‘I want my legacy to be community inspiration’: La Jolla High grad works to empower fellow Black students

Caroline Cammon
Caroline Cammon, who graduated last week from La Jolla High School, aims to connect Black students to their history and one another.
(Provided by Caroline Cammon)

Caroline Cammon founded four clubs in her two years on the campus, continuing activism she began in Texas. She also has worked districtwide and is president-elect of the NAACP San Diego Youth Council.


For Caroline Cammon, change begins with community effort and inspiration.

The La Jolla resident, who graduated last week from La Jolla High School, founded four clubs in her two years on the campus: the Black Lady Alliance, Black Student Union, Minority Club and No Place for Hate.

Cammon, who identifies as Black and mixed race, also is president-elect of the NAACP San Diego Youth Council.

She said she was spurred to action by the 2020 death of George Floyd during an arrest by Minneapolis police. Four officers were fired as a result, and former officer Derek Chauvin, who is White, was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Floyd, who was Black. The three other officers were convicted of other charges.

“That was really hard-hitting,” said Cammon, who was attending a private Christian school in Texas at the time. “It was really a dark time for my mental health. … That was really the first time I experienced overt racism on a scale like that.”

Cammon said many of her friendships ended “due to our different political beliefs.”

Realizing that many other Black students shared her feelings, Cammon began “reaching out to upperclassmen who were African American,” creating a school group for Black students “to discuss what we were experiencing and what we want to see changed in school that would make the experience of incoming freshmen better.”

The next school year, Cammon’s group began implementing programs celebrating Black students’ identities and history.

She also connected Black students via Zoom meetings to “create a safe space as we were experiencing the online learning year but also grappling with our mental health as we were witnessing … racism on a daily basis.”

When she moved to La Jolla for her junior year, Cammon immediately began working with La Jolla High Principal Chuck Podhorsky to establish the four clubs.

She also ran Black History Month activities highlighting authors and inventors.

Continuing her activism in La Jolla has been “amazing,” Cammon said.

Her efforts then expanded beyond La Jolla. She worked this year as an intern for the San Diego Unified School District’s Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee, giving presentations and speeches at school board meetings and events for Juneteenth and other occasions.

“Being an intern was truly awesome,” she said. “I got to work with people who were making students aware of our history but also making them aware of how great their potential [is]. We don’t get to really see that in history classes currently.”

Cammon also founded and ran SDUSD’s Black Student Union Coalition, which “works to uplift Black student unions throughout the school district,” she said.

“We’re proud to have such a strong and committed community leader on our team,” Podhorsky said.

Recently, Cammon was recognized as the Most Influential Teen Girl by mentoring nonprofit Detour Empowers. She also organized a one-day conference this month with the NAACP San Diego Youth Council.

The conference included a panel with students from historically Black colleges and universities “to highlight why these different colleges are amazing choices and what the different paths are,” Cammon said.

There also were workshops on identity and financial stability.

“My favorite part of the conference was the Black Excellence Museum Hall,” she said, which featured Black inventors, activists, historic figures and leaders.

“We were able to highlight a ton of diverse characters who have contributed so much to what we know today,” Cammon said.

Cammon credits her motivation and drive to her parents’ support. “The way they raised me is really reflected in what I do right now.”

Cammon will attend San Diego Mesa College in the fall and hopes to transfer to UC San Diego in two years.

“I want my legacy to be community inspiration,” she said. “The main reason I’m able to achieve all this is because of the community that I’ve been able to work with [at] La Jolla High. The administration there is truly amazing. … Podhorsky is a ball of inspiration for me. … The other students there, my friends there, are absolutely amazing.”

“I am empowered by them, inspired by them,” Cammon added. “I would want to have La Jolla and San Diego [foster that] community and inspiration.” ◆