By The Talon and MSJC | Feb. 28, 2021 1:30 p.m.
Mt. San Jacinto, Calif.–– With February coming to an end, The Talon honors Black lives that have influenced others regardless of their skin color, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.
We asked students to submit Black influences throughout their lives and share with us the qualities that have inspired them to do better for their communities. Here are their stories:
These submissions are the students’ opinions and do not reflect Mt. San Jacinto College as a whole. MSJC and The Talon are committed to providing a platform for student voices especially when it comes to promoting diversity, equity, and equality. If we have offended in any way by posting any of these submissions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback and we will respond with the appropriate actions.
Dr. Michelle Harper, MSJC All-Star
By Marilu Coy
I am first-generation and the first to attend college in my family. Dr. Harper was the first Professor I had while attending college at MSJC. On my first day, I was extremely nervous, but her kindness and friendliness made me feel better.
Dr. Harper creates a safe space for all her students during COVID; she held community zoom meetings to connect and have in-depth conversations about social injustice and equity in our community and country. Her knowledge and mentoring have prepared me in my journey as a Preschool Teacher. She taught me to be an advocate for all children and their families.
Her positive role has impacted me to be a Teacher who puts her students first and to speak up for those who can’t. She is the Beyonce in my life!
I dedicate the poem “Progress” by Rupi Kaur:
“Our work should equip
The next generation of women
To outdo us in every field
This is the legacy we’ll leave behind.”
By Augie Resendiz
One of the most prominent Black influences in my life is Bob Marley and his music. As a person, Mr. Marley has always demonstrated a caring personality for mankind and wish for a united love of the human race.
Bob Marley’s music, which has been a part of my earliest memories of my youth has also always portrayed a message of familial love and world unity, which has also deeply affected me in the sense that I find myself thinking in the same way. Another very important trait that I admire about Bob Marley is his very positive outlook on life and that true happiness and richness does not come in the form of money:
“There are some people so poor, all they have is money”.
To him, the real riches of life was emotion; to love your family, strangers, and to appreciate and be grateful for all the wonderful experiences of life.
Furthermore, a song which for many, including myself, has and continues to instill a feeling of tearful joy and indescribable love every time I hear it is “One Love”, where one of the most beautiful messages is heard and felt:
“A universal love and unity for mankind.”
For these reasons and many more, I owe much inspiration and many aspects of who I am as a person to Bob Marley!
By Brian Moreno-Alvarez
Black History Month is a time to not only recognize successes, but challenges faced in both black men and women in our country. RuPaul Andre Charles is a black American drag queen, singer, actor, and television personality host on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
His story growing up and breaking away from a system that has oppressed him financially, socially, and racially should inspire others to fight for equitable change in our world. RuPaul’s Drag Race has transformed itself to become a progressive platform allowing drag queens to have the opportunity to succeed while also getting the ability to be appreciated by a wider audience. His ability to put queer culture into mainstream media has expanded representation and diversity for the LGBTQ+ community.
While RuPaul may not be a figure whom many would discuss, his success story will inspire future generations of the LGBTQ+ community and African Americans, putting the world of drag into the spotlight.
As RuPaul says:
“Remember, if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?”
Shirkydra Roberts: Veteran, survivor, family
By Melinda Altuhov
After time with drugs and being involved with the wrong crowd, the choice was jail or the military, so she chose the latter. She soon began working in the engineering department on a US Navy warship.
As a young black female working in a male predominant field, she had no choice but to find her drive quickly. She worked her way up to a leadership role, and even taught my husband a lot while she was his superior. Years have passed and now, she has transitioned to an officer in the Navy, earned her degree, is a motivational speaker, a business owner, and a new author.
She has demonstrated that it does not matter where you come from, only where you are going. Her dedication to doing what she needs to do to get where she wants to be, her drive to keep going even when life gets hard, and her consistent positive attitude to keep others motivated to live the best version of their lives is incredibly empowering.
She makes it known that, with enough ambition, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Do not let your gender or skin color determine where you will go in life, YOU determine where you go.
Her name is Shirkydra Roberts, a family friend that motivates me to be the best version of myself every day.
