Source: Daily Breeze
For the first time since becoming the mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass stopped by her alma mater, Cal State University, Dominguez Hills, Wednesday, to share some words of wisdom with an audience made up of students, faculty, staff and community members.
The conversation, led by CSUDH President Thomas Parham, touched upon several issues, including homelessness, education and international politics, but its main focus was leadership and civic engagement.
“One of the most important things at this stage of my life that I can do is to contribute and support and prepare that next generation,” Bass said.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Bass received a bachelor’s degree in health science from CSUDH in 1990. After graduation, Bass continued her education at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program.
Bass has broken a lot of glass ceilings throughout her career. In 2008, she became the first African American woman to serve as California’s Speaker of the Assembly.
Fourteen years later, Bass once again made history as the first female mayor of America’s second-largest city and the second African-American to serve in this role.
But before pursuing public office, Bass, along with a group of activists, founded the Community Coalition. The organization is dedicated to finding solutions for substance abuse, poverty, crime and other challenges facing the Black and Latino neighborhoods.
When asked by Parham how she coped with being called a “co-optive”, from being a civic leader, who “often confronts and criticizes the government”, to becoming a part of the government, Bass said she’s not afraid of such a label.
“To me, I always say it like this, ‘do you want to make a point, or do you want to make a difference,” Bass said. “I would love to have a magical wand and just change everything, or I can say that there’s somebody that needs something and I can help them today.”
There might be a lot of value in activism that just makes a point, but ultimately, the purpose of making a point is to make a difference, Bass said.
“And to me, I think being in office where I do compromise, I have accepted incremental change,” Bass said. “What helps me move the needle is for there to be outside pressure. So I believe in an inside and an outside strategy.”
A protest is only helpful if it’s working toward a goal, she said.
“But we are in this kind of period now where I find protest for the sake of protest, without a goal, and that’s disturbing to me, which is why I’m so dedicated to your generation,” Bass said.
The Wednesday event is part of CSUDH’s Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series, which was established by Parham to address some of today’s pressing issues.