ACC talks Black History Month: Clarence Watson

Throughout Black History Month, Austin Community College (ACC) sits down with influential and accomplished faculty and staff to discuss what Black History Month means to them.

Meet Clarence Watson, an ACC Social Work student and student liason. He is passionate about helping the homeless community and formerly incarcerated students. Read more about him below.

Clarence Watson

What is your position at ACC and when did you start at the college?

Student liaison with work study. I have been a student here since January 2016.

Why do you think it’s important for the college to commemorate Black History Month?

It is important because African Americans have been oppressed for over 400 years. We have made significant contributions to this country but are never showcased.

What figure in Black History would you most like to meet and why?

I would like to meet Fannie Lou Hamer because of her life experiences and passion for the rights of individuals around her. Her words were so powerful that President Lyndon B. Johnson tried to silence her, but was unsuccessful.

What are some personal or professional accomplishments you are most proud of?

I’m most proud of being where I am today, a college student. Five years ago if you told me I was going to be in college I would have said you were crazy. I’m very proud of my children, as well as starting Students With A Purpose (SWAP), whose goal is to organize formerly incarcerated students and students whose family members may have been impacted by the justice system. Through self-empowerment, overcoming systemic barriers, as well as engagement within the college and throughout the community, we truly want to build relationships, and support one another as we tackle what most would say to be the impossible. We understand our past doesn’t determine our future, and that we will be successful because of our life experiences.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned?

People say “knowledge is power,” but only the application of knowledge is power. You could be rich and think you’re powerful, but if you don't have the ability to use the resources you have, is it truly power?

What advice would you give emerging leaders?

Speak your truth with love and compassion.

Why is it important to seek out and value diverse perspectives?

One cannot truly understand or empathize if you don't have the ability hear what someone else has gone through.

How are you building bridges between communities?

Through Sock4oursity, a community initiative serving our chronically homeless brothers and sisters. How can we support our community if we don't know who needs our help the most? The easiest way is to ask them.

What inspires you?

My family, friends, and myself.

What is your ultimate goal?

I have a dream I would be able to inspire individuals for generations to come through not only my words but the action that goes with my words. I want to touch lives and be of service in our community only the way God sees fit.