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Director’s Chair

From the Executive Director: At the Forefront of Civil Rights

Women have long been at the forefront of civil rights.

December 11, 2020
camryn rogers

As we commemorate the past 150 years of women at Cal, we are offered a chance to reflect on the legacies of resilient women who laid a strong foundation for UC Berkeley. Throughout our university’s history we find women leading us forward: teaching respect for human life, fighting for progress, and creating avenues for change.

This fall, we celebrated activist Freada Kapor Klein ’74, Berkeley’s 2020 Alumna of the Year, for her contributions to advocacy for victims of sexual harassment. Berkeley biochemist Dr. Jennifer Doudna received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her gene-editing breakthroughs.

The Japanese American Women AIumnae of UC Berkeley (JAWAUCB) chapter held its 30th annual Scholarship Awards. JAWAUCB’s roots include responding to housing discrimination in the 1930s. Alumnae advisors of the Japanese Women’s Student Club helped raise enough money for its students to purchase a two-story building that would provide reasonably priced housing for Japanese American women at Berkeley. Today, JAWAUCB honors their legacy by teaching our history and advocating for all who face discrimination.

As we, as a society, wrestle with social issues including systemic racism, we are listening to Black women’s voices—past and present—as they light the way to a better world. In the 1920s, Ida Jackson ’22, M.A. ’24 could not find a place for Black women at Cal, so she founded the first Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter west of the Mississippi. During its annual recognition dinner, The Achievement Award Program (TAAP) honored our incredible community of Alumni Scholars, including TAAP Scholar and squash player Felicia Yamaguchi ’21, who found her calling through the Teach in Prison DeCal course at Berkeley.

Track and field student-athletes Sara East ’22, Sydney Reid ’22, and Camryn Rogers ’22 discuss navigating Cal in the midst of the pandemic in our Who Are We Now? conversation series. In the words of Oakland leader and activist Regina Jackson ’84: “We are building the leadership I expect to see in the world.”

These are challenging times that cause us to feel overwhelmed. Hope seems fleeting—but I am optimistic about our future. The spirit of commitment and care exhibited by our trailblazing alumni, across generations, remains at the core of the Cal community.

On behalf of all of us at the Cal Alumni Association, I wish you a safe and happy 2021.

Fiat Lux.

signature of Clothilde V Hewlett
Clothilde Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79
Executive Director

Above: NCAA hammer-throw champion Camryn Rogers ’22 | Image by Mogli Maureal