Fannie Lou Hamer
Shared by Christina Ibrahim
“The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Fannie Lou Hamer” by Grunge
Fannie Lou Hamer was a force to be reckoned with. Enduring intractable racism, police beatings, and even forced sterilization, she never stopped working for equal voting rights for all. This is the tragic real-life story of Fannie Lou Hamer.
By Danielle Huerta
Michelle Obama was the first African-American First Lady ever in the United States of America which is is pretty outstanding considering we have had 46 presidents and it took till the 44th president to finally embrace Black ethnicity. Michelle Obama embraced working with people to serve their communities and their neighbors with open arms.
She is an inspiration to all before even being the first lady she always had the same beliefs and values and continued to help her community, even after her husband’s presidency. Michelle Obama was an amazing mother and valued family time and still helping out the country. Being an African-American mother, she understood what it meant to be judged, nonexistent, and feel irrelevant when faced with the white community.
Michelle even mentioned on her podcast that “White America acts like Black women like herself don’t exist”. Michelle Obama made it a goal to improve the lives of others and embrace culture, ethnicity, and compassion all around.
One of the biggest inspirations is how much Barack Obama and Michelle Obama understood the difficulties of military families and they really made it a goal to help them and hosted several campaigns to support military families. Michelle is also recognized for her obesity initiative, she valued maintaining a healthier lifestyle, and she made it clear that many children are still dealing with this condition.
Overall, Michelle is one of my favorite African-American influences and I will continue to watch the great work she does for her nation.
By Castin Chamberlain
When I was eight years old, President Barack Obama was elected president of the United States of America. Growing up with the Obama’s in the White House from 8 to 16 years old, I noticed a lot that Mrs. Michelle Obama was often on the TV Screen interacting with us kids from a distance.
I enjoyed her empowerment, and her ability to connect with me so interpersonally as a kid. I will always respect her for being such a friendly figure to our youth.
As I have grown over, I have learned so much about her. I am amazed by her story, and I can relate on such a deep level.
By Nick Pettis
The most influential person in the Black community, in my opinion, is former President of the United States, Barack Obama.
The reason I chose him to write about is that he was the first Black President of the United States. I have a lot of extended family members who are Black and Obama being inaugurated inspired us all. My family now knows that if Obama can become president, then they too can achieve anything.
I hope reading about what he means to me and my family that you will understand why he has been such an inspiration.
By Castin Chamberlain
Jada Pinkett-Smith was first introduced to me when I watched Fox Network’s Gotham. I noticed Pinkett-Smith’s character was very strong, independent, even though she was portrayed as a villain in the TV series.
As I’ve grown older I have learned a lot about her talk show Red Table Talk. I have always applauded her for being so open about issues that need to be discussed.
By Eddie Landeros
Stevie Wonder has been one of the most influential leaders in my life in both music and philosophy. He was born blind and in poverty, but he did not let his situation stop him from spreading love and positivity through his songs.
Stevie Wonder sings about a wide variety of emotions and life scenarios that really helped me understand life and my own feelings within. His music motivated and inspired me to make the best of every situation and know that there is always a lesson to be learned.
The most influential album for me would have to be Songs in the Key of Life (1976). The opening song, “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” is enough to make me want to do better for myself and the world we inhabit.
Thank you, Stevie Wonder.
By Dr. Michele Weber
One of the most influential Black women to me is Stacey Abrams.
Stacey Abrams has worked tirelessly in the state of Georgia to secure voting rights for all, especially Black Americans who have been historically disenfranchised. She founded the group Fair Fight Action which has reformed the voting system in Georgia and has helped the Democratic Party to secure two Democrat senators from a historically Republican state.
She is a former House of Representatives member in Georgia, and also ran for Governor in Georgia as the first African American to do so. Additionally, In 2021, Abrams was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in the 2020 election.
This is why I have chosen her as my choice for who I look up to for Black History Month, as she is a strong Black Woman who has facilitated important change in our society.
Nika: a mother, an artist, an inspiration
By Myah Lucas
I would like to tell you about an amazing black woman who has had an impact on my life. Her name is Nika.
