Michael Cheers Reflects on 25th Anniversary of ‘Songs of My People’

Michael Cheers

Michael Cheers

San Jose State University Photojournalism Professor Michael Cheers was interviewed by CBS National News as the photobook “Songs of My People” celebrates its 25th anniversary. Cheers got involved in the book project in the early 1990s when he was working as a photojournalist. Watch the full interview online.

“The African-American community was not being covered fairly by mainstream media,” Cheers said in the CBS interview, “and the question is, well then, what are you going to do about it?”

He, along with a total of 50 black photojournalists, set about gathering images of that showed a broad perspective of life in African-American communities.

“We have a responsibility to argue our case for black people and the best way to argue that case for black people for us was through our art and through our camera,” he said.

Cheers’ adult daughter, also a photojournalism professor, helped to honor the anniversary of the book with an exhibit at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.


Campus Reading Program Author Stevenson to Speak at Hammer Feb. 24

Flier about Stevenson Talk

Flier about Stevenson Talk

Bryan Stevenson, the author of “Just Mercy“, the SJSU Campus Reading book selection for 2016-17, will be speaking on campus Friday, Feb. 24, at noon, at the Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio. Find more information and get free tickets online – students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

Mercy’s book chronicles his years in law school and as a practicing attorney in the South when he worked to defend death row inmates. The book is marked by his personal reflections and descriptions of the people he defended. The book tackles issues of race, poverty and social justice in the United States. The event is sponsored by the Campus Reading Program, Campus Life, the Office of Diversity, the Office of the Provost, the NAACP, the Center for Literary Arts and Silicon Valley Reads

Other upcoming events related to the Campus Reading Program this spring include:


Thursday, Feb. 23, at4:30 p.m.
Student Union Theatre

We are proud to be co-sponsoring this event with our friends at MOSAIC and Justice Studies.  Attend an interactive theatrical drama that explores race and class inequities and injustices in the American judicial system.  DEFAMATION will be performed at the Student Union Theater.  (Then, two days later, come hear Bryan Stevenson address these topics in person at the Hammer Theatre!)


Thursday, March 23, at 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225

In collaboration with our partner Silicon Valley Reads, we invite you to a talk by an author on a related subject-one man’s struggle while caught up in America’s mass incarceration epidemic.  Shaka Senghor, author of “Writing My Wrongs”, will appear at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Thursday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. in MLK 225.


Tuesday, April 18, at 4 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Room 225

Khalid White from the African American Studies Department will give a presentation, “A Reaction to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.

SJSU Hosts “Stolen Education” Documentary Screening Feb. 28



San Jose State University will host a screening of the documentary “Stolen Education,” followed by a discussion, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229. The documentary discussed segregation of schools in the southwest during the 1950s and looks at the way eight Mexican-American school children fought against injustice. The event will be attended by Dr. Enqique Aleman Jr, an executive producer and writer, and professor and chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas, San Antonio, along with Ruby Luna, a director and writer. The discuss is sponsored by the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center and Adelante, the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Task Force. Associate Professor Rebeca Burciaga, from SJSU’s educational leadership department, helped to coordinate the event.

CommUniverCity, City of San Jose Recognized by Keep America Beautiful

CommUniverCity volunteers canvass neighborhoods around campus to talk with residents about issues of illegal dumping and to offer alternative resources. (Photo by: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications)

CommUniverCity volunteers canvass neighborhoods around campus to talk with residents about issues of illegal dumping and to offer alternative resources. (Photo by: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications)

Keep America Beautiful, a national nonprofit organization, recognized these efforts by the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Department and CommUniverCity to decrease blight on city streets and in open areas as a result of comprehensive, innovative and successful efforts to reduce illegal dumping. They awarded the City of San José with its 2016 National Community Improvement award for Litter Prevention. Established in 1953, Keep America Beautiful provides the expertise, programs, and resources to help people end littering, improve recycling, and beautify America’s communities.

Along with a broad public education campaign, partnerships with neighborhood associations, CommUniverCity (an innovative partnership between the City of San José, San José State University, and downtown neighborhoods that works with low-income communities), and the Behavioural Insights Team through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative have helped assess the problem, identify solutions and maximize outreach.

