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100 Years of Change

100 Years of Change

For Better, For Worse

There is no doubt that access to higher education has played a critical role in the evolving status of people of color in the 20th century. In this edition, Black Issues reviews the century throught the prism of some of the personalities whose vision, sacrifice and, in some cases, mischief made a difference. 

Rodolfo Acuña
     This veteran California State University-Northridge professor was the founding chair of the largest Chicana/o Studies Department in the nation.  Acuña has written some 13 books and was a founding  member of the Labor Community Strategy Center and many other organizations,  dating from the creation of the Latin American Civic Association in 1961.

 Howard Adams and Uri Treisman
These two men are acclaimed for solving different ends of the same problem. As the former director of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minority Engineering and Science Inc., also known as GEM, Adams has played a leading role in demystifying the graduate school process and expanding the ranks of underrepresented graduate students the fields of engineering, science and mathematics. While still a graduate student at the University of California-Berkeley, Treisman designed a program to help Black undergraduates excel in calculus. His students not only passed these classes, but achieved higher overall retention rates than their peers. Now a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, Treisman’s method has been widely adopted by other universities searching for ways to increase the number of minorities in science- and math-based disciplines. The MacArthur Foundation was so impressed, it awarded him one of its “genius” grants in 1992.

Walter Allen
This co-author of a major study of Black students on predominantly White campuses, College in Black and White, which was based on data obtained through the National Study of Black College Students, is a professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles. In addition to studying the status of Black students, he also is an expert on Black faculty on traditionally White institutions and on higher education desegregation.

Molefi K. Asante
A leading advocate of Afrocentric scholarship, Asante went on to train a new generation of scholars to look at the world through Africa by establishing the nation’s first Ph.D. program in African American studies at Temple University.
Herman Badillo
While this City University of New York trustee and Hostos Community College founder’s activism in the ’70s is what first brought him into the national limelight, Badillo’s more recent role as a champion of the anti-remediation movement at CUNY has again thrust him into the public spotlight. His recent move has fractured the city along racial and class lines.

Derrick Bell
In 1971, Bell became the first tenured Black professor at Harvard Law School, a position he relinquished in 1992, as a final act of protest against the lack of women of color on the faculty. Currently, a visiting professor at New York University School of Law, Bell is the author of several books examining race and class in America.

Stephanie Bell-Rose
Bell-Rose comes to the question of higher education access from an unusual route — corporate law. A graduate of Radcliffe, Harvard University Law School and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, she spent years with a blue-stocking law firm in New Jersey. As corporate counsel for the Mellon Foundation she  led a research project that examined the educational experience of high-achieving African American students. Now head of the newly formed Goldman Sachs Foundation, she plans to use that research to find ways to increase the pool of high-achieving minority students.
Mary Frances Berry

This attorney, historian and a civil rights activist has used her positions and influence to expand opportunities for minorities and women in higher education. In 1992, she became the first African American woman appointed to chair the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, a committee on which she had held a seat since 1980. When Berry was named chancellor of the University of Colorado, the first-rate legal scholar became the first African American woman to hold such a position at a major research university.

Mary McLeod Bethune
The educator who founded Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. Bethune also founded the prominent organization, the National Council of Negro Women, and had the ear of President Roosevelt during his New Deal administration.

William “Buddy” Blakey
A partner, Dean, Blakey & Moscowitz, Blakey has lobbied Congress for more than a decade on behalf of historically Black institutions and the United Negro College Fund. While on the staff of U.S. Sen. Paul Simon and as counsel to the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, he helped shape legislation beneficial to historically Black colleges.

