Tag Archives: manny mourtzanos

Memorial Day 2020

What a week…. a week of highs and lows. SpaceX launches astronauts from American soil into space for the first time in a decade, we crossed the milestone worldwide of 6 million reported COVID-19 cases, we passed a milestone exceeding 100,00 COVID-19 deaths here in the US, we celebrated Memorial Day even though we were sheltering in place, and George Floyd stopped moving at 8:24 p.m. on Memorial Day on the streets of Minneapolis.

Good morning Bakersfield
It is Saturday, May 30, 2020…A great day to be a Renegade

Six days ago….

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man died on Monday, Memorial Day, while he was pinned to the ground, face down, in an unlawful knee-to-throat chokehold by a police officer. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/us/minneapolis-police-man-died.html?referringSource=articleShare, NY Times published May 26, 2020)

          Lift ev’ry voice and sing
          ‘Til earth and heaven ring
          Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
          Let our rejoicing rise
          High as the list’ning skies
          Let it resound loud as the rolling sea
          Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
          Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
          Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
          Let us march on ’til victory is won

The SpaceX launch was certainly a historic moment…check out the video if you did not get a chance to watch the launch live on Saturday, May 30th.

Memorial Day Message from Jenny Frank

Zav Dadabhoy, Armando Trujillo, Paul Beckworth, Sonya Christian and Jenny Frank at the VRC dedication

Jenny Frank, manager of Veteran Services and Programs, sent out a Memorial Day message to our Renegade Community, and I wanted to share it with all of you:

Dear friends, colleagues and fellow Renegades,

Although technical difficulties prevented this message from reaching each of you yesterday, the sentiment remains.

As the sun sets on another beautiful day in America, we are all acutely aware that this Memorial Day is vastly different than most others. While navigating our lives during these uncertain times, it may be easy to focus on the freedoms that have been disrupted. We must not lose sight of all that we do have and of those who have sacrificed to ensure our way of life.

The brave Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and women and Coast Guardsmen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and its values came from all different walks of life. Yet, they stood side-by-side, united in their cause. I can think of no better way to honor them than to live our lives in the same manner they stood; united.

So, my friends, colleagues, fellow Renegades, as you lay your heads down tonight, remember these brave men and women, today and always. Tomorrow, as we rise, let us all strive to live our lives in a way that would honor their them. It is together that we will overcome any difficulties that face us. Together we will soon enjoy all the freedoms that have been gifted to us.

Please also enjoy Taps played by the Minnesota Orchestra Trumpet Section:

Aging

Here is a great poem from Jack Hernandez:

The body ages
steps hesitant
hair ghostly white
the memory cabinet
filling up,
But love knows
nothing of slowing
only of growing
wider in delight.

Virtual Immigration Clinics

Bakersfield College is partnering with the California Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the California Department of Social Services and the UFW Foundation to provide Immigration Clinics for Bakersfield College students, staff and faculty. The services will include general immigration consultations as well as assistance on DACA renewals, citizenship, family petitions, FBI and background checks, adjustment of status, and visas.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all immigration clinics will be held virtually via Zoom or telephone until further notice. These virtual Immigration Clinics will be held every 2nd Tuesday and 4th Thursday of the month from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Read the full story at Bakersfield College launches free Immigration Clinic.

Letting the Times Guide our Creativity

Last March, Kris Tiner from our Jazz department presented during my Virtual Seminar Series about how he changed his teaching methods when classes moved online. He said we must “let the times guide our creativity.”

This week, Jennifer Garrett, our director of choral and vocal studies and Performing Arts Department Chair, continued that sentiment. She wrote a piece in the Bakersfield Californian about how our performance groups have adapted to social distancing.

BC’s performing arts programs have shared these positive attributes with the Bakersfield community for generations and focusing on them can guide us all through these challenging times. The BC performing arts faculty will continue to let the times guide their creativity, offering BC students the best experiences possible.

BC Foundation announces new Executive Director

This past Thursday marked the last BC Foundation Board of Directors meeting of the 2019-20 academic year. In spite of the challenges presented by the impact of COVID-19, the BC Foundation finished strong.

Almost 550 scholarships worth over $500,000 were awarded to our students, an Emergency Student Fund was established to financially help students during unexpected hardships, and over $60,000 was used to support innovative programmatic activities proposed by faculty. In the midst of reflecting on all the good work done during unusual circumstances, we took opportunity to express appreciation for the contributions made by the staff, board leadership, and college administration.

