At the “Importance of Black History for Everyone” event sponsored by Cal State Fullerton Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Jerry Hunter described a moment when a curious young lady asked about the college name on his sweatshirt. When Hunter told her it was Morehouse College, a school Martin Luther King Jr. attended, she had no idea who King was.
The chancellor emeritus of the North Orange County Community College District lent his own perspective on the importance of black history in the Mackey Auditorium on Tuesday.
The Birmingham, Alabama native migrated in 1963 from the South to California, where he lived in Santa Barbara with a white family.
Hunter used several events in history as a timeline for his PowerPoint presentation. While he lived in the South the 1960s Freedom Riders movement was ongoing.
The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who protested segregated bus terminals. Many were subject to arrests and beatings after leading sit-ins to boycott whites-only establishments throughout the South.
“One of the reasons that the churches sponsored me to leave from out there was because it was a bad place to be,” Hunter said.
He also shared his input on current movements like Black Lives Matter and encouraged the audience to do research on political movements. Hunter said after researching Black Lives Matter he learned that it was spearheaded by three African-American women.
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi started the political movement in 2013 after unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida. Martin’s death sparked controversy throughout the nation.
“How do we help the next generation get a better, broader picture of the truth?” said James Cavitt, who was sitting in the audience. Cavitt, who sees Hunter as a mentor, got a chance to take the microphone and ask the audience critical thinking questions.
“What’s the next step for us as a society? Where do we go from here?,” Cavitt said.
The end of the presentation was geared toward debate on the current education system and questioned whether or not it accurately informs students across the country about black history.
“History is multifaceted, and the more (students) know about other people’s background and other people’s experiences, the better educated they will be,” Hunter said.