A new era for College Ten begins as it moves to John R. Lewis College


In 2002, a UC Santa Cruz-themed Social Justice and Community College opened with distinguished faculty, politically engaged students, and a number for a name: College Ten.

That changed for good, and for the better, this week, when College Ten was named in honor of John R. Lewis, the late American civil rights leader and politician who resisted the segregation of the Jim Crow era in the 1960s. He was one of the main organizers of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The son of Alabama sharecroppers, Lewis became a longtime congressman. He was elected in 1986 to the United States House of Representatives, representing Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District. He held his post until his death last year.

The nominative gift was made by donors who prefer to remain anonymous. It is the first college UCSC has named since 2016, when the former College Eight was named in honor of pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson, a marine biologist best known for her groundbreaking non-fiction book. Silent spring.

The joint announcement, held on the campus of UCSC’s Namaste Lounge and the Washington Center at the University of California, Washington, drew shouts of joy and a standing ovation.

“Now we are starting the hard work to live up to this extraordinary honor and responsibility,” said UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive, speaking from the Washington Center.

“This is a moment of joy for our campus, attesting to our deep commitment to educating students to be agents of justice, equity, inclusion and social change, and marking our ambition to be an institution of ‘teaching that through our mission and the work of the students who choose to learn here continue to honor the legacy of Representative Lewis, ”continued Larive.

Larive noted that the college is the youngest on campus and one of the most diverse.

“Of its 1,500 undergraduates, over 60% grew up speaking another language in addition to or instead of English, and over 30% are first generation students, the first in their family to attend university, ”she said.

Those who attended the Namaste event received souvenir blue T-shirts with one of Lewis’s famous sayings on one side: “Go for it. Speak. Speak out. Get good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America. “

The news was a cause for celebration for Chloe Magidoff (John R. Lewis ’22, Legal Studies), who said her college community finally had a name to match its mission.

“As a student, I chose Ten College because of its social justice and community values,” she said. “The name is very closely related to what we have learned here.

“I’ve known John Lewis and his work for a long time,” said Magidoff, who serves on the student government, representing his college.

The name change brings a whole new level of engagement with the issues that are dear to Ten College, she continued. “When you connect those values ​​to a person, it’s a lot more tangible. ”

Matthew Moran (John R. Lewis ’22, Politician, Racial Critic and Ethnic Studies), who is also part of the student government, relished the moment.

“It means a lot,” he said. “John Lewis was a great fighter in Congress, and it’s amazing that we have college—my college — dedicated to him.

Flora Lu, Professor of Environmental Studies and Provost at John R. Lewis College, spoke about the immersive learning all college students receive, giving them a living sense of Lewis’ legacy.

“All incoming students take classes on the roots of prejudice and violence,” she told the crowd at Namaste Lounge. “Our students learn to think critically about privilege, inequality and forms of resistance. We teach our students that they are complex, with intersectional identities We have a shared humanity and are all worthy of dignity and respect.

Professor Emeritus of Sociology John Brown Childs moved the crowd when he spoke of the new college “standing strong, inspired by the life of John Lewis, driven by the creative energy of our students, faculty, alumni and staff, and supported by our generous donors and diligent administrators.

He spoke about the critical importance of workshops and training on social justice at John R. Lewis College.

“Today our democracy is in danger,” Childs said. “We are faced with voices and actions that inflame our nation with fear and hatred. The voting rights for which so many fought and died face an alarming avalanche of restrictive voting bills. ”

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), who attended the ceremony in Washington, shared a moving anecdote about his trip to Selma, Alabama, in March 2020. Panetta and her family walked arm in arm with Lewis on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 55th anniversary of the historic demonstrations for the right to vote. Lewis was seriously injured during the demonstrations of March 5, 1965, often referred to as “Bloody Sunday”.

“This enshrines its legacy on the central California coast,” said Panetta. “He was and still is the conscience of Congress. Now John Lewis is the conscience of this college, and the students of John Lewis College will be the conscience of who we are as a country.

Linda Early Chastang, who served as John Lewis’ chief of staff when he was at the convention, and is now President and CEO of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation, was a special guest at the ceremony.

“I can only begin to tell you how excited John Lewis would be to celebrate with you,” she said. “Young people were very important to him, and there was nothing more important to him than a good education.”

The naming endowment will allow the college to advance its mission of justice and social equity with a number of potential projects, including:

Happy Academy of Troubles: Named after John R. Lewis’s famous credo of having “good trouble, necessary trouble” in the face of deep injustice, this on-campus academy will train students in the art of collective action with using a diverse group of community organizers and activists.

Internships and support in social justice: UCSC already participates in social justice internships, but this program would focus on John R. Lewis students while providing stipends for underfunded students.

Expansion of programs for historically black college graduates, allowing them to attend the doctorate. programs at UCSC. Although the UCSC is already participating in such a program, it could be expanded, according to supporters of the name giveaway community.

These are just a few of the ideas discussed for the future of the college.

Larive thanked the organizations and individuals who made this week’s name change possible. Among them: Michael Collins and The John R. Lewis Trust, represented at the ceremony by Linda Early Chastang, former Chief of Staff to Congressman Lewis and President and CEO of the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation; former US Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young; US Congressman Jimmy Panetta; University of California President Michael V. Drake; the Reverend Dwight Andrews; and generous donors.

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