Gwendolyn Brooks
Brooks became the first African American poet to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her work was deeply influenced by the civil rights movement and she was a leading literary figure in the Black Arts Movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Sterling Brown
This  scholar, critic and poet taught at Howard University for 40 years. Brown is a legend among African American scholars who readily acknowledge that his study of Black dialect and folkore laid the foundation for the study of African American literature. Throughout his career he mentored hundreds of students including actor Ossie Davis and writer Amiri Baraka. It is only since his death in 1989 that his contributions to the canon of literature are being recognized. During the Harlem Renaissance, his poetry was included in the National Urban League’s Opportunity Journal. He coedited the anthology, The Negro Caravan, which remains one of the most important contributions to African-American literature. Brown was also national editor of Negro Affairs for the Federal Writers Project during the New Deal.

Ralph Bunche
Years before he became a Nobel Peace Prize-winning diplomat in 1950, Ralph Bunche had already distinguished himself as an influential political scientist. His studies of colonialism and race relations in America were well-regarded and groundbreaking. Bunche, who taught at Howard University, would collaborate with Gunnar Myrdal on The American Dilemma, the classic 1944 study on race in America. Later, Bunche would mediate an armistice in the first major conflict between the newly-formed nation of Israel and her Arab neighbors. For his efforts, Bunche received the Nobel Prize.

Norma Cantú
Formerly a litigator for the Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund, Cantú directs the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. In that capacity, she has become a leading champion in the fight to keep the doors of access open for all students, especially underrepresented students of color.

George Washington Carver
Considered one of the greatest agricultural chemists and agronomists in American history, George Washington Carver developed hundreds of products from plants, such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes. His research on new products would revolutionize the agricultural economy of the South. Carver’s legacy as an agricultural giant is still felt at Tuskegee University, the school at which he taught and conducted research for many years.

Julius L. Chambers
As a young attorney based in Charlotte, N.C., Chambers and his law partners argued and won landmark school-busing and fair employment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  In 1971, Chambers’ firm won the Swann v. Board of Education case, which allowed busing to end segregation in Charlotte’s elementary and secondary schools. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case ruled that the use of busing to achieve desegregation was constitutional. Chambers moved on from civil rights litigation to become the dean of the law school at North Carolina Central University and, later, chancellor of the school, a position he still holds.

Alvin O. Chambliss
As the lead attorney in Fordice v. Ayers, Chambliss has been a steadfast champion of equity in higher education and has battled against segregated public university systems. He currently is a professor at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University.

Kenneth Clark
The Columbia University -trained psychologist is best known for his “doll study” which showed the devastating effects of segregation. When 200 Black children were asked to choose between a Black doll and White doll, most chose the White doll. The study played a pivotal role the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw segregation in Brown  v. Board of Education.

Ward Connerly
This controversial Black Republican appointee to the University of California Board of Regents led fellow regents in the passage of an affirmative action ban in 1995. Connerly later became a central figure in statewide Proposition 209 campaign as chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative that was passed in 1996. Since then, Connerly has taken his anti-affirmative action campaign to other states.
Anna Julia Cooper
Cooper, who taught at Wilberforce University and St. Augustine’s College, was the author of what many consider to be the first Black feminist publication. A Voice from the South by a Black Woman from the South is a collection of essays in which she challenged Black male sexism and White liberal racism. Cooper, who earned her Ph.D. in French at the University of Paris in 1925, was also the only female member of the American Negro Academy, which included W.E.B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, Jesse E. Moorland and Arthur A. Schomberg.

Angela Y. Davis
Angela Y. Davis’ struggle as a political activist and scholar has inspired countless women in the academy since the 1970s. She first came to national attention in 1969 when her radical politics led to her losing a teaching position at UCLA. In 1970, the FBI placed Davis on its Most Wanted list on kidnapping, murder and conspiracy charges. After an intense police search, she was apprehended and incarcerated for 16 months before winning acquittal of all charges. An advocate of penal reform and a staunch opponent of racism and classism in the criminal justice system, Davis is the author of five books, including Angela Davis: An Autobiography and Women, Race and Class.