However, the highlight of the meeting was welcoming the new Foundation Executive Director, Cheryl Scott, who will fully come on board July 6th. There was great excitement among the directors, for most have known Cheryl for many years and are acquainted with her community service and economic development work in Kern County. 

You can find out more about the BC Foundation on their website at https://www.supportbc.org/.

Kern Promise Celebrates Transfer Graduates

Kern Promise is celebrating BC class of 2020 transferring to 4-year colleges and universities. You can see a display of these high achievers on the Transfer Celebration page of the BC website.

If you know of a graduate that would like to celebrate transferring, have them submit a Transfer Celebration Form.

Here are just a few of our transfer graduates:

Rotary Club of Kern River Valley Scholarship

Kern Valley Sun announced the Rotary Club of the Kern River Valley’s scholarship recipients including incoming Renegade, Joey Moyer. The article states Joey will pursue a teaching credential and plans to transfer to a four-year university.  Welcome to BC Joey!

Videos from Closing Week

I’m continuing to highlight a few videos from our Closing Week celebration. All our videos are available on our Closing Week 2020 website.

Incoming BCSGA President Gian Gatayao:

Presidential Leadership Awards: Academic Technology:

Manny Mourtzanos, Management Association:

Uplifting student videos from Summer Bridge

BC’s Summer Bridge program is one of our secret student success strategies. Dr. Kimberly Bligh has moved this program to an online format for Summer 2020. Check out these two uplifting videos from our incoming Bridgers

Thank you Kimberly!

Construction on Campus

While we are not able to be on campus, construction is continuing. Check out this photo from Manny De Los Santos:

Athletics

Sandi Taylor Officially Announces Retirement After 30 Years As A Renegade

This week our fearless Athletic Director Sandi Taylor officially announced her retirement to the community bringing to a close a 30 years career as a Renegade – 23 years as head softball coach and seven as athletic director. As a leader Sandi has consistently kept the Renegade athletics ship on a steady course in the right direction. While she’s ever a kind and gentle soul, she’s also fiercely competitive and was just what Renegade Athletics needed in a leader for the past seven years.

As news of her retirement hit the community, she was immediately was recognized with multiple TV interviews and a front page above the fold article on the sports section of the Bakersfield Californian on Wednesday. The social media posts on her retirement have been swarmed with overwhelming congratulations and well-wishes from former student athletes, coaches, friends and community members. We are glad to have had Sandi for so long and will miss her!

Click below for the stories from our local media on Sandi’s retirement:

Also, as you drive around town, keep your eyes peeled for the billboards honoring Coach Taylor!

And here again is the video of Sandi’s Lifetime Achievement Award

That’s all for now.

Until next time.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.

sonya –
the luckiest and happiest college president ever

BC… Raising the Bar

Jingle Bells. BC at BSO Dec 6 2019
Sleigh Ride BSO Dec 6 2019
Both photos snapped while walking Neo on Dec 21, 2019

Merry Christmas

Started this week’s blog with Christmas music from the BSO-BC Home for the Holidays concert. Featured below is the fun version of Twelve Days of Christmas performed by our new Mens Choir. See if you can spot some of our faculty and staff and in the video. Going left to right: Nicky Damania, Chris Glaser, Nick Strobel.

Celebrating our BC Foster Youth through the NextUp Program!

NextUp, a Foster Youth Support Program housed within EOPS, had an end-of-the-year celebration this past Tuesday.

Fun Photos: UMOJA Recognizes June Charles

June Charles being recognized by the Umoja Program. Thank you Andrea Thorson for the photos.

Fun Photos from the December KCCD Board meeting

Snapped some fun pictures at the Dec KCCD Board meeting. Was great seeing Bill Henry who was recognized by the Board for his tenure at KCCD. Also,Gary Moser and KCCD received an award from Ellucian for the innovative work we are doing statewide. Finally both Romeo Agbalog and Kyle Carter were recognized by KCSOS.

Sandi Taylor was recognized as Manager of the Month by Manny Mourtzanos this past week. Congrats Sandi! You deserve it!

Manny Mourtzanos and Sandi Taylor

Annual Culinary and Caroling Dinner

Topping Out Party

Steve Anderson, Bill Potter, Sonya Christian

On Friday, S.C. Anderson held it’s “topping out” party for the new Campus Center building.  I joined our very own Bill Potter, Tamara Baker, Zav Dadabhoy, Billie Jo Rice, Nicky Damania, and Pam Kelley, along with KCCD Project Manager Nick Hernandez to celebrate this occasion. 

