Elba Clemente-Lambert and the Black Caucus Re-description Project

The latest round of the Black Caucus Re-description project has been completed and uploaded to Calisphere, with the Black Caucus records now fully reflecting the more than 400 items with updated descriptions and metadata through the fabulous work of Elba Clemente-Lambert — founding member of the UCSF Black Caucus.

First UCSF Black Caucus Gala Committee members; Left to right: Ethel Adams, Karen Newhouse, Avis Ransburg, Elba Clemente-Lambert, Diana Farley-Frierson, Darlene Carter Collins, Claudette “CJ” Johnson

Clemente-Lambert undertook the project to update photo descriptions over the course of 2020 and early 2021, working in batches. Many of the photos in question were photos she herself had taken. Clemente-Lambert reached out to her networks — contacting some of the many folks she had worked with over her years at UCSF, even talking with people as far away as Texas. She also reached deep into her own memory — sharing that she could, surprisingly to her, actually remember the names of many folks in photos. “Sometimes,” she said, “it would take me a day or two, but then all of a sudden I would just say the name.” Additionally, Clemente-Lambert has her own collection of Black Caucus event fliers which she was able to turn to to help remember attendees and speakers at events. She recounted that “It got chaotic!”, but after getting her procedures down she was able to record an immense amount of metadata to enrich the description of the Black Caucus records.

Former UCSF custodians gave Clemente-Lambert some of the most helpful information, especially James Aaron and Ernie Badger — nicknamed “Radio” because “he talked so much and knew everything about everybody”. They recounted how the early group would gather at “Soul Row” — a set of benches in the entryway to Medical Sciences building. As Clemente-Lambert shared, “that was a meeting place, a sacred place for us, even though it was out in the open.” The group also used to have bake sales right by the elevator to the cafeteria, knowing that they would get the most sales from hungry cafeteria-goers. 

Clemente-Lambert also noted significant assistance from others as well. Amy Levine of Women’s Resource center had worked closely with the Black Caucus on events, which they would always co-sponsor. Claudette Johnson, who had worked in the Chancellor’s Office, knew a lot of the people in photographs as well. Kathy Ballistari, who worked in hospital administration, knew a lot of people from the hospital and clinics, and also had a lot of “the names just came to me” moments. Linda Glasscock, Clemente-Lambert’s old manager in Labor Relations, also had a lot of helpful information.

 L to R: Denise Harvey, Edna Mayhand, Amy Levine, Leslie Simon, Janet ____ (unknown), Nellie Wong, guest speaker (unknown), Elba Clemente-Lambert.

The full-list of people who helped Clemente-Lambert with this project is as follows: James Aaron, Ethel Adams, Michael Adams, Ernie “Radio” Badger, Kathy Ballistari, Freeman Bradley, Anita Burton, Ira Butler, Sandy Canchola, Dorla Cantu, Charles Clary, Patricia Coleman, Susan Descalso, Diana Farley Frierson, Linda Glasscock, Corrine “Corky” Guttierez, Stan Hicks, Claudette Johnson, David Johnson, Kerry Johnson, Amy Levine, Fred Logan, Crystal Morris, Karen Newhouse, Sandra Norberg, Maryanne Penta, Drew Pitts, Paul Porter, Bob Rojas, Laurie Rojas, Eugene Salazar, Renee Saulter, Adrianne Sooy, Bill Stevens, Eric Vermillion, John Watson, Nancy Wright, Carol Yates

And finally, a big thank you to Jazmin Dew, the Archives staff-member who did much of the work to facilitate this project.

To explore more materials from the UCSF Black Caucus Records, check out the collection on Calisphere and the Online Archive of California (OAC)