Harold Delaney
    As a young man, Harold Delaney worked as a scientist for the top secret Manhattan Project, which produced atom bombs for the American military during World War II. He later moved on to a stellar career in academia as a chemistry professor, administrator and higher education association executive. Delaney had stints as interim president at Chicago State University and Bowie State University. He also served as president of Manhattanville College.

Vine Deloria Jr. 
In 1969, the Hunkpapa Sioux college professor published the bestseller, Custer Died for Your Sins.  Deloria championed a movement to promote indigenous knowledge and belief systems and the intellect of Indian  people.

Rita Dove
The second AfricanAmerican woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her poetry in 1986, this University of Virginia professor also was the poet laureate of the United States in 1993-95.

Charles R. Drew
As a Howard University medical school faculty member, Charles R. Drew became world-famous for developing the processes to store blood plasma and organizing the concept of the Blood Bank. While a graduate student in medical science, Drew wrote a dissertation on “banked blood” and eventually became such an expert in the field that the British Government commissioned him to set up blood banks in England during World War II. During the war, Drew also was appointed director of the American Red Cross blood donor project. Drew’s medical breakthrough has helped save thousands of lives by making more blood available to people in need of transfusions.

W.E.B. DuBois
Although he began his career as a scholar late in the 19th century, the legacy of W.E.B. DuBois looms large over the 20th century and will continue to do so in the 21st century. DuBois sets the standard by which many African American academics, especially social scientists, strive. The Philadelphia Negro, considered the first great work of American sociology, still amazes contemporary scholars for its breadth and thoroughness. DuBois’ political activism as a founding member of the NAACP and editor of Crisis magazine helped establish  the agenda for the American civil rights movement. DuBois’ exploration in Pan-African studies and activities inspired Black leaders in Africa and the Americas to free their countries of colonialism. To this day, Black academics hold DuBois as the premier model of the Black scholar, equally engaged in scholarship as well as community activism.

Troy Duster
Duster recently left a long-held tenured position at the University of California- Berkeley to join the sociology faculty at New York University. In his capacity as vice chair of the National Center for Human Genome Research on Ethnical Legal and Social Issues, he tackles some of the weightiest ethical and social issues surrounding the human genome and identification of genes that may contribute to disease.

Christopher F. Edley Sr.
Christopher Edley proved to have a steady hand while presiding over the United Negro College Fund between 1973 and 1990. In the aftermath of the civil rights movement, the 1970s and 1980s were tough years for Black colleges adjusting to the demographic changes brought on by the desegregation in higher education. Edley, a lawyer and former Ford Foundation program officer, helped keep UNCF member schools afloat during these rocky transition years.

Christopher F. Edley Jr.
This Harvard University legal scholar has been vigilant in keeping the issue of racial equity on the nation’s academic and political agenda since the early 1980s. Not only is he the co-founder of the Harvard University Civil Rights think tank, but he was one of the Clinton administration’s leading legal and policy strategists on the issue of affirmative action. It is that experience that motivated Edley to write a book on the subject, Not All Black and White: Affirmative Action, Race and American Values — which has become a must-read for those seeking to understand the complexities of the issue  — and positioned him to be a contributing editor onthe  president’s yet-to-be published book on race in America.

Harry Edwards
This University of California-Berkeley sports sociology professor first came into the international limelight while teaching at San Jose State University. Edwards called for a boycott of the 1968 Olympics because of racism in the U.S. Since then, Edwards has become one of the preeminent voices in the dialogue over the role sport plays in African American culture, and the role African American athletes play in the wider society. Edwards also serves a consultant to various news and sports organizations, including the San Francisco 49ers football franchise. He is considered as the founder of the field of sports sociology.

Chaka Fattah, Major Owens,
William Clay, Louis Stokes
These four Black congressmen have strenuously fought for the interests of Blacks in higher education. Their advocacy continues a legacy begun by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Augustus Hawkins. After a long career in the House of Representatives, Clay is joining Stokes in retirement in the Congress that begins January 2001.  Fattah’s federal GEAR UP program, has leveraged federal resources to widen the government’s involvement in getting disadvantaged middle- and high-school students on the college preparatory track. In a period of affirmative action backlash, GEAR UP emerges as a critical race-neutral transition program for people of color and other disadvantaged students.

