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TRANSFORM: 1969-2019

Celebrating 50 years of ethnic studies and cultural centers at The Claremont Colleges: OBSA, CLSA, IDCLS and IDAS

50th Anniversary Calendar

In 1969, ethnic studies departments and cultural centers were founded across the nation, stemming from student activism around equity and inclusion. Students of color and allies called for an investment in marginalized experiences, intending cultural centers to be a place to be a support against racial hostility and erasure, and advocated for the creation of ethnic studies departments to demonstrate the intellectual value of scholarship centering people of color as authors and subjects. At The Claremont Colleges, students’ voices contributed to the founding of cultural centers CLSA and OBSA, and ethnic studies departments IDCLS and IDAS. In recognition of the journeys of our respective units, OBSA, CLSA, IDCLS and IDAS are celebrating our 50th anniversaries with individual and collaborative programming, beginning with the CLSA/OBSA joint open house on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.

Below please find the full listing of individual and jointly held anniversary celebrations for OBSA, CLSA, IDCLS and IDAS occurring around The Claremont Colleges, and check back regularly for updates. 

View the CLSA fall calendar for the 2019 academic year, including anniversary events and regular programming.

OBSA and CLSA Joint Open House | Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Location: Pomona faculty and staff lot, E. 7th street cul-de-sac. 

Time: 3pm-6pm

OBSA and CLSA traditionally hold open house events in their respective centers. This year in celebration of our anniversaries, we are moving the event outdoors to the Pomona faculty and staff lot between Tranquada and OBSA, where we hope to bring multiple communities together in recognition of the collective organizing of our founders. Join us in recognizing the activist past that paved the way for cultural centers serving Latinx and Black communities. Featuring food vendors, giveaways, DJ, live performances! Meet and mingle with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Get more information about our yearlong 50th anniversary celebration! Open to all. 
Sponsored by Chicano Latino Student Affairs and The Office of Black Student Affairs

Levitt on the Lawn Concert: Changüí Majadero, Afro-Cuban music | Friday, September 20, 2019

Location: Scripps College, Bowling Green

Time: 6:30-8pm

Part of the Scripps Presents series (see below), Cosponored by CLSA and Scripps Presents.

Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies/Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies/Intercollegiate Department of Asian American Studies Open House | Wednesday, September 25 

Location: Intercollegiate Lounge, Lincoln Hall, Pomona College

Time: 4:30-5:30pm

13th Annual open house. Refreshments provided. Get to know ethnic studies faculty, students and staff and learn about course offerings this semester. Sponsored by IDAS, IDCLS and IDAAS.

Lunch Discussion with La Marisoul (Marisol Hernandez), from Grammy Award Winning Band La Santa Cecilia | Monday, September 30

Location: CLSA, 757 N. College Way

Time: 12:30pm-1:30pm

Includes classroom visit, Chicano Music, 11am-12:15pm at Pomona College, Lincoln 1122. Sponsored by CLSA.

Sarah Jones: Sell/Buy/Date

Location: Pomona College Seaver Theater

Time: 7pm

Jones plays a dazzling medley of characters in Sell/Buy/Date, an exuberant show inspired by the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry. Set in the future and brimming with Jones’ masterful, multicultural characterizations, Sell/Buy/Date conveys an honest, moving and even humorous look at a complex and fascinating subject, all while preserving the full humanity of voices seldom heard in the theater. Sponsored by IDAS.

Althea Waites: Recital in memory of Professor Gwendolyn Lytle

Location: Pomona College Lyman Hall

Time: 4:15-5:15pm

Piano recital to honor the life and work of Professor Lytle, Pomona music faculty. Lytle was a beloved member of Pomona’s music faculty for 35 years, including three years as chair of the department. Whether in her many individual voice lessons or in her classes on American music, she was always eager to share her joyous love of music and her great depth of knowledge of the vocal instrument and the musical world.

Internationally acclaimed American pianist Althea Waites has concertized extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as a brilliant soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative artist. In addition to performances on concert stages around the world, she has also participated in numerous festivals as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and ensemble coach, including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Yale Summer Festival, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Idyllwild Arts Festival in Southern California and as guest artist for the National Arts Festival at Grahamstown on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

The daughter of a church organist, Professor Gwendolyn Lytle began performing in a singing group with her sisters at the age of 9. After graduating from Hunter College, she went on to receive a Master of Music degree at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She came to Pomona from the University of California, Riverside, where she had served as a lecturer in music for 10 years. Known for her extraordinary soprano voice, she performed all across the country and around Europe both as a concert soloist and in such operas as The Marriage of Figaro and Dido and Aeneas. In recent years, she joined her brother Cecil, a noted pianist, for a series of concerts devoted to the music of George Gershwin, a PBS broadcast of which was shown across the United States, and devoted herself to a repertoire of poems by Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes, as set to music by a range of American composers.

Sponsored by IDAS.

Latinx Social at Pomona College | Friday, October 4

Location: Pomona College, SCC Courtyard

Time: 4-7pm

Sponsored by CLSA.

