The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 12, 1993 - Page 5
Historically Black universities now struggle to keep their separate identity
Not far below the
white picket fence and
Dream lies the ugly truth
one started the race for su
Those individuals who w
the starting line have h
passionate speed and di
overcome the initial del
In the past, African A
struggled in both the c
the classrooms to overc
ignorance and segregati
school system so they co
freedom to understand t
a unified people.
Now, with determin
that which led civil rig
attle segregation, many
cans have risen to opp
tion of Black and white
"Personally, I feel ti
we are in a serious state
Order to save our historic
versities," said Dale Jac)
the predominantly Blac
versity in Louisiana. "
need to do all I can to he
As of 1990, there
dominantly Black unit
United States, each wit
separate history. But st
¢schools say they are
nectedby ashared sense
stems from the know
schools can offer a supl
tual environment for yo
However, all this m
that federal courts hav
certain states integrate
white school systems. T
end the Black schools' i
"I came to a predo
university to get an ur
my people and where I
From there, I may be ab
to other cultures, butrig
be in touch with my ow
But the courts ruled
his home state of Lot
e ° system.
surface of the education system.
the American Currently Louisi-
thatnotevery- anasupports theSouth-
ccesstogether. ern University School
vere detained at Board, which oversees four pre- -
ad to run with dominantly Black colleges. The *
rect purpose to remaining 16 universities func-
ay. tion under two separate boards.
kmericans have Louisiana was charged with
ourtrooms and similar violations in 1990, but no sig-
ome prejudice, nificant changes were made in its sys-
on in the public tem as a result of the ruling.
uld achieve the U.S. DistrictJudgeCharles Schwartz
heir identity as ordered a merger between the school
boards of each of the three systems and
ation similar to the state Board of Regents - which
hts activists to oversees all universities in Louisiana.
AfricanAmeri- The court order, effective Feb. 24,
se the integra- 1993, provides for one state
university sys- "superboard," which will take the place
of all four current boards. The predomi-
hat at this point nantly Black Southern University (SU)
ofemergency in system of four schools will be broken
cally Black uni- apart and forced to integrate with
kson, asenior at Louisiana's white schools.
k SouthernUni- Donna Pierson, spokesperson for
As a student, I the Louisiana General Attorney, said
lp preserve our the state still questions the ruling that it
has violated the law.
"We continue to deny liability that
tion we have operated a system of segre-
were 105 pre- gated education in this state," she said.
versities in the LouisianaBoardofRegentsspokes-
h a distinct and person Carol Coltharp said historical
tudents at these segregation does not affect the state's
intimately con- non-discriminatory policy at the uni-
of pride, which versity level. "There is nothing that bars
ledge that the a studentfrom attending any school that
portive intellec- he or she wants to attend," she said.
ung Black men But Prof. John Watson of the Uni-
versity of California at San Francisco,
ay change now who has been involved with African
e mandated that American social issues, said seemingly
their Black and non-discriniinatory college admissions
hismove would do not necessarily reveal open minds.
ndependentsta- "It's one thing to be invited to the
party. It's another thing to be invited to
minantly Black someone'shouse," Watson said, adding
nderstanding of that it is difficult for many Blacks to
come from first. break through the inner academic arena
le to branch out in mostly white universities.
htnow I want to "They can deny large groups of
n people," Jack- peopleovertime frommaximizing their
involvement in a situation," he said.
againstJackson, "They are not going to play it fair, but it
uisiana and the will all be done legally."
of the school The court said the state may be able
to save revenue by consolidating the
iana--and also systems. In the current system, both
sissippi - fed- Black and white schools offer similar
ral courts ruled classes and programs, which the court
hatthestatescan said could be consolidated.
no longer allow Louisiana State University (LSU)
segregatededu- spokesperson Jim Crain said there has
cation in the been constant monetary conflict be-
higher tween the predominantly white LSU
system and the Black SU system.
"There has been a dog fight with
0 T jCrain said a
lJ positive result
would be that
each school could
use its different
strengths to improve
the education system.
IYR CT T '
Students and faculty at
Black schools say they view
the pending integration as a
source of disempo-
for the his-
tem. With the
creation of the
the division of
the SUschool sys-
tem, Black univer-
sities will lose vot-
ing - block
Students and faculty of the Black
universities said they feel the special
status forLSU will be injurious to Black
schools because many white students
- and possibly others - will now be
even more attracted to LSU. With the
success of the new court order, the flag-
ship university will have more money
and offer better opportunities to stu-
dents than the Black schools can pro-
Administrators at LSU, on the other
hand, said they believe the situation will
improve under one school board be-
cause everyone will be looking out for
a common interest.
Crain said, "I feel that it would be
good for higher education in the state to
put it under one board. There has been a
'this is my territory' attitude in the past,
and maybe this will put an end to it."
He added that predominantly Black
schools have been segregated histori-
cally, but that segregation in the school
system should not continue.
"The Black schools have evolved
during a time of segregation. (They)
provided an institution where Black
students could go at that time," he said.
Crain said the state will appeal the
federal court decision. "The state
has said it will appeal. It was
responding in main part to the
Black community," he added.
Many African American stu-
dents and faculty have strong opin-
ions about the continued ex-
son said he be-
ing a B lack
own culture and to develop
a sense of personal identity as an Afri-
can American man.
Al Thompson, a senior at the pre-
dominantly Black Howard University
in Washington, D.C., said he appreci-
ates the productive learning environ-
ment a Black institution can offer Afri-
can American students.
"It is nice to be around in that kind of
atmosphere, where people will lift you
up and support you," Thompson said.
He added that the supportive atmo-
sphere at Howard has helped to inspire
educational perseverance. "It's not like
college is a given. You have to go out
and earn it," he said.
