44 Days: Honoring Black History Month

2022’s “44 Days” starts Wednesday, February 9th & ends on Thursday, March 24th. Check back here for updates on the program, keynote speakers, and opportunities to collaborate on events!

Watch the 2021 Keynote Speaker Angela Rye

Watch 44 Days keynote speaker Angela Rye recording from Friday, March 5, 2021 at 6:45pm PST. 


Angela Rye is Principal and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in the nation's capital. She is a CNN Political Commentator and NPR Political Analyst. She has been featured as an influential politico, lawyer, and advocate by several publications and outlets; from Marie Claire to Ebony and the Washington Post. Rye has an unwavering commitment to ensuring positive change in the political process.  

Dr. Bedford Palmer II is a licensed psychologist and an associate professor and chair of the counseling department at Saint Mary's College of California. Prior to his time at SMC, he earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He is also a past President of the Alameda Psychological Association, was the producer/cohost of the Naming It podcast, and is the author of "Daddy Why Am I Brown?": A healthy conversation about skin color and family.

Co-sponsored by: The Disney Forum & the Communications Department

About 44 Days - 2021 Theme, Telling Our own stories


Saint Mary’s College is proud to present the Fourth Annual 44 Days Honoring Black History. A nod to President Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th commander in chief and first African American president, the 44 Days initiative highlights the rich contributions of Black culture to the SMC campus, the nation, and the world.

44 Days features signature programs that echo the theme of “Telling Our Own Stories,” which reflects the African American historical legacy of joining together to share the stories of our ancestors, elders, family members, and our community; and how these stories motivate and empower us in our continued fight for equity and social justice.

44 Days begins on Monday, February 8, during Black History Month and ends on March 28. This cultural heritage series of programs features a Black Student Convocation program where Black undergraduate and graduate students have an opportunity to gather, reinforce their academic and professional pursuits, enhance transformative bonds, and discuss shared experiences, goals, and needs with the guidance and support of Black faculty, staff, and alumni.

Angela Rye, a popular CNN political commentator and NPR Analyst, and principal and CEO of IMPACT strategies is the keynote speaker of 44 Days. She will speak on Friday, March 5. The 44 Days celebration also features a Black Mental Health Series with noted health professionals Drs. Tameka Jackson, Jacquelyn Johnson, and Carnetta Porter. To round out the featured speakers, 44 Days is pleased to have Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant, discussing the lives of Sandra Bland, George Floyd, and others; and 99-year old Betty Reid Soskin and her daughter Di'ara Reid, discussing gender identity and the journey toward acceptance.

SIGNATURE EVENTS February-March 2021

2020 44 Day's Convocation Group Shot

4th Annual Black Student Convocation “Joy, Fun, Community”

February 13, 2021 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM | The “44 Days of Black History” celebration at Saint Mary’s College officially begins with our Black Student Convocation!
Image of Angela Rye

Keynote Speaker: Angela Rye in Conversation with Bedford Palmer

March 5, 2021 6:45 PM | Angela Rye: Principal and CEO of IMPACT strategies, CNN Political Commentator, NPR Political Analyst
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image of the series panelists

Black Mental Health Series

A 3 part event series addressing Black Mental Health.
Learn More

Events from February - march 2021


  • Telling Our Own Stories: Past Present and Future
    • 44 Days Photo Contest
  • Afrofuturism: Virtual Library Display
  • Black Community CCIE Open Forum
  • 4th Annual Black Student Convocation "Joy, Fun, Community"
  • Black Mental Health Series (1) - Black People Don't Do That! The messaging and myths that harm us. with Dr. Jacquelyn Johnson 
  • Fac Chat: "Leading from the Inside Out: Contemplative Justice as Radical Self-Care for BIPOC Activists" with Dr. Zahra Ahmed
  • "Coded Bias" (Film Screening and Discussion)
  • Facing Race in Seminar Text
  • Remembering the Legacies
  • Book Talk: "James Baldwin Living in Fire"
  • From Student to Professor
  • Black Mental Health Series (2): Rest & Restore: The Path to Soul Care with Dr. Tameka Jackson
  • De-escalation Training for Public Safety and Law Enforcement
  • The Voice of the Shepherd: A dialogue on Black Lives Matter and the Catholic Church (Cummins Institute webinar)
  • Women Advocating For Change in the Criminal Justice System
  • Blackout Poetry Event
  • Angela Rye in Conversation with Bedford Palmer 44 Days Honoring Black History Keynote Speaker
  • Black Mental Health Series (3) "Why you talk White?": Examining the cultural stress of Blackness and language at PWIs
  • Wellness, Self Care & Empowerment for Communities of Color and Allies
  • Conversation with Zach Norris, author of “Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment”
  • Film Discussion: “Rose’s Daughters”
  • A Mother & Daughter’s Gender Identity Journey: Di’ara Reid and Betty Reid Soskin
  • Activism and Advocacy: Past Present & Future


Dear Saint Mary’s Community Members,

I am honored and excited to announce the Fourth Annual 44 Days: Honoring Black History at Saint Mary’s College. The country and indeed the world endured a lot last year: from a worldwide pandemic that has disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities, the ongoing environmental and climate crisis, to racial and social unrest; it was a year fraught with anger, sadness, and yet hope for a better future. We began 2021 inspired by 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, who graced the world with her inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb.” After reciting her impactful poem, she was greeted by the 44th President of the United States, and the first Black President, Barack Obama for whom our 44 Days celebration is named. I offer Amanda Gorman as an example of how poetry as an art form has been a venue for storytelling and self-expression for us to celebrate our history with the expectation of passing it onto the next generation.

This year’s theme “Telling Our Own Stories'' hearkens back to the legacy of storytelling in the Black community. It has been said that storytelling is our “roots and wings.” It is important to bear witness to the voices and experiences that have shaped us a people. It is true that everyone has a story to tell—for Black people it was and is a testament to how we have historically lifted our voices to acknowledge our collective struggles, courage, sacrifices, grace, and countless triumphs. We reclaim our history by telling our own stories that capture the very essence of who we are as a people.

In collaboration with the Black Student Union, programming for this year’s “Telling Our Own Stories” will include the Fourth Annual Black Student Convocation on February 13th. There will be a 44 Days Photo Contest open to all undergraduate and graduate students with a focus on the Black experience. For our guest speaker series, we are honored to welcome Angela Rye, a powerful and influential CNN Political Commentator and NPR Political Analyst. She is also an attorney, Principal, and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, a political advocacy firm in Washington D.C.  We are excited to host Angela Rye on Friday, March 5th at 6:45 p.m. Other programming for this year’s 44 Days Honoring Black History is as diverse as it is timely: from a black mental health series, and a book talk on James Baldwin, to an ongoing exhibit on Afrofuturism: A Virtual Library Display. There is something for everyone! As always, our programming will balance creating safe spaces for Black students with a focus on personal development, and also providing community space for all members of the SMC community to deepen our collective understanding of Black experiences.

In closing, let us reflect on how our Lasallian Core Principles provide guidance on how we see and treat one another. Let us support the 44 Days Celebration by our thoughtful participation. I thank all the leaders who serve on Black Lives Matter Committee, a subcommittee of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE). Your bold leadership serves as an inspiration to everyone. To the Saint Mary’s College community, I extend a heartfelt invitation to visit the 44 Days: Honoring Black History website for the calendar of events and opportunities to participate.

Onward and Upward,

Kathy Littles, PhD 

Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and Senior Diversity Officer