California’s Legislative Black Caucus Hosts Leadership Program for High School Students

By Austin Gage, California Black Media

After a three-year hiatus, the 12-member California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) held its African American Leaders for Tomorrow Program (AALT) on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills CSUDH.

From July 20-23, CLBC brought together high school students from across California for a series of workshops and social events aimed at preparing the next generation of leaders in African-American communities in fields such as business, government and nonprofit advocacy.

“The African American Leaders of Tomorrow program was created to prepare today’s young people for their careers by exposing them to the legislative process, encouraging critical thinking and helping them discover their passions,” said Chris Holden ( D-Pasadena), member of the CLBC Assembly.

Sixty high school students were accepted to participate in the on-campus lived program, residing in CSUDH dormitories and eating in the campus communal dining hall.

CLBC President Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) welcomed students to the program and reiterated the reasoning for the program’s existence.

“I learned a long time ago that your education is the most important investment you make in yourself,” Bradford said, “We hope our students will learn and grow through this opportunity. with skills and knowledge they find useful in their educational and future endeavors.Our commitment is to prepare the next generation of African American leaders for whatever the future holds.

CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham and California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber also welcomed the students.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate and congresswoman Karen Bass, who represents the 37e District in the United States House of Representatives, and actress and comedian Kim Whitley provided video messages to students.

Actress and dancer Debbie Allen and retired professional basketball player Norm Nixon gave the program’s dinner keynote address to the students.

During six major workshops, students interacted with CLBC members and professionals from companies such as The Education Trust-West, Snap Inc. and JS Held. Topics included civic engagement, dual enrollment, STEM/tech as a career, leadership development, financial literacy, and college knowledge.

Professors from CSUDH and the Mervyn Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute also played key roles in delivering the program. Parham, along with Dr. Justin Gammage and other members of the university gave lectures to students on mental wellness and self-care in addition to workshops and panels.

On the final day of the program, students participated in a mock hearing on AB3121, the bill that created California’s Reparations Task Force.

CLBC Assembly members Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) and Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) helped wrap up the program and presented certificates of recognition to the students.

Reflecting on the program, Akilah Weber (D- San Diego, CLBC Assembly Member), said, “For three days, high school students can stay on a college campus and immerse themselves in a unique learning environment. which will prepare them for a successful transition to higher education. education, job search, budgeting and leadership.

According to the CLBC website, the main goal of the program “is to ‘build a bench’ of young leaders who will lead California in addressing issues of protecting voters’ rights, improving access to higher education and vocational training through dual enrollment, reducing poverty rates, increasing paid employment, participating in the evolution of criminal justice, improving the quality and equity of health care and reduce high infant mortality rates in low socio-economic communities.

Kevin E. Boling