Meeting of February 9, 2021 – Black History Month / CA Dem Chair Interview for Endorsement

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 7 PM
Black History Month and
CA Dem Party Chair Candidates

At our February meeting, we celebrated Black History Month, hearing from two local African-American poets, Bobby Richardson and LaPaula Parker.  Bobby and LaPaula shared their thoughts and poetry on the achievements of African-Americans in the U.S. and the work towards racial justice that must continue in this country and Benicia.  Benicia’s Poet Laureate, Mary Susan Gast, introduced Bobby and LaPaula, and shared her own poem on white privilege.

Our program also included a discussion and Q&A with the two candidates running for Chair of the California Democratic Party, Rusty Hicks, present chair, and Delaine Eastin, challenger.

PDB members will endorse one of these candidates by voting online via the PDB web site during the week after our meeting.    Results will be posted on our Endorsements page.  Party Delegates may consider our endorsement when they vote for the Party’s officers, including the Chair, during the Democratic State Convention scheduled for April 26 – Sunday, May 2, 2021.

Benicia Black Lives Matter letter opposes School Board recall effort

From Benicia Independent See also

Benicia Black Lives Matter Statement on the Board of Trustees Recall Effort

February 2021   [Download PDF or jpg version of this letter]

We, the members of Benicia Black Lives Matter, stand in solidarity with those who oppose the campaign to recall school board trustees Zada and Maselli.

A campaign that is calling for students to return their families to in-person learning that fails to center the perspectives and experiences of Black families is one that should not be given weight or consideration. Indeed, both the economic consequences of the pandemic and the physical consequences of the pandemic are disproportionately shouldered by Black families. A recent New York Times article[1] and a CDC study[2] both drew attention to the phenomenon of mostly white parents advocating for reopening of schools even as their families and their children are less at risk. From the New York Times article, “Even as more districts reopen their buildings and President Biden joins the chorus of those saying schools can safely resume in-person education, hundreds of thousands of Black parents say they are not ready to send their children back.”

The data from the CDC study shows that 62.3% of white parents strongly or somewhat agreed that schools should reopen in-person for all students in the fall, compared to 46% of Black parents and 50.2% of Hispanic parents. The New York Times article goes on to say; “That reflects both the disproportionately harsh consequences the virus has visited on nonwhite Americans and the profound lack of trust that Black families have in school districts, a longstanding phenomenon exacerbated by the pandemic”.

The response to the pandemic and the current disparities in Benicia Schools represent two separate instances of government failing to deliver equity to Black Families. The recall of school board trustees Zada and Maselli will cost upwards of $300,000. This money could instead be put towards improving ventilation systems in all schools within BUSD, as well as protective equipment and modifications of classrooms for when it is truly safe for students and staff to return. Not only is the district considering asking students to return, even as the pandemic is raging and the virus is mutating, but money that could otherwise be utilized to shore up the infrastructure is instead being contemplated for a wasteful political grab that does not have the interests or safety of Black Families in mind.

For the first time in its history the City of Benicia will soon have an equity officer and a tangible plan for seeking to achieve equity. The School district is engaged in a similar conversation. This campaign is a stark example of how privilege and political access play out to the detriment of vulnerable communities. It is as divisive as it is thinly veiled. It cannot be allowed to succeed. The members of Benicia Black Lives Matter fully support all of our board trustees and oppose the campaign to recall trustees Zada and Maselli as it is not representative of the interests of our Black Community.

In Partnership,
Benicia Black Lives Matter



Benicia Black Lives Matter is a grassroots community group organized to address anti-Black racism in the city of Benicia. There is a lack of Black representation across City leadership, departments, and voluntary boards. The lack of Black representation tells a story of our complacency as a community and more so, the impact on our Black Benicians lived experience. The good news is, we can rebuild the City of Benicia into a better Benicia, one commitment and one change at a time – and we have a strategy to do so. Our Strategy: Actively Commit to Change. The City of Benicia must commit to a specific vision of what a better, more inclusive and equitable future looks like. For additional information see


Solano Community College hosting virtual Black History Month – Events Feb. 10-24

Edited from the Vallejo Times-Herald by Nick Sestanovich, February 2, 2021.

For decades, Solano Community College has dedicated February to Black History Month with a series of events and discussions focusing on the issues African-Americans have faced and continue to experience.

This year’s slate of events will be presented virtually over Zoom. Shirley Lewis, SCC’s dean of student services, said the platform has worked well in conducting operations during the pandemic and she expects a strong turnout. “We expect good participation,” she said. “It’s open to everybody in the community.”

SCC’s theme this year is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity,” in keeping with the national Black History Month theme for 2021.

According to Ms. Lewis, the presentations and discussions will shed some light on the issues African-American families have faced for centuries, with discussions facilitated by current and present college faculty as well as members of the community. Feb. 3 was the first event, “It Ain’t Easy: Black Families in America,” and was hosted by Troy Finley, the founder of Myrtle’s Place; and Ebony Antoine, the director of Broken by Violence. The remaining events occur:

  • On Feb. 10, retired SCC Professor Dr. Karen McCord. SCC’s past ethnic studies program coordinator, will host “The Black Family: Civil Rights Era Challenges and Triumph.” From 3 to 4 p.m.; and, Zoom ID is 997 9665 2696.
  • On Feb. 17, licensed clinical social worker Kenya Sullivan will present “Political Trauma & Self-Efficacy: Reclaiming Our Progress.” From 3 to 4 p.m.; and, Zoom ID is 938 5005 7817.
  • On Feb. 22, adjunct history professor Dr. Damany Fisher will present “Political Violence During the Reconstruction Period: 1865-1877” and discuss the brutal issues that African-Americans faced after the Civil War. From Noon to 1 p.m.; and, the Zoom ID is Zoom ID: 971 3743 4586.
  • On Feb. 24 will be a discussion of the Bryan Stevenson book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice & Redemption,” facilitated by Lewis and Associated Students of Solano College. “Just Mercy” is the story of a civil rights attorney who represents death row inmates in the South. From Noon to 1 p.m.; and, Zoom ID is 913 7462 0707.
  • The month’s events close Feb. 25 with a presentation by Edward Russell Jr., Vacaville resident and the founder of Brothers Helping Up His (BRUH), titled “Black Cultural Concepts: #Code-Switching.” From 3 to 4 p.m.; and, the Zoom ID is 923 5256 2550.

For more information, visit

Equity & Justice For All