Shahidi (pictured, left, actor and producer of television show grown’ish) was the guest speaker and appeared in conversation with Theatre Professor Carolyn Ratteray (pictured, right, Pomona College faculty), followed by a students only Q&A with Yara.
Previous invited guests include: Dr. Marc Lamont Hill (2015), Jamilah Lemiuex (2016), Dr. Melina Abdullah (2017), Dr. Chris Emdin (2018) Dr. Bettina Love (2019) The Beyoncé Mass (2020)
We stand with the global protests against police brutality and in support of Black lives. We hope all who choose to participate in protests in person are able to preserve their safety and are connected to avenues for relief and legal information. For those sharing information and engaging in discussions, please be mindful of sources interchangeably linking protesting to violence and looting with intention to discredit the aims of the movement. Consider the ways in which Black people engaging in any form of protest are and historically have been over policed, surveilled and the target of violent reprisal from police and civilian forces. If you’re participating in discussions with others around the Black Lives Matter movement, read the publicly accessible information about the organizations’ platform (blacklivesmatter.org) as well as the numerous organizations mobilizing on behalf of Black lives through activism, litigation, monitoring hate groups and sharing resources (Southern Poverty Law center, splcenter.org).
Learn the ways media and other institutions consistently underline white supremacist rthetoric while supporting sensationalist misrepresentations of Black people in general, particularly those who engage in uprisings against oppressive regimes. OBSA supports a nuanced and contextual understanding of global anti-blackness and the ways police and the military are deployed as part of a larger project of Black subjugation.
We are committed to the safety and well-being of our community members and stand in solidarity with those involved in justice movements. We call for an end to state sanctioned genocide, unjust deaths and lack of legal recourse perpetuated against Black people.
Lydia Middleton,Dean of Black Student Affairs On behalf of OBSA
Stay up to date with OBSA by reading our newsletter. The publication informs our communities about upcoming events, fellowships and jobs, features special initiatives and partnerships, and highlights a range of student-centered opportunities across the 7 colleges.
Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter and electronic announcements about our upcoming events. Here are previous OBSA newsletters:
Each year, OBSA publishes The Black Book to assist students in identifying essential services and faculty and staff of African descent at The Claremont Colleges. The Black Book supports students in connecting to communities of African descent at The Claremont Colleges and beyond, including listings of local Black owned and Black Alumni-owned businesses. Students can easily locate and access health and wellness related services, as well as shared service resources across the colleges.
The book is updated yearly and printed copies are made available to participants in the OBSA Mentorship Program.
View all publications of the Black Book by clicking the links below:
If you are from an office or department that wishes to collaborate with OBSA or request a workshop facilitated by our staff, we have developed a set of guidelines to assist in this process. Please see the attached OBSA Workshop Request Procedure to learn more, and arrange a time to talk with our staff about your initiative. Please email completed requests to our office.
Are you a faculty member who wants to get involved with OBSA to connect students to your scholarship or other opportunities? Read our letter to faculty and learn more about how OBSA plans to incorporate and highlight the work of faculty that connects students to learning, mentoring, research and other educational opportunities from various 7C academic departments. Click here to complete our faculty outreach survey!
When in person classes become available, OBSA offers students, faculty and staff enrolled and/or employed at The Colleges permission to use the center after hours (7 days a week, 7am-11pm). OBSA is open for public use M-F, 9am-12pm and 1pm-4:30pm.
Swipe access carries over each year until employment or enrollment is completed, no need to renew an access form. Access may be suspended or limited if policy rules are not kept. Request to reserve space in OBSA by email.
View the BLACK GRADUATION ZOOM KEYNOTE with Dr. Eileen Wilson- Oyelaran (POM ’69 and CGU ’77)
This year’s keynote is dedicated to the life and work of Dr. Agnes Moreland Jackson (1930-2020) and the graduating class of 2020. Join us for an inspiring message from our 50th anniversary alumni keynote, Dr. Wilson-Oyelaran.
The keynote and congratulatory videos from Claremont Colleges faculty and staff are available on OBSA’s Black Graduation page
View the webinar: Shifting Narratives–Using Education as a Tool for Protest and DismantlingSystemic Racism
Presented by Harvey Mudd College Office of Institutional Diversity, OBSA and Black Lives at Mudd (BLAM)
This speaker panel from June 2020 discusses pertinent issues for students, faculty and staff as they navigate campus climate during the global responses to police brutality and antiblack racism. Panelists include Dr. Kundai Chirindo (professor, Lewis and Clark College), Dr. Bridget Turner Kelly (Dean, University of Maryland) and Dr. Anna Gonzalez (VPSA, Dean of Students, HMC). Moderated by Lydia Middleton (Dean, Office of Black Student Affairs, TCC). View the panel here