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Pomona College’s Inaugural Black Student Youth Conference

By Emon Johnson

Pomona College’s Black Student Union (BSU) held its Inaugural Black Youth Conference on February 25, 2023, giving dozens of high school students a place to explore and celebrate Black pride, joy, and accomplishments. 

Featuring Keynote speaker Kenneth B. Morris Jr., the event took place in several breakout rooms on campus, each highlighting a different element of Black pride and education.

  • Room 1: Black Table Top
    • Hosted by: Pomona College BSU Students
    • Topics
      • Imposter Syndrome
      • What’s it Like to Be Black
      • Black Excellence
  • Room 2: Then We Rise
    • Hosted by: Hardy Brown II
    • Topics
      • Historical Artifacts and Leaders
      • African Folk Tales
  • Room 3: Design Your Future
    • Hosted by: Pomona College BSU Students
    • Topics
      • Vision Boards
      • Future Planning

Parents were also invited to attend breakout rooms that educated them on art therapy and financial literacy. 

Morris, the great-great-great-grandson of both Fredrick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, shares stories of his ancestors’ transcendent accomplishments. 

“They were born to the most horrific conditions that a human being can be subjected to,” he states. “But yet, through the power of education, they were able to rise up out of that condition and go on to effect change in their own lives, and effect change for all of us, all of these years later.” 

He continues sharing the history of Washington and Douglass, relaying their talent for words and leadership to the audience before him. “You all have greatness, just like I do,” he states.

Precious Omomofe, the co-president of Pomona College’s BSU, says the event took several months of planning and support. 

“It’s been a long process,” she states. “There are many parts to this, but by having people here to guide us, our mentors, [like] Mr. Hardy Brown, it made it a lot easier.” 

A junior studying Neuroscience, Omomofe says she and her peers were inspired to launch the event due to a shortage of spaces with a similar feel in the San Bernardino area. 

“We heard a lot of the stories and issues of the Black students here. We wanted to reach out to them and talk about these issues, let them know that we understand and that they had someone to talk to.”

Omomofe says that the event will return next year and encourages newcomers to join. “It’s important for us to recognize our blackness and take all of this space. I hope to see you next year.” 

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 12.5% of San Bernardino’s population is African American. White Americans make up 44.7% and Hispanic or Latino make up 67.6%. 

Nadia Muhammed, the other co-president of Pomona College’s BSU, states, “For people interested in developing a Black space and community in the Inland Empire, be okay with putting yourself out there. Get comfortable with yourself and your blackness and you can reach out and connect with others. Because being black is so beautiful.” 

For more information on Pomona College’s BSU, please visit their Instagram page @pomonabsu.