Black History Month
EDITORS: February is Black History Month. Indiana University is home to many faculty members and academic units specializing in African American life and culture. Below is a sample of story ideas. You are encouraged to contact these faculty members directly, but please contact us if you need further assistance.
Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court launched American public schools into the desegregation era. But now many of these districts are terminating their school desegregation decrees. "In addition to the termination of existing school desegregation decrees, in one of the most dramatic reversals of constitutional doctrine in recent memory, a number of lower federal courts have actually invalidated voluntary school desegregation plans when these plans are not needed in order to remedy the unconstitutional operation of a dual school system," said Kevin D. Brown, IU professor of law. "In other words, some lower federal courts have struck down the kind of voluntary school desegregation plans that had been encouraged for so many years." The result of these legal developments is that racial and ethnic segregation of black and Latino students has been increasing in American public schools for the past 15 years. "American society has reached the end of the era of school desegregation," Brown added. The waning of desegregation can be seen in the embrace of alternative efforts to reform education. One of the major reform movements in public education is the effort to increase both public and private school choice, including charter schools and school vouchers. "For the past 30 years, one of the principal objections to the increase in school choice has been the potential for resegregation. But with the waning of school desegregation, school choice is now being embraced by many advocates of educational reform who before would have rejected choice," said Brown, who can be reached at 812-855-6145 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It has been almost 50 years since the
If the United States elects a black president in the foreseeable future, he or she will likely be a Republican, according to Lawrence Hanks, professor of political science and former dean of African American Affairs at IU Bloomington. "The Democratic Party is not ready for a black presidential nominee and certainly not ready for a black woman nominee," Hanks said in reference to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is considered a long shot in this year's race for the Democratic nomination, and Carol Moseley-Braun, former U.S. senator and ambassador to New Zealand, who had been a candidate. "Ironically, though, the Republicans could pull it off," Hanks added, "as long as their nominee is conservative on the issues and can appeal to the average white voter, someone like (National Security Adviser) Condoleezza Rice or (Secretary of State) Colin Powell." He said that most African Americans understand the current political system and its limitations on a minority candidate. Because they are "very realistic" about the system, African Americans are more likely to support a candidate like former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean or retired Gen. Wesley Clark this year, rather than Sharpton or Moseley-Braun, Hanks said. "We're at a point in this country where African Americans have made progress at the symbolic level but not at the substantive level. At best, we've positioned ourselves at the bargaining table," he said. Hanks can be reached at 812-855-9752 or email@example.com.
The negotiation of race and power between a white teacher and his African American students is accomplished through a dialogue of embodied metaphors and physical gestures, according to results of a year-long ethnographic study. The study found that students in an all-black fifth grade classroom in Houston dealt with their white male teacher's disciplinary actions by strutting, jutting their shoulders, rolling their eyes, walking out of the classroom and other meaningful gestures which express agency and self-determination, according to Barbara Korth, visiting assistant professor of curriculum and instruction and of counseling and educational psychology. "Issues of inequality in race and power were worked out through physical rather than verbal dialogue," Korth said. For example, if the teacher told a student to sit down, the student would walk out of the room, return a few minutes later and sit down as told. According to Korth, students were in effect saying, "You don't have control over my body. I do." Students also would imitate the teacher's white characteristics when he was out of the room, highlighting the centrality of race in their interactions with him. The negotiation of race and power through gestures rather than through talk often resulted in misinterpretation and the furthering of racial barriers. "The students and teacher never spoke with one another about race or their use of race-signified embodied metaphors," she added. "Therefore, students were left to their own devices in how they interpreted the teacher's messages, and vice versa." For more information on the study, contact Korth at 812-856-8142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
African American voters have traditionally identified with the Democratic Party, but recent history shows their vote shouldn't be taken for granted, according to Lawrence Hanks, professor of political science and former dean of African American Affairs at IU Bloomington. Hanks said that in 1956, black Northerners, tired of the Democratic Party catering to the South on the issue of civil rights, reduced their support for the party ticket and aided Dwight Eisenhower's quest for the White House. Their defections took two major forms -- some of the electorate voted for the Republican ticket, and others simply stayed home. In the end, Eisenhower won the November election and the Democratic Party began scrambling to re-establish ties with a bloc of voters they had taken for granted. As Democrats and Republicans proceeded to court the black vote between 1956 and 1960, the groundwork was laid for historic civil rights legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the Civil Rights Act of 1960, as well as the election of John Kennedy in 1960. "It's a clear example of what happens when you defect. The worst thing you can do as a voter is to be predictable. When you're predictable, no one has to do anything to entice you to stay," said Hanks, who can be reached at 812-855-9752 or email@example.com.