Kurt Hettinger of S.L. Shaw Company, Inc. sent this great explanation of the tradition:

Atop the rust-and-grey steel, a white beam sprouts a green tree from another era.

The “topping out” of a steel framed building with an evergreen tree is an ironworker tradition that originated centuries ago by Scandinavians who believed that gods lived in trees. The evergreen branch is a remnant of a time when builders thought they had to appease the gods whose trees they felled for construction.

Early Scandinavians would place the top-most  branches of trees that were cut for lumber atop their completed buildings. They believed this prevented incurring the wrath of both the tree gods and the souls of men, since man’s soul was believed to originate in trees and return to them.

To live amiably among the tree gods, these early builders accompanied the topping out with festivity and ceremony, culminating with the pouring of wine at the foot of the building. With this, they thought the building and its occupants would gain good luck since no tree god would wreck vengeance on so devout a believer.

Except for the presence of alcohol on a worksite, the topping out practice remains common in the United States, where the last beam of a significant building is painted and signed by all the workers involved. Then a living tree, or at least leafy branch, is placed on the beam, often with flags and banners tied to it. S.L. Shaw, like any red-blooded company, proudly flies the stars-and-stripes on the final beam every time too.

S.L. Shaw Company is proud to continue this tradition, and is proud to have partnered with SC Anderson and Mechanical Industries for the erection of this noteworthy project.

Congratulations on a job well done!

Kurt Hettinger

S.L. Shaw Company, Inc.

I would like to thank S.L. Shaw Company, Inc. SC Anderson and Mechanical Industries for including us in this unique tradition. Specifically, thank you to project manager Bill Campe of SC Anderson, Lee Shaw and Kurt Hettinger of S.L. Shaw, Bob Varner of Ordiz Melby Architects, as well as crane operator Trent Gardener, Nestor and Jose Ramirez for all of their hard work. I cannot wait to see the finished product next December!

You can see more photos from the event on Bakersfield College’s Smug Mug or the A Better BC Facebook page.

Army vs. Navy Football Game

Paul Beckworth hosted the annual Army vs. Navy football game between the Army Black Knights of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York, and the Navy Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis, Maryland. Check out the pictures!

This game brings out the best rivalries at our campus, and it was a joy to be a part of it! Congrats to the Navy on their well-earned win (sorry Tommy Tunson!)!

Steve Holmes playing middle man between Paul Beckworth (Nacy) and Tommy Tunson (Army)
Tony Cordova (Navy), Tommy Tunson (Army) and Paul Beckworth (Navy)

The Southern San Joaquin Valley Cal-SOAP Consortium held a Winter Training Series!

BC’s California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) staff attended a two-day winter staff development series, which was geared towards preparation for the Cal-SOAP work with high school seniors for the spring semester. Tpoics included the Common Application by Nora Dominguez of University of LaVerne, Naviance Career Inventory by Christy Fraley of Kern High School District.

Cal-SOAP is a statewide program designed to increase the number of students attending college. The program serves students who are from low-income families, will be the first in their family to attend college, or are from areas or schools with low-eligibility or college-going rates. Cal-SOAP was established by the state legislature in 1978 and today operates in 14 locations throughout the state. Cal-SOAP is funded and administered by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC).

Tour of the New Veterans Resource Center

If you weren’t able to join us for the Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center ribbon cutting on December 10, have no fear! Take a tour of the new facility through the camera lens! 

You can also see the astounding photos that Max Becherer donated to the new VRC. They’re incredibly powerful.

To San Antonio, Christmas 1977

A beautiful Jack Hernandez poem.

PB&J During Finals Week

Thank you BCSGA for providing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during finals week.

Thank you to the Office of Student Life, BCSGA, and the Renegade Pantry.

Christmas Tree Recycling

This year, we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of our Christmas tree recycling partnership with the City of Bakersfield. Stop by the southwest parking lot on the  corner of University and Haley to drop your Christmas tree off between December 25 and January 17.

 Image courtesy of KBAK 29/58

If the Panorama Campus is too far to bring your tree, you can drop it off at the Kern County Fairgrounds, the Shafter/Wasco landfill, or any number of locations throughout Kern County. Stacey Shepard of the Bakersfield Californian put together a convenient list of all the Christmas tree recycling locations in our area. 

If you live in the Metro Bakersfield area, you can also place Christmas trees into your green waste container as long as the tree is cut into small pieces and the container lid is able to close completely.

M&O Never Sleeps!

