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April 02, 1970 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1970-04-02

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Seventy-nine years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan

Pushing blacks under in Mississippi

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Doily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.



Students must participate
in budgetary decisions

ONE OF THE MOST significant effects
of the dispute over increased minority
enrollment at the University has been its
emphasis of the need for a major over-
haul of the University's budgeting pro-
For although the minority admissions
question has considerable relevance for
the entire University community, the
basic financial decisions on how the de-
mands of the Black Action Movement are
to be met has been handled by no more
than a dozen men - all University ad-
Moreover, the events of the past two
weeks indicate clearly that these decis-
ions were unacceptable to sizable seg-
ments of both students and faculty.
It is true that community sentiment on
other budgetry decisions is r a r e 1 y ex-
pressed in s u c h) a vociferous manner.
However, events in the past 12 months
show that the administration's views on
how the University should spend its mon-.
ey do not enjoy any semblance of a broad
base of support.
For example, reacting to the adminis-
tration's proposed p 1 a n to construct a
new intramural building through a tui-
tion increase, students indicated in a ref-
erendum last November that they wish to
have the authority to determine w h e n
their tuition should be raised for such
But despite their dissatisfaction with
many of the University's expenditures,
the oligarchic control of the budgeting
process is almost never contested by the
faculty and the students.
And even if they did, it is clear 'the
power to spend some $120 million an-
nually is one which the executive offic-
ers would be particularly loathe to share.
In addition, it could complicate the
implementation of many of their pet pro-
grams - such as the intramural building
"STUDENTS do not seem to be behind
this project," observes Vice President
for Academic Affairs Allan Smith, noting
off-handedly that student views on the
project will not be given much weight by
the administration.

Smith said recently that a final de-
cision to implement the intramural con-
struction plan would not be made during
the summer - when most students are
away from campus - partially to escape
charges that the administration is at-
tempting to avoid being the brunt of stu-
dent dissent against the construction.
But to make the decision when stu-
dents are on campus does not mean that
students will have the power to deter-
mine whether or not their tuition should
be increased to fund the construction.
S0 GOES the University's budgeting
process - a process whose inequities
should take on a particular significance
to all members of the University com-
munity who recognize the need for an
overall reordering of t h i s institution's
For it must be understood that a reor-
dering of priorities 'can be accomplished
only through a reordering of the mech-
anism by which these priorities are'set.
THE MINORITY admissions issue, more
than any development in recent Uni-
versity history, has made it incumbent
upon students to push for participation
in the University budgeting process.
For while- the University appears to be
committed to funding a 10 per cent black
enrollment by the 1973-74 academic year,
the more appropriate figure of 18 p e r
cent - t h e percentage of college-age
blacks in the state - has been forgotten
for the present. k
So the question must be asked - will
March, 1974 see the need for another full
scale shut-down to bring about a further
financial commitment from the Univer-
It would seem that such periodic dis-
plays of militance may remain the only
effective channel for the participation of
these groups in University budget-mak-
ing, unless steps are immediately taken
to establish' a new budgetary mechanism
which includes students, and faculty
members, and has significant minority
group representation.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The author was a graduate student
in the history dept. at the University during 1967-69. She
also worked with the Residential College.)
Daily Guest Writer
A COUPLE OF years ago in West Point, Mississippi,
the black principal of the black high school fired
a black teacher for registering to vote. Two years ago
at the small black college where I teach students were
expelled for wearing afros. Now, teachers are fired for
drinking beer with their students.
I walk into the supermarket to buy groceries, and
I see hatred on tvery face I pass. Perhaps, I have only
just now become attuned to something that has always
existed. Perhaps I will never walk through a grocery
store anywhere without seeing hatred. My experiences
in Mississippi have completely altered my perceptions;
I do not know which stories to tell, which things my
friends will understand, which things I will have to,
explain in detail. I live in a 'different universe.
Mary Holmes College, like most black colleges, at-
tempts to imitate white, middle class American educa-
tion. What it imitates is only the worst of this, how-
ever. Authoritarianism and bureaucracy are rampant.
Teachers refer to their students as "our colored child-
ren"; students refer to themselves in the same way.
The dean issues a memo at term's end to announce
that he or a division chairman will attend each exam,
to ensure that the teacher is indeed giving an exam, at
the proper time, in the proper manner (half objective,
half subjective, to count as one fourth of the term's
grade). I frequently feel that I spend 99 per cent of my
time wading through meaningless garbage. But there are
bureaucracies and crud everywhere. At Mary Holmes
the degree is just greater, approaching the infinite.
tic dehumanization and mental brutalization that is re-
ferred to as education. Students come to Mary Holmes
from twelve years of atrocities in the public schools. Af-
ter another four years of torture, they become public
school teachers; no other jobs are open to them because
their "educations" have prepared. them for nothing else.
They then become the implements of destruction, brutal-
izing students, who eventually attend a college like
Mary Holmes, But they are the successes in their society.
The way they maintain this success is by playing the
role that the white power structure expects, dominating
other blacks in order to maintain their own positions,
yet always bowing and scraping and shuffling in the
presence of the man.
My students can scarcely be described by adjectives

