Grass Roots and Glass Ceilings: Observations from African-American Administrators in Predominantly White Colleges and Universities

Article excerpt

Grass Roots and Glass Ceilings: Observations from African-American Administrators in Predominantly White Colleges and Universities

William B. Harvey (Editor), 1999

Brian L. Haynes

Writing in the late 1890's, famed African-American intellectual W.E.B. DuBois wrote, "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line". This book seeks to address the issue of the color line as it relates to AfricanAmericans in administrative positions in higher education and the ability to achieve in spite of the legacy of racial discrimination in the academy. Grass Roots and Glass Ceilings chronicles the lives and careers of eight African-Americans who currently hold or have previously held senior level administrative positions (deans, vice-presidents, and presidents) at predominantly white institutions. The book provides us with insight as to the myriad of issues faced by AfricanAmerican administrators in the academy. In a real sense Grass Roots and Glass Ceilings provides us with a barometer as to how far we as nation have progressed in terms of race relations. It is in this context that this book must be read.

Contributors to this book traced their lives from childhood to professional career. The African-American senior level administrators in this book were asked to provide insight and to provide the readers with clarity about the ways in which educational, social, and political issues, including race relations, are reflected in predominantly white colleges and universities. Each contributor provides the reader with an exciting and motivating personal story. Stories about overcoming the odds. Stories about beating poverty and obtaining an education. Stories about confronting racism and sexism. The one constant exhibited by each contributor to this book was that of quality and accomplishment. Each contributor to this book has had a record of exemplary accomplishments in the academy.

Chapter 1, "Succeeding against the Odds in Higher Education: Advancing Society by Overcoming Obstacles Due to Race and Gender," was written by Reatha Clark King. …