John Hope Franklin
John Hope Franklin is regarded as the nation’s foremost authority on American slavery. Still active at the dawn of the 21st century after a career that began in the 1930s, Franklin has held many prestigious fellowships, earned more than 100 honorary degrees, authored or edited 19 books and written nearly 100 articles. This distinguished historian’s  classic text From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, is now in its seventh edition. Franklin also has had an impact in public affairs. He contributed to the NAACP’s legal brief in the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation lawsuit. Most recently, he served as the chair of the advisory board for President Clinton’s “One America” initiative on race.

E. Franklin Frazier
    While heading the sociology department at Howard University, E. Franklin Frazier wrote Black Bourgeoisie, a classic yet controversial study of the Black middle class prior to the civil rights movement. Frazier was a prolific writer who held teaching positions at Fisk University and Morehouse College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1931.

Clarence “Bighouse” Gaines
Intending to save money for dental school tuition with an assistant basketball coaching job, Clarence Gaines unintentionally put himself on the path to become a coaching legend. As head coach of the Winston-Salem State University Rams men’s basketball team from 1947 to 1993, Gaines achieved 828 wins. Only University of Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp has amassed more basketball victories, at 875. Gaines coached legendary player Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, who went on to become a star for the former Baltimore Bullets and the New York Knicks.

Ernesto Galarza
The scholar-activist and farm-worker organizer helped launch Mexican American student activism as early as 1929, when he vocalized his views on the treatment of Mexican immigrant workers as a young graduate student at Stanford University. He was the first Mexican American admitted to Stanford and to earn a Ph.D. in history and political science at Columbia University. Following World War II, Galarza became a labor organizer and was named executive secretary of the National Farm Labor Union.

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr.
As chairman of Harvard University’s Afro-American studies department, Gates has elevated Harvard to pre-eminence in Black studies by assembling an academic “Dream Team” that includes Cornel West, William Julius Wilson and Anthony Appiah. Considered an intellectual entrepreneur, Gates exerts a scholarly impact that extends far beyond even Harvard’s reach. His forays into publishing, journalism, documentary production, Internet Web site development, and Black anthologies and encyclopedias have proven him as ambitious as his intellectual forefather, W.E.B. DuBois.

William and Belinda Gates
The foundation headed by and bearing the name of the chairman and the CEO of the Microsoft Corp. and his wife pledged $1 billion over 20 years to fund scholarships for minority college and graduate students in science, engineering, math and education. The gift, which will fund the Gates Millennium Scholars, is by far the largest ever made to higher education.

Paula J. Giddings
A research professor in Women’s, African and African American Studies at Duke University. Giddings is a journalist,  scholar and author of the book, When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Race and Sex in America, a groundbreaking study on women’s social and political history.

Guy Gorman, Ned Hatahli, Robert Roessel and Allen Yazzie
Co-founders in 1968 of the Navajo Community College, the first institution of higher education chartered by an Indian tribe, these educators successfully advocated the first federal support of a tribal college.  When asked what made NCC different from other colleges, Hatahli said, “Well, we don’t teach that Columbus discovered America.”

William H. Gray III
When Gray left his post as Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1991 to become the executive director of the United Negro College Fund, some thought it was a transitional step. Throughout the 1990s, however, Gray has demonstrated his commitment to higher education by establishing a record of accomplishment that places him in the company of institution builders, such as Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune. As an organization that administers federally  and corporate-supported programs on behalf of HBCUs and other institutions, The College Fund is the premier educational fundraising organization in the United States and arguably the most influential Black educational organization in the world.


