(pictured above: from l-r, Terron Wilkerson, Jordan Mitchell, Bianca Graves, Nia Mitchell, Edan Tessema, and Yoel Haile)
On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, the Afrikan Black Coalition spoke at the University of California Regents meeting in San Francisco, CA. The Afrikan Black Coalition spoke during the public comment section to condemn the $425 million the University of California system has invested in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons.
Listen to their speeches here and read their transcripts below. Timestamps in parenthesis correspond to the recording.
Yoel Haile, ABC Political Director (13:55):
My name is Yoel Haile and I’m a Masters student at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. I am the Political Director of the African Black Coalition, a statewide Black youth organization that represents Black students throughout the UC system. The Afrikan Black Coalition is coming off of a great historical victory of getting the UC system to divest or sell off nearly $25 million worth of shares from private prisons in partnership with the Chief investment officer. We call it divestment, you call it selling shares, but that’s just tomato, to-mato. I’m here to deliver the message from Black students that we want you, the UC regents to divest the nearly half a billion the UC has invested in Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo provides over 1.2 billion dollars line of credit to private prisons and is notorious for its discriminatory lending against Black and Latino folks. It is an amoral bank that finances the dehumanization of Black and Latino communities. Dr. King says the ultimate measure of a man is not what he does in times of comfort or convenience but what he does in times of challenge and controversy. In the era of the Black Lives Matter movement, we urge you to honor Dr. King’s legacy of doing the RIGHT thing in these challenging times. If you do not honor Dr. King’s legacy by divesting from Wells Fargo and taking a courageous stand, we, the Black students in California, will honor the legacy of Malcolm X by using any necessary to get you to do so.
All power to the people!
Bianca Graves, UCSB General Body Member (35:20)
Edan Tessema, UCSB BSU General Body Member (36:56):
I am a UC student and member of the ABC Political Bureau. The UC system as a whole has proven to its students that education is not the priority. Unethical investment after unethical investment, the UC System has demonstrated to us that you are a corporation lacking a moral compass. As a Black student who has learned to navigate your ways, I demand that you, as our UC Regents, think critically as to what it looks like to invest in such a heavy benefactor of the inhumane suffering of Black people. If Wells Fargo does not cut its ties with the private prison industrial complex, I urge you to cut our ties with Wells Fargo. This is a warning.
Jordan Mitchell, UCSB BSU General Body Member (37:49):
Nia Mitchell, UCSB BSU Union Political Chair (38:55):
Hello everyone, my name is Nia Mitchell and I am UC Santa Barbara’s Black Student Unions Political Chair. I was compelled to drive 5 hrs last night with some of our general body members in order to make our sentiments extremely clear. As my colleagues have stated, the UC system’s 425 million dollar investment in Wells Fargo is egregious, morally indefensible, and quite frankly disrespectful to its Black students. For this reason, Black student organizers refuse to take part in this complicity. We are living amidst a wave in which Black youth in particular has realized our collective power and ability to change our reality. We are focused, organized, and determined to wash our hands of the pain and suffering our compliance in the private prison industrial complex has called. We urge wells fargo to end their investment in the dehumanization of our communities and for the UC Regents to act accordingly to their decision or prepare for Black students relentless strides towards justice if not we will make the UC system ungovernable.
Take the next step and sign and share our petition, telling the University of California to:
1. DIVEST, effective immediately, all of the $425 million it has currently invested in Wells Fargo if Wells Fargo does not cancel its business relationships with the private prison industry by February 20th, 2016 and
2. INSTITUTE a policy to never invest in private prison corporations, and
3. INSTITUTE a policy to never invest in Wells Fargo for as long as Wells Fargo has any business dealings with private prison corporations, and
4. INSTITUTE a policy where the Chief Investment Officer provides quarterly investment reports to the public on the Regents website and
5. IMPLEMENT a Socially Responsible Investment screen committee that actively researches whether future corporations the UC invests in are held to ethical standards and that such committee has representatives from the Afrikan Black Coalition and University of California Students Association and
6. RE-INVEST the money that’s being divested in education, and companies that are owned or controlled by the formerly incarcerated.