UCR to Honor 40th Anniversary of African Student Programs During Black History Month

Events and programs throughout February will recognize African-American achievement

ASP Time Capusle

Some of the articles that make up the African Student Programs time capsule exhibit at the Rivera Library.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Black History Month at the University of California, Riverside will have extra significance this year as the campus’ African Student Programs (ASP) department will be celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Formerly referred to as Black Student Programs, ASP is generally agreed to have formed in 1972 out of the campus’ Black Student Union and the Black Studies Department, which was dissolved and changed into an interdisciplinary program in 1972. Since then, ASP has been a key component of the success of African-American students at UCR.

“This celebration of our 40th anniversary is a tribute to the students who made the most of our department as a resource, the administration who placed value in the department’s work and commitment to student success, and the hundreds of alumni who continue to give back and to support the department,” said Ken Simons, director of African Student Programs at UCR.

Scheduled events include stage performances, screenings of films and speakers. Admissions to all Black History Month events are free, but there is a $6 charge to park on campus.

Ken Simons mug shot (head only)

Ken Simons, director of African Student Programs at UCR

Simons said he hopes to see a wide cross-section of the community throughout the month.

“The fact that we are celebrating Black History Month does not mean our events are only for people of African descent,” he said. “It’s important for all members of our campus and community to see history through the lens of Black people and learn about the many contributions they have made throughout history.”

Simons thanked Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval for his contributions and “for making the many events for Black History Month possible.”

Simons said that ASP performs a variety of services for African-American students at UCR, including informing them about scholarships, internships, research, graduate school and career opportunities, sponsoring a variety of programs throughout the year, including the Academic Mentorship Program and Black Graduation Ceremony, and serving as an adviser to more than a dozen student clubs and organizations.

ASP also works with campus partners such as the Academic Resource Center, the Counseling Center, Financial Aid and Student Life to help students get the resources they need to succeed.

“We’ve gone from having a couple dozen students in the 60’s to currently having the largest population of African-American undergraduates within the UC system,” he said. “What has remained constant is the leadership development, the educational support, guidance and mentoring we provide to students as they navigate the rigors of the university.”

A full calendar of events can be found on the African Student Programs website. Highlights of the month-long celebration include:

ASP 40th Anniversary Time Capsule All Month Rivera Library 1st Floor
The time capsule display is the work of researcher Ed E-Nunu and students Rickie Ohiri, Letia Solomon, Renee Manson, Stacey Hartnett and Mahogany Blank.

Griot Night Wednesday, February 1, 8 p.m. Bear Cave
Afrikan Student Alliance presents Griot Night, a night dedicated to poetry, music and entertainment. The open mic show is open to everyone, either to participate or just to listen.

Rickerby Hinds’ Dreamscape Saturday February 4, 8 p.m. University Theatre
Created by UCR Professor Rickerby Hinds, Dreamscape is based on the life and death of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller, who was shot and killed by Riverside police in 1998. The play uses poetry, dance and beatboxing to reframe her death. A conversation with Hinds and the actors will take place after the performance.

Screening of A Huey Newton Story Tuesday February 7, 6 p.m. HUB 302
A Huey Newton Story is a 2001 documentary of the life of the co-founder of the Black Panther movement written by and starring Roger Guenveur Smith. A  Q & A with Smith will follow the film.

An Evening with Butch Johnson (’76) Wednesday, February 8, 6:30 p.m. HUB 302
Former Dallas Cowboy and Highlander football player Butch Johnson (’76) will speak on his experience at UC Riverside during the early 70’s as a student and how UCR prepared him for life during and after his football career and offer words of inspiration. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are required and may be made on line at: https://advancementservices.ucr.edu/ButchJohnson/.

African-American Mental Health Awareness Week February 13 through 17
Mayor Ron Loveridge will proclaim Wednesday, February 15th as African American Mental Health Awareness Day for the city of Riverside and informational programs will be held on campus throughout the week.

“Mental health and mental wellness are important topics within the African-American community,” Simons said. “We are attempting to bring awareness about mental health specifically, and how a healthy state of mind as a college student is critical to their academic success and overall student life experience.”

Mental health-based presentations include:

  • Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D. Monday, February 13, 68 p.m. HUB 302 South
    Parham, the assistant vice chancellor for Counseling and Health Services and an adjunct faculty member at the University of California, Irvine will speak on “The Challenges of African-Centered Personhood: Nurturing the Next Generation of Young Minds and Souls”
  • Professor Denese Nelson and  Àdisà Àjàmú Tuesday, February 14, 4:306:30 p.m. HUB 302 North
    Nelson and Àjàmú will speak on “Dating Challenges and Solutions for African Americans on College Campuses.”Nelson is the author of New Hope: A Guide to Interpersonal Relationships, is the Tumaini program coordinator at San Bernardino Valley College as well as the director of New Hope Psychological Counseling Center in Riverside.

    Àjàmú is the executive director of the Atunwa Collective, a community development think tank in Los Angeles. He is the founding program manager of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency, where he developed and implemented the minority fellowship program for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

  • Dr. V. Diane Woods Wednesday, February 15, 5:308 p.m. HUB 302
    Woods’ topic will be  “Mental Health Community Research: The California Reducing Disparities Project.” She is the president and CEO of the African-American Health Institute of San Bernardino County (AAHI-SBC), director of the statewide California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) and an assistant research psychologist at UCR.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-5893
E-mail: ross.french@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Ken Simons
E-mail: kenneth.simons@ucr.edu

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