Saturday, May 25

Power of the word

Nommo, the country's first college ethnic newsmagazine, continues to call for equal opportunity

UCLA FIRSTS Every other Friday, The Bruin will
highlight social, political and scientific advancements that
originated at UCLA and set standards for both the university and
the nation.

By Sharon Kim

Daily Bruin Contributor

Appearing first on December 4, 1968, Nommo, meaning “power
of the word” in Swahili, is both UCLA’s and the
nation’s oldest ethnic publication on a college campus.

Initially directed only to UCLA’s African American
community, Nommo’s objectives changed during the late 1970s
and early 1980s.

“Our focus in those years was to remind black students of
their obligation to return their intellectual resources to the
black community and encourage high school students in inner-city
schools to achieve so that they could come to UCLA,” said
Prentice Deadrick, editor of Nommo during the 1979-80 academic

One of the newsmagazine’s major goals aimed at making the
Los Angeles inner city aware of the African American student
presence at UCLA. In hopes of encouraging youth, its organizers
distributed Nommo to predominantly African American high schools
and cultural and community centers off campus.

This distribution, according to Deadrick, increased the
newsmagazine’s circulation from 1,000 to 25,000 during the
years he was editor.

Also during his tenure as editor, Nommo became the first special
interest publication to be printed in color when the newsmagazine
published a special memorial issue dedicated to African American
children murdered by a serial killer in Atlanta during the late

After a 32-year history, the basic issues Nommo addresses have
not significantly changed over the years, according to Terelle
Jerricks, a fifth-year history student and current editor of

“The main agenda was making UCLA live up to its promises
as a public institution,” Jerricks said. “As a public
university, all students should have access to it.”

What initially began as an effort to raise consciousness about
injustices in the African American community, Nommo has now
expanded to cover issues that concern other minorities and women as

“People of color are affected by the same issues,”
Jerricks said.

These issues include housing discrimination and the lack of
availability of health insurance for some minority groups,
challenges which force them to seek free, overcrowded clinics or to
just “be in pain,” Jerricks continued.

From the tumultuous times of the Vietnam War and the
assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., which took place during
the newsmagazine’s early years, Jerricks said Nommo had to
change to adjust to the more neutralized atmosphere of the

From that time to the mid-1980s, Nommo became more aware of
women’s issues, focusing on sexism. During the mid-1990s to
the present, the newsmagazine has focused on affirmative action,
according to Jerricks.

He added that problems like police brutality and corruption,
racism and discrimination ““ issues prevalent during the time
of Nommo’s birth ““ are still alive today.

Though the newsmagazine has achieved some of the awareness it
has sought, Jerricks said there is still work to do.

In the future, he said he hopes for Nommo to become a more major
newsmagazine with a larger readership. He is trying to incorporate
more feature stories that are directly related to the Los Angeles
community, specifically subjects that other newsmagazines may not
want to address.

Currently, Nommo comes out on a bi-quarterly basis but Jerricks
is working to make Nommo a monthly newsmagazine. By increasing the
number of issues, Jerricks said he can reach more readers, and help
them approach issues they may not be aware of.

With Nommo, he hopes to “burst their bubble.”

“People sometimes forget about the world outside of their
reality,” Jerricks said.

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