Many students at predominantly
Black universities said they feel any
type of integration with predominantly
white universities will negate the inde-
pendence for which Black schools have
struggled so long.
Thompson said this independence
stems from the freedom tobe with people
who share a common past.
"I primarily wanted to be at an insti-
tution where the best and brightest Af-
rican Americans would be," Thompson
said. "I always go back to thatreference
point and being around people who are
in that common struggle," he added.
Tonaya Wills, a sophomore at
Georgia's Spelman College, responded
with similar sentiments. By attending a
historically Black women'scollege, she
said she feels strong support and sister-
"Spelman for me is a place to learn
and understand about my past and
present. I feel more comfortable doing
-that with people who share in that past
and will support me in the present," she
However, some students at the pre-
dominantly Black Xavierprivate school
in Louisiana said integration may not be
detrimental to the public schools.
CarlaJordan, a first-year Xavierstu-
dent, said, "Even if the school boards do
merge, I don't think it's going to take
anything away from the university."
"I feel that the schools should be
integratedbecause you can always learn
something from other people, no matter
what race or creed they may be," said
Catina Smith, a junior at Xavier.
Eddie Boyd, now a pharmacy pro-
fessor at Xavier, left the University of
Michigan after 20 years because he
wanted a change. He said that, with the
exception of size, he has not found
many differences between the two
"In terms of racial tensions, of course
you have more at the University of
not a real
"Stop," "Yield," "No U-Turn,"
"Caution: Deaf Children," "Pussie
Rd." Pussie Rd.?
Last week, a sign displayed in
the window of West Quad caught
the attention of many female Uni-
the hostile en-
vironment for women at the Uni-
"The women on campus are
just being hysterical. The sign is
just a joke."
"Could you please sign our pe-
tition encouraging the men in West
Quad to remove an offensive sign
from their window?"
"Had we been asked nicely to
take the sign down, we would have
considered it, but now it is a matter
of principle. It is an issue of free
When does it end?
I rememberanother time I asked
myself this question.
I was eight years old. That day,
my mother packed her four chil-
dren into the station wagon for a
trip to the dentist. The actual visit
was the same old story for me -
two cavities and a plastic spider
ring on my way out the door. What
I saw next still lingers in my mind.
Someone had painted our car
with red swastikas and phrases like
"Get out Kikes,". and "Jews go
home." The back window was cov-
ered by a picture of a huge Jewish
Star enclosed in a bird cage. As I
moved to erase the graffiti, my
mother held my arm, "No, Yael.
Just get in the car.
Get in the car? I didn't want to
ride in that car. With tears running
down her face, my mother drove us
home. I could see people staring at
our car, trying to get a look of who
could possibly be inside. Listening
to the sounds of my mothers tears
in the background, I stared at the
bird cage on the back window.
What did these people mean? Why
would someone do this? Did they
mean to hurt me?
When does it end?
I wanted to wipe the swastikas
off the car because it would make
the hate and hurt go away. At the
time, I could not understand why
my mother would not allow me to
erase the graffiti.
Looking back, I have an idea of
what she was trying to say. The
graffiti was just a symbol Qf
someone's hatred and ignorance.
Erasing it would not actually erase
the problem. The people who
painted our car either knew what
the swastikas symbolized or
thought itwas a funny joke. I could
have removed these symbols from
our car, but eventually I would
come across them again.
. Where does it end?
There are women who are not
offended by the "Pussie Rd." sign.
Women are dynamic. We do not all
agree all the time.However,anum-
ber of women have expressed that
they are offended by the sign. They
have asked the men to take it down.
They have circulated apetition. All
women can do is express their feel-
ings to these men and hope that
they will be sensitive enough to
remove the sign or at least turn it
around. I honestly believe that the
men did not intend to offend any-
one. However, in the end, all we
would be eradicating isasymbol of
sexism, while still being plagued
with the actual problem of sexism
Therehas tobea way for women
to feel complete in this society
without depending on a change
men's attitudes. If what women
need to be equal and feel safe is the
removal of every offensive sign,
the silencing of every sexist joke
and the censoring of every sexist
advertisement - I'd sooner wait
for the Messiah than hope for gen-
There is only so much energy
worth expending on explaining to
men how what they do hurts
women. Some will listen and some
Some African American
students at the University of
Michigan said Black schools
can definitely offer an empow-
ering environment, but that by
being a minority at a predomi-
nantly white university, there is op-'
portunity for more personally moti-
"Here at U-M, you have to do it all
yourself. You may be the only Black
person in your class," said Latrenda
George, an LSA junior.
"A lot of times teachers want to
make you feel more comfortable if you
are the only Black student. The atten-
tion is all on you and you have to really
prove yourself more," she added.
But George also said there are de-
cided advantages to attending. a Black
"Some people feel that if you go to
apredominantly white school, you learn
how to deal with the outside world, but
in Black colleges your self-esteem is
built to such a point that you can deal
with that world also," George said.
The final message
The ultimate course of events in
Louisiana, and in the rest of the country,
could have a profound effect on the
nations' young people.
While the U.S. Constitution claims
segregation is not lawful, many believe
young people may benefit from single-
race higher education.
Regardless of the court's final reso-
lution, mostpeople agree thatboth Black
and white students alike must continue
to pursue educational opportunities, in
either an integrated or a segregated en-
"Without an education, the progress
of a people will disintegrate," Jackson
said, adding that the integration of his
historically Black college would be a
loss for many young Black men and
The final message is one of hope
from the Black colleges and the stu-
dents who attend them. Jackson said the
students will continue to oppose the
court's decision and struggle for the
right to maintain historically Black in-