?Tracing Our Roots, Sharing Our Stories, Celebrating Unity? 12th Annual Unity Luncheon Honors James Bell

?Tracing Our Roots, Sharing Our Stories, Celebrating Unity? 12th Annual Unity Luncheon Honors James Bell

President Bob Suzuki presents the Diversity Leadership Award to Dr. James Bell during the 12th annual Unity Luncheon at Cal Poly Pomona.

It was an afternoon of reflection, inspiration and celebration of Cal Poly Pomona?s diverse and united community. It was a time to share personal stories with colleagues and to honor an individual who advocates diversity in all aspects of his life.

Hundreds gathered for the 12th annual Unity Luncheon: ?Tracing Our Roots, Sharing Our Stories, Celebrating Unity,? on Thursday, Jan. 30, at Kellogg West.

The luncheon served to promote unity throughout the university?s diverse campus community, and to revere James Bell, an advocate and supporter of diversity.

Jose Zapata Calderon, an associate professor in sociology and Chicano studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. Calderon is known for connecting his academic work with service learning, community organizing and multi-ethnic coalition building.
Calderon told his story of being an immigrant child who moved to the United States and was able to overcome oppression. He discussed minority myths and the power of education.

The luncheon also included the second presentation of the Diversity Leadership Award, created to recognize individuals who are advocates and leaders in the area of diversity both on and off campus. Last year?s award recipient was President Bob H. Suzuki.

?You cannot have an excellent organization without diversity, and this campus serves as a model for diversity,? Suzuki said during the luncheon.

Suzuki presented this year?s Diversity Leadership Award to James Bell, former vice president for Student Affairs at Cal Poly Pomona, who broke many racial barriers during his career.

?I?m really honored to receive this,? Bell said. ?For me, diversity is not a program, it?s not a class, it?s not an occupation. For me, it?s my life.?

In 1968, Bell was hired as a professor and coach in health, physical education and recreation, becoming Cal Poly Pomona?s second black faculty member. Later, he became the first black to hold a dean?s and vice president?s position for the California State University system, serving as Cal Poly Pomona?s dean of the School of Arts and then vice president of Student Affairs.

Bell holds a master?s degree and doctorate in health, physical education and recreation from Columbia University.

He serves as an inspiration for social consciousness and community involvement. Some of his past and current affiliations and involvement include the Board of Directors for the Voluntary Action Center in Pomona; Pomona Valley YMCA; Pomona Athletic League; Mt. Baldy Region United Way; and president of the Pomona Unified School District?s Board of Education. He has also been involved with the city of Ontario?s Committee for Multi-Racial Projects and the Grandma/Grandpa Reading Program at Upland Elementary School, to name a few.

Bell dedicated his award to his 97-year-old mother, an uneducated single-mother of four boys who worked hard to prepare her children for an education.

?It all belongs to my mother. She still believes in diversity,? Bell said, before receiving a standing ovation at the luncheon.

Cal Poly Pomona?s Yanet Garcia, an analyst in the Office of Admissions, sang two songs at the luncheon. Garcia is a two-time winner on the ?Cuanto Cuesta el Show? and has done several back-up singing performances including the Carlos Ponce concert at the Universal Amphitheatre.

The Unity Luncheon was co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific Faculty, Staff & Student Association; the Black Faculty & Staff Association; the Latino Faculty, Staff & Student Association; the Native American Outreach Committee; and Pride Alliance (LGBT F/S Association).

Jose Zapata Calderon, associate professor at Pitzer College, delivers the keynote speech during the Unity Luncheon.