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Black History Month

Black History Month

SMCC Celebrates Black History Month

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity
February 1- February 28

SMCC, the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Engagement, and SMCC’s Black Student Union are helping our community celebrate and honor Black History Month on campus. Join in to learn and celebrate Black lives virtually.

SMCC Black History Month Virtual Events

Virtual Vision Board Party

BSU will host a vision board party with the community. The goal is to inspire the community to map out their long term and short-term goals. The Vision Board was created by our BSU secretary whose mission is to help motivate people to put action behind their plans so that they are living their dreams.
When: Feb 11 
Meeting Time: 3:00 pm to 4:00pm

Join the Vision Board Meeting

Meeting ID: 859 8949 8065
Passcode: 944919 
Where: Pick up your vision board copy at the BSU Information Board located at SMCC Café

African American History Month Blood Drive

The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care. Amid this crisis, doctors have been forced to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available. Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments.

Blood donors who are Black play a critical role in helping people with sickle cell disease, the most common genetic blood disease in the U.S. Patients with the disease may rely on regular blood transfusions throughout their lives to help prevent sickle cell complications, such as organ and tissue damage, severe pain, and strokes.

South Mountain Community College
Student Union Room 100ABC

Thu, Feb 17
9:30am-2:30 pm

Thu, Feb 24
9:30am-2:30 pm

Exploring African American Mistrust of the Medical System

From Tuskegee to shadow vaccination efforts, the memory of a painful history with the American medical system has left a lingering mistrust in some Black Americans, and has created a hesitancy to sign up for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Presented by:
Dr. Edmond Baker,
Medical Director of Equality Care Center
February 22 | 11:00 am - 12:30 pm | Virtual

Join the Virtual Meeting

Join by phone:
(US) +1 720-500-3065
(PIN: 759226044)

BSU “Self Care and the Arts”

The Arts are an integral part of Black history. This interactive discussion will focus on the connection of art and self care that are both essential and especially relevant in today’s times. We will share tips and discuss ways to practice self care using the arts to heal our minds and spirits. 
When:  Feb 25
Meeting Time: TBD

Join the BSU Virtual Event

Meeting ID: 859 8949 8065
Passcode: 944919

Rock Stars

A tribute to Black excellence and the contribution Black people have made throughout history. The rocks will display quotes, art, song lyrics, etc. The rocks will be displayed throughout the SMCC campus. The goal of this self-guided activity is rooted in hope of educating and/or lifting spirits. The rocks will be for people to keep or to pass on to other individuals so that they receive the benefit of a smile, education or inspiration. 

When:   Feb 1 - Feb 28
Where:  SMCC Campus

Children’s Activity Sheet

The one-page sheet will help kids to learn and explore fun Black history facts in a fun manner. Black History is American History!

When:  Feb 1 - Feb 28
Where: SMCC Phoenix Public Library 

BSU “Black literature for Black History Month- Book Drive”

Black Student Union will host a children’s book drive. The book drive will highlight Black authors sharing Black stories for children ages 0-17 fiction and nonfiction to promote Black literature for Black History Month. The BSU encourages all faculty, staff, students, and community to join us in the book drive by donating Black literature. 

When:  Now through February 28th
Where: Professor Shalmeka Sweet office (SES 157) and Professor Azra Mahmood's (CFASS)

Learn more about the Black Student Union at SMCC!


Black Student Union (BSU)The purpose of the Black Student Union (BSU) is to promote activities of common interest, as well as cultural and educational benefit, for all students.


To provide a vehicle for Black students to gain access to resources that will enable them to:

  • Increase educational knowledge
  • Maximize scholarship opportunities
  • Develop political awareness
  • Expand employment/promotional opportunities
  • Enhance quality of life

Black Student Union (BSU)In addition, the objective on campus is to continue to promote community and self-enrichment by way of community service and volunteerism. The Black Student Union will continue to provide a forum for all students to voice their differences, goals, and ideas. Furthermore, BSU encourages cooperation between its member organizations, the student body and the community as a whole.

Please join the January BSU Meeting on 1/28/22 @ 3pm 
Meeting Time: 3pm to 4pm
Meeting ID: 859 8949 8065
Passcode: 944919 


Azra Mahmood

Shalmeka Sweet

Black Owned Businesses in the Community

Support Phoenix black-owned business during Black History Month and beyond. compiled of City of Phoenix business you can support.

Black Businesses in the Community

Black Resilience in South Phoenix, 1887-Present

By Summer Cherland, PhD

The geographic and demographic origins of South Phoenix: 1887

The origins of the community we call “South Phoenix” date back to 1887, with the arrival of the BNSF rail line, which brought Mexican migrants as well as blacks fleeing the American South as part of the Great Migration. Phoenix townships had just been established, and though men and women of color had been foundational to the city’s origins, as more migrants arrived over time, Phoenicians became less hospitable to Latinx, Asian and African American newcomers. Like other cities in the American West, Phoenix practiced de jure (legal) methods to segregate all people of color, since all people of color were banned from purchasing or renting land north of the BNSF rail line, which is near Jefferson Street in today’s downtown. Over time, the boundaries moved further south, as geographical and societal forces alienated the city’s poor and people of color.

