Bridges Digital Archive: Audio and Video Recordings


Media is loading

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date



Tonya Burke shares stories of her academic experiences from high school extracurriculars to pursuing a degree at University of California, Santa Cruz. She describes the racial and stereotypical agendas pushed by society and academic institutions and how she overcame them as a single mother pursuing her graduate degree. She stresses the importance of education in her life and how she came close to giving up but continued to push through, despite others telling her to pack up and go home. Through her parents' support she ran for Perris City Council and was elected, which was a historic event as a Black woman in a predominantly Latino community. The support of her husband, children, and parents, Tonya continues to thrive on the council and as an educator. She emphasizes the influence of God and the important life values she has learned from others, most notably, the motto from her mother: “If the front door is locked, go through the side window.”


Interview conducted by Lea Michelle Cash.