The Maintenance & Operations department has been busy over the winter recess making sure that our campus is beautiful for our return in January! They’ve been replacing the flooring in the FACE building west wing and CDC classrooms.  Instructors in the Humanities building will have new stations when they return, and the Delano campus will have new lighting! Thank you to our entire M&O team for continually working hard to make our campuses beautiful and kept to the highest standards for our students.  We appreciate you! 

Measure J: Preparing for New Science & Engineering Building

Over winter break contractors are putting up the construction fence for the upcoming Measure J funded Science & Engineering building.  This new three-story facility will house offices, labs and classrooms for BC’s Science & Engineering department. The 68,300 square foot building has a program value of $65 million and is scheduled to be completed in September 2021.  Mark your calendars for the groundbreaking ceremony to be held on February 4th!   

Fun Photos from the BC Behavioral Science Elves

BC’s Behavioral Science faculty including David Riess, David Rohac, and Jordan Rude wish all their colleagues, friends, students, and president happy holidays!

‘Tis the Season for Giving—

The CARE and CalWORKs parent programs hosted their annual holiday celebration at Rollerama last Friday, a true family friendly affair! Student accomplishments were celebrated along with their children as they skated, enjoyed a meal together, and took family pictures with Santa Claus upon receiving the children’s Christmas gifts from the “Adopt a Family” project.

All the families with a total of 130 children were adopted by our generous BC faculty, staff, and community partners. A big “THANK YOU” for purchasing dinner at our Chipotle fundraiser, providing donations and/or going out of your way to purchase presents for the children! A special acknowledgement goes to Juan Estrada who adopted 12 families!!  I am beyond proud to be the President of such a giving and generous college! 

Fun Photos: Holiday Gifts

Check out the decorations on the cookies from the Grimm Family Ed Foundation.

Pressed flower cookies from Grimm Family Education Foundation

Student Employee Testimonial

Ramon Carriedo says..

Ramon Carriedo

Going to college and having a job can be hard. Balancing work and study is not easy, especially for a full-time student like myself. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be a student employee here at BC, which helps me stay focused on school while earning a paycheck at the same time.

Being a student employee has taught me a lot of skills that can only benefit me in the future. Plus, I get to see all the hard work done behind the scenes to keep the school successful.

In the Marketing Department, I work alongside writers, photographers, graphic designers, web content editors, and leaders. Working around all of these specialists is an amazing opportunity to gather knowledge, which is my favorite part. When I first started working here, I had no clue on how to make documents accessible or work with graphic design. With no experience covering an event, Earl Parsons walked me through the basics of how to take notes and catch a reader’s eye with my writing. He also taught me how to use a digital camera and find the best angles.

My favorite memory of working here had to be the day that I walked in and Monika Scott asked me if I would be willing to help the team present in front of all the new staff. When I asked Monika when this meeting was going to happen, she replied that it was in the next 15 minutes. I instantly started studying the slides, and I walked into the meeting room feeling extremely confident. But when it was my turn to present, everything I thought I was going to say flew right out the window. I started stuttering and I felt frozen.

After the presentation, Monika let me know that this was a great learning experience, and in the future, jobs will ask me to present on short notice. The more practice you get at it, the better you become – just one of the many lessons I’ve learned as a BC student employee.

New Employee Orientation

Holidays are Going to the Dogs

So….. what should I get Neo and Bessie for Christmas? This led me to wonder how many others think about buying Christmas presents for their pets. According to the APPA (American Pet Products Association), American’s are estimated to spend $75.38 billion dollars on pets in 2019! Isn’t that incredible? They estimate that $16.44 billion of that will be spent on “Supplies/OTC Medicine.” DogTime.com had some fun holiday statistics:

· Dog owners are more likely to give their pet a gift than cat owners (but that gap is closing)
· 4 out of 10 pet owners confess to giving presents to others as if it was from their pet
· 54% of pets will have Christmas stockings this year
· 34% have a special pet-safe advent calendar
· 29% of pets will get a Christmas card from their owner (Maybe the pets enjoy having it read to them)
· 16% of owners feature their pets on their Christmas cards (TheNosePrint.com claims this is 43%)
· 3% say their pets are writing a letter to Santa Paws (he exists, you just have to believe)

TheNosePrint.com surveyed people and ranked states according to their expenditure on their pets. While the average was $23.10, California ranked 6th with spending an average of $26.07 per dog for state residents. I’m not going to confess where I ranked for Neo this year.