I started as her nanny to her children and overtime became her friend. I saw first hand the struggle of being a mother and aspiring artist. She raised her children so well that she later had to teach them what hate was.
When they would get bullied at school she always had the right words to say. She taught them that they are beautiful inside and out no matter what mean words they heard about themselves from other people.
She is one of the most talented singers and actors I have had the pleasure to meet and I hope that she makes it big because the entertainment world would be better with her in it! Sometimes I would stay late after work just talking to her and those talks and the advice she gave me would give me peace and serenity.
I aspire and hope to be just as good as a mother as she is to my kinds in the future. I am grateful to have met this woman.
My Friend Austin
By Nathalia Ruvalcaba
During high school, I rather lacked knowledge on the culture of my fellow Black peers, and to be surrounded by so many of them, it seemed wrong to not know much about their traditions or upbringings.
Through in my junior year I was able to make an amazing friend whose name is Olushope-Makochukwu Austin Laniyi, but for the sake of avoiding so many mispronunciations simply went by Austin. He was always so open and proud of his culture that he made me realize how proud I should be of my own.
Austin is Nigerian and was always so excited to teach others about his culture as he thought it was so important for others to learn about it to be a part of a true “boiling pot” of culture that many perceive America as. He taught me about so many things ranging from how most of the black community takes care of their hair to major Nigerian dishes like Jollof Rice, Puff Puff, and Nigerian Meat Pies. Though Austin was so open to telling peers about his culture, what intrigued me the most was how passionate he always was about the issues that many in the black community face today.
He was always quick to correct the ignorant in regard to the trials and tribulations that black people would face not only in America but in every part of the globe as he would say. An example being when he explained to me that in China there are still many hateful displays towards Black people and thus there are public places where Black people are forbidden to enter, which I would have never known if it was not for him and opening my eyes to how cruel the world still is. He taught me that racism is still alive and well and we must all work together to educate the new generations about how others in the past have been ignorant and how we can stray away from this inexcusable hate.
I decided to ask Austin why he believed it was so important for others to learn about Black culture, and he responded with:
“I think that it is so important for others to learn about Black culture because of the false narratives that have been put upon us, and as a society we need to appreciate Black culture so that we can understand Black people’s issues, where they stem from, why they feel the way they feel, etc”.
Austin has influenced me greatly in both becoming a stronger ally to the Black community and learning to love my own culture just as much, as before him I thought little of my origins but have now grown a better appreciation for it. Austin truly opened my eyes to notice that society has placed ignorant labels on Black people, that are continuously being used to influence others, growing a seed of seemingly never-ending hate.
If people simply took a step back from the unfair assumptions that have gone on long enough from older generations and actually got to know our wonderful fellow black peers, then one would see how kind, passionate, interesting, intelligent, and loving the Black community is, then we would start realizing that all of those unjust labels and stereotypes are all undignified and wrong, working to break the never-ending cycle of racism.
I was so lucky to have met Austin and will forever be thankful to him for teaching me things about Black culture that I will forever take on with me to pass on to others as well. Austin is truly an incredibly intelligent, kind, and overall amazing guy who can always make anyone laugh, and for that, I am beyond thankful to call Austin my friend.
By Tenesia Brann
Ermias Joseph Asghedom, known as Nipsey Hussle, was born August 15, 1985 and died March 31, 2019. He was only 33 years old.
Nipsey Hussle was a rapper, activist, and entrepreneur, and a father of two. He was born and raised in Los Angeles where the majority of my mother’s side of the family is from. He is also from the same neighborhood where my family and I grew up (Slauson). He inspired many people not only in Los Angeles but inspired many people all over the nation.
Nipsey Hussle stands out from so many people because he did not come from an easy up brining. He had a violent past, he was in a gang called Rollin 60’s which was connected with crips. But he detached himself from the gang life and bettered his life by writing songs to influence others to do better with their lives for those in a situation similar to his.
Even for those who are not involved in gangs, he gave us a different perspective to love and take care of one another no matter where you are from. He even opened up a business in LA and hired people who were in prison and could not get a job because of their bad record. He knew everyone deserved a second chance at life. He loved kids, he loved the peace and he wanted nothing in life but to inspire others to better the world and their community. He even planned to attend an anti-gang violence meeting on the day he died.
