BOTA Attendees Ready to ‘Take It to the Streets’
By Tracie Powell
The Brothers of the Academy think tank was held last month at Morehouse College, but its work and reach is expected to go beyond the three-day meeting of scholars of color. Or, at least that’s what participants expect.
“Just like the Million Man March, if there is no long-term plan or agenda to it, then it’s pointless to have a think tank,” says Dr. Joseph Richardson, an assistant professor of African-American studies at the University of Maryland. “The think tank’s mission should be on issues that specifically impact African-American men. It should become the go-to organization for data and analysis on African-American men. Right now there is no place providing that information, and this think tank can fill that void.”
Black scholars from around the country gathered in Atlanta to discuss issues including attracting Black children to math and sciences and tenure and promotion for Black scholars. The think tank, co-sponsored by Sisters of the Academy and The Center for African American Research & Policy, a research arm under BOTA, was the organization’s second such event.
BOTA’s primary objective is to nurture collaborate scholarship and to increase the number of Black tenure-track scholars. Its overarching goal is to publish research and scholarship that improves the economic, political and social status of Black people.
One of the organization’s founders, Dr. Leon D. Caldwell, a professor of psychology at the University of Memphis, hopes that participants do more than use the think tank as a place to connect with other scholars. He wants them to take knowledge back to their communities. “This isn’t a conference where people come together, meet and greet,” he says. “We have brought together experts from all the disciplines, like education, public health, clinical and social psychology.
“We need to take the knowledge exchanged here to the streets where we can have real impact on African-American lives,” Caldwell says. “Words are good, but actions are supreme.
We need to be involved and engaged on our own terms.”
The next think tank will take place in 2007 in Memphis, Tenn. According to Caldwell, the Memphis think tank won’t just feature scholars, but will be more inclusive of community activists.
“I see the organization going toward embracing its true mission of collaborative scholarship to better the African-American community,” says Dr. Bryant T. Marks, assistant professor of psychology at Morehouse College.
“I see participants who come here collaborating on books and grants but also implementing their research in the community to help Black folks outside of academia.”
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