I have used before. Their lives have not been like
any I have ever known before. I can say that they read
at a sixth grade level. Does this describe how painful
reading it, how it is avoided, how much mentioning it
is another mark of one's inferiority? Education, to me,
is a matter of asking questions about one's assumptions,
ceasing to take them for granted. Analysis or rationality
or intellectuality-whatever word describes this process
-is absent. My kids do not know that any of these
matters are up for grabs. They have been taught to
accept, not to question.
The students' backgrounds include a fundamental-
istic, Biblical faith. God created the world in seven
days. It is still illegal to teach evolution as a fact in the
schools of Mississippi. Adam and Eve were, of course,
white. I cannot compare Biblical stories to - G r e e k
mythology, for no one knows Greek mythology. When we
discussed racial differences, one girl explained them by
Cain's murder of Abel, and God's placing a mark of
Cain to be his shame for all his days; his shame was to
be black. And goddamn it, she believes that!
She, and other students at Mary Holmes, are striv-
ing to become members of good, midle class, white socie-
ty. She straightens her hair and has had her mind
straightened for the past eighteen years. She doesn't go
to the library, because the thought of reading is pain-
ful. And the school does not provide any remedial read-
ing, because that would be to admit that the black
man is inferior.
MARY HOLMES, AND SIMILAR schools, are staff-
ed by a faculty that is three-quarters black, Southern,
middle-aged, and ultraconservative (for this is how one
attains this prestige position-by doing the expected
thing and thinking the expected thoughts) ; and one-
quarter young, white, liberal/radicals from the North,
who are doing some kind of penance by teaching here.
There are few, if any, young, alive black teachers. The
older black teachers expect students to play a certain
role; "The Student as Nigger" applies more in Mississippi
than in Michigan. The young white teachers are the only
ones willing to be open to students, wanting to do things.
Certainly, I cannot lead the black revolution. My very
position teaching in a black college is highly question-
able. So wither goes the school and the students?
My relationships with students are different. I re-
main, beyond all attempts to destroy the image, t h e
teacher. It took three months for students to believe that
attendance in my classes is optional. Now that they be-
lieve it, an average of 50 per cent shows up. The kids tvho
are not in class are not reading under a tree or making a

film sitting around rapping with each other. People do
not talk to each other. It is perhaps a mark of my resid-
ual authoritarianism that I feel that my class is the
most alive place to be.
NOT ONLY AMl I WHITE. but I am an unattached
woman, from some sort of middle class. from the urban
North, with an academic background. My students are
from the rural South, from small towns and farming
communities, from the lower class. Mississippi cannot
be compared to an urban ghetto. Ghetto kids I have
worked with have grown up in a complex environment,
have been the object of the media: they are aware of the
world. 75 per cent of my students did not know who
Eldridge Cleaver was before they came to college. Read-
ing the Autobiography of Malcolm X was supposed
to be a breakthrough. Ha! Malcolm X is a long book,
full of many unknown words, relating experiences not
within the students' repertoire; they were bored.
But, damn it, these are people, human beings. The
white liberal attitude of doing some good, helping some-
one, is patronizing, dehumanizing,. demeaning. Only when
people look at each other as humans, only when they
are willing to admit and fight for the freedoms of
the other person that they take for granted for them-
selves, only then is there communication. People do not
relate to each other as people.
Some answers to Mary Holmes are obvious. "Burn
the motherfucker down!" is the rallying cry of the
campus radicals (i.e., about 5 or 6 teachers). But Mary
Holmes does have the potential to do something. But
doing something would involve hiring young people who
could teach, regardless of their academic backgrounds
or lack of them. It would involve using the resources of
the many OEO-sponsored programs for which Mary
Holmes serves as coordinating agent-from Headstart
to a catfish farming coop to community organizing to a
rural legal services program. It would mean dealing with
reality-both th problems of Mississippi society and the
gaps in the students' academic backgrounds. But these
things were not being done by white schools twenty years
ago, and this is the model for Mary Holmes.
And so the school goes on; more and more good
niggers are produced. Systematic dehumanization is al-
most perfected. Some lucky students escape to the North.
But there, diplomas clutched in their hands, they write
'or" for "are", mispunctuate, and use incomplete sentenc-
es on job applications. Their dialect is not immediately
comprehensible. And society passes its judgment again:
damn inferior niggers. When will we learn that we are
the ones who have institutionalized.this inferiority, that
we are to blame?