Nipsey Hussle had the vision to change street life, to change the heart of gang members, and better the world and his community, and he succeeded. He touched many lives all over the world and brought peace to many people.
To this day young men and women, are inspired to change their community and make peace in the world to continue Nipsey Hussle’s legacy. The Marathon Continues.
Wesley Snipes as Blade
By Ramon Ramirez
I am unsure why I was allowed to watch the film Blade (1998) at such a young age. However, I am glad I did and certainly believe it was one of many things that led me to be who I am today.
I really liked and looked up to how strong the main character Blade was. Regardless of the unfair past and life he was born to, he stands tall. Looking at life with unwavering eyes, and an unbreaking conviction to help others from meeting the same fate he did. A hero.
The actor Wesley Snipes did an amazing job in his portrayal, and there can never be another to play Blade. I do not have many heroes, but I can confidently say he is one of mine.
Perhaps one day we would be able to sit and talk.
Mahalia Jackson – “Motherless Child” (Cover by Jacqui Harris)
MSJC student Jacqui Harris ( @genjacqui )shares a cover of Mahalia Jackson’s rendition of “Motherless Child.” Born in New Orleans, LA, Mahalia Jackson was a renowned gospel singer in Chicago from the 1930s until the 1970s. Her single “Move on Up a Little Higher” sold millions and became the highest-selling gospel single in history.
Jackson has performed with the great Duke Ellington, at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and at the March on Washington at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.
The song “Motherless Child” is a Spiritual which dates back to slavery. Spirituals were songs filled with the sorrows of slavery and the oppression of African and African-Americans in the US. Slaves sang during work and worship to God in order to make peace with the trials and tribulations they were being tested with, passed down from generation to generation.
Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali
By Roger Rodriguez
Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) was an American professional boxer during the 1960s on through the 1970s.
Ali stood out to me because of the motivation he would give off towards someone. A famous nickname he had was “The People’s Champ”. During the times of his successful career, racism was at a high, and being a minority did not make things any easier.
My first reason how he’s influenced me is the way he carried himself. Muhammad Ali was the best of the best; he defeated every top heavyweight in his era and was named “Fighter of the Year” more times than any other fighter. With this being said Ali had to put in the work, and he did which is what many documentaries can show.
Second, Ali was for the people. There have been many times where Ali knew his position and place as he tried to entertain the people while also trying to help the children. That showed me that he had a heart of gold and during the racist times he was living in it was hard to go that extra mile. Especially when racism was a BIG thing and played a bigger role than it does today.
These are two reasons how Cassius Clay has influenced my life. Here are two quotes that many people have heard and have become famous throughout this day.
“Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee” and “I’mma show YOU how GREAT I AM.”
Karyn Langhorne Folan (Bluford High)
By Kayla Jones
To be considered as an influence on something or someone, you have to be capable of making an impact on someone causing an effect on their development and or life. Whether it is giving advice or physically helping, you are an influencer. Karyn Langhorne Folan, one of the writers of the Bluford High series I would consider to be top tier for black influencers.
Not only has she been an influence for me and other African-American scholars, but other races as well. Her books represent equality and acceptance while utilizing personal experiences her audience can relate to. This is something that is hard to do when you are speaking about the struggles of high school and life being African-American while also extending this message to other races.
I have never met her in person but I feel as if I am able to connect with her through her characters. I attended a predominantly white elementary school and at this time I didn’t understand the importance of being Black. I understood the tone of my skin was darker but never considered it to be something to point out. When I started reading Karen Langhorne’s books, there was an automatic gravitational pull to my own experiences.
I felt as if she knew me and wrote these books to show me that there are other people who go through the same things as you. This influenced me in a major way because it allowed me to recognize the beauty of my race and appreciate my discrete characteristics.
I really want to commend Karyn Langhorne Folan for her work and thank her for introducing me to a raw unapologetically beautiful Black illumination.
Donna Summer was truly an icon to me as a child and now as a teenager/adult. I would always hear the song hot stuff playing from my dad’s radio in the car.
