Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

First Woman at the Helm: "Choppy Waters"

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

First Woman at the Helm: "Choppy Waters"

Article excerpt

It was an honor for Faustine Jones-Wilson to be the first female editor of The Journal of Negro Education, a highly respected publication. In addition to the scholarly work involved in this role, there were many challenges to be met and overcome. Most of these challenges were not related to her gender, but to changes within the University.

In January 1969,1 joined the faculty of what was then the Department of Education, a division in the College of Liberal Arts at Howard University (HU). Our family had just moved to the Washington, DC, area from Gary, Indiana. I had been an Education faculty member of the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, but my husband was making a career change. It was most important that our family stayed together even though the move for me was somewhat awkward timing, the second semester of the 1968-69 school year that was in progress. At HU I shared an office with Mrs. Mary Louise Hunt, and was assigned the desk that belonged to The Journal of Negro Education's (the JNE) Editor-in-Chief Dr. Walter G. Daniel, who was on leave of absence due to ill health. The Acting Editor-in-Chief of the JNE was Dr. Earle H. West, a highly respected Caucasian colleague who had worked closely with Dr. Daniel. I had no way of knowing that later I would follow in their footsteps as Editor-in-Chief of the JNE. The Journal's main office was a few steps away, down the corridor in Locke Hall, also known as Academic Support Building II at the time.

This was a time of social change in the nation and on HU's campus. The civil rights movement was in full swing; it was a period of social protest that sought racial equality and full inclusion in American society for Black citizens. Black pride was the watchword. The women's movement, seeking equal rights for females, likewise had gathered momentum. When it became apparent that Dr. Daniel's health would not permit him to return to his professorship or editorship, the School of Education was faced with the difficult choice of selecting a permanent editor as his replacement. Many people felt that in the existing social and political climate, a Caucasian was not the proper person to become the permanent JNE editor. The mutually agreed-upon decision was made to seek an editor from outside HU. Dr. Charles A. Martin was recruited in 1973, and served as editor from 1973-1978.

In 1971, the Department of Education had left the College of Liberal Arts to become a separate entity, choosing to be the School of Education, rather than a College of Education. When JNE Editor-in-Chief Charles A. Martin accepted the invitation to become a White House Fellow, School of Education (SOE) administrators assumed that he would be away from HU for one to two years; this time period is the university's policy for such leaves-of-absence. The editorship always had been held by a man holding some professorial rank. Founder Charles H. Thompson (1932-1963) had been succeeded by Drs. Walter G. Daniel (1963-1970), Earle H. West (1970-1973), and Charles A. Martin (1973-1978). Please note that there were times when an individual performed editorial tasks and assumed editorial responsibilities prior to being named officially to the position. For example, Earle H. West was not named as Acting Editor until 1970, but he was doing the work in January 1969. In a similar manner, Charles A. Martin left HU in 1977, but I was not named as Interim Editor until 1978.

Editorial/Advisory Board member Dr. Frederick D. Harper nominated me for the JNE editorship and his nomination was accepted by JNE's Editorial Board. Dean of me SOE, Dr. Willie T. Howard, sent the nomination through the university's channels, and I became Interim Editor, the first woman to occupy this position. My selection was an indication of "changed times" in the nation and at Howard University, following the civil rights movement and the women's movement. The "glass ceiling" had been penetrated in this instance. Indeed, in 1974, Dr. …

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