In a recent interview regarding black colleges, a young white reporter asked me why I thought there were no black colleges or universities outside the south. I answered that I understood the reason for starting black colleges was because blacks were not allowed into public colleges in the segregated and Jim Crow-ruled south. The creation of the black colleges was to compensate for the absence of Black educational institutions and the need for a black educated population. The second part of the answer is that with integration becoming the law of the land, following the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education and subsequent Civil Rights victories, there appeared to be no need. These victories gave the false impression and a false sense of security that Blacks could then go to any school they were qualified to attend. That sense of security has been shattered by the ongoing efforts of an unrelenting group of white supremacists and self-hating Blacks like Clarence Thomas and Ward Connerly.
In their book, I'll Find A Way Or Make One, Juan Williams and Dwayne Ashley make the point that the principal measure of Black progress over the generations is the growing number of educated Black people trained and positioned to produce better Black churches, businesses and colleges. During and following slavery, it was so important to educate the masses to the point that many risked their lives to even learn to read.
It seems that somewhere along the way, educated black people continued to build black churches and businesses but lost sight of the need to continue to produce black colleges. This, in an era where the needs of the high tech information–based society makes the need for educated blacks critical.
Wilberforce University founded by the AM.E. Church in 1856 was the first private black college in the nation. Alabama State University and Morehouse College for men, in Georgia, were some of the earliest black colleges founded. Both were both founded in 1867. The more recently created institutions include Clark Atlanta established in 1988, through a consolidation of the Atlanta University, founded 1865, and Clark College, founded in 1869. They are joined by Louisiana's Grambling, founded 1901, Xavier, founded in 1925 by the Catholic Church, and Southern University of New Orleans, founded 1988. It is a division of Southern University, founded in 1880.
With well over 100 black bolleges and universities, none stretch their reach west beyond the state of Texas, nor east, beyond Pennsylvania into the largest black population centers like New York or California. Quite simply, we need more schools dedicated to educating African Americans. Let us not forget the words of white supremacists like Herman Talmadge who said integration marked the end of civilization. Some of you who are young are asking who is Herman Talmadge? He is a former governor of Georgia. That is something they don't teach you in public schools, but it is something we all need to know because it is part of our history and we do know that those who don't know their history are destined to repeat it. The Jewish community has a theme that says, "Never Again!" This reference is to their past and the holocaust that killed millions of their people like they were non-human. They are constantly vigilant and continue to create educational institutions to make sure they avoid a repeat. When I open The Jewish Journal newspaper, the first advertisements I see include the American Jewish University in Bel Air, California. I want badly to see a black college west of Texas and Oklahoma.
If you don't think history can be repeated, look at the current campaign for President of the United States with a black incumbent and you will hear themes from the past. First, there is Republican news commentator and former presidential candidate, Patrick Buchannan, who openly talks about the end of civilization. He talks and writes about the immigrant invasion and how dying white populations imperil "our" country and civilization. His books include one in 2002 entitled, "THE DEATH OF THE WEST." His newest book goes even further in talking about loss of America as it was when whites-only ruled.
Other themes in the current Presidential race start with familiar themes like shutting down free public education. Keep them ignorant and they are easier to control, is their goal. Then, shut down post offices, and other public jobs. Remember those jobs were the first jobs former slaves were hired to work in. As a note, when I first started law school, at night, many of the Black Law students were adults with families who worked at the Post Office or other government jobs during the day. They didn't get into The UCLA's or USC's in the numbers they do now. Now that Affirmative Action is near dead, and its corpse under attack, history is repeating itself. The current batch of Republicans want to shut down Unions, to reduce competition to its corporate financed campaigns. They are working to make teaching a nasty four letter-type word like they did the words, community organizer.
Rick Santorum has gone so far as to say that going to college is bad because Obama is just using colleges to indoctrinate people against their faith. He says people should stop donating to colleges for the same reason. This is the same guy who says we should stop using contraceptives and pre-natal care because it gives rise to abortion. Evangelist Billy Graham's son has been recruited by the Republicans to help defeat President Obama. He says Obama is promoting policies that go against God's will. Therefore, to vote for Obama is to vote against God's will. Let us not forget that the Religious right, or so-called moral majority, helped the racist politicians keep Blacks subservient, talking about serving masters and waiting till you get to heaven to get your reward. I say having Barack Obama in the White house is heaven. I heard Viola Davis the actress from "THE HELP" express the sentiments of my heart regarding having Barack Obama as President of the United States. She was talking about whether her parents' dreams had been met. She said "we are our parents' dreams." What we do today and the opportunities we have are what our fore-parents worked for but never realized.
In the late 70's a group put together a black college in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. The completion of what was called Windsor College was stopped by the accreditation authority for Western Colleges (WASC ). In his book, Rebel With A Cause, John Sperling, founder of the University of Phoenix, talks about how WASC used racism and falsely accused then Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally of fraud and stopped the progress of Windsor.
As for me, it is still my dream of starting a black college in the West. If I don't get it done, hopefully, my children or grandchildren will.