Anytime I was down I would put her on to put me in a good mood. She was not only the queen of disco but a queen with a beautiful voice and a full on disco icon especially for the LGBTQ+ community. Everything about her made me smile, her voice, her catchy lyrics and beats to every song, her outfits, her hair, her everything was just inspiring and beautiful.
She left a huge and amazing mark on the music industry and even interviews I’ve read about her are intriguing. She would describe making music diving in head first and seemingly like she had almost everything planned or figured out for her next song.
She was truly an icon and I hope she’s resting peacefully as I write this about her. She has one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard!
Nat King Cole: Songs of Love
By Milla Garcia
I was in 8th grade when I started listening to Nat King Cole’s albums other than his most popular Christmas songs that he is known for.
I explored through his music to find any other songs I can listen to on repeat, and I ended up finding a whole album filled with his love songs. The whole section is so beautiful to listen to, it never fails to get me lost in thought, and every song has its own unique sound and story to it. With the orchestra flowing in the background, I can only imagine walking with the one I love during any season (mostly fall), taking a slow stroll by a lake or through Central Park.
Although Songs like “When I fall in love” and “Unforgettable” make me think about my partner and me dancing at a nice fancy place like in movies making it seem like a fantasy with his music in the background. When I first met my partner, I was barely getting into Nat’s music, and during that time my parents were not really happy with the idea of me having a boyfriend.
It has now been 4 years since we started dating in 8th grade and our love for each other has only grown stronger as each year passes, and there is a particular song of his that started to make sense to us. He has a song called “too young” and it is about a young couple being told they are too young to know what love is, I started catching on because that was the exact same thing that my parents told me but look at us now.
We are still holding on to each other, and there is a chorus I will always remember from that song that goes, “and yet we’re not too young to know, this love will last though years may go, and then some day they may recall, we were not to young at all.”
He has influenced me that you do not have to be older to love someone and my heart was telling the truth, and if you feel the spark deep down in your heart ignite when you look at your lover, you are in love.
By Keyla Martinez
Jackie Aina is a beauty influencer and black business woman. She has made quite the impression on millions of followers with her platform. The reason she is so influential in my life is because she showed just how effortless it is to recognize and call out injustice.
It’s not easy being a woman of color and having a loud voice. But the way Jackie has always placed importance on herself and her brand to be inclusive and to be kind makes it so easy to embrace a loud voice. With her loud voice she consistently makes her stand that she will not be affiliated with any brand, or person that has in any shape way or form been racists to any person(s) or ever spread hatred.
It inspires me to embrace the loud voice in me and also never stand for negligent behavior when it comes to racial issues within the people I surround and associate myself with.
Kareem Campbell: Pro Skater, Entrepreneur, Black Icon
By Jonathan Tafe
I grew up skateboarding, watching skate videos, reading Thrasher and Transworld, and devoting thousands of hours of my life to playing video games such as Tony Hawks Pro Skater. One of the classic and revolutionary influences of the sport and the business itself was and still is Kareem Campbell from Harlem, New York.
He was originally sponsored by World Industries and was featured in classic Skate video’s like “New World Order” and “Trilogy”. Many have referred to him as the “Godfather of Smooth Street Style”. Not only is he still relevant today in the world of Skate he has expanded his business interest in the form of Real Estate and still owns and operates City Star Skateboards.
I looked up to athletes like him growing up and to see that he has truly made it gives me hope for my future.
By Kyle Saldana Martinez
One of the most influential people to me was Kobe Bryant. I grew up watching him play basketball and I learned alot from how he played and incorporated into my style.
Basketball was a very big part of my life. When I was younger I played on two different basketball divisions and Kobe was always my motivation. I would always watch the games on tv with my family and even collect NBA cards. Watching Kobe’s last game with my family was a great moment that I will remember for a long time.
Kobe influenced generations on and off the court. He was a very noble person and a great father to his kids. Even though I never got to meet him, he had a great impact on my life.
Red Tails, Black Lives: Tuskegee Airmen
By Antonio Romero
With a lifelong fascination for flying and with the admiration of the early flying pioneers, it was not surprising that I would be deeply inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen.
