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Director’s Chair Winter 2019: In a Sea of Red, Blue and Gold Rise Up

December 16, 2019

imageEarlier this fall, I traveled to Mississippi to support our Cal football team members, some of whom are from the South, at their game against Ole Miss.

On the day before the game, alumni visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, built at the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination at the former Lorraine Motel. The museum features a timeline of nonviolent and civil rights movements up to the present day, and highlights activists from Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. Many of us were moved to tears upon witnessing, through video and photographs, the suffering inflicted on those who fought for civil rights. Our tears turned to smiles when we arrived at the present-day exhibit and were met with a familiar image of UC Berkeley students advocating for civil rights on Sproul Plaza.

We rode emotions of pride and justice into the football game the next day, where Cal alumni showed up, unified in our deep-seated love for our university, to cheer for our Golden Bears, who beat the Rebels 28–20. Our sea of blue and gold won over the red of the Ole Miss fans.

At Cal, athletic teams unite communities and send Cal spirit to places that need it the most. Two powerful examples of this are the men’s and women’s tennis teams, who participate in Bear Trax, a program led by Coach Peter Wright, in which student athletes tutor and coach low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation students from local middle and high schools.

UC Berkeley encourages mentorship, and CAA’s Achievement Award Program scholarship, which is awarded to high-achieving, community-minded students from low-income backgrounds, is indicative of this supportive environment. In October, CAA celebrated the 20th anniversary of The Achievement Award Program (TAAP) with reunion events where current and former TAAP scholars reconnected with one another and shared their stories. For many of these Cal alumni, the ability to access mentorship and a support network through TAAP enabled them to become leaders and advocate for social change in their communities.

Cal graduates are committed to the advancement of a better world. Whether through research and innovation or entrepreneurship and social change, UC Berkeley students past and present are challenging the status quo in order to create a more equitable and excellent global community. I am proud to be part of this legacy and to champion our work at the Cal Alumni Association in 2020.

Fiat Lux.

Clothilde Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79
Executive Director