Linda Darling Hammond
Hammond is the Charles E. Decommun Professor of Teaching and Teacher Education at Stanford University. She has been at the forefront of the movement to increase teacher standards and recruit more people of color into the teaching profession.

Julia & Nathan Hare
Julia and Nathan Hare are authors of numerous books dealing with the crisis in Black families and male/female relationships, including, The Endangered Black Family, Bringing the Black Boy to Manhood, The Passage, The Miseducation of the Black Child, and Crisis in Black Sexual Politics. They also are founding publishers of The Black Scholar.

Patricia Roberts Harris
Prior to becoming the first African American woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet, Harris was a faculty member and dean at Howard University. Upon leaving higher education, she served in the Carter administration holding posts as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Honoring her legacy as a scholar and public official, the federal government renamed minority a graduate school fellowship.

Augustus Hawkins
A champion of higher education for Blacks and other minorities, Hawkins served 28 years in the House of Representatives. As chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee in the 1980s, Hawkins led efforts to enact the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Act. Prior to getting elected to the U.S. Congress, he served 28 years in the California state legislature.

Darlene Clark Hine
A more complex picture of Black women’s rich history is emerging, thanks in large measure to Hine’s scholarship. As the John A. Hannah Professor of History at Michigan State University, she is a race-woman stepping forward to rebuild the      canon of history to include Black women. In 1994, she edited Black Women in America: A Historical Encyclopedia, a work she hopes will “begin lifting the veil and shattering the silence about Black women in America.”

Charles Hamilton Houston
While becoming the first African American editor at the Harvard Law Review,which  marked a significant achievement for Houston during his time as a law school student, it was his leadership at Howard University Law School that places him among the great higher education leaders. In the 1920s, Houston served on the faculty at Howard Law School and became vice dean of the law school in 1929. He transformed the law program from part-time to full-time, securing accreditation from the American Bar  Association and the Association of American Law Schools. Houston mentored legal giants, such as Thurgood Marshall, William Bryant and Oliver Hill, making Howard a training ground for many of the African Americans  who challenged and beat segregation.

Evelyn Hu-Dehart
This professor and chair of the department of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder, has played an important role in expanding the national dialogue and scholarship about race beyond their Black and White origins. Her scholarship on Asian Americans, multiculturalism and women has greatly enriched the canon of ethnic studies.

Charles Spurgeon Johnson
A sociologist by training, this former professor turned president (in 1946) of Fisk University is credited  with influencing the Harlem Renaissance as well as producing great scholarship. Johnson’s The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and A Race Riot, 1919 stands as a landmark study of race relations. As the editor of the Urban League’s Opportunity: a Journal of Negro Life, Johnson proved instrumental in attracting, encouraging and supporting the young Black writers and artists who produced the Harlem Renaissance. Johnson would build his own version of an academic “Dream Team” with such hires as Arna Bontemps, James Weldon Johnson and Aaron Douglas.

Lyndon Baines Johnson
President Johnson’s civil rights and social legislation brought about far-reaching changes for Black Americans. Affirmative action, a term coined by a member of the Kennedy administration, had modest beginnings during the Johnson administration. The Texan Democrat’s term also saw the creation of federal student loan programs and federal support for historically Black institutions.

Mordecai Wyatt Johnson
Johnson became the first Black president of Howard University in 1926. During his tenure, he set the institution on course to become a world -class university, by, among other things, hiring scholars such as writer Alain Locke and sociologist E. Franklin Frazier.

Ernest E. Just
Born in Charleston, S. C. on Aug. 14, 1983, Ernest Everett Just gained recognition as a leading biologist whose work broke new ground in developmental physiology. Just’s research ranged from topics in fertilization, experimental parthenogenesis, hydration, cell division, dehydration in living cells and the effect of ultra-violet rays in increasing chromosome number in animals. The long-time Howard University professor was the recipient of many scientific awards and research support, including being a Julius Rosenwald Fellow in Biology of the National Research Council from 1920 to 1931.

