Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) lauded Governor Gavin Newsom’s (D) decision to appoint State Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D), 72, a decades-long professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University, to serve as the next California Secretary of State.
“Another historic moment for California: [Assemblymember Shirley Weber], a tireless fighter for justice and civil rights, will be the first Black woman to serve as Secretary of State. And she certainly won’t be the last. Congratulations,” tweeted Harris.
Another historic moment for California: @AsmShirleyWeber, a tireless fighter for justice and civil rights, will be the first Black woman to serve as Secretary of State. And she certainly won’t be the last. Congratulations! https://t.co/DNbPlmFobl
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 23, 2020
Newsom selected Weber for the California Secretary of State position after choosing Alex Padilla, a long-time ally and his current secretary of state, as his choice to succeed Harris in the U.S. Senate.
An SDSU professor turned-politician, Weber has been a member of the Africana studies department since its foundation in 1972. She has also been “recognized nationally and internationally for her ground breaking work to establish the discipline of Africana Studies,” according to a short biography on the Africana Studies department’s website.
Africana studies is one of four fields that comprise ethnic studies, which is often falsely mistaken as a branch of history. But in the words of San Francisco State University, the birthplace of ethnic studies, the field is actually oriented toward redefining “the lives of people of color from their own perspectives.”
As a member of the California Assembly, Weber spearheaded the effort to establish an ethnic studies requirement in the California State University system, which contains 23 schools attended by hundreds of thousands of students every year. Students must meet the requirement with a “core” ethnic studies course, which limits them to four fields: Africana Studies, Asian American Studies, Latino Studies, and Native American Studies.
Weber also authored recent legislation that led the California governor to establish a task force to study slavery and the potential for reparations. (California outlawed slavery in 1849, before becoming a state. The Los Angeles Times reports the slavery continued for some time but does not provide figures or estimates as to how extensive it was).
“California has historically led the country on civil rights, yet we have not come to terms with our state’s ugly past that allowed slaveholding within our borders and returned escaped slaves to their masters,” said Weber at the time, as The Daily Wire previously reported.
The Secretary of State position, said Weber on Wednesday, presents “tremendous opportunities” to continue the state’s legacy “in these very difficult times when people are challenging the right to vote, challenging our system itself, and trying to destroy our Democracy.”
“We have to have folks who believe in it, we have to have folks who stand up for it. My history, and my family, knows what it is like when people deny you that right. They know what happens when people challenge the fairness and the transparency of systems. My family has lived that, and so for me, I’m always the person who looks at every aspect of freedom and justice,” said Weber.
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