By Mike Kinney
Black women leaders who are critical to the education of the community’s children were honored Saturday at a gala attended by Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton and the iconic Betty Reid Soskin, who recently retired as a National Park Services ranger.
The 2022 West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Black Women in Leadership Luncheon was held at Piniole Valley High School to honor Black women in leadership positions districtwide.
The luncheon was an opportunity for attendees to network and engage in conversations and discussions about their experiences and leadership within the district.
About 55 of those leaders attended the gala, which was organized by WCCUSD Boardmember Jamela Smith-Folds. The keynote speakers were Anna Blackman and Gloria Scoggins, both of whom were longtime District employees in key leadership positions.
“This event allows me to breathe in the same room with all of these women who have been in leadership positions and have laid the ground before me — women like Betty Reid Soskin, who is 100 years of age and has a century of experience in trail blazing for Black women,” Smith-Folds said. “It is such an honor and privilege to be here with these women today.”
WCCUSD Superintendent Dr. Chris Hurst also attended the gala and echoed Smith-Folds’ sentiments about appreciating and discussing the experience of Black women in the school district.
“The luncheon was important in recognizing the Black Women in leadership positions throughout the District and how they have contributed to the education of our students in the District,” Hurst said.
Scottie Smith, an educational advocate for parents and children in the district tasked with ensuring WCCUSD students of color get a quality education, said there are very few Black female teachers and educators in the district.
“Many Black female leaders such as Anna Blackman and Gloria Scoggins were trailblazers in the historic times of the District, when they were employees in the District,” Smith said. “They worked in the trenches making culturally relevant curriculum and support for students of color.”
Smith said seeing Black women Leaders from the District being acknowledged
was “wonderful” and “very much appreciated,” but also important for the futures of students of color, he added.
Antwon Clorid of The RichMinds Network organized a large BBQ for the event. CJ’s BBQ and Fish Restaurant supplied the greens for the luncheon’s meal and was one of the sponsors.