City College took part in Hands Across California, a rally and fundraiser, on April 17. The event was part of a statewide showing of support for community colleges facing budget cuts.
Put on by the Foundation for Community Colleges and Ken Kragen, who helped organize 1986’s countrywide demonstration Hands Across America, the undertaking acknowledged hard times due to budget cuts. Participants joined hands across the state, forming a human line stretching from San Diego to Sacramento.
Hands Across California covered more than 1,000 miles and involved an alleged 1 million people, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends.
At City College, a crowd numbering in the low hundreds began to form in the early afternoon, coinciding with similar demonstrations statewide.
As a preamble to the event, President Terrence Burgess made a brief speech on the importance of community colleges. Pop singer J Grace then recited a song she wrote for the occasion, “Be the Change.”
With the 2 p.m. deadline for the statewide spectacle drawing near, people began to mobilize. Emblazoned with T-shirts being sold at the event that showed several stick figures holding hands, the crowd made its way down Park Boulevard.
Many people carried picket signs that told passersby how to donate to the cause via text message.
Eventually, the demonstrators formed a fairly consistent human line, holding hands for several blocks, from the intersections of Park Boulevard and B Street to Park and Broadway. Cars whizzing by honked adamantly, encouraging the demonstrators.
“The turnout was great,” said Matt Konop, San Diego director of advance for Hands Across California. “We had very hard-working volunteers.”
Budget cuts were a big motivation for supporters to show up. “People have been losing their jobs, and they try to go back to school, but they can’t afford it,” Konop said. “It’s not a political rally, it’s us wanting scholarships.”
Juan Carlos Jimenez-Cruz, a City College Associated Students senator, said he hopes ‘word of mouth’ will continue to raise awareness and help bring in more donations.
“The message is out there,” Jimenez-Cruz said. “We’re doing the best we can.”
Jimenez-Cruz hopes “word of mouth” and media such as Facebook will recruit more supporters.
The Bernard Osher Foundation will match 50 percent of all public donations. Organizers hope to raise $100 million by June.
For more information or to donate, please visit www.handsacrosscalifornia.org.