To contribute to Black History Month this year, TSL is doing what we do best: bringing stories into the light. In this case, our news team has spent weeks and, in some cases, months, trawling through archives at Honnold Mudd and Denison libraries, examining old copies of TSL and the Claremont Collegian and gathering oral accounts from alumni who were on campus throughout pivotal parts of the struggle for justice, representation and equity.
Teaching partnerships between incarcerated people in California and the 5Cs might seem like a recent development. But in the late 1960s, student members of Pomona College’s Black Studies Center developed an educational program for prisoners in Chino, led by BSU founder Danny Wilks PO ’71.
The 1960s were an eventful time for Black students at the 5Cs. Until 1967, they didn’t have a Black Student Union, which eventually came to fruition largely because of the efforts of Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran PO ’69, John Payton PO ’73 and Danny Wilks PO ’71.
Well before he was tackling some of the most monumental affirmative action cases before the Supreme Court, John Payton PO ’73 was advocating for the rights of Black students at the 5Cs.
From Compton to Claremont to Kalamazoo, Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran PO ’69 has been a trailblazer in the field of education her entire life. What started as activism in her teenage years only grew stronger as an undergraduate at Pomona College, carrying through in her years in Nigeria and as president of Kalamazoo College.