Welcome to the 5th Annual 44 Days: Honoring Black History Month

Dear Saint Mary's Community,

We are honored and excited to announce the 5th Annual 44 Days: Honoring Black History at Saint Mary's College. For the past two years, we have lived with uncertainty and a global pandemic that touched each of our lives. In 2021, we were inundated with news about racial hate, climate catastrophes, economic hardship, and violent crimes across the country. But now, we enter 2022 with a renewed spirit of hope, optimism, and the will to persevere. President Barack Obama once said,

"Hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be."

Since its inaugural year in 2018, the "44 Days" celebration has hosted dynamic speakers and signature programming that has addressed the vibrancy and complexity of the African Diaspora. This year's theme is "Power, Pride, and Purpose: How to find and use our power." It is vital that we recognize our individual and collective power to shift narratives about our history, highlight our pride through collective struggles and courage, and demonstrate our sustained purpose for building community and celebrating successes. We stand in our power, pride, and purpose as we gain our footing in a time of uncertainty, making Black visible and revered, capturing the very essence of who we are as a people.

In collaboration with the Black Student Union, programming for this year's Power, Pride, and Purpose: How to find and use our power will include the 5th Annual Black Student Convocation on Saturday, February 12. We will kick-off 44 Days with an opening event on Wednesday, February 9. The event welcomes the community back to campus and starts the celebration of Black History Month. It continues with a host of events capturing our theme.

The Black Student Union is honored to welcome Bryant Terry, a Bay Area local chef, author, and food justice advocate, as the 44 Days keynote speaker on Saturday, March 19 at 11:00 a.m. Chef Terry is the recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award and the NAACP Image Award, known for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system. Chef Terry is passionate about educating his audience on the intersection of food, community, culture, and health. His latest book, "Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora," is a heartfelt tribute to the Black culinary ingenuity. Join us for this moving experience of food and community.

Programming for this year's 44 Days celebrating Black History is as diverse as it is timely. Along with the appearance of Bryant Terry, we'll share a series on black mental health, a weekly book club on the award-winning author Nikole Hannah-Jones' 1619 Project, and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Gaels 1972 Basketball Walkout and Chapel Fast. Our programming createssafe spaces for Black students by focusing on personal development and providing communityspace for all Saint Mary's community members by deepening a collective understanding of Black experiences. There is something for everyone!

Let's come together to remember that Black history is not only about one moment of the year but about celebrating and highlighting our power, pride, and purpose all year long.

With gratitude, optimism, and hope,

Black Lives Matter Co-Chairs:

Dr. Robin J. Dunn, Faculty and Co-chair
Laure L. Bowman, Staff Co-chair
Courtney Gordon, Staff Co-chair
Collin Fisher, Student Co-chair