“This is a tremendous honor by a national organization that underscores our collaborative approach to a complex issue,” said Kerrie Romanow, director of the San José Environmental Services Department, which leads the program. “Because of our strong internal and community partnerships, we’re seeing visible results that are making our community cleaner and greener and engaging our residents to strengthen our neighborhoods.”

As in many large cities, illegal dumping has been a growing problem in San Jose. A 2015 assessment revealed a 50 percent increase in illegal dumping incidents on public property within the last three years.

In response, a citywide task force led by ESD developed a comprehensive program focused on prevention, cleanup, education, and community engagement to provide practical and convenient alternatives to reduce illegal dumping. In addition, it included a coordinated effort to remove items such as abandoned mattresses, furniture, and trash from streets and waterways.

“Our program includes free curbside pickup of large items like furniture and appliances, regular cleanup routes in areas with a high incidence of illegal dumping, and a new full-time illegal dumping rapid response team to address resident cleanup requests,” said Romanow.

Since July 2016, the city’s illegal dumping rapid response team has removed more than 320 tons of dumped materials and trash, including 1,193 mattresses and 620 shopping carts, from San José streets and public areas.

Keep America Beautiful’s National Awards program recognizes the best of the best among their network of community-based affiliates, leading corporate partners, and individual volunteers across the country who have committed to delivering cleaner, greener, and more beautiful communities.

“It’s my privilege to recognize the City of San José for such valuable, mission-based work that helps their community be more socially connected, environmentally healthy, and economically sound,” said Becky Lyons, chief operating officer of Keep America Beautiful.

Mineta Transportation Institute Receives $10.5 M in Grant Funding

The Mineta National Transportation Research Consortium (MNTRC), led by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University (SJSU), was awarded $7 million in federal funding through the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program for transportation research, education, workforce development and technology transfer activities. Matching funds from regional and state partners, including Caltrans, bring the grant five-year total to $10.5 million.

In addition to SJSU, the Consortium brings together a diverse set of university partners including Howard University, Navajo Technical University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who will focus on improving the mobility of people and goods to ensure that our nation’s transportation system is fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient for all.

MNTRC plans to lead the nation in researching safe, reliable solutions that increase mobility for people and goods and strengthen the nation’s economy. To achieve this goal, MNTRC will:

  • Leverage new technologies and innovative processes to achieve a seamless, multimodal surface transportation system that integrates with other “smart city” investments;
  • Create a safer, more reliable, and more resilient surface transportation system that improves equity through increased access to jobs, housing, services, and other opportunities;
  • Reduce the impact of transportation on climate change by identifying feasible alternative modes and fuels and innovative ways to reduce vehicle miles traveled;
  • Increase access to surface transportation so that people of all abilities and socioeconomic levels enjoy the same opportunities for learning, living, labor, and leisure; and
  • Optimize passenger and freight movements to improve mobility for people and goods through development of more accurate data models and advanced application of analytical tools.

“It would be difficult to overstate the contribution that the Mineta Transportation Institute has made to advancing our understanding of the far-reaching potential of mobility to effect change in people’s lives,” said Norman Y. Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “Without a doubt, the Mineta Transportation Institute has been a source of personal pride for me.”

MTI Executive Director Dr. Karen Philbrick said that the grant upholds the tremendous contributions MTI and the Consortium partners have made to the nation’s transportation system over the past 25 years. “We are honored to be recognized for our work that addresses the complex nature of today’s mobility challenges, and advances the body of usable transportation knowledge.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation received 212 applications as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act competition. Secretary Anthony Foxx, in his announcement of the winners, said, “Our nation faces unprecedented challenges from population growth, a changing climate, and increasing freight volumes. Universities are at the forefront of identifying solutions, researching critical emerging issues, and ensuring improved access to opportunity for all Americans.”

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) conducts research, education, and information transfer programs regarding surface transportation policy and management issues, especially related to transit. Congress established MTI in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. MTI won national re-designation competitions in 2002, 2006, 2012, and 2016. The Institute is funded through the US Department of Transportation, the US Department of Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI, the lead institute for the four-university Mineta National Transportation Research Consortium, is affiliated with San Jose (CA) State University’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business. Visit transweb.sjsu.edu