Santa Barbara City College Dedicates the Umoja Mural

A Celebration of Diversity During Black History Month

Credit: Jim Zhan

This past fall, the Bay Area Mural Program completed the Umoja Mural on the Santa Barbara City College campus as a symbol of diversity, Black joy, and culture in higher education. In honor of Black History Month, SBCC hosted an dedication ceremony that included lead artist Andre Jones and members of the community. 

“The Umoja Mural dedication was a very emotional and special event from where I sit,” said SBCC Superintendent-President Kindred Murillo, “because it sends a message to students, employees, and community members that Santa Barbara City College wants African American/Black students, employees, and community members to feel they belong at SBCC.” 

The Umoja Mural, which means “unity” in Swahili, is the first mural in Santa Barbara to center on the African American experience. Located on the Campus Center Building  where the Center for Equity and Social Justice is housed, the mural has already sparked discussion and reflection on campus, and been included in assignments across multiple disciplines. 

“It definitely creates a space to have conversation and education,” said SBCC Umoja Student Program Advisor Lelia Richardson.

Two driving forces behind the mural’s creation were Roxanne Byrne, SBCC’s coordinator of equity, diversity, and cultural competency; and Akil Hill, an SBCC admission and records technician and founding member of the Black Faculty and Staff Association. 

“It feels good that Santa Barbara City College has made a conscious effort to try to make the campus inclusive. I feel great for Black students that can see themselves on campus,” Hill said. “I think we were envisioning representation and myself being from Santa Barbara and not seeing any of that, despite knowing that there are Black families and communities, but we were not represented in these spaces.”

Wednesday, February 15: Celebration of Black Joy, History, & Education, presented by SBCC Umoja Community

  • Free | 5:30 – 8 p.m. at UMOJA Village Space
  • Dinner, music, activities, and information provided
Credit: Jim Zhan

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