Scripps Presents honors the 50th: Fall 2019 season | September 5-October 30, 2019

Scripps Presents honors the 50th anniversaries of OBSA, CLSA, IDAS and ICLS with a slate of events this fall featuring literary superstars Colson Whitehead and Carmen Maria Machado, Latina activist Cherríe Moraga, chef Carla Hall, and comedian Cristela Alonzo, among others. More information and ticketing available here.

Levitt on the Lawn: Son Little. Thursday, September 5, 6:30pm-8pm, Bowling Green, Scripps College. Free outdoor concert, vocal performance (blues, soul, gospel, rock and roll).

Colson Whitehead in Conversation: Tuesday, September 17, 7pm at Garrison Theater. Tickets now available. Students of African descent/affiliated with OBSA should use promotional code ColsonOBSA when registering online to receive a free copy of Colson’s new book, The Nickel Boys.  

Levitt on the Lawn: Changüí Majadero. September 20, 6:30pm-8pm, Bowling Green, Scripps College. Free outdoor concert, Afro-Cuban (changüí) performance.

The Chew’s Carla Hall in Conversation: Tuesday, September 24, 7pm at Garrison Theater

We are the Weather: Jonathan Safran Foer: Thursday, September 26, 7pm at Garrison Theater

Music to My Ears: Cristela Alonzo in Conversation with KPCC’s John Horn: Wednesday, October 30, 7:30pm at KPCC Crawford Family Forum, 474 S. Raymond, Pasadena. Tickets available starting August 15 at 10am.

Longing on a Large Scale: Pomona College Museum of Art honors the 50th | September 19-November 21, 2019

All events start at 7:30pm and occur at the Pomona College Museum of Art unless otherwise indicated. Visit the PCMA website for more information.

9/19 – Bridget R. Cooks – 6pm – Gallery Tour of “Todd Gray: Euclidean Gris Gris”. Followed by Museums as a Site for Cultural Change – Part 1 at 8:30pm, Stuio Art Lecture Hall, Pomona College. Los Angeles-based artist Gray is known primarily for photography, performance, and sculptural works that explore contemporary and historical examinations of power in relationship to the African Diaspora. His work consists primarily of photographs from his own archive juxtaposed with one another, then mounted within found frames as a structuring device. In his work, Gray explores the historical constructs of the “logical” and geometrical gardens of Europe—an aesthetic manifestation of the idea of disembodied reason—with the “unpredictable” nature found in African landscapes. The exhibition title “Euclidean Gris Gris” combines contrasting language to frame the work within a broader cultural critique. Gray’s project pushes beyond these binaries, referencing the Euclidean—Western influences—and Gris Gris—African animism and poetics.

10/24 – Christina Sharpe  | Museums as a Site for Cultural Change- Part 2: Curating with Care and Careful Curation | Wake, ship, hold, weather: Christina Sharpe, professor of humanities at York University, will discuss these four notions in connection to questions of existence and non-existence as a Black person in the world from a historical and contemporary perspective. With these four words, each loaded with double meanings in relation to slavery, colonialism, and migration, she will focus on the symbolism of the slave ship. Sharpe will pull from Black. Still. Life.,her forthcoming monograph from Duke University Press, which works through multiple meanings ofstillandstill lifein order to think about Blackness in the museum and in contemporary art and visual culture.

10/31 – Ntone Edjabe – FESTAC ‘77 – A Mixtape: Talk & Discussion | (Dance party and reception to follow) | Cameroon-born journalist Ntone Edjabe will introduce Chimurenga’s forthcoming publication on the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC), which took place in 1977 in Lagos, Nigeria. Edjabe’s presentation will take the form of a mixtape, using sound, text, and narrative in order to trace FESTAC’s history, legacy, and future.

11/21 – Kevin Quashie | Quiet Storms | How do we build relationships with the past and present that allow for alternative forms of resistance? While the current sociopolitical reality does not leave much space for hope for a different future, we can examine our reality through Black Studies, which has been addressing these topics through Black Nihilist thought. Cornel West’s influential article from 1994, “Nihilism in Black America,” which resonated in popular culture through artists like 50 Cent and his album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003), addressed the same issues that find resonance in today’s popular culture, in songs like Lil Uzi Vert “XO Tour Life3,” in which the artist’s friend confirms in the refrain, “Baby, I am not afraid to die, all my friends are dead, push me to the edge.” While philosophical Afro-pessimist approaches, such as Calvin L. Warren’s Ontological Terror, are useful tools for devising a critical framework, there are other sources at hand that imagine different liberatory possibilities for the future. In his book The Sovereignty of Quiet, Kevin Quashie, Professor of English at Brown University, investigates the ways in which Blackness can be conceptualized outside of the notion of resistance. His approach creates space to think about different futurities that are fueled by an inexpressive “practice of knowing that is incomplete” outside of the dialectical.”

Sponsored by the Pomona College Museum of Art.

Axelle Karera Talk: Frantz Fanon and the Future of Critical Phenomenology in an Anti-Black World | Thursday, October 10

Location: CMC, Adams Hall Davidson Room

Time 4:15-5:30pm 

Axelle Karera is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Wesleyan University. Sponsored by IDAS.

