By Crystal Norman |Staff Writer|
Approximately 400 Inland Empire Residents, CSUSB staff, students and committee members gathered in the Events Center on Feb. 26 to honor past, present and future African American graduates at the at the 4th Annual Pioneer Breakfast.
The purpose of the event was to pay tribute to the life and legacy of past pioneers and to encourage present students, according to the Pioneer Breakfast Chairperson and Facilities Coordinator, Anthony J. Roberson.
“A pioneer is an individual that made an impact at CSUSB by demonstrating a passion for students, exemplifying a commitment to California State San Bernardino University, professionalism, and showing a positive attitude towards colleagues and the surrounding CSUSB community,” said Roberson.
“It was my vision to have a scholarship program for African American students. I got a committee together in order to start the process. When we first started, we had a small section in the Events Center and now we take the entire section we’ve been sold out for the past two years,” continued Roberson.
This year Roberson wanted to do something extra special for CSUSB’s 50th Year Anniversary and while doing research in the library he came across the 1967 CSUSB yearbook.
Lois Carson, Maryjane McCoy, Joyce Payne and John McCoy (no relation to Maryjane) were a few of the names he came across while doing research.
Successful through his “obstacles” in order to graduate, he took the idea to the committee and all members decided to make Roberson’s vision come true.
All African-American members of the 1967 CSUSB class attended the event except for John H. McCoy who died on Oct. 3, 2012.
“Many of us in the room, myself included are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us,” said scholarship coordinator Louise C. Jones, according to The Sun.
Graduates of the 1967 class and many people who attended the event leaned on the shoulders of people of color who came before them.
The theme for this year’s breakfast and scholarship essay was “The Shoulders Upon Which We Stand” to show that when standing together the pioneers are “a force to be reckoned with.”
Student and scholarship winner Shaquel McCoy was one of the many individuals who looked up to those graduates before her and stood true to the theme.
“You are black excellence, and I am proud, we are all proud to be standing on your legacy and strong shoulders as young activists, pioneers and dreamers,” said McCoy in her presentation at the breakfast.
McCoy was not the only one who was proud to have the guests of honor, CSUSB President Tomas D. Morales also honored the past graduates.
“Although it is true that their graduating class of 1967 totaled just 59 students, it should disturb us that only four were black. I would suggest that there is no better way to honor these four than by redoubling our efforts to achieve real diversity and inclusion. I can tell you that I am fully committed to this. There is no higher or more important priority,” said Morales.