NEWS: Commemorate Black History Month with BLAC@UC – Learn their story

Black Leadership Alliance Council

By Charron Andrus and Dennis McIver. The Black Leadership Alliance Council at the University of California (BLAC@UC) provides a safe and supportive space for individuals leading Black staff, faculty, and alumni organizations, including affinity groups and Employee Resource Groups, across UC campuses. The organization provides the UC community opportunities to make a positive difference in addressing systemic racism in the UC by providing opportunities for Black leaders to gather, share information, and create a roadmap for positive change. For their plan to succeed, Black leaders and BLAC@UC need recognition/visibility and ongoing support. Reading this article is the first step that they hope each of us takes to ensure positive results. 

Time for a change: the origins of the council

The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May 2020, prompted Charron Andrus, and Dennis McIver who, at the time, chaired Black organizations at UC Davis Health and UC Riverside respectively, to recognize a need for a space that would allow Black staff and faculty organization leaders to gather in a safe environment while dealing with the stress of systematic racism experienced in the UC which was amplified by COVID. 

In the summer of 2020, they formed the Black Leadership Alliance Council (BLAC@UC) to connect Black staff and faculty leadership across the entire university, from UC Merced in the north to UC San Diego in the south. 

Activism in action

Considering the events of 2020, the group shifted quickly from support, networking, and sharing best practices into activism. Several of their actions are listed below.

They achieved the following milestones.

  1. In the Fall of 2020, BLAC@UC put together a “Call to Action to Address systematic Racism Across the University of California”. They presented this 9-point request to the UC Board of Regents and UC leaders across the system. The collective voice, which included public comments from across the UC and community members, informed UC leaders of their accountability to the same standards to which other organizations were being held. They emphasized that, if UC promotes itself as a diverse place to work, the most diverse in the state, then it has to do the work of ensuring that, when people get here, it is truly that kind of place.
  2. In the wake of that Call to Action, co-founders Charron Andrus, and Dennis McIver, who have since moved to UC Berkeley and UC Office of the President, respectively, were invited to meet with President Michael V. Drake, MD, the Regents, and other UC systemwide leaders to build a pathway of communication and action between Black Affinity Group Leaders and the UC System.  

BLAC@UC: the mission 

BLAC@UC provides guidance and expertise to state and national education leaders and community stakeholders on critical issues, policies, and practices affecting the advancement of Black students, staff, and faculty. They also provide forums for people to gather, including:

  1. Monthly meetings where campus Black organizational leaders share concerns and best practices. 
  2. Speaker and networking events centered on building community. Past BLAC@UC events include a multidisciplinary panel on Reparations for Black Americans, A Talk with UC Berkeley Professor Savala Nolan, and a Fall Fireside Chat with Van Williams, Vice President and CIO of the University of California.

Opportunities to engage

Support their ongoing events by spreading the word. Consider joining their next event, listed below. In recognition of Womxn’s History Month, BLAC@UC is hosting a roundtable discussion with four University of California Black emergent women leaders on March 14th, from 11:05 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Learn more about the event and register here

BLAC@UC Women’s History Month Panel

Thursday, March 14, 11:05 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Panelists: Davyda Johnson, Human Resources Manager, Business and Financial Services, UC San Diego; Maria Martin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of African History, UC Merced; Katina Napper, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Personnel, UC Riverside; Mali Williams, Event Specialist, UC Berkeley
Moderator: Eboni Shaw, Chair, BLAC@UC; Manager and Student Affairs Officer, Department of African American Studies, UCLA


For those interested in learning more, you can visit the BLAC@UC website here:
BLAC@UC landing page or feel free to contact Andrus and McIver directly (see their contact information, below). 

Related Reading

UC Black Administrators’ Council (UCBAC)


Charron Andrus
Associate Chief Information Security Officer
UC Berkeley 

Dennis McIver
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Program Manager
UC Office of the President