Cal Culture

How to Make Black Lives Matter at Berkeley

On Nov. 10, 2020, California magazine assembled a select panel of Black faculty, students, administrators, and alumni to discuss, via video conference, the question, “How do we make Black lives matter at Berkeley, and beyond?” 

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

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.

Chancellor’s Letter: Striving for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Berkeley is blessed with a unique set of aspirations and responsibilities. We are the product of Abraham Lincoln’s vision for “people’s colleges”—an accessible system of public higher education for all, without regard to inherited privilege. We are an engine of socioeconomic mobility, a center of resistance to the status quo, an institution animated by a determination to make the world a better place. We strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

Forging Pathways On and Off the Court

Former Cal basketball star Shareef Abdur-Rahim was named president of the G League, the official minor league of the National Basketball Association, in 2018. Per its website, the G League operates as a research and development laboratory to prepare players, coaches, and staff for an NBA career. Under Abdur-Rahim’s leadership, it is also challenging basketball’s status quo with the implementation of a new “professional path program” for elite players who have not yet met the age requirement to be drafted into the pros.

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

The Wall Stands Only a Few Feet Tall. But What It Stands for is Significant.

WALLS HOLD A MYTHICAL PLACE IN OUR SOCIAL ORDER. Pilgrims push slips of paper with wishes and prayers into the many cracks of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The Great Wall of China is a spectacle of ancient defensive architecture and a symbol of strength. The Berlin Wall evolved from a barbed wire and cinder block line of demarcation into a series of 15-foot-high concrete walls separating East and West Germany. It was a Cold War monument to their conflicting ideologies.

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.

150 Years of Women at UC Berkeley

What a journey it has been. This year marks 150 years since women were first admitted to Berkeley. To see just how far we’ve come, the California editorial team designed a timeline of women’s contributions to the university and the world. Today’s students stand on the shoulders of the late 19th century trailblazers studying engineering and agriculture in rooms dominated by men, and every pioneering scientist, artist, and politician who followed.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Chancellor’s Letter: Navigating A Triple Crisis

I have always said that I like hard problems, but the current set of crises we are facing is challenging even my taste for the difficult. As a nation, we are facing three complexly inter-related series of events—the pandemic, the economic disruption resulting from it, and urgent self-questioning about social justice and systemic racism.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Editor’s Note: Rewriting History

History has been written by the victors—and also by the men, it seems. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed firsthand in the annals of this very magazine, which started in 1897 as the University of California Magazine and operated for many decades as the California Monthly before becoming simply California, in 2006.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Together, Apart: A Musical Reunion Rings in the Solstice

Almost two decades after graduating, a group of 2002 UC Berkeley alums received an email from their old music professor. Would they like to get together again—at least, virtually—to create a video that might give people comfort during the pandemic? Nineteen of them responded with an enthusiastic “yes!”

It was April, and Marika Kuzma, professor of music emerita and director of the University Chorus and Chamber Chorus from 1990 until 2016, knew that the coronavirus would continue to prevent choirs from congregating—perhaps indefinitely.

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