With the days growing shorter, October isn't just spooky, it seems especially full of great events. Before the goblins and pumpkins take over our streets, let's get right to the autumn happenings at our local community colleges -- Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, and Laney and Merritt colleges in Oakland.

Berkeley City College hosts a talk, "Woman Among Warlords," by Malalai Joya at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17. Joya first gained international attention when she spoke out publicly against Afghan warlords. She taught secretly in underground schools for girls in Afghanistan. And, in 2005, she became one of 68 women elected to the country's 249-seat National Assembly. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in 2010. Her talk is free and open to all.

Those fascinated by headline trials had a pre-Halloween treat on Oct. 9, when an extraordinary debate among legal experts took place at Laney College. The debate, which focused on the O. J. Simpson murder trial, the Angela Davis conspiracy trial, and the death penalty trial of Black Panther co-founder Huey Newton, determined just what constitutes "the trial of the century." Distinguished panelists included James Brosnahan, who is ranked among the top 30 U.S. trial lawyers, and Oakland attorney John Burris.

If you missed it live, you can watch the debate -- sponsored by the Peralta Community College District, Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club, Women Lawyers of Alameda County and the Equal Justice Society -- on Peralta TV, cable channel 27 or 28, at 8 p.m. Oct. 20.


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Speaking of the Panthers: Don't miss the broadcast this month of Peralta TV's award-winning documentary "Merritt College: Home of the Black Panthers." Narrated by U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, the film details the origins of the Panthers at Merritt College. Peralta TV's documentary not only won a national award for the best college video in 2008, but was also shown at a special screening at the United Nations in New York. Watch Peralta TV at 8 p.m. on Oct. 14 or at 9 p.m. on Oct. 20 to see this locally produced award-winner.

Do you know a high school student who is an Oakland resident, behind in school or thinking of dropping out? The Gateway to College program at Laney College might be just what they need to succeed. Gateway to College is a scholarship program that provides disadvantaged Oakland kids an opportunity to experience success in an academic environment.

This dual (high school and college) credit program promotes student success and readiness by grouping students into learning communities. Students focus their studies in a "pathway," or major, aligned with high school completion and college goals. The program is recruiting for Spring 2014. To attend the Oct. 24 information session, call Rogeair Purnell at 510-986-6941. You can also visit the program's website at www.laney.edu/wp/gateway.

We say a fond goodbye to former College of Alameda professor Jane Koll, who passed away on Sept. 11. Dr. Koll, who was 85, was professor of psychology and human development for many years at College of Alameda and served as president of the Academic Senate in 1994. She graduated from Berkeley High School in 1964 and received her bachelor's in arts in 1950 from UC Berkeley; a master's degree from Cal State Hayward in 1975; and her Ed.D. from Nova University in 1988. Let's reflect on her outstanding contributions to College of Alameda and all the students she influenced over the years.

Next month, I'll have more news about the Peralta Colleges as we continue to put the word "community" into our community colleges.

Reach Jeffrey Heyman at jheyman@peralta.edu or follow him on Twitter @jeffheyman.