Here are some fun photos of BC Employee’s dogs. If you would like your pet featured in my blog, do send a photo to Aricia Leighton or me.

Lesley Bond’s Blue
Lisa Robles’ Samson and Oliver
Kylie Swanson’s Oscar Meyer (in a sweater Ashlea Ward bought for him)
Manny Mourtzanos’ Brooklyn and Dodger
Aricia Leighton’s Sting
Eric Carillo’s Froderick Diezel von Heiden (Diezel)
Tamara Baker’s Jack and Bruce

Wrestling take 3rd at CCCAA State Finals

This last weekend, our Renegade Wrestling team traveled to Fresno City College for the CCCAA State Finals. Led by Jonathan Hunter taking 1st in the 174 lb. weight class, the team brought back a 3rd place finals finish. Renegade placers included:

• 174 lb. – Jonathan Hunter – 1st place (State Champion and All-American)

• 184 lb. – Jordan Annis – 2nd place (All-American)

• 197 lb. – Ricardo Gonzalez – 4th place (All-American)

• 149 lb. – Adrian Gonzalez – 5th place

• 125 lb. – Keithen Estrada – 7th place (Back-to-back state placer, finished 7th in 2018)

Next Level Renegades

Congrats to three of our Renegade student athletes for committing to continue their academic and athletic careers at the next level. Holden Williams from Renegade Football, has committed to play for Portland State University. From Renegade Women’s Soccer, Ashley Quintanilla and Lissette Garcia have both committed to play at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salinas, KS. Congratulations to Holden, Ashley and Lissette!

Renegade Report

Watch this week’s edition of the Renegade Report on the Bakersfield College Athletics Facebook page featuring our Renegade Men’s Basketball team. Head Coach Rich Huges and players sat down with host Kenny Calvin to discuss their hot start to the season.

Renegade Athletics updates from this past week

• Men’s Basketball Competes at Santa Barbara Tourney:

o Game 1 loss vs. Pasadena City, 78-73

o Game 2 win over Oxnard, 85-76

o Game 3 win over Porterville, 84-61 

Wrestling Takes 3rd at CCCAA State Finals

Let’s celebrate women

Good morning, Bakersfield.
It is Saturday, March 2, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade.

Women in Leadership

Five women sitting and talking

To celebrate the kickoff of Women’s History Month at Bakersfield College, yesterday I hosted a panel discussion on Women in Leadership.  California Senator Emeritus and Early College champion, Jean Fuller served as the guest moderator while four esteemed panelists shared their stories, accomplishments, challenges, and more. Thank you to guests Shannon Grove, Republican State Senator, 16th Senate District;  Blanca Cavazos, Taft Union High School District Superintendent; Cynthia Giumarra, Local Attorney and minister;  and Rosalina Rivera, Delano Union Elementary School District Superintendent for participating on the panel.

The fabulous Manny De Los Santos recorded the event and I hope to have many photos and videos for you in next week’s blog. Stay tuned!

One on One with Robert Price

On Wednesday afternoon, I enjoyed being a guest on One on One with Robert Price, @stubblebuzz . The Bakersfield Californian is a great resource for this community with engaged reporters, like Joseph Luiz who visits BC often and always ensures he has the right info to create the best report possible for the people in our community.

Thank you, Robert, for having me on the show to share with our community the latest on Measure J, BC Southwest, Early College, and education transforming the Central Valley.

Check it out: One on One with Robert Price: Guest Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian.

Bob Price, Sonya Christian, and Joseph Luiz
Robert Price, Sonya Christian, and Joseph Luiz

Behind the Scenes

One on One Behind the Scenes Video

Some fun pictures of behind the scenes. For more, visit the One-on-One photo gallery.

2019 Diversity Champion Award

Bakersfield College received the 2019 Diversity Champion Award from the California LAW Pathway for its excellence in building the Community College Pathway Program.  The awardees were chosen at the California LAW Board of Directors meeting in November and winners were announced to the to the California State Bar and the CPA Advisory Council. Deans Corny Rodriguez and Manny Mourtzanos, and Pre-Law Advisory Council Member Yinka Glover accepted the award on behalf of BC at the Omni Hotel on February 22, 2019.

Bakersfield College is honored to receive the award.  I would like to thank the California LAW Pathway for the recognition, as the Pathway to Law Program at BC was designed with innovation and creativity in mind in order to keep Bakersfield College Pathway Students engaged and inspired to achieve success in the law.  Congrats to our Pathway to Law program and to our amazing prelaw team including Corny Rodriguez, Christian Zoller, Edward Borgens, Charles Kim, Marilynn Sanchez Avila, and Pearl Urena! I would like to recognize Foothill College President Thuy Nguyen for her statewide leadership in establishing this program.