Over the course of the next century, blacks in South Phoenix thrived, despite the many challenges they faced.

The geographic and demographic origins of South Phoenix: 1887


South Phoenix Baptist Church
Black activism and society in South Phoenix: 1958

The oldest African American led church in the state is Tanner Chapel African Methodist, founded in 1886 in downtown Phoenix. Most South Phoenix blacks did not have frequent access to Tanner AME. They were often land locked by the frequent flooding of the Salt River, and with only one navigable bridge in and out of South Phoenix, getting to Tanner AME was not easy.

Later, in 1958, the Reverend Willie B. Smith organized one of the first black-led churches in South Phoenix, by purchasing James Buffet Nightclub on 19th Street and Broadway. The church has since undergone several renovations, and in 1965, became the longtime home of Reverend Bernard Black.

Reverend Bernard Black was part of a powerful group of African American activists who, since the late 1950s, had been advocating for voting rights, improved access to education, and housing equality in South Phoenix. The Reverend George B. Brooks, who led Southminster Presbyterian Church (also on Broadway) became a well-known name in Phoenix civil rights activity, along with Clovis Campbell, Jim Williams, Austin Coleman, and Lincoln Ragsdale.

Reverends Black and Brooks personify the history of black churches serving as important sites for community partnerships and activism. While leaders and congregates protested and advocated for legislative change, the churches themselves also served as homes to important community control. In South Phoenix, this manifested in a variety of ways, and could be seen in annual celebrations like Juneteenth and the yearly performance of Handel’s Messiah at South Mountain Community College.

Informant Garrison

Though legal restrictions on home ownership and tenancy no longer prohibit blacks from living north of the Salt River, “South Phoenix remains largely the same as it was during segregationist days, made up of Latinos and African-Americans, a number of them who continue to live in poverty-stricken pockets.” It has also been home to several history-making politicians. In 1971, Calvin Goode became the second African American elected to the Phoenix city council, and he served in that position until 1994. Goode was an avid supporter of South Phoenix, and was instrumental in bringing development, education, and innovation to the area throughout his tenure on the council. He was succeeded by two other prominent African Americans, Cody Williams and Michael Johnson, both of whom are champions for South Phoenix. Also in 1971, brothers Cloves C. Campbell, Sr., and Charles R. Campbell founded the first African American newspaper, The Arizona Informant when they “realized something was missing in Arizona.” Cloves Campbell was already active in state politics, having been elected to the State House of Representatives in 1962. In 1974, Campbell made history when he was the first black man elected to the Arizona State Senate. Together, the Campbell brothers sought to bring news and awareness to African Americans throughout Arizona, and especially in South Phoenix. They took special interest in developments happening at South Mountain Community College. In 2019, Goode’s former seat as District 8 councilman was up for election, and the contenders represented the sustained diversity of the area. With African American and Latinx candidates vying for the position, the campaigns “offer[ed] a glimpse of modern-day segregation” by reflecting “how the racial marginalization of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s still is playing out” in today’s political climate. Though the election may have been competitive, it also demonstrated that South Phoenix residents have been living and working across culture and race for over a century.

PhxGazette. Hooray First Graduates
Black-led education in South Phoenix: 1978

In the 1970s, the Maricopa Community College District was booming. As the Phoenix metro area expanded, so too did the local demand for access to higher education. The District had a relatively simple strategy when it came to expansion. Sites for new campuses were selected based on community need and population and could not be within a 5-mile radius of existing campuses.

South Phoenix was an interesting case. The boundaries were relatively unclear, getting in and out of the area was nearly impossible, and as the crow flies, South Phoenix was somewhat close to Maricopa Technical College (now Gateway), though getting there was nearly impossible. The people of South Phoenix also faced pervasive racism when it came to their community’s need for education. The general sentiments were that “the people were happy down there” and, “They don’t need a college down there.” It took years of activism, persistence, and collaboration for blacks, Latinos, and Asians to finally see their hopes for a college in their area materialize. Together church leaders, politicians, business owners, and educators faced bureaucratic roadblocks, and overt racism in their quest to see a college built. South Mountain Community College was approved by two separate boards after several years of conflict, in February of 1979. Classes started later that year, and were held in classrooms at nearby elementary schools and at local churches. In 1981, the college finally opened for real, with the first classes held on campus. South Mountain Community College is a testament to the history and community activism that has defined South Phoenix since the late 19th century.

In 1981, South Mountain Community College conferred degrees for their first graduating class. Three students – Patti Clarke, Karen L. Henderson, and Lawrence Eugene Jack – earned the first associate degrees SMCC ever awarded. The entire graduating class of 1981 consisted of three African American students from South Phoenix, Arizona.

PhxGazette. South Phx on Threshold of Growth
South Phoenix Today

South Phoenix has changed dramatically in the 21st century. With new roads and infrastructure, the community is no longer an island in the desert. Newcomers are drawn to the promises of affordable housing, easy access to the Phoenix corridor, and great views. Longtime South Phoenix residents watch as their rural community becomes more urbanized seemingly overnight. And yet, the resilience of African Americans in South Phoenix is increasingly clear, despite these changes. 

Local efforts to preserve and celebrate the history of black leaders and community members continue. Visit for more information.