North Carolina Newspapers

    Monday, March 31, 1969
Page Five
-McNeil ViewS"
(Coninued from Page 2)
struction it was an unwanted
child, and the nation ignored it
lor a century while it grew up
stunted, yet wise; subservent,
yet nurturing a secret rebelli
ousness. Then the civil rights
uprising brought the Black col
leges into view—and now White
America is beginning to encircle
them with a fine net of benevo
lence, threatening to draw then!
into an American culture which,
to many Negroes, seems desira
ble and repellent at the same
Under segregation, the prob
lem of the colleges was survival.
Now with the battle for inte
gration won (at least legally),
"the peace negotiations bring a
question: What are the terms?
In his novel. Home to Harlem,
Claude McKay an outstanding
figure of the Harlem literary
renaissance of the 1920’s, spoke
on this point. “We ought to get
something new — we Negroes.
But we get our education like—>
like our houses. When the whites
move out of the old houses we
move in and take possession of
the old dead stuff. Dead stuff
that this age has no use for.”
Yet the “dead stuff” of educa
tion means degrees, status, en
trance into the professions. And
for Blacks whose fathers picked
tobacco and carried trays and
whose mothers hands became
hard washing other women’s
laundry, this is a hugh achieve
ment. Higher education, how
ever, is always a gift for the
few, and this is especially,
poignantly true of Blacks in
the United States. Whites out
number Blacks in the populatiork
abou ten to one, but in college
they outnumber them about
forty to one.
The North Carolina College
campus for example is extraor
dinarily fragrant and lovely,
with immaculate lawns and
thick limbed trees. The dress is
less casual than, less say, on
Duke University’s campus; the
decorum is controlled. The aver
age Negro student has always
labored under the terrible
weight of the admonition—de
livered by the older and higher
up>s within the race—to “make
a good impression” as if this
were somehow the key to equal
The students are mostly from
the rural areas of the State,
from segregated schools, which
have the lowest teacher salaries,
the most out-of-date textbooks,
the most crowded classrooms,
the most shabby equipment in
the world. Most of the students
are badly prepared in their vo
cabulary, their reading ability
and their study habits. A number
are eager to make up for this
and shoot ahead.
But this picture of the Negro
college is false if it emphasizes
differences instead of similarities
between White and Black, ho
mogeneity rather than variety
among the Black Colleges. The
fact is that the Black institutions
vary highly as do their students.
For instance, on a ranking by
academic quality, I think How
ard University, Fisk, Lincoln
and Morehouse would be found
in the upper tenth'of all Ameri
ca institutions. And the poor
Black state institutions share the
bottom of the academic list with
White institutions all over the
nation. And yet, on the whole,
Black Colleges are smaller ini
size and poorer in quality. The
reasons are easily identifiable;
segregation and a century of liv
ing on financial crumbs. Most
colleges have to scroxmge des
perately for money, but Black
more than any. Black colleges
are needed more desperately and
are hardly likely to be inte
grated out of existence; however,
more white students are enroll
ing, but only in a trickle. True,
two institutions in West Vir
ginia (Bluefield State and West
Virginia State) now have a
white- majority, but this due to
special conditions (convenient
location for local whites, low
tuition, and race prejudices nev
er as a virulent as in the Deep
South). Integration will grow
at Black colleges, but only
About some of the poor fac
ulty members in the Black Col
lege, the only ones they should
get rid of, they keep, and the
ones they should keep they get
rid of.”
One response to the new in
terest in Black colleges, is that
foundations are giving money.
However, Black colleges still
seem to get the picking after
White institutions have been
taken care of; the rich colleges
get richer; and the poor rela
tively poorer.
Tke Black student too often
is misguided by what he leams
in college; and what he will face
in reality. These students have
heard many pretentious com
mencement day speakers talk
about the purpose of education
being to develop “values” in
students, but what they find is a
strong concern to produce “able,
first class” young men and
women who will score high on
tests, enter leading universities,
sionals. And while this is ad
vantageous for the few, if un
joined to some larger concern
it leaves too many people out.
Somehow, sometimes, accred
iting associations grasped the
idea that an easy way to judge
the quality of a college is to
count the Ph.D’s on its faculty.
This leads the harassed president
of any poor college and thus
most of the Black institutions
to be more concerned with the
degrees held by a potential
teacher than with his or her
teaching ability.
Presidential autocracy is quite
evident among black colleges
than ever before. Faculty and
students have little to say in
policy making. Common prac
tices among black college presi
dents are: arbitrarily firing of
faculty members who are overly
critical; censoring student news
papers; reprimanding Student
Government Association officers
who protest campus policies.
One hopeful sign is that a
new generation of black col
lege presidents is beginning
to appear — vigorous, forward
looking men who were active
in the civil rights movement.
There is too much wistful
talk in education circles about
how far black colleges must go
to “catch up” with the rest.
What is overlooked is that the
black colleges have one supreme
advantage over the others: They
are the nearest this country has
to a racial microcosm of the
world outside the U. S. — a
world largely non-white, de
veloping, and filled with the
tensions of the bourgeois emula
tion and radical protest. And
with more white students and
foreign students entering, black
universities might become our
first massively integrated, truly
international educational c e n-
“Bkck Studies-
(Continued from Page 2)
are too stupid to see the truth
because if we were going to
hurt you we would come with
guns. Our function is to make
the whites move into action to
join with us to help civilize a
barbaric country.”
In the end the teacher pleaded
Uncle: “It’s really the white
man’s job to change white racist
attitudes—^not the black’s.”
The ABS is currently planning
to open its Black College in
September. The group has al
ready won $34,000 from the
Catholic Church and is working;
on the Ford Foundation for an
additional grant. “We hope to
bring in top black teachers from
around the country to help staff
our college,” says Lonnie Peaks,
who is studying for a masters
degree in Community Organiza
A four-year program will let
students work toward a degree
in black studies. “This makes
sense—after all, Wayne is really
our campus. It was built right
out of the ghetto,” say Peaks.
Students from other depart
ments will be encouraged to en
roll in Black College courses.
Already the economics, social
work, and education faculty
have tentatively agreed to push
the black courses. “We think
courses on black culture will
be a real asset to future teachers
working in the ghetto,” saysi
So far the administration has
been cooperative in working out
class space for the new school;
“Whenever they balk at one of
our proposals,” says Peaks, “We
just say, ‘Now look, you guys
just had a riot here and none of
us wants a new one, do we?’”
Allan Fannin, weaver of Brooklyn, with his display of woolens.
Mr. Fannin lectured and conducted a workshop for students at
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