Every spring semester, the Multicultural Community Center on campus holds one of its largest programs: the Night of Cultural Resistance, or NOCR. The night is a unique event because it’s an open invitation that brings different communities together in a purposeful way to engage with one another and experience live performances, art-making, food and various other activities to celebrate resilience and honor the ways in which communities of color continue to resist oppression and work toward liberation. Cultural resistance moves beyond the idea of protest, however, and instead asks us to think critically about what we’re often told in history books and media about communities of color and underrepresented communities. It invites us to resist notions that hide the stories of people of color and to find alternative ways of thinking and being. “One of the interesting things about NOCR is that we’re not just asking people to be passive participants. We’re asking people to engage with us,” states Elisa Diana Huerta, program director at the Multicultural Community Center.
Although usually held in the Multicultural Community Center, the Night of Cultural Resistance was on Memorial Glade this year. After being approached by ASUC President DeeJay Pepito to collaborate with the center, Huerta states, the decision to have the event on the glade was a necessity and an interesting opportunity to reach a larger number of students. “I think impact was really a huge part of why this collaboration came about,” explains Mayra Gonzalez, assistant program director.
And what an impact they did make. More than 600 students participated in all the activities the night had to offer, such as performances by artists Las Cafeteras, Blue Scholars and Talib Kweli, and community-building activities such as silk screening, face-painting and seed-bombing.
What is inspiring to know about the Night of Cultural Resistance is that from its conception, it was designed by students and community members for the community. Even before there was a Multicultural Community Center, students of color organized to create a space where they can remember their roots, celebrate their community and create their own narratives.
From its humble beginnings on the seventh floor of Eshleman Hall to being housed in the MCC, the Night of Cultural Resistance continues to bring visibility to the issues students of color face on campus. Its central message of cultural resistance and the legacy of the third world Libration Front still continues and is carried in the hearts of many communities on the UC Berkeley campus.
A previous version of this article was incorrectly attributed to Michael Drummond. In fact, the photo essay was put together by Lorenz Angelo Gonzales.