BAM demands: Meeting the needs of the people

t f '
J a +/
- u

(EDITOR'S NOTE: 0. Jackson Cole is a
Research Assistant in the Center for Research
on Conflict Resolution, J. Frank Yates is
the acting director of the University's Afro-
American Studies Center. Both authors are
members of the Black Action Movement.)
Daily Guest Writers
WE FIRMLY BELIEVE t h at a better
world is conceivable, designable, ar-
guable, desirable - and above all achiev-
able! If the events of the last few days
are indicative, it may ultimately be dem-
onstrated that it is far easier to change
the world than a university. Indeed this
is the inference to be drawn from a care-
ful assessment of the response which the
University administration accorded the
twelve reasonable and just demands sub-
mitted by t h e Black Action Movement
(BAM). The BAM demands are just that
- demands and not requests. Everything
discussed in the demands represents rights
that are ours and have been denied us.
Because of the intensive campaign wag-
ed against us by parties in the University,
the press, and other sectors, the Black
Action Movement feels it is essential that
the facts behind the BAM strike be made
public. Even more important, the real is-
sues must be made crystal clear so that
the justice of our position is obvious to
all. As Martin Luther King -so eloquently
phrased it: "White America needs to un-
derstand that it is poisoned to its soul by
racism and the understanding needs to be
carefully documented and consequently
more difficult to reject."
IN SIMPLE TERMS, our movement is
concerned with two things: First, access
to the University by black people and sec-
ond, the quality of the services which it
renders to them. We see the purpose of
an educational system as being two-fold.
To start with, that system must provide an
effective means of transmitting to the peo-
ple the requisite skills for maintaining
their physical existence. Moreover, that
system must cultivate and transmit tra-
ditions and concepts which meet the moral
and psychological needs of the people.
Even a casual observation of the living
conditions forced upon black people makes
it painfully obvious that such a system
does not exist in Michigan. Contrary to
its stated purposes, the state has not met
its obligation to a well-defined segment

of its constituency - black people. Essen-
tially, what we are saying is that as man-
ifested at the University, this situation
must cease.
Many have castigated us for not pur-
suing our grievances through the "normal
administrative channels." The truth of the
matter is that for years this was tried. A
considerable number of students, faculty
members, and administrators long ago rec-
ognized the plight of black students on
the University's campus and attempted to
achieve change in the conventional man-
ner. These attempts were met with a not-
able lack of success. As we reflect upon it,
it seems almost foolish that we even made
such an attempt. It became increasingly
obvious that the conventional machinery
and rules were inadequately structured to
bring about the necessary changes. The
question of how best to convince the ad-
ministration and Regents of both the ne-
cessity for change and new mechanisms
to implement such change still remained.
WHEN ON MARCH 19, 1970, it became
clear that the Regents preferred to re-
spond to proposals submitted by executive
officers of the University rather than ad-
dress themselves to the demands of BAM;
when it became clear that the reluctance
of University officials to asknowledge and
veridically interpret the operation of the
University as racist and exclusionary was
due in part to the filtering of their per-
ception of that operation through an atti-
tudinal, belief, and value system which in
itself was racist and exclusionary - BAM
called for a University-wide strike..
It should be emphasized that from its
inception the leadership of the Black Ac-
tion Movement exhorted its membership,
as well as members of the Support Coali-
tion, to adhere to the principles of non-
violent protest.
Truly, it is unfortunate that there has
been a failure on the part of certain public
officials and various elements of the news
media, particularly in their editorial com-
ments, to discern the very real difference
between "violence" and "non-violence." It
is even more tragic that these same agents
have been so callous and imprudent as to
characterize as violent a movement de-
scribed by two members of the State House
of Representatives as ". . . one of the'most
- if not the m o s t - peaceful student
strike ever conducted in the history of the

