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SMC Celebrates Black History Month


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By Lookout Staff

February 2, 2024 -- Santa Monica College (SMC) will celebrate Black History Month with a series of talks, discussions and author readings, as well as a workshop to help students enter historically Black colleges and universities.

Launched in 2016, the ongoing Black History Series will be held online or on SMC’s main campus in Santa Monica and on the Malibu campus through the spring semester.

Jason Mott
National Book Award-winner Jason Mott (Courtesy SMC)

The first event, “The Black College Expo,” takes place at the LA Convention Center on Saturday, February 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

SMC and local high school students are invited to attend the free event, which requires preregistration (see Feb. 10 listing at for details and transportation form).

The Expo "is a great way for students to meet with representatives from more than 50 colleges, get fast answers to questions, and find out about a variety of educational resources," college officials said.

"Students can even get accepted to a college and apply for scholarships on the spot."

SMC transfer students should bring their transcripts from all colleges they have attended, while high school seniors (as well as juniors) should bring their transcripts and ACT or SAT test scores. Transportation and lunch will be provided.

The series resumes in Santa Monica Tuesday, February 20, at 1 p.m. with “Exploring Identity, Love, and Being Black in America in Fiction Writing” with New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott.

Mott will talk about his novel “Hell of a Book,” a "deeply honest, at times electrically funny" story of an author on a cross-country publicity tour that won the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction.

The book -- which also won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction -- "goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole," organizers said.

Mott is the author of two poetry collections and four novels. His first novel, “The Returned.” was adapted for television and aired on ABC under the title “Resurrection.”

A brief discussion and audience Q&A follow the talk, which is sponsored by the SMC Library and Library Speakers Consortium in collaboration with the SMC Associates.

The series continues on Tuesday, February 27 at 3:45 p.m. with “How to Transfer to a HBCU” at the Student Services Center (SSC) on the Santa Monica campus.

The "short, highly informative workshop" will offer information on the nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and answer questions about the requirements and deadlines that must be met to apply and be accepted at a HBCU.

The workshop will also show students how they "can secure guaranteed admission to a variety of participating HBCUs," college officials said.

The free event requires preregistration (see Feb. 27 listing at for details). Refreshments will be provided.

On Wednesday, February 28 at 11 a.m., Lucas Rivera will present “My AfroRican State of Soul” at Malibu 202 on the SMC Malibu Campus, 23555 Civic Center Way.

A multidisciplinary artist, Rivera will present a book talk and interactive performance reflecting his autobiographical work, which blends narrative nonfiction and poetry.

“My AfroRican State of Soul” chronicles his journey across the country doing spoken word and interactive discussions of "how art -- from turntables to dance, spoken word, painting, and stained glass -- was a means of survival."

Rivera presents the perspective of an Afro-Latino and discusses "the important influences of the intersections of the Taino, Spanish, and African cultures that make up the history of Puerto Rico."

The free event requires preregistration (see Feb. 28 listing at for details).

The February lineup concludes Thursday, February 29, at 11:15 a.m. with a presentation by Brianna Harvey titled “Lessons in Liberation: How Black Youth and Families Resist Oppression."

Harvey, a CSU Fullerton assistant professor of sociology, will discuss her research examining "how carceral systems use policies, practices, and other mechanisms of control to perpetuate anti-blackness and impact the lives of Black youth and their families."

A former Student Service Specialist for the SMC Guardian Scholars Program, Harvey has also researched the K-12 educational experiences of Black foster youth.

The hybrid event will be held online and in the SMC Student Equity Center (Cayton Center, Lower Level, Room 010). The event is free but requires preregistration (see Feb. 29 listing at for details).

All events are subject to change without notice, and additional events may be added to the series.

The views expressed by presenters are their own and their participation in any Santa Monica College program does not imply any SMC endorsement or recommendation of them or any entity or product they represent.

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