Finally thank you to the Pathways to Law advisory committee chaired by David Torres. Thank you David for your unwavering commitment to Bakersfield College and our students. Here is the list of the committee members — Adeyinka Glover, Steven Katz, Jeannie Kraybill, Courtney Lewis, Cynthia Loo, James Maddox, Rebecca Murillo, Bathany Peak, Brett Price, H.A.Sala, Robert Tafoya, David Torres (Chair), Alekxia Torres-Stallings.

Cal Law Diversity Champion Award
Manny Mourtzanos, Yinka Glover, Corny Rodriguez, and President Thuy Thi Nguyen with BC’s award

Celebrating Black History Month

In conjunction with the community organization Harlem and Beyond, Bakersfield College was honored to have Dr. James Chaffers, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Michigan. Dr. chaffers was the Senior Design Juror for the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial statue in Washington, D.C. See the Bakersfield Californian Article: Bakersfield College celebrates Black History Month.

BC students and staff with Dr. James Chaffers

Gades Grub Grand Opening

Food Services celebrated the launch of the Gades Grub food trailer with a grand opening event in the Gym Huddle on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. The event featured a live DJ, free samples of some of the delicious food that Gades Grub has to offer, and other giveaway prizes. Students were eager to try some of the delectable options that will now be available to them from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Thursday.

BC at Startup Grind Global Conference

BC was represented by Professors Rudy Menjivar and Valerie Robinson at the Startup Grind’s Global Conference in Silicon Valley. This is for startups everywhere, especially the who’s who of the Silicon Valley startup scene. With more than 8,000 individuals, mostly entrepreneurs, venture capital investors, and professional service providers attending the two-day event, the conference provided an environment unlike anything else – a community coming together for invaluable education, connection, and inspiration.  The event had a roster of world-class speakers and thousands of entrepreneurs looking to build relationships, and it was great to see that BC was well represented.

Fox Theater Marquee
Fox Theater Marquee
Professor Rudy Menjivar and Professor Valerie Robinson
Professor Rudy Menjivar and Professor Valerie Robinson

Culture of Power

On Valentine’s Day, Daniel Rios, a Ph.D. student in Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego and a BC graduate, shared his passion for researching communities of color in East Bakersfield with BC students and staff. Rios presented research at A Culture of Power: Race, Youth, Labor and Sound in East Bakersfield, 1966-1974, in the Levan Center. The event was organized by commercial music professor Joshua Ottum as part of the Energizing Humanities in California’s San Joaquin Valley grant.

Daniel Rios talks about labor and music in East Bakersfield during the 1960s.
Daniel Rios talks about labor and music in East Bakersfield during the 1960s.

Rios’ presentation began with an overview of race and labor relations in Bakersfield in the early-to-mid 20th Century. Communities of color in Bakersfield were locked into low socioeconomic status via discriminatory housing practices that persisted until the 1970s and forced into low-level employment as farm, sanitation and domestic workers. In 1966 and 1972, black, Chicano and Latino sanitation workers in Bakersfield went on strike to fight for unionization and protest unhealthy working conditions and the dehumanizing way they were treated by white property owners. Protesters were met with heavy resistance by police and organizations such as the White Citizens Council.

Daniel Rios plays music from Kern County Soul and R&B artists from the 1960s.
Daniel Rios plays music from Kern County Soul and R&B artists from the 1960s.

At this same time, an often-overlooked music scene was booming around dance halls frequented by communities of color across East Bakersfield. While many music historians have documented the local country music scene known as the Bakersfield Sound, the contributions of doo-wop, soul and R&B groups are rarely discussed in academic circles. Groups from Kern County such as the Paradons, the Montereys, and Little Ray Jimenez were recording Billboard Top 40 hits while performing in local venues such as Salon Juarez and Fraternity Hall.

Billy Haynes from the Original Souls and Johnny Gomez from the Paradons perform in the Levan Center.
Billy Haynes from the Original Souls and Johnny Gomez from the Paradons perform in the Levan Center.

The majority of the groups, such as The Original Souls, were multicultural, composed of a mixture of Filipinos, Latinos and blacks. In 1969, the Original Souls beat out country and psychedelic rock bands to win a Battle of the Bands competition at Lake Ming attended by approximately 4,000 people.