state." It is particularly disturbing when
one considers the very real violence visited
upon the University campus during the re-
cent ROTC and job-recruiter protests,
A MAJOR POINT of contention h a s
been compromised as a consequence of the
student strike. Even if one subscribed to
this premise, the strike would still be Justi-
fiable on the grounds that/it delineates the
conflict between two rights: the right to
attend class and the right to be admitted
to the University. What has been consis-
tently overlooked is the fact that the stu-
dent pickets were made necessary by the
exclusionary admissions policies practiced
by the University. Considered in the bal-
ance, which is the greater evil, the missing
of class for a few days or complete, de-
nial of the opportunity to attain a college
education; we would argue the latter.
Some whites have been indignant that
their children have been excluded from a
few classes supported by their "hard-earn-
ed tax dollars." Are not the equally heav-
ily-burdened black taxpayers entitled to
the right of having their children attend
universities which their tax monies sup-
port? Certainly, when calculated in terms
of the ,sheer lack of numbers of blacks on
the University's campus, it is obvious that
a disproportionate amount of the income
of blacks goes toward the support of state
universities. Besides, we too ascribe to the
validity of the position that, for blacksr
the shortest road to equality will come
through education; but, a short road -that
is effectively barricaded may appear as the
longest in the world.
Let us now quite candidly address our-
selves to the pervasive notion that the in-
creased admission of significant numbers
of black students will lower the current
quality of education. This is not true! On
the contrary, the quality of education at
the University will be measurably increas-
ed by the ethnic'and culturally diverse in-
p u ts provided by a previously excluded
segment of the population. Indeed, the
rather general assumption that "quality
education" is that w h i c h is currently
taught at the University will be brought
into question by the University's capacity
to meet the challenge issued by W. E. B.
DuBois: "But of great, broad plans to train


beautiful - where in this wide world is
such an education program?" Certainly
not at the University!
IN THE FACE of mounting support for
our strike the response of the administra-
tion and Regents remained one of Intran-
sigence. .They insisted that the University
had done as much as it could - more
correctly, would - do. Only when the
strike had effectively closed the Univer-
sity did the Regents authorize any change
in the University's position.
Finally, at the prompting of its various
faculties, the University conceded that it
could, in fact, finance the very meager,
relative to the need, programs set forth in
our demands. Indeed, this movement from
a position of intransigence was an ack-
nowledgment of both the morality of our
demands and the necessity for reordering
priorities in order t h a t these demands
might be achieved.



all men for all things
verse intelligent, busy,

- to make a uni-
good, creative and

Committing the University to a better world

To the Editor:
FOR A WEEK there has been
a strike on this campus, to which
my department, Linguistics, has
paid very little concern. The main
issue concerns the demand for a
firm commitment to a 10 per cent
increase in black enrollment by
1973-74, which the Regents of this
University view as a laudable goal,
but one to which they are not will-
m to definitely commit them-

tential detriment to the "life of
the mind" that could conceivably
come from the admission of even
a small percentage of people whose
educational background might be
inferior to the high standard of
education that we ourselves were
lucky enough to receive, whether
we received it because we were
from a moneyed background, or
from one with a tradition of learn-
ing, or simply because we hap-

,plight of the Africans in South
Africa, of the Jews in Russia, of
the American Indians on distant
reservations, of the Indian and
West Indian immigrants in Great
Britain, and how outraged about
the war in Vietnam-but yet how
unwilling we are to give one mo-
ment of our time and energies to
help people who are desperate
here nearby instead of conveni-
ently thousands of miles away.

advantage in this society, we can-
not refuse to act without either
living a contradiction, or admit-
ting to ourselves that we really
don't care what happens to them.
Action in this case happens to
be a strike because it is a visible,
tactical, fairly effective and non-
violent means of expressing the
fact that there are certain mo-
ments when life cannot just go
on with "business as ususal."

actions for change or progress
whenever these may impinge on
our personal needs and desires,
which they most surely will.
Is this the kind of "realistic,"
cynical world that we wish to pre-
pare for ourselves?
-Rachel Costa, Grad
Linguistics Dept.
March 25




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