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Recommended Reading: Black Women in the Ivory Tower May 12, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in Higher Education.
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Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850 – 1954: An Intellectual History by Stephanie Y. Evans, Ph.D.

Stephanie Evans is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Humanities (gender and cross-cultural American studies) from California State University, Long Beach. She holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in African American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

After reading an interview with the author on InsideHigherEd.com, this book has climbed to the top of my summer reading list. Click on THIS link to read the entire interview, or else check out these highlights. Ironically, in an interview that coincides with Evans’s book on Black women in the academy, some of her most provocative statements were on the educational achievement of African American men:

*With very few exceptions, in all races, at all levels, women are either on par or slightly above men in college enrollment and degrees earned. However, the disparity between the numbers of collegiate black women and men, however, is drastic.

*Tracking black men into prison and away from college shows that black men experience different barriers because of the relationship of gender to their race.

*Although black women dominate black men in the student ranks, black women’s faculty numbers are consistently lower than black men’s. Black women’s college enrollment has been higher than black men’s since the early 20th century, but by 1995, black men had earned 30,000 Ph.D.’s compared to black women’s 20,000. Moreover, this trend of black women holding fewer academic positions, while being relegated to junior ranks, and receiving tenure in lower numbers, is unyielding.

*Ultimately, it is unproductive to say that either black men or black women have it worse — there are definitely gendered aspects of race, both of which need to be addressed. To say that the issue of black men in prison or in college is more or less important than black women’s faculty positions or domestic violence is to fall into the divide-and-conquer trap. We must work to improve all areas.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

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Black Firsts, May 2008: Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown May 9, 2008

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“There’s no greater honor, obviously, for an alumni to have a building named for him, one that he hasn’t donated the money for.” — Ret. Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown in the Baltimore Sun

Ret. Lt. Cmdr. Wesley A. Brown

A number of institutions are celebrating this commencement season by naming Black scholars to leadership positions that African Americans have never previously held or by honoring their institution’s Black pioneers. Over the next few days, I will be posting news of some of these exciting milestones under the heading “Black Firsts, May 2008.”

The series continues with this brief report on the U.S. Naval Academy and its upcoming dedication of the new Wesley Brown Field House, named for its first African American graduate.

The dedication will take place this coming Saturday (May 10, 2008 ) and Ret. Lt. Commander Wesley A. Brown, the 81 year-old guest of honor, will be in attendance, along with a number of family members and friends. A member of the Academy’s class of 1949, Brown was the sixth African American to enter the Naval Academy, but only the first to graduate. Like previous Black enrollees, Brown endured isolation and harrassment but, he is not bitter. The Baltimore Sun reports that, “Brown has said in previous interviews that he did not recall many of the bad experiences at the academy and prefers to talk about the friends he had there.”

Midshipman Wesley A. Brown, ca. 1949

The Sun reports that Brown, “entered the Navy’s civil engineer corps after graduation. He retired from the Navy in 1969.” Brown feels fortunate to be alive to experience this dedication and to share it with his family. The Sun explains the health crisis that nearly prevented him from reaching this moment:

Brown said he was taken aback several years agowhen someone from the academy called to say officials planned to name an athletic complex after him. Brown said he initially thought the caller was a prankster or a telemarketer.

Two months later, he suffered a heart attack at his home, and doctors told his wife that he would likely die before morning. Their four children flew in from other parts of the country to be at his side.

Brown said he is simply thankful to be alive for Saturday’s ceremony.

He has spent recent weeks finalizing the guest list, which has grown to 70 family members and more than 300 friends.

The Wesley Brown Field House is a state-of-the-art athletic facility. HomeTownAnnapolis.com describes the $52 million, 140,000 square foot sports complex:

The facility includes track and field areas, such as sand pits for broad jumps, that can be covered by a retractable artificial turf football field.

When being put in place or retracted, the 76,000-square-foot, 100,000-pound carpet floats on a bed of forced air created by fans hidden in the floor. The goal is to reduce friction and make the turf last longer, said retired Cmdr. Tom McKavitt, an associate athletic director at the academy.

