2000s View: On the Right Side of History

Article excerpt

Looking Like America"--that was the title of my first Editor's Note in January 2001. We were ushering in the new millennium with recently elected President George W. Bush. Would he follow in the footsteps of his predecessor President Clinton and appoint a diverse cabinet? Furthermore, would such diversity translate into policies that addressed issues important to underrepresented communities?

By the time I wrote my last Editor's Note in August 2008, we were looking beyond cabinet selections and contemplating the possibility that this country could elect its first African-American president.

On election night, victory celebrations spanned the globe. Non-U.S. citizens were filled with hope and optimism about what Barack Obama's election could mean for the rest of the world--at the very least symbolically.

In his speech that night, President-elect Obama said: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

We can imagine that he was talking about the collective action of millions going to the polls to elect the first Black president, as well as referring to his own personal story, when he talked about America being a place where all things are possible.

His election resonated beyond U.S. borders because it spoke to what people universally want--opportunity.

The need to increase access to educational opportunity for African-Americans and other underrepresented groups, as well as shine a spotlight on the structural inequalities in higher education, is why Black Issues In Higher Education, now Diverse, was born 30 years ago.

As a pioneer, Black Issues filled a void in higher education news for more than 20 years. The magazine championed diversity and inclusion before it was popular or politically correct. As editors and writers, we reported on the state of higher education as it related to people of color, and in the process, tried to write articles and solicit commentary illustrating how things could and should be if underrepresented and marginalized groups were given a fair shot.

I was editor during events that profoundly affected higher education: the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11; court cases such as Grutter v. Bollinger, the campus shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University; and Hurricane Katrina, to name a few.

We covered the shake-your-head moments of fraternity and sorority hazing and blackface parties on Halloween. …