Board meetings are usually not my cup of tea. But I attended one, not too long ago, at the Educational Cultural Complex (ECC) and as I sat there, anticipating data reports and budget considerations and other matters that might lead me to want to cop some Z’s, I experienced a few moments that absolutely captivated me.
Like, all of a sudden, from behind me, during a section of the meeting that highlighted “Community Connections,” I hear a woman walking towards the stage belting out:
“They call it stormy Monday
but Tuesday’s just as bad.”
And the next thing I know my shoulders are gliding from side to side and my head is doing likewise and my size 14 feet are patting along with my fingers that are popping to the beat and right away three more singers got me leaning forward in my seat with:
“Wednesday’s worse and Thursday’s also sad.”
Oh, such sweet music from my past. For a moment my mind began to stray to times when I had my moments up there where those singers stirred my spirit in song.
I remembered how one of the singers and I, portraying a delightfully colorful narrator/preacher, brought the house down in scenes from Black Nativity a few years ago and how, close to 30 years ago, another of the singers and I and a number of actors and poets and storytellers devoted an evening on the ECC stage, featuring the far left side of Langston Hughes’s poetic mind.
We bypassed classic playful rhymes of his like
“I play it cool
And dig all jive
That’s the reason
I stay alive
As I live and learn
Dig and Be Dug
and delivered lines of his passion for a better world like
“Good morning Revolution:
You are the best friend
I ever had.
We gonna pal around together from now on.”
Langston, as did all of us who recited his poetry and sang the music of his times that night, dreamed of a world where justice would be won. It was so nice daydreaming about such times at ECC.
This unique campus, which is dedicated to serving the learning needs of a multicultural population, has offered cultural experiences for the community ever since it’s beginning in 1976 and it thrilled me to hear Dr. Anthony Beebe, the president of the school and the other campuses of San Diego Continuing Education, commit to building on that legacy, saying, in unabashed sincerity, that he wants to “bring the Cultural back to ECC.”
I sensed that Beebe is quite the leader as I listened to how he and others at this fine institution are actively engaged in ending “hate” on its premises, how in the Fall of 2010 a letter of concern about bullying on campus was written by the school ASB; how by the Spring of 2011, faculty and administrators attended a “Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast” which morphed into a 3 day “Stop the Hate” train-the-trainer workshop; how by May 2012 a week of activities that addressed hate was coordinated; how from there the school created a team that responds to incidents of bias and hate, declaring in its actions that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of their category of being; how there is zero tolerance to acts of prejudice in the entire San Diego Continuing Education community.
I love it. It makes so much sense to me to make people feel physically and emotionally safe while, at the same time, feeding their souls, enriching their cultural lives, because the way I see things it’s through the arts that our voices rise and we find out who we are and how we can contribute to our society. In such an environment it’s hard for hatred to thrive.
With such thoughts I left this San Diego Community College Board of Trustees meeting feeling ever so hopeful and energized. ECC is in the hands of the wise.
John P. Falchi says
Thanks, Ernie; I really enjoyed this article and the way you brought culture to life at ECC. I remember teaching citizenship there some years ago, and the way we used to celebrate when one of our former students came back with their citizenship papers. I have taken part in many fine, multi-cultural programs there as well. It’s a great learning environment. Thanks, again, for bringing fond memories back in a sweet way.
Ernie McCray says
It is a great place.
Carrie Peery says
I really enjoyed this article. It reminded me of several years ago when I lived in Skyline
and attended several of the delightful musicals there. I pleased to know that there are
staff there that really want to make a positive impact in the San Diego community.
Ernie McCray says
I feel really good about the attitudes and commitment of the staff at ECC.
Bernie Rhinerson says
Great article Ernie. You captured the feeling and excitement of the best board meeting in ive attended during my short tenure on the Community College Board of Trustees. The musical performances and presentation clearly showed that the community’s culture is alive and well at the ECC.
Ernie McCray says
And it will get even better; I’m very impressed with Anthony Beebe.