California Community Colleges Hosts Black and African-American Town Halls Events

December 18, 2018

The California Community Colleges is currently planning the second of five statewide town hall meetings on January 31 at the Dr. Ephraim Williams Family Life Center in Sacramento to engage students, parents, educators and community leaders in discussions regarding the barriers and challenges that impact Black and African-American college enrollment.

The Sacramento area community will gather to hear the first-hand experiences of California community college students and prospective students and to learn about the support services needed to help them attain their educational goals.

Approximately 150 students and various members of the community recently attended the first town hall in Los Angeles on October 16 at Holman United Methodist Church. The keynote speaker for all the town halls is Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.  

“The challenge before us is to raise awareness among Blacks and African-Americans about the benefits of higher education and to create an atmosphere of encouragement for students who choose community college as their pathway to jobs and careers that can help ensure a middle-class income and upward social mobility,” said Gregory Irish, executive director for the City of Los Angeles Workforce Development Board and Advisory Panel co-chair.

The Black and African-American Advisory Panel of the California Community Colleges, comprised of community leaders and influencers statewide from education, workforce development, business and faith community fields, is leading the town halls to identify obstacles and discuss sustainable solutions. The Advisory Panel supports Chancellor Oakley’s Vision for Success, which encompasses social justice, economic mobility, workforce development, and focuses on full and open access to higher education for all.

The town halls will be divided into three segments: a general session, four breakout listening sessions where attendees share their personal experiences and perspectives and a closing session that includes a recap from each listening session.

Speakers from the Los Angeles town hall included Dr. Kaneesha Tarrant, vice president, student services, Los Angeles Trade Technical College; and Dr. George McKenna, Los Angeles Unified School District board member. Southern California community colleges were well-represented, with Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, president, Santa Monica College; Diana Z. Rodriguez, president, San Bernardino Valley College; and Dr. Linda D. Rose, president, Santa Ana College serving as co-facilitators in the four listening sessions.

The Black and African-American Advisory Panel was created in fall 2017 as part of the California Community Colleges African-American outreach program. The statewide outreach program is designed to raise awareness among Black and African-American students, prospective students and their influencers with the goal of increasing their enrollment rates in community colleges as well as the graduation, completion and transfer rates.

The third town hall is currently scheduled for Fresno in late March/early April.  Further details will be released soon.  Anyone interested in attending the Sacramento town hall can RSVP by calling (916) 576-2008 or by going to