This year for black History month, the Mesa Legend recognizes and celebrates every single African American student that has ever made MCC a home while on their road for higher education. In the campus’ 50 plus years of activity, I’m sure many have gone on to have success and make some sort of positive impact on the world. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a way to keep up with them all.
The most notable however might be professional basketball coach Mike Brown. Brown attended MCC as a student-athlete from 1988-1990 before completing his education in San Diego. Whether as an assistant or head coach, today he’s one of the coaches on arguably the best team in the league, the Golden State Warriors.
Brown is one of the few former black MCC students we are able to keep track of. As I rummaged through a few of the school’s old yearbooks, there is one young lady who I wished we would have been able to follow. Evelyn Mosley is one of very few black faces you will see in the class of 1967 yearbook for MCC.
But she is also one face, regardless of race or gender, that appears in multiple pages throughout the yearbook. For it to be at the height of the civil rights movement, I was surprised to see Ms. Mosley as one of the most ambitious students in the entire predominantly white student body, her black girl magic was flourishing.
Mosley is spotted as a member of the German club, vice president of associated women students, and also a part of a political group called the Young Democrats. One photo shows Evelyn outside on a veranda engaged in a serious talk with the Dean of college at the time, Dr. John D. Riggs. From her images, Mosley is a pretty dark-skinned girl with a bright smile.
Though she appears shy in some photo ops, she was clearly confident and seemed unfazed by any of the social tensions that existed at that time. She’s very intriguing and I was unfortunately unable to find out what she went on to do following her time at MCC. I wonder if she was a resident of the small and once segregated black Mesa neighborhood that has recently been spotlighted by another former African American MCC student.
Bruce Nelson is a filmmaker and Mesa native that attended MCC sometime in the 1970s. Nelson, through his NEB productions company, has produced several documentaries having to do with the black experience and history in Arizona. He’s most recent work is centered around the place he grew up. An all black Mesa community once known as “North town” that was around from the early 1900s till about the 1980s.
Today the community is known as Washington-Escobeodo and is recognized by the city of Mesa as a heritage community. During a 2012 interview on PBS Arizona Horizon, Nelson said he and other residents who appear in the film agreed that the neighborhood, (which is outlined by university, Mesa Dr., Center Street and Brown Road) was something comparable to a box in which they felt safe and comfortable in from the outside.
According to Nelson, there was no bus route from the neighborhood to MCC during those days so he and other students would have to make an hour and half long trek in order to reach the campus. When I asked him what the social climate was like at MCC at that time, Nelson says the school was not very diverse and that “It was very expensive to attend and the faculty was not as encouraging to the students of color as they are today.”