Cmdr. McKavitt said the facility will house the men and women’s cross country and track teams, the women’s lacrosse team and the sprint football team, as well as supporting 16 club sports.

“The facility will contribute to the overall physical mission at the Naval Academy,” he said.

Cmdr. McKavitt said the building’s wall overlooking the Santee Basin is designed to serve as dike in case of severe flooding.

The wall is mostly blast-resistant glass and is designed to reduce the need for artificial lighting. It is tinted toward the top to make the building easier to cool, according to Lt. Bob Kendall, the project supervisor.

The building has its own storm water management system that includes channeling run-off into flower beds, he said.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Black Firsts, May 2008: Rev. Brian K. Blount May 8, 2008

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“The seminary’s task, then, is to sear the promise of God’s protective power and transformative capability so deeply into your hearts and minds that when you step out into the lead of God’s people, your shepherding, driving focus will always be more on what can be than on what is.” –Rev. Brian K. Blount

Rev. Brian K. Blount (left) during his inauguration as the president of Union Theological Seminary.

 

 

A number of institutions are celebrating this commencement season by naming Black scholars and administrators to positions that they have never previously held or by honoring their institution’s Black pioneers. Over the next few days, I will be posting news of some of these exciting milestones under the heading “Black Firsts, May 2008.”

The series begins with this brief report on Union Theological Seminary and its installation of Rev. Brian K. Blount as the first ever Black person to lead the institution.

5/07/09 — Rev. Brian K. Blount was inaugurated as the first African American president of Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education. As the first Black president in its 196-year history, Rev. Blount also became the first African American “to head a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA).” Rev. Blount holds was educated at the College of William and Mary (B.A.), Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Emory University (Ph.D). He has authored and co-authored several books, including: Making Room At The Table: An Invitation to Multicultural Worship, edited with Lenora Tubbs Tisdale (D.Min.’79), Westminster John Knox Press, 2000;  Cultural Interpretation: Reorienting New Testament Criticism, Fortress Press, 1995; Then The Whisper Put On Flesh: New Testament Ethics in An African American Context, Abingdon Press, 2001; Can I Get A Witness? Reading Revelation Through African-American Culture, Westminster John Knox Press, 2005; True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary, general editor, Fortress Press, 2007; and several others.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Your Black History Horoscope: Were You Born in 1966? April 28, 2008

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I was. Lyndon Johnson was in office, the number one song of the year was The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” and A Man for all Seasons won the Oscar for Best Picture; but on college campuses another kind of history was being made.

Black History Horoscope* for people born in 1966:

Historical Happennings in 1966 (from TwilightandReason.com):

  • Dr. Samuel P. Massie becomes the first African American professor at the U.S. Naval Academy (Chemistry).
  • On June 3rd of this year, Maxwell Scarlett becomes the first African American student to graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington (B.S. in Biology).
  • Merle J. Smith becomes the first African American cadet to graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.
  • The Black Panther Party is founded in Oakland, CA by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. The two met at a rally opposing the blockade against Cuba while Seale was a student at Merritt College and Newton was enrolled at Oakland City Law School.

Horoscope Summary

The year of your birth (and mine) is characterized by its the pioneering spirit, creative political thinking, leadership, and sheer courage of those African American students and teachers who were creating change in their community, on their campuses, and in the nation at large. You can make the social and political changes that you desire to see in your world, but you must to bring the creativity and courage of Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. They used their innovative vision of African Americans turning to meet the violent racial terrorism of the 1960s with an attitude of entitlement to bear arms for self-defense to rock the nation and to truly transform the way that African Americans were perceived, both by Black folks and non-Blacks alike.

By the same token, you must also look beyond those places where African Americans are most commonly found if you are to make truly broad and lasting social change. Consider Merle J. Smith and Maxwell Scarlett who sought to pursue their educational dreams and goals in places where Black folks had previously been unwelcome. Also remember Dr. Samuel P. Massie who not only sought to enter a profession (academia) that to this remains relatively inaccessible to Black people, and in a discipline in which African Americans continue to be quite rare, but who also pursued his career at an institution in which Black people had never previously served as full-time, permanent faculty members.