In an era where Black men were considered inferior, racial discrimination, prejudice, and segregation were well established in American society, many believed that Blacks were simply unable to become good aviators, let alone become top fighter pilots, a group of extraordinary men, The Tuskegee Airmen rose high above in the full literal and figuratively sense and proved the world wrong.
Known for having their P51 Mustangs tails painted red, thus the name “Red Tails”, their air campaign performed superbly, receiving above-average statistics in all the missions flown compared to all the other air units and receiving numerous prestigious awards and honors.
The Red Tails broke the mold and opened a path for many to follow, showing that no color is a barrier to take to the skies, heroes in every sense, the American way.
Maya Angelou: “Still I Rise”
By Leah Islas
Maya Angelou is a powerful influential voice for people everywhere, especially people of color.
Through her beautiful poetry and storytelling, she brings attention to the subject’s our society would rather ignore. Personally, the poem that touched me as a child was “Still I Rise.” This is such a powerful poem and, although I’m not Black woman, I feel the emotion, the pride, the anger and relate to the struggle of living in a world that was telling young women what they can and can’t do.
“Still I Rise” begins with:
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
Throughout the poem Angelou recognizes the unjust treatment that Black people in America face. The final lines state:
“I am the dream
and the hope of the slave.
Any person who has ever faced adversity can draw strength from this poem it cuts across racial lines. Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 4, 1928. She grew up under Jim Crow laws. She had a very tough childhood, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was only 8 years old, when she told her brother what had happened her Uncles killed the man.
From this traumatic event Angelou experienced selective mutism, she didn’t speak for five years. She believed that her words had killed him, and thought her words could kill again. During this time, she read poetry and books, her listening and observing skills improved which helped her later in life when she began working.
She became an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, producer, director, performer, singer, and a civil rights activist. Her achievements are unmatched, she’s a critically acclaimed author, the first black woman director in Hollywood. She was the first female inaugural poet in U.S. presidential history, and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Angelou’s devotion to her community and her family has always been inspiring to me. I think of the issues I face and the uncertainty we face and I know that with hard work and commitment I can create change and make the world a better place for my children.
By Nalani Kamalii
One of the figures that inspires me most is the beautiful and talented Cynthia Erivo.
This woman has been a role model for me for quite some time. She is an incredible Broadway performer that can bring any individual to tears with the raw emotion she brings to the stage.
Not only does this woman motivate me to further my skills as an inspiring performer, but she also inspires me to be a better human being. She is incredibly down to earth, caring, and humble.
I can only hope to radiate half the amount of brightness she brings to our society, and that my friends is why Cynthia Erivo should be highlighted and inspire everyone.
By Ismail Shah
When thinking of a Black influence in my life, I had to pick LeBron James because I am huge into sports and LeBron James is a great role model.
He has done so much for his community and given back to so many people. He is never afraid to stand up for what is right, and he uses his platform to draw attention these issues he talks about. He has created his own school in the city he was born, and he is providing so many scholarships so that kids can go to college.
He is just an outstanding person and is always trying to help there is never anything bad you hear about him. He is truly someone that inspires me every day. He is also a great father and husband.
You can hate him on the court, but off the court, you must respect him for what he has done.
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner
By Ashley Newland
Someone who I’d like to personally thank is the brilliant Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner.
A black woman who aimed to challenge the status of women forcing themselves to stay inside during their periods, and get rid of the use of uncomfortable and unsanitary cloth. Her idea featured an adjustable belt with an inbuilt, moisture-proof napkin pocket. This design, which used the belt to keep pads in place, would significantly decrease the likeliness of leakage, and ultimately gave women the freedom to comfortably leave their homes while menstruating.
Despite her brilliant idea, she was turned down, simply due to the color of her skin. But Mary never stopped inventing and doing what she loved, and ended up creating many other useful things that we still use to this day. For instance, she created the shower wall back washer, a toilet-tissue holder, and a special attachment for a walker or a wheelchair that included a hard-surfaced tray and a soft pocket for carrying items.
Mary was not only a brilliant, creative, and smart woman. She was very ambitious, determined, and had integrity for a woman in such a difficult and strange time.
