Intro: This is Fiat Vox, a podcast that brings you news from UC Berkeley by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs. I’m Anne Brice.
Anne Brice (host): February is Black History Month. Each week, we are going to talk to a different African American woman leader on campus about what it took to get to where she is today. On Monday, we’ll hear from Clothilde Hewlett. She’s the executive director of the Cal Alumni Association.
[Music: “Woke up this morning” by the Freedom Singers]
Brice: Hewlett grew up in poverty, and as a kid, she lived at a community center in Philadelphia called Fellowship House, where people gathered to find nonviolent solutions to social problems. She was right in the middle of it all, singing peace songs for the Freedom Riders about to leave on desegregation missions to the South.
Clothilde Hewlett: “And so it was ingrained in me at a very early age, social justice, the equality of all people regardless of race, religion or gender.”
Brice: After a failed attempt to immigrate to Canada, Hewlett’s desperate mother asked her 14-year-old daughter Cloey where the family should go.
Hewlett: “All I could think of was I had seen a commercial called Rice-A-Roni and they had this cable car. It didn’t look like people in San Francisco were suffering.
[Clip from Rice-A-Roni television commercial]
Hewlett: “So I said San Francisco.”
Brice: It was in the Bay Area where Hewlett got involved in politics — one of her early mentors was Jerry Brown, now the governor of California — and at 18, she went to UC Berkeley, where her whole world opened up.
Visit Berkeley News on Monday to hear Hewlett’s story on how she pulled herself out of poverty, climbed the ranks of corporate America and returned to her alma mater to give back to the campus where it all began.
Outtro: For Berkeley News, I’m Anne Brice.