To promote problem-based historical inquiry in high school social studies classes, a Web site is being created that will enable teachers to share curriculum and activities on a broader range of social justice and historical issues. Located at http://www.pihnet.org, the Persistent Issues in History Network enables teachers to develop their own units. The project, which is a partnership between Tom Brush, IUB associate professor in Instructional Systems Technology, and Auburn University's John Saye, will provide students an opportunity to grapple with social issues and look for new strategies to promote a more just society. "Problem-based historical inquiry will help prepare students to be more effective citizens by not just knowing the past, but being able to make competent, knowledgeable decisions as an adult," Brush said. Through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and support from IU, Auburn University and the School of Education's Center for Research on Learning and Technology, Brush and Saye have been working with 20 teachers across the United States to formulate a set of curriculum and activities for the site. Teachers identified the civil rights movement as a subject which would provide them an opportunity to promote and implement certain strategies in social justice. It was also a subject for which teachers said they severely lacked materials. "Because we tend to minimize the overall historical perspective anyway, PIHN will provide teachers an opportunity to expand the curriculum to allow students to struggle with all aspects of the civil rights movement," Brush said. The site currently contains a civil rights database with 1,500 primary and secondary sources. It will soon branch out with more materials on the Spanish conquest, post-Civil War reconstruction and world history. For more information, contact Brush at 812-856-8458 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The IU School of Education will host its second annual African American Read-In on Feb. 2 in the Grand Hall of the Neal Marshall Black Culture Center at IU Bloomington. The effort is in conjunction with the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English's 15th National African American Read-In Chain. More than 1 million students are expected to participate nationwide. Education faculty and students and local high school students will read selected African American authors' poems and passages. "Last year's African American Read-In was a positive event that brought students, teachers, parents, and the university and Bloomington communities together," said organizer Stephanie Carter, assistant professor of language education. Carter previously organized African American Read-Ins as a high school teacher in Athens, Ga., and at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Carter can be reached at 812-856-8265 or email@example.com. Ghangis D. Carter, director of recruitment and retention in the IU School of Education, also is available to discuss the effort and can be reached at 812-856-8002 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For national information on the African American Read-In, visit http://www.ncte.org/prog/readin/107901.htm.
Willis Barnstone is a Jew, but early in his life he shared many parallel experiences with African Americans, as he relates in his upcoming book,
The big band has become almost a moribund concept, making it more important to preserve the legacy of jazz greats, according to David Baker, Distinguished Professor of Music at IU Bloomington and artistic and musical director of the renowned Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. The orchestra, which was founded in 1990 to recognize the importance of jazz in American culture, re-creates big band jazz as its composers and arrangers intended it to be played, stripping away intervening changes and alterations. It has also uncovered new music that has added to the jazz tradition. "We've lost so many of the major giants of that era," Baker said. "This is one way to keep their legacy alive and to play some of the most exciting contemporary music." Under Baker's leadership, the SJMO, which the
Detroit, Philadelphia, Memphis, New Orleans and Chicago are home to various forms of African American music, but what about Bloomington, Ind.? Established in 1991, the Archives of African American Music and Culture at IU Bloomington is an important repository of materials covering various musical idioms and cultural expressions, including black radio, blues, rhythm and blues, soul, funk, hip-hop, religious, jazz and classical music, primarily from the post-World War II era. Among the important collections in the archives is the Phyl Garland Collection, which comprises over 900 photographs, brief biographies and publicity releases from record companies on artists and record labels. Another important holding is the Westwood One Collection, which comprises over 200 Special Edition radio programs chronicling the careers of a number of black performers through the use of narration, music and interviews. The programs feature well-known performers such as Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, George Benson, The Commodores, Earth Wind and Fire, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Run DMC, Patti LaBelle, The Manhattans, The Pointer Sisters, The Spinners and Donna Summer. Other collections include recordings of more than 500 weekly radio news programs produced by Lee Bailey Productions (Radioscope and Hip Hop Countdown) and more than 800 radio programs of black popular music (live and pre-recorded) and interviews hosted by Johnny Otis. The purpose of the collection is to preserve and disseminate materials for research and study of African American culture. Portia K. Maultsby, IU professor of folklore and ethnomusicology and adjunct professor of music, African studies and American studies, directs the archives and can be reached at 812-855-2708 or email@example.com. Jason Housley is project coordinator and can be reached at 812-855-9960 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A "Soul Survivor" tells his story. Jerry Butler, an award-winning performer, producer and composer, is one of the architects of American rhythm and blues. In his book,
IU Bloomington is home to the Black Film Center/Archive, a repository of films and related materials by and about African Americans. Included are films which have substantial participation by African Americans as writers, actors, producers, directors and musicians, and those which depict some aspect of the black experience. Directed by Audrey T. McCluskey, associate professor of African American and African Diaspora studies, the center recently showcased its film poster collection in an exhibit at the IU Art Museum, and it publishes an academic journal,
IU's Kelley School means business in targeting minority students. The Kelley School of Business Junior Executive Institute is one of several programs that highlight IU's commitment to diversity and pre-collegiate minority aspirations. The program takes place the last week of June and targets African American, Latino and Native American high school juniors who show interest in business. Thirty students will be chosen and will attend workshops focusing on applying to college, making the transition from high school to college, financial aid, time management, note-taking and study skills, and success in studying business. According to William Lewis, director of diversity recruitment, retention and outreach in the Kelley School, at least one-sixth of participants from the summer 2002 program have applied to IU Bloomington and plan on majoring in business this fall. To qualify for the Junior Executive Program, students must be high school sophomores or juniors with a grade point average of 2.7 or higher (on a 4.0-point scale). Lewis also directs the school's Minorities in Business Program, which has been a part of the school's undergraduate program at IU Bloomington since 1989. Lewis can be reached at 812-855-4474 or email@example.com. Russell C. Vertner directs similar programs at the Kelley School's Indianapolis campus and can be reached at 317-274-3492 or firstname.lastname@example.org.