Dominguez Hills Project Coordinator, The Rose Black Resource Center
In 2015, African American university students across the nation were demanding programs and facilities that ensured security and social justice for people of color. “The students at Dominguez Hills did the same, and one of the things they asked for was a Black Resource Center designed to be a safe space for African American students on campus,” says Jonathan Henderson, the project coordinator for The Rose Black Resource Center, which opened in January 2017 at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
“The administration is very clear about the task of recruiting and retaining black students,” stresses Henderson. “The center’s job is to work with the university in helping students succeed and really advance after graduation.”
In 2014, Henderson earned his bachelor’s, finishing with a 3.2 GPA. He was recognized, too, by the CSU and the U.S. Congress for outstanding community service and went on to earn a master’s in sociology at CSUDH in 2016 with a 3.9 GPA.
During both his undergraduate and graduate years, he was a member of the Male Success Alliance (MSA), which works to improve access, retention and graduation rates among young men of color. As an MSA mentor, and eventually, a program supervisor, Henderson worked with male students at Crenshaw High School and helped manage and teach a professional development course there—“anything from tying neckties to sociological concepts like institutionalized racism,” he says. He also helps organize the annual Spring Summits on the CSUDH campus, which have hosted hundreds of local middle and high school students.
Henderson is currently teaching a labor studies practicum in community organizing and social justice at CSUDH. “We explore the historical experience of social justice, labor organizing, unions and community organizing,” he says.
The university’s students chose The Rose Black Resource Center’s name, derived from “The Rose,” a poem by the late rapper and poet Tupac Shakur, and as the center takes shape, Henderson says he has many ideas for programming: “We want to lead the charge for graduation retention and the success of African American students.”