CSUMB’s All Black Gala goes virtual and local

Photo: Helen Rucker

Helen Rucker | Photo by Randy Tunnell

February 22, 2022

By Walter Ryce

UPDATE: A recording of the event is available online

CSUMB’s “Strength Through Diversity” awareness campaign aims to build on our ongoing commitment to inclusive excellence. Stories, social media posts, and special events throughout the academic year will celebrate diversity and highlight the many identity groups represented by the students, faculty, staff, and alumni that make up the CSUMB community. February is Black History Month.

“The All Black Gala is an opportunity to honor Black History Month with a formal event that brings the community together,” says Brian Corpening, associate vice president for Inclusive Excellence and chief diversity officer. “Since it is at the end of February it becomes the crowning event for the month.”

In the past it’s taken place at the University Center, bringing guest speakers including activist and scholar Dr. Angela Davis, writer and activist Shaun King, and BlacKkKlansman screenwriter Kevin Wilmott.

This year it is taking place virtually, 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, and the theme is “Re-Connecting to Monterey County’s Historic Black Community: Honoring Black Excellence Past, Present, and Future.”

The itinerary will include a surprise announcement about the Center for Black Student Success from President Ochoa. And members of the CSUMB and Monterey County community will be singled out for their work and contributions in the Black community, including for longtime Seaside civil rights and civic activist Helen Rucker.

“That we are honoring our local pillars is significant,” Corpening says. “There are people in every community who have sacrificed and contributed to making communities what they are. We want to recognize them.”

The event celebrates Black lives and achievement, but is inclusive and welcoming of everyone regardless of race and ethnicity. The “all black” refers to the attire, with attendees dressing in all black.

“The All Black Gala started as an event during Black History Month in 2017 coordinated by Jessica Newman, who was an Otter Cross Cultural Center coordinator at the time,” said Steven Goings, faculty and counselor with the Personal Growth and Counseling Center.

This year it may prove even more inclusive because of its virtual modality making it even easier to attend.

There will be greetings from President Eduardo M. Ochoa; Monterey County Branch NAACP President, Yvonne Thomas; as well as Corpening and Goings (in his capacity as the director of the National Coalition Building Institute CSUMB Affiliate).

Brooklyne Greene, president of Black Students United, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies over the event; CSUMB assistant professor and newly appointed Monterey County Poet Laureate Daniel Summerhill will perform spoken word; and Black Excellence Award honorees include:

  • Undergraduate Student, Zah-Rah LaTour
  • Graduate Student, Marcus Garrett
  • 2014 CSUMB Alum, Antoinette Anderson
  • 2013 CSUMB Alum, Councilman Tyller Williamson
  • Former CSUMB Staff Member, Jessica Newman
  • Former CSUMB Counselor/Faculty Member, Lynne White-Dixon, LCSW
  • Community Elder, Edward Armstrong
  • Community Elder, Helen Rucker

The All Black Gala is jointly hosted by the Office for Inclusive Excellence, NAACP, the Center for Black Student Success, and the Otter Cross Cultural Center. The event will be recorded and made available afterwards.

Register for the All Black Gala.

More information at