The fact that you were born during that year already makes 1966 a special time for you. Pioneers and innovators like Newton and Massie have paved the way for you to make the occasional of your birth a fortunate occurance for us all.

 

 In 1966 Merle J. Smith became the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Today he is General Counsel at a maritime security firm.

 
*Your Black History Horoscope is not based on the month and the day that you were born, but on the year. The Black History Horoscope looks at the year in which you were born, and — based on the Black history being made during that time — assigns a set of qualities and values that distinguish the year of your birth.
Black History Horoscopes seeks not to predict the future, but to issue a challenge, to live up to and exceed the characteristics of the Black historical innovaters and change makers of the year of your birth, and to perpetuate the values manifest in their actions and impact.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Black Milestones in Higher Education: Columbia Lions Edition April 18, 2008

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In honor of primary season I’ve decided — at least momentarily — to focus my Black Milestones in Higher Education series on the undergraduate alma maters of the major presidential candidates up for nomination.

I began the series with the U.S. Naval Academy, alma mater of Republican front-runner John McCain. Next up in the series wasWellesley College, the alma mater of Democratic presidential hopeful. I am ending with Columbia University, the undergraduate alma mater of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

History and Overview: Columbia University was founded and began offering classes in 1754, called King’s College at the time, it was founded, “by royal charter of King George II of England” (Source: Columbia University Website). At the time, the enrollment consisted of eight students, all of whom were male. The College was forced to shut down in 1776, as a result of the upheaval of the Revolutionary War in the colonies. When it reopened in 1784, the institution had a new name, Columbia.

In 1983, Columbia became the last of the Ivy League schools to enroll women. Today woman make up a full 49.3 percent of the student body. As of the fall of 2007, University’s undergraduate programs enrolled 7,377 students, of whom 435 were Black.

Black Milestones at Columbia University:

  • 1908 — Pixley ka Ikasa Seme of South African becomes the first black student to earn a B.A. from Columbia. In 1928 he would go on to earn an LLD from Columbia, and would eventually become the founder of the African National Congress (ANC).
  • 1928 — Louis Wilson, Jr. becomes the first African American graduate of Columbia’s architecture school.
  • 1968 — Armed with guns, Black students take over Hamilton Hall to protest both the building of a gym whose entrance policies were considered racist and the University’s involvement in weapon’s reserach.
  • 1969 — M. Moran Weston (CC’30, GSAS’40, GSAS’69) becomes the first African American to serve on the Columbia University Board of Trustees.
  • 1972 — Kellis E. Parker becomes the first full-time African American professor at Columbia Law School.
  • 1976 — The Black Students’ Organization (BSO) is founded.
  • 1983 — The Institute for Research in African American Studies is established at Columbia University.
  • 1999 — The Winter 1999/2000 issue of the Journal of Black in Higher Education reports that Columbia has the higher percentage of Black faculty (7.2 percent) “among the nation’s 27 highest ranked universities.
  • 2004 — On October 26th of this year, Columbia University a plaza on its Morningside campus in the name of it’s first Black trustee, the late Rev. Dr. M. Moran Weston, a graduate of the class of 1930.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Black Milestones in Higher Education: Wellesley Blue Edition* April 14, 2008

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*Wellesley College does not have a mascot. Wellesley refers to its athletic teams as “the Blue.”

Wellesley Logo

In honor of primary season I’ve decided — at least momentarily — to focus my Black Milestones in Higher Education series on the undergraduate alma maters of the major presidential candidates up for nomination.

I began the series with the U.S. Naval Academy, alma mater of Republican front-runner John McCain. Next up in the series is Wellesley College, the alma mater of Democratic presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton.

History and Overview: Wellesley College was founded in 1870 by Henry and Pauline Durant. The first students arrived in 1875. Wellesley graduated its first Black student in 1887.

