Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy Black Student Union Holds First Assembly

Published : Wednesday, March 5, 2014 | 1:41 AM

Those guests were Carmen Mackey (Denver ’17), Community Services Liaison with the Los Angeles County Fire Department in Lancaster; Jacque Robinson, the Vice Mayor of Pasadena; and Dr. Phyllis Cremer (Bella ’12, Sam ’17), Vice President for Student Development at Woodbury University in Burbank. (Originally scheduled to appear was Compton Mayor Aja Brown, who could not attend due to changes in her travel plans. She recorded this greeting for Tologs instead.)

Mackey, Robinson and Dr. Cremer each spoke about the unique challenges they’ve faced as black women, especially given that the kind of racism they’ve faced is much more subtle than what students learn about from the era of Jim Crow laws and the fight for civil rights.

Each had her own take on those challenges. Mackey mentioned one time when she was passed over for a promotion due to the color of her skin, and while she wanted to protest, it took the advice of a mentor for her to realize that remaining professional and documenting the incident was the better path to take. Robinson, who is now running for state senate, discussed how she was told she needed to check with the mayor and other city council members in Pasadena before holding a press conference in her own district, even though none of her colleagues had checked with her before doing the same thing. She went ahead and did it anyway.

Dr. Cremer showed off the hood she received when she earned her doctorate as well as a photo of one ancestor who was a slave. At Woodbury, she said she serves as many students’ surrogate mothers while they’re away from home in addition to teaching classes. Along with the other speakers, she emphasized the importance of education as a way for women of any race to make their mark in the world.

The women of the Black Student Union decided to band together prior to the start of this school year and form FSHA’s first BSU organization. Vanessa Dennis ’14 and Sydney Johnson ’14, now the president and vice president of BSU, respectively, said they wanted to create a group to communicate what it’s like to be black in today’s society, both at FSHA and out in the larger world.

“I feel no prejudice, especially in the classroom,” Sydney said to the Veritas Shield. “I feel comfortable; being considered an equal isn’t even a question.”

Vanessa added that off the Hill, in her experience, “there is no prejudice that is done on purpose and if there is, it is done out of ignorance.”

Still, the founding of FSHA’s first BSU has attracted a lot of attention and admiration, with a number of faculty and staff members attending the February 26 assembly and a reporter and photographer from the La Cañada Valley Sun also there to cover the event. Click here to the read the Valley Sun’s story about the BSU.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, 440 Saint Katherine Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, (626) 685-8500 or visit www.fsha.org.

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