Maulana Ron Karenga
As one of the first scholars to press for Black studies in the academy during the ’60s and ’70s, this chair of the Black Studies department at California State University-Long Beach is perhaps most renowned as the founding father of Kwanzaa. Centered around seven principles known as the Nguzo Saba, this harvest celebration of family, community and culture has become a tradition observed each December by a growing number of African Americans.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A pivotal figure in the civil rights movement, it is impossible to discuss desegregation without noting the thousands of college students who rallied to King’s side to work for the integration of society as a whole, and education in particular. King was himself gifted  academic who skipped two years of high school and — on the strength of his junior-year college entrance exam scores — entered Morehouse College at the age of 15. He earned his doctorate from Boston University in 1955.

Raymond B. Landis
In developing the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement program model in  1967, while on the faculty of California State University-Northridge, Landis opened a new door of access for underrepresented students of color into these competitive disciplines. He currently is the dean of the school of engineering and technology at Cal State-Los Angeles.


Luis Leal
The 94-year old educator who has an endowed chair in his name at the University of California-Santa Barbara is considered the dean of Mexican and Mexican American Literature. At a White House Arts and Humanities ceremony in 1997, President Clinton said, “The great chorus of American voices has also been immeasurably enlarged by the work of Luis Leal. For 50 years he has told the story of the Chicano people, here in America and all over  the Latin world.”

Alain Locke
This graduate of Harvard University was the first African American chosen as a Rhodes Scholar. Locke later began his academic career on the faculty at Howard University. His greatest achievement, however, came with the active role he took in promoting and encouraging the artists and writers in the Harlem Renaissance. Locke is best known for editing The New Negro: An Interpretation, the 1925 anthology of Black poetry and prose by the young writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance. This collection proved to be a turning point for Locke and the younger Harlem Renaissance artists.


Rayford Logan
Both an activist and historian, Rayford Logan worked closely with W.E.B. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson during his long career as a scholar. Spending much of his teaching career at Howard University, Logan organized voter registration drives, campaigned against segregation in the military, and was among the leaders of A. Philip Randolph’s planned March on Washington in the 1940s. Logan’s most celebrated work, The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877-1901,  is regarded as a highly influential history text.

Wilma Mankiller 
   Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma since 1986 and the first woman in modern history to lead a major Native American tribe. In the late 1960s, Mankiller began working in preschool and adult education programs in the Pit River Tribe of California. Throughout her life she has been a proponent of Native Americans in higher education.

Manning Marable
Activist scholar, commentator and director of New York University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies, Marable is one of the nation’s most prominent thinkers and writers on issues of race and ethnicity and the African American experience. His column, “Along the Color Line” is carried in more than 300 newspapers. He has argued that scholars can’t be cloistered in an ivory tower, but have a responsibility to be activists.

Walter Massey
Massey is the president of Morehouse College.  Before coming to Morehouse, Massey was provost and senior vice president of the University of California. A physicist, Massey was also director of the National Science Foundation and director of the Argonne National Laboratory.

Oseola McCarty
The retired laundress stunned the nation in 1995 with her generous gift to endow scholarships for needy students at the University of Southern Mississippi. For 75 years, McCarty earned money by washing and ironing for some of Hattiesburg’s oldest families. She put aside money that she earned and gave a gift of $150,000 to endow the Oseola McCarty Scholarship.

James Meredith
Meredith became a central figure in the civil rights movement when he sought to integrate the University of Mississippi. Although a court order allowed Meredith to enter the school, Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett stood in the doorway to block Meredith from enrolling. To keep the peace, the Kennedy administration sent federal marshals to escort Meredith to classes.

Arnold Mitchem
Mitchem, the president of the Council for Opportunity in Education is a genuine trench warrior, successfully lobbying Congress to increase funding for federal TRIO programs.

Sybil Mobley
Under Mobley’s leadership as dean, Florida

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