Rev. Tommy E. Smith Jr.
Pastor, Palma Ceia Baptist Church
Our democracy, despite its historical inequities and sometimes slow response, is nevertheless a masterpiece of human socio-political engagement. One of the keys and requirements of its ongoing success is the need to be innovative and creative in crafting solutions to needs that, for a variety of reasons, may not lend themselves to being solved by a specific governmental entity. The California State University Super Sunday program is a highly successful example of one such program. Super Sunday is a collaboration between the Cal State system and the African American faith community. This unique paring is based on two important realizations; the fact that African American participation in post secondary education needs to improve, and the fact that churches and other houses of worship are a very effective means of reaching out to African American students. Super Sunday is a creative and effective way to address educational under-participation by using African American churches to help “Spread the word!”
As a former Affirmative Action and Diversity manager for a government-funded research Laboratory, I have been painfully aware of the underrepresentation of African Americans in both of California’s public university systems. Having recently left that position to become a full-time pastor of a predominately African American Baptist congregation, I am delighted to now be in a role that helps to place people into such institutions. Our church has participated in Super Sunday for three years, and we have actually seen it have an impact among our youth. This is evident in a generic sense in helping to create and normalize a college-going culture, and in the specific example of one of our 2012 high school graduates being currently enrolled as a freshman at Cal State East Bay in direct response to the program. In summary, Super Sunday is more than a good idea. It is a fine example our extended, democratic “village” reaching out to act in the best interests of our young people!