Jericho Brown: The Tradition | Monday, October 28,  2019

12pm Lunch reception with author at CMC CARE 

6pm Dinner at the CMC Athenaeum

6:45pm Talk at the CMC Athenaeum

Registration and business casual attire required for the dinner and talk. Return here starting September 11 to access the registration link. 

Dr. Jericho Brown is the author of The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019); The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), and Please (New Issues, 2008). Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award and has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. He is currently an associate professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we’ve become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown’s mastery, and his invention of the duplex―a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues―is testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while revelling in a celebration of contradiction.

Sponsored by The Center for Writing and Public Discourse and the CMC CARE Center. 

Film screening: Agents of Change  | Thursday, November 7

Location: Scripps College Humanities Auditorium

Time 4:15-5:45pm

From the well-publicized events at San Francisco State in 1968 to the image of black students with guns emerging from the takeover of the student union at Cornell University in April, 1969, the struggle for a more relevant and meaningful education, including demands for black and ethnic studies programs, became a clarion call across the country in the late 1960’s. Through the stories of these young men and women who were at the forefront of these efforts, Agents of Change examines the untold story of the racial conditions on college campuses and in the country that led to these protests.  The film’s characters were caught at the crossroads of the civil rights, black power, and anti-Vietnam war movements at a pivotal time in America’s history. Today, over 45 years later, many of the same demands are surfacing in campus protests across the country, revealing how much work remains to be done. Agents of Change links the past to the present and the present to the past–making it not just a movie but a movement. Hosted by Maryan Soliman, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies (History/American Studies/Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies), Scripps College and Dray Denson, Pomona College student. Dinner to follow screening. Sponsored by IDAS.

Intercollegiate Department of Africana Studies and Intercollegiate Department of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies Anniversary Panel | Fall 2019 

Location, date and time TBD

A panel discussion highlighting the history and founding of ethnic studies at The Claremont Colleges. Sponsored by IDAS and IDCLS. 

The Claremont Colleges Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Committee and OBSA present Transform: Revolutionizing Worship featuring the Beyoncé Mass | Sunday, January 26, 2020

Location: Bridges Auditorium

Beyonce Mass: 10am-12pm (sponsored by OBSA and the Holmes Performing Arts Endowment. Ticketing opens November 2019. FREE and open to the public).

Brunch: 12pm-1:30pm (sponsored by CGU. Brunch registration opens November 2019. FREE, by invitation only).

Presented in celebration of OBSA’s 50th anniversary and the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, The Beyoncé Mass is a womanist worship service that uses the music and personal life of Beyoncé as a tool to foster an empowering conversation about Black women—their lives, their bodies, and their voices. Based on the scholarship of Rev. Yolanda Norton, the H. Eugene Farlough Chair of Black Church Studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary, this groundbreaking spiritual experience gathered over 1000 people at its inaugural event in San Francisco, and has also happened around the world. The mass is a chapel service that engenders positive, empowering conversations about Black women, and has become a highly recognized celebration of inclusion, the centering of marginalized experiences, social justice, self-care, self-reflection and spiritual connectedness. Its organization involves a live band, a choir comprised of campus and local community members, and a sermon by Reverend Norton.

Drawing connections between Dr. King’s views on the impact of distinctly Black musical expressions and contemporary performance that centers marginalized experiences, the Beyoncé Mass will vividly illuminate the theme of Transformation as we celebrate OBSA’s 50th anniversary. The worship service’s many connections to an array of experiences, inclusive message and deep connection to healing and spiritual practices are closely aligned with OBSA’s student-centered mission, the goals of the annual celebration of Dr. King’s life and work, and the 50th anniversary theme.

2020 MLK Commemoration host campus: Claremont Graduate University. Presented by The Claremont Colleges Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration and the Office of Black Student Affairs

Pomona College Museum of Art and the 4th Annual Black Intersections Conference presents NIC Kay ‘pushit!!’: an exercise in getting well soon | Saturday, February 29, 2020

Pomona College Museum of Art


5pm: NIC Kay Performance: pushit!! [an exercise in getting well soon]

6pm: Discussion with Pomona College Phebe Estelle Spalding Professor of English and Africana Studies Valorie Thomas: NIC Kay’s GET WELL SOON project – Between Performance and Performativity

As the 4th Annual Black Intersections Conference Keynote, NIC Kay will engage students, staff, faculty and community in experiential and theoretical conversations about health, wellness and the Black body/mind/spirit in a colonial and colonizing context. The 4th Annual Black Intersections Conference itself will focus on the various domains of health allowing for the academic, the co-curricular, and the embodied to be transformed in physical space as well as in the synthesizing of the ideas and concepts wrestled with throughout the day-long experience. Registration for the conference opens in September 2019, free for enrolled students at The Claremont Colleges and various rates for staff, faculty, alumni and community members. The NIC Kay performance is free and open to all (no conference registration is required, but tickets must be reserved in advance for seating). More information will be available in September 2019.

Learn more about NIC Kay.

Sponsored by the Pomona College Museum of Art, the Holmes Performing Arts Fund, OBSA and the Black Intersections Conference Planning Committee