Black Studies Revisited

By Bunzel, John H.; Grossman, Anita Susan | The Public Interest, Spring 1997 | Go to article overview

Black Studies Revisited


Bunzel, John H., Grossman, Anita Susan, The Public Interest


Nearly 30 years after their inception in the campus disorders of the 1960s, black-studies programs continue to be a subject of controversy - at least in those departments that promote Afrocentrism. To be sure, black studies means different things on different campuses. Gerald Early, director of the African and African-American Studies program at Washington University, has described the goal of black studies and higher education generally as,

not therapy for the sick, nor fair play for the historically abused and misinterpreted, not power for the 'subversives' to oust the white men and give blacks an alternate world, but rather the quest for truth and understanding, undertaken ... by passionate believers in liberty, in the right of the individual conscience, in the need for the coming together of groups, and in responsibility for the society in which we work.

Yet the reality of black studies at other schools is quite different, and the separatist ideology they espouse is closer to that enunciated by such spokesmen as Asa Hilliard at Georgia State University, Maulana Karenga at California State University at Long Beach, Molefi Asante at Temple University, Leonard Jeffries at City College of New York, or Anthony Martin at Wellesley.

A case in point is the Black Studies Department at San Francisco State University. It is one that we know well.(1) During the 1968-1969 academic year, the campus was convulsed by a student strike, the violence of which made national headlines. The new black-studies program that arose at San Francisco State in 1969 proclaimed a radical political agenda whose overall strategy, in the words of a Black Student Union publication at the time, "was to unite all of the revolutionary forces of all the College ... [and serve] as a base from which to move like a mighty storm on all the other departments to revolutionize them."

Some teachers at San Francisco State adopted a wait-and-see attitude toward the new experiment. In their 1971 book, Unfinished Rebellions, three prominent faculty members and administrators, DeVere Pentony, Robert Smith, and Richard Axen, wrote, "It does not seem fair to attempt to evaluate the programs definitely before we have really had a chance to see what is being done in them over a period of time." We felt that after a quarter of a century, the time had come to evaluate black studies at San Francisco State. Had it fulfilled the promises made at the time of its founding? Had it evolved into an authentic discipline with standards of scholarship comparable to those in the rest of the university?

Not much was known about the Black Studies Department or its teachings. One way to find out was to attend the classes themselves - specifically, some 38 taught by 19 Black Studies faculty members. Visits, conducted between 1991 and 1993, were mainly at the beginning of a semester when students typically "shop around" before enrolling officially. While some of these early class sessions were concerned with the distribution of syllabi, roll taking, and other preliminaries, most instructors lectured at the first or second meeting, thereby providing some sense of the courses' scope and purpose. Wherever possible, syllabi were also obtained and the assigned readings examined.

The class reports below are abridged versions of material planned for a longer work on black studies at San Francisco State. Although necessarily brief and selective, they give an accurate sense of the ideas promoted by the department and the academic quality of the instruction provided. For the most part, we have allowed the faculty to speak for themselves, with minimal commentary. The instructors whose classes were selected range from part-time lecturers to tenured professors, but all of them had been teaching at San Francisco State for several years and had helped to shape the course content of the program.

The psychology of black studies

Laura Head received her Ph. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Black Studies Revisited
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.