Between 1980 and 1993 Black enrollment at Wellesley remained stable at 6.9% of the student body. Since that time Black student enrollment has slipped. In 1999, Black students comprised only 4.3% of entering first-year students. Today Wellesley enrolls 2,283 students, of whom 132 — or roughly 5.8% — are Black.

Wellesley College is among that handful of highly selective U.S. colleges and universities at which the Black graduation rate is higher than the graduation rate for white students. While the white graduation rate at Wellesley is 91%, the Black graduation rate is an 94%, far above the national average for both Black and white students.

Sources:

“Long-Term Black Student Enrollment Trends at the Nation’s Highest-Ranked Colleges and Universities.”The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 8 (Summer, 1995), pp. 12-14

“The Progress of Black Student Matriculations at the Nation’s Highest- Ranked Colleges and Universities.”The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 25 (Autumn, 1999), pp. 8-16

Ella Elbert Smith, Class of 1888, and the Second African American Woman to Graduate from Wellesley College

Ella Elbert Smith, class of 1888,

and the second African American woman to graduate from Wellesley College.

Black Milestones at Wellesley College

  • 1887 — Harriet Alleyne Rice becomes the first African American student to graduate from Wellesley.
  • 1888 — Ella Lavinia Smith becomes the second African American student to graduate from Wellesley.
  • 1923 — Harlem Renaissance poet Clarissa M. Scott Delaney graduates Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College. At Wellesley, Delaney was a varsity athlete known for her additional talents a singer, and a pianist.
  • 1990 — Adrian Piper joins the faculty of Wellesley College, becoming the first African American female full tenured professor of philosophy in the United States.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Black Milestones in Higher Education: Navy Edition February 23, 2008

Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, Annapolis, Black Faculty, Black Students, Bruce Grooms, Higher Education, Janie L. Mines, John Henry Conyers, John McCain, Samuel Massie, U.S. Naval Academy, Wesley Brown.
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Naval Academy Letter and Star

In honor of primary season I’ve decided — at least momentarily — to focus my Black Milestones in Higher Education series on the undergraduate alma maters of the major presidential candidates up for nomination.

The series begins with the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis), the undergraduate alma mater of Republican front runner John McCain.

History and Overview: The United States Naval Academy was founded in 1845 by then Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. Called the Naval School and located on ten acres of land in Annapolis, Maryland, it enrolled 50 students, taught by 7 professors. In 1850, the institution changed its name to the U.S. Naval Academy and added hands-on maritime training to its curriculum.

Between 1872 and 1949, six Black male students enrolled at the academy, but it was not until the latter year that the Academy saw its first African American graduate. The academy enrolled its first women students in 1976, and saw its first Black female graduate in 1981.

Today the U.S. Naval Academy enrolls over 4000 students. Out of the 1227 students who matriculated in the fall of 2007, only 69 were African American.

Black Milestones at the U.S. Naval Academy:

  • 1872 — John Henry Conyers becomes the first African American to enroll in the U.S. Naval Academy. Conyers experiences shunning from the other cadets and leaves the academy the following year due to academic difficulties.
  • 1941 — Black Harvard University lacrosse player Lucien V. Alexis, Jr. is forced to sit on the sidelines during at game against Navy because the academy does not permit Black people on its playing fields.
  • 1949 — Wesley A. Brown becomes the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • 1966 — Professor Samuel P. Massie, Jr joins the Department of Chemistry to become the first African American faculty member at the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • 1976 — Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American woman to enter the U.S. Naval Academy. She is the sole African American out of 81 women admitted during this, the first year that the Academy opens its doors to women.
  • 1981 — Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American woman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • 2005 — Rear Admiral Bruce Grooms, a 1980 Annapolis graduate, becomes the first African American Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, and the highest ranking African American in the history of the institution. At the time that he became Commandant, Rear Admiral Grooms held the rank of Captain.
  • 2006 — The U.S. Naval Academy breaks ground on the Wesley Brown Field House, named in honor its first African American graduate. The field house is a 140,000 square foot atheltic facility.


Then Captain Bruce Grooms, the first African American Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, and Wesley A. Brown, the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, break ground on the Wesley Brown Field House.

Grooms and Brown

Posted by Ajuan Mance