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Black Cultural History at Cal: Sun Ra, James Baldwin, and More

UC Berkeley has historically been a magnet for African American activists, artists, and thinkers but never more so than during the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s. And with a little googling, many of these historical appearances can still be seen, heard, and savored online. In honor of the upcoming 45th annual Black History Month (February 2021), here’s a selection of Black speakers and cultural events that the Cal campus has played host to over the years.

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

Stiles Hall, Always in Style

For Arlinda Ruiz the road to higher education was not an easy one. A 45-year-old domestic violence survivor, she worried there wouldn’t be a place for her in the world of academia.

“I’m this short Mexican girl, dark, Indigenous, blasted up with tattoos,” Ruiz says. “I was homeless at 13, a teen mom, a high school dropout. … I didn’t really see much of a future for myself.”

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

You Should Know About Ida Jackson

“Since I’ve gotten old, I have wondered how I did all the things that I did then,” Ida Louise Jackson reflected in 1984 at the age of 82. Jackson participated in some of the major movements of the 20th century: the Great Migration, school desegregation, the battles for equitable education and health, and the Civil Rights Movement. Some of her earliest activism began at Berkeley when she organized the second Black sorority on the campus (shortly after the founding of AKA’s rival Delta Sigma Theta).

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Swift Justice: The Historic Fight for Gender Equality at Berkeley Law

ELEANOR SWIFT LEFT THE DEAN’S office at Boalt Hall, walked upstairs, and started packing her things. After a promising legal career and eight years as one of Berkeley School of Law’s most beloved professors, she had just been fired—her tenure denied by her overwhelmingly male peers. 

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

The Election’s Over, But the Battle Is Just Beginning.

The 2020 election is over and, with a significant lead in both the electoral and popular vote, Joe Biden has definitively beaten Donald Trump for the Presidency. That hasn’t stopped Trump, some Republican lawmakers, and many of the 70 million people who voted for him, from claiming that the election was rigged. Indeed, two weeks after Election Day, Trump has yet to concede. While both the Constitution and custom point to Biden taking the oath of office on January 20, unease over the presidential interregnum remains.

Election Polls Are Only 60 Percent Accurate, Which Is 0 Percent Surprising.

For many Americans, Donald Trump’s 2016 victory came as a shock, especially considering how much he’d trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls. Even FiveThirtyEight founder and famed pollster Nate Silver got it wrong. But UC Berkeley business professor Don Moore thinks we should cut Silver some slack.

A Young, Local Activist Vies for Office in Berkeley

Aidan Hill is one of four candidates running to be Berkeley’s next mayor, including incumbent and UC Berkeley alum Jesse Arreguín. Hill, 27, is a UC Berkeley senior transfer and re-entry student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in political science. They were raised in Fontana, California and obtained an associate’s degree in communications studies at Riverside City College. They currently serve as the vice-chair of the city’s Homeless Commission.

The Berkeley Women’s Canon in 27 Landmark Books

An impressive number of women authors have come out of Berkeley—so many that it was daunting to select titles to include on this ideal bookshelf. Here you’ll find groundbreaking journalists and sociologists, beloved children’s book authors, and some of the country’s sharpest critics. They were on the campus in different eras, some for just a short time (can you guess which author was here only for a semester?), but they all left their mark on our campus and the literary world.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

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