Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Embracing the Outsider, and Suffering Change Charles A. Martin, Former Editor-in-Chief, the Journal of Negro Education

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Embracing the Outsider, and Suffering Change Charles A. Martin, Former Editor-in-Chief, the Journal of Negro Education

Article excerpt

This article highlights the accomplishments and challenges of former Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Negro Education, Charles A. Martin. He documents the changes he made to the JNE as well as the resistance he faced, which made the process more complicated. There is also a discussion of the impact of No Child Left Behind Act on factors affecting student performance in urban and suburban schools. This article provides a historical survey of events that occurred at The Journal during his editorship.

My direct involvement with Howard University, The Journal of Negro Education, and the Bureau of Educational Research began during the late spring of 1972. I had just finished grading my students' papers, and completing their end-of-the-year conferences at Northwestern University when the telephone rang on the desk of my home study in Evanston, Illinois. The male voice on the other end of the line was that of Dr. Andrew Billingsley, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Howard University. After a brief introduction, and a renewal of our short acquaintance, Dr. Billingsley asked if I would be interested in joining the Howard University faculty and becoming the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Negro Education. The importance of this question and my subsequent answer must be placed in context. Most African American scholars, in the 1970s, who were participants in the Civil Rights movement and related human rights initiatives, seemingly were interested in somehow bringing their education, experience, and skills to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Here was one of my heroes, the newly minted Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Capstone of African American higher education, offering me the very opportunity that I sought. My response was a tentative "yes"; tentative because I had to consult with my wife and children as well as with three or four friends I frequently consulted regarding critical life issues. Within weeks after that momentous telephone call, I was on the Howard campus being interviewed by President James Cheek, Vice President Andrew Billingsley, and three members of the JNE Editorial/Advisory Board: Earle West, Dorothy Porter, Eunice Newton, and Theresa Rector, The Journal's Associate Editor and Business Manager. Before leaving the Howard campus, I agreed to relocate to the Washington, DC area, accepting a professorship and taking over the reins of The Journal of Negro Education as Editor-in-Chief and the directorship of the Bureau of Educational Research. After explaining that I had made a previous commitment to conduct a graduate seminar at the University of Ghana during the first two weeks in January of 1973,1 agreed to arrive on the Howard campus during the last week of January. My transition to Howard University began almost nineteen years after the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) epochal Supreme Court decision that struck down de jure racial segregation in America's public schools.

BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE AND CHAOS

Ten years after the Brown decision, in 1964, Sam Cooke both wrote and performed the prophetic lyrics to "A Change Is Gonna Come." By 1973, several urban school districts in the North, West, and southern Border States were in the process of desegregating their schools. The process of school integration in the southeastern U.S. was slower, but no less difficult. Sam Cooke's prophecy regarding change was more gradual than anticipated. Racial isolation was still very much an issue that was being resolved slowly, ever so slowly.

Howard University was also undergoing structural and philosophical change. There were plans afoot to raze the old School of Education and replace it with a much-needed student union and resource center. Ground was also being broken to build classrooms and offices that would overlook the reservoir; the plan was to house the School of Education on this site. These were some of the most basic plans and initiatives that were part of the new administration of Howard University President, Dr. …

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