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.
Last month, Pomona College granted the Black Student Union’s request for Black students to have their own designated room on campus with the caveat that the room would only be theirs after 7 p.m. In response, the BSU is calling for that room to be available “full time.”
The Pitzer Black Student Union called on the college to provide greater support for Black students in a six-point address, offering solutions that they say would “support and foster a successful and well-rounded college experience for their Black students.”