Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

My Time with the Journal of Negro Education

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

My Time with the Journal of Negro Education

Article excerpt

Theresa Rector spent 13 years working with Charles H. Thompson during the height of The Journal's contribution to educational and political achievements of the early 1950s and 1960s. Crucial to the legacy of The Journal was the Brown v. Board of Education landmark case and all the political pundits who interestingly met with Dean Thompson in the very offices where The Journal was housed. This article provides a historical montage of events that allow us to relive that time and place.

After having spent two summer vacations in Washington, DC, as a guest of the John Waring family of northwest Washington, I came back to DC in early September 1948 with the intention of making this city my home. I had just completed two years of study at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, with a major in Business Administration. I felt confident that I could get a clerical job at Howard University, because in the summer of 1947 I had applied and was accepted for what turned out to be a full-time yearly position. Because I was committed to return to Xavier for my sophomore year I did not accept the position. Nevertheless, this experience was enough to give me the confidence I needed to move forward "on my own." I had been orphaned at age nine and lived during most of my elementary and secondary school years, and some of the Xavier years, at St. Mary's Academy, a girls' boarding and day school in New Orleans. It was conducted by the Sisters of the Holy Family-an order of African American nuns that was founded in New Orleans in 1842. I completed my undergraduate and graduate studies in later years at Howard University.


On or about my third day in Washington in September 1948, I visited the Personnel Office at Howard University to file an application for employment. I took the stenographer/clerk typist test and was interviewed by Mr. Robert Wilson, then Director of Personnel. He referred me to Dr. Charles H. Thompson, Dean of the Graduate School, for consideration of a position in that office that had recently become vacant.

Dean Thompson reviewed my application and Mr. Wilson's comments, then dictated a letter for me to type. I was sent to the outer office to use a typewriter. When I finished typing the letter, I took it to Dean Thompson. He read it and found a misspelled word, which I do not recall. Because I could not give him the correct spelling, he sent me back to the outer office to look up the word in the "paper dictionary." I made the correction and returned the letter to him. He then adjusted his eyeglasses, leaned back in his chair, and looking above the glasses he said something to me that / will never forget. He said: "Child, you realize that you don't know everything, don't you?" I responded, "Yes sir." He then asked me, "Do you want to learn?" Again, I said "Yes sir." He then said, "Report here for work on Monday morning at 8:30." That was the beginning of my forty-year affiliation with Howard University and The Journal of Negro Education. Thirteen of those years were spent working directly with Dean Thompson. In 1960, Dean Thompson became Director of the University's Self-Study Program (Logan, 1969), and he subsequently retired in 1963.

I soon learned that Dean Thompson was "a man of many hats." Not only was he the dean of the Graduate School, he was also Head of the Department of Education, Director of the Bureau of Educational Research, and Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Negro Education (which he founded in 1932 when he was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts). He delivered speeches nationally on academic and related matters concerning the educational needs and achievement of African American students. (We were Negroes then.) He also participated in studies on University matters as requested by Howard University's President Mordecai W. Johnson. In addition, he wrote many articles for publication in journals other than The Journal of Negro Education. Students often sought his counsel. …

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