There are many things about Mary that inspire me, but if I had to pick the one thing that inspires me most, I’d say that she inspires me to never give up on my goals and aspirations.
She along with many other women have influenced the way I see life differently, and taught me how not allow certain people step over me or my creative ideas simply because I’m a woman.
Friends inspire friends
By Ruby Gonzalez
I have many Black friends but there’s one that truly open my eyes see the good and the bad people can do! She is a woman that fights for women’s rights and women that can’t fight for themselves. She is a god of women in my eyes. She saves women that are in need she has made homes for those women to help them get back on their feet. She shows women how to apply for jobs, teaching them what they need in life, how to save money, and how to change their ways. She is always there to help and inspires me to do the same. We all need help and we should all help out. God is good.
My other friend has a clothing store where she sells clothes at the mall here in Temecula. She’s into fashion and loves to show women how they can feel sexy no matter their age or body type. I support her because she’s my friend but she also a hustler and has passion in what she does. I love how she gives me clothes to try on and takes pictures as I show off her work!
Business is the key of success in many ways. She makes me want to be my own boss one day.
By John Berrios
David Goggins Is a retired Navy seal, ultra marathon runner, triathlete, and world record holder for the most pull ups done in 24 hours. He is an influence to me personally because of his inspirational life story where he overcomes obstacles inside of his own life to become the person he really is.
As a child, Goggins grew up in a tortured home where he suffered abuse at the hands of his father. The neglect from his home life molded him into an insecure and complacent individual, which led to him having many developmental issues. He basked in comfortability hiding away from anything that would challenge him until he realized he had become everything people said he would be.
Weighing at 300 pounds he decided to become a Navy seal and had three months to bring his weight down by 106 pounds. On his first run he was only able to run a quarter-mile, then walked home and cried while drinking a chocolate milkshake.
Despite his mind telling him to stay down he rose up each time he failed to fight the feeling of defeat in his own life. He felt he wasn’t good enough so he pushed himself until he was and made it through B.U.D.S to become a Navy seal. Realizing that his potential is endless, Goggins went on to tackle every challenge in front of him.
In my eyes, Goggins is an inspiration because we have similar upbringings and his story showed me that my past doesn’t have to define who I am to become. His determination in the face of adversity shows me that the only obstacles that hold me back I need to be overcome are inside of my own mind.
His story has pushed me to become a stronger individual in all aspects of my life.
My roommate Cathy
By Serra Bailey
I have come across many positive black influences in my lifetime, but the most prominent influence I have recently had the pleasure of meeting is my roommate, Cathy.
This woman has conquered so many struggles throughout her lifetime and has nothing to show for it but strength and compassion. She works in the health care industry with elderly dementia patients.
On a near-daily basis, she comes to me with her eyes full of excitement about what she has planned for these people she cares for. She has dedicated her life to helping these people in their last days.
Cathy continually inspires me to be the best version of myself and reminds me that there are still genuine people in this world. I’m grateful to have this woman in my life and share this experience with her.
By Anton Nguyen
A prominent Black influence in my life is the artist Kanye West.
I was going through a rough time in high school and never really listening to music on my own prior, but I decided to give Kanye’s work a chance after hearing from people how his music changed their lives. I got instantly hooked after listening to one of his albums and listened to more of his albums.
The general sound of his music really clicked with me, but what really stuck out to me was the emotions and lyrics behind the sound. Sure, a lot of his songs are not always the most serious and some of his lyrics questionable, but a lot of his music has so much heart behind it and the meaning behind what he is saying really hit home.
After listening to Kanye and seeing how much you could do with music, I have started listening to a lot more music. Kanye West helped me through a rough time and helped me learn to appreciate music more.
Making a difference on and off the court: My Volleyball Coach
By Jordynn Walton
An African-American influence in my life was my junior year in high school volleyball coach. She was an amazing woman who balanced being a single mother, a coach, and had a job.
My junior year was a time where I really shined out on the court and she was always so encouraging and helped me lead my team to success. That season was my all-time favorite because of my team, how well we did, and our coach. A good coach makes such a difference in how a team loves a sport and how they play.
