African American Culture and Heritage in Higher Education Research and Practice

By Kassie Freeman | Go to book overview

Louisiana's race-based aid programs are not in jeopardy because discrimination against African Americans was determined to be as recent as 1988, nor are Alabama's $20 million grants for White students to attend the state's HBCUs in jeopardy since the programs were created in 1995 ( Healy, 1996b). These are only a few examples of the challenges to affirmative action in recent years. Yet their outcomes set a precedent for future initiatives. Michaelson ( 1996b) suggests that "educators must make the case for affirmative action themselves; the courts are unlikely to do it for them" (p. A48).


CONCLUSION

African American educational reform ideology today (Afrocentrism, multiculturalism, and others) has its "roots in the protest ideology that first emerged in the early 19th century" ( Watkins, 1996, p. 6). These ideologies must be revisited and taught to the masses, and their outcomes must be studied in order to accomplish a more comprehensive political participation of African Americans. Woodson observed the depoliticizing and silencing of African Americans that result directly from the process of schooling with inadequate curricula ( Watkins, 1996). The results of politicizing are apparent in the inferior academic achievements of schoolchildren, as demonstrated in reading, history, and mathematics scores; the disparity in college participation and completion among African Americans; and the large, sustained African American underclass. Depoliticization is also apparent in the protest of youth drug and gang culture. Yet, political reenergization must be accomplished not only among those in the African American educational community, but through the informed protests of the African American communities at large. As with protests throughout this century, they are informed by the collective, reflective experiences of those within the larger communities. Recent attacks to affirmative action, challenges to HBCUS, and efforts to bring about educational equality and social mobility should not dismantle the accomplishments of this century. Rather, they should serve as springboards for social, political, educational, and spiritual reform efforts into the next century.


NOTES
1.
An NCES composite measure of parental education, family income, father's occupation, and household characteristics.
2.
The Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute was recently established by The College Fund/ UNCF "to design, conduct, and disseminate research to policymakers, educators, and the public with the goal of improving educational opportunities and outcomes for African Americans" ( Nettles & Perna, 1997b).

REFERENCES

Astin A. W. ( 1990). The Black undergraduate: Current status and trends in the characteristics of freshmen. Los Angeles, CA: UCLA, Higher Education Research Institute.

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed.2d 873 ( 1954).

-53-

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