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Black History Maker - Dr. James B. Golden

At SUHSD, we’re celebrating Black History Month by paying tribute to today’s Black History Makers from our very own district community!

Meet Dr. James B. Golden, a 2003 North Salinas High School graduate who has forged a brilliant dual-career path as both an educator and award-winning writer. Dr. Golden currently serves as Chief Academic Officer for Tarzana Treatment Centers College in Southern California.

Among his numerous professional writing accolades, he was awarded the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Poetry for his book "Afro Clouds & Nappy Rain." He holds distinction as the first ever Salinas Poet Laureate. His poem “Wave to Salinas” is the official poem for the City of Salinas.

Dr. Golden approaches his academic work in the vein of educators like George Washington Carver, Barbara Sizemore, Mary McLeod Bethune and more. He said “I chose to look back at Black minds that came before me to inform how I can support literacy and train instructors to be anti-racist and create inclusive learning experiences for students with lived experience in an underrepresented community.”

Among his many mentors and influences, he credits his AP English teacher at North Salinas High School Elizabeth Birkland for introducing him to the works of Zora Neal Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Sylvia Plath. Dr. Golden said “Ms. Birkland’s demand for excellence no doubt pushed me to become a more impactful and honest writer.”

He also credits the love and community activism of his parents Valerie and James W. Golden, who he fondly regards as “major change agents in Monterey County.”

Dr. Golden believes that Blackness is rooted in triumph and spirit. “Blackness is and will always be a consistent theme in my writing and teaching. I believe my experience as a Black man has made me more compassionate toward people from underserved communities."

The Salinas Union High School District is proud of all of Dr. Golden’s accomplishments and his ongoing commitment to excellence. We are excited to celebrate his history this Black History Month.