My coach also had a girlfriend who was in the military. We all know that unfortunately people of color do not always get treated equally. Even people in the LGTBQ community do not always get treated as equals either.
With that being said, my coach never really opened up about those things but all I do know is she was such a positive and strong woman. If she ever got any negativity because of those things, she never let it get her down or define her which is very inspiring. I could tell she never let anything take her down because she was independent, strong, and a great mother.
I ended up receiving the MVP award from her that season and it meant a lot. She liked how I carried the team and always kept them positive even when the score wasn’t always on our side.
My coach was a great influence on myself as well as my team, and I know she probably has influenced so many others.
Living in America: Inspired by my Math teacher
By Jad Hamasha
2018, senior year of high school. It was my second year I attended school in the United States. I moved from Jordan in the Middle East all the way to the United States here in California. Living in the Middle East was very secluded. We didn’t have any diversity and everyone else pretty much had similar upbringings and similar stories, we rarely ever had new people from different countries and whenever we did they were made fun of and bullied.
I’ve always known that people who are darker than me are not any different from me. We are all the same and my mother would always remind me with a verse from the holy Quran that recites that there’s no difference between people, only their actions decide their difference.
Even though we were always taught that by our parents, people always had racist remarks that never made sense to me and that I never accepted. Moving to the United States in 2017 had a huge impact on me, I was faced with a cultural shock and for the first time in my life I had people with different races than me that weren’t made fun of. By that time I already have been influenced by many Black digital creators and had some awareness of the racism that the world has for Black people, so I always made sure to never make any possible negative remarks. I engrained in myself common social cues to avoid offending anyone.
Back to my senior year of high school. I had an amazing Black women as my Math teacher. She was tall with short hair, broad shoulders and very dark skin. She was assertive, funny and comforting. She always had a story to tell or a lesson to teach. that same year there was an extremely problematic Hispanic student that always used both racial and anti LGBTQIA+ slurs around, he did use them a lot but never in class. But yet he managed to use it in our math class and thankfully the teacher was able to hear him. He used a racial slur very comfortably to his friends, I remember everyones reaction especially the Black students in our class were extremely upset which was rightfully so, however our teacher I think understood that the student could possibly be a case of ignorance.
She took it upon herself for the rest of that semester to always educate us of what she can on Black culture and required us to do small research on Black mathematicians and write a small auto biography about them. I think I admire what she did because I realized that sometimes you don’t have to lash out on people to get your message across especially now where we see racist people feel comfortable enough to be racist, a result from the encouragement of the prior president Trump. Instead we should educate people on the true history of these races and ethnic groups and mandate that knowledge in schools in order to have a more civilized, accepting and diverse mix of culture.
I admired the way she spoke and the spark of interest in social justice she ignited in many of my classmates that year.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Cindy Lopez-Ordonez
The most inspirational Black figure, to me, is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Growing up, I was taught about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his participation in the Civil Rights Movement. Furthermore, I feel a connection to him because I was born in a hospital named in his honor.
This connection may be superficial, yet it is a source of immense pride. I say this because I now know that he deserved to receive such an honor for his commitment to improve our society. Now, as an adult, I had the opportunity to read his iconic “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in my English class.
His letter evoked respect, sadness, and admiration for his eloquence about justice, oppression, racism, and equality, despite his confinement. The letter gave an insight into what it means to be black in the U.S. for outsiders like me. One of the most impactful statements from “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail” was:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.“
These words had an impact on how I want to approach my life. Besides my appreciation for “A Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” I have a deep admiration for his conviction, despite how it was perceived by society and the perils this created such as being under FBI surveillance. I admire the fact that he sought to create an environment where his community would be accepted, appreciated, and prosperous.
Overall, I admire his commitment to establishing a world of mutual respect and his moral character.
By Julius Ala
Born and raised in the South, I grew up learning about desegregation. A prominent figure that was always brought up was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This man touched many lives, including my own. In a way, I view him as saint.
Through all the injustices and hatred, he endured, he stayed true to his cause. I still listen to some of his speeches from time to time. Dr. King had plenty of wise words, but right now a good quote for people to live by would be:
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
He always kept love first and foremost, and I will continue to try and follow his vision.