New Umoja mural brings unity and inclusion for all students of color

The+UMOJA+mural+on+Thursday%2C+Sept.+15+at+City+College+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.%2C+located+at+the+campus+center+was+painted+by+the+BAMP+organization.+This+mural+focuses+on+Black+and+African+American+students+education.

Jenna McMahon

The Umoja mural on Thursday, Sept. 15 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif., located at the Campus Center was painted by the BAMP organization. This mural focuses on Black and African American students’ education.

Melissa Garcia, Editor-in-Chief

The Umoja mural has brought life to the Campus Center as it represents Black and African American students in a colorful way. 

“Finally seeing something that is actually tangible that people can see and feel was very, very empowering especially for the students of color like myself,” Chernor Diallo, ASG president, said.

The first interactive quality is the dreaming boy with the two children below on Friday, Sept. 16. Students can stand between the children to take a picture to symbolize them dreaming of their future.
The first interactive quality is the dreaming boy with the two children below. Students can stand between the children to take a picture to symbolize them dreaming of their future. (Jenna McMahon)

From right to left, the mural begins with two children at the bottom and a child dreaming of the future. It then transcends into a motherboard that leads to the center of the artwork, where there is a stairway of books leading into the mind of a graduate. Below the graduate, there are three people standing, one with their fist up. The painting then goes through more flowers and a hummingbird, then to the University of Timbuktu and an African mask. It finishes with a female graduate with her fist up and an Umoja stole around her neck accompanied by other graduates and the sankofa bird.

“A lot of students come to college not thinking that they really belong here,” Akil Hill, senior admissions and records technician and co-leader of the mural, said. “What better way to show that you’re welcome than a mural celebrating Black academic success.”

The mural was painted by The Bay Area Mural Program, a nonprofit organization located in the Bay area that is made up of local artists who create public art for communities.

“One of my favorite parts of the whole mural is the ending where we have Timbuktu,” Andre Jones, executive director of BAMP, said. “Being able to depict that image and really just start a conversation about university and studies and higher learning from a different angle is always great to me.”

The second interactive quality is the books, students can pretend they are going up the book staircase into the mind of the graduate on Friday, Sept. 16.
The second interactive quality is the books, students can pretend they are going up the book staircase into the mind of the graduate on Friday, Sept. 16. (Jenna McMahon)

Each of the graphics that are included in the mural have an important meaning behind them. One of them includes the sankofa bird as its prominent in the African American heritage as well as the Umoja program. It symbolizes looking back from where you started then sending you forward into the future and giving you knowledge.

“The story of the piece was really wanting to showcase Blackness with the lens of joy and success and achievement and possibility,”  Roxane Bryne, coordinator of equity, diversity, and cultural competency and co-leader of the mural, said.

In the first week of the semester, English professor Cynthia Davis took her students out to the mural for a free writing assignment to interpret what they saw in the mural and what they thought it symbolized. 

“It was really a community building experience for all of us,” Davis said.

The mural is interactive and meant for people to take pictures alongside it. There’s a stairway of books to ‘walk’ up, and also stand next to the people with their fists raised as well as next to the little kids on the right. Towards the end of the piece, the woman graduate is also meant for upcoming graduating Umoja students to be able to take a picture next to her.

The final interactive quality of the mural on Friday, Sept. 16, is the UMOJA graduate raising her fist. The university behind her, Timbuktu, is one of the first universities in Africa.
The final interactive quality of the mural is the Umoja graduate raising her fist. The university behind her, Timbuktu, is one of the first universities in the world. (Jenna McMahon)

It allows our Black and our African American students to see that we’re reflecting Black excellence on campus and that there’s a place for them to be,”  Substitute Umoja Student Program Adviser Alicia Meyers, said.