Highlighting a Major Milestone
Diverse, thank you so much for highlighting this major historic milestone in African literature (see “Revisiting a Classic,” April 17). There is no more important literary figure alive today than Achebe. Thanks again.
— Dr. Pamela D. Reed
Taking Race Matters Seriously
I applaud those institutions taking this subject seriously (see “University of Illinois Center Works to Deconstruct the Politics of Race,” April 17). It’s been ignored for too long. Hurray for Dr. Fagin whom I met at the University of Florida in the early ’90s. He has done exceptional work on the issue. I hope you can use folks like Dr. Cornel West, Dr. Mike Dyson, Lee Mun Wah of Stirfry Seminars & Consulting, etc. to contribute to the dialogue. We need that dialogue urgently if we are to survive as a multiracial nation.
In light of the racial undertones of the current presidential election, the work of centers such as the one at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is of the utmost importance. The folks at UIUC need look no further than to the neighboring state to the north, where Wisconsin voters just voted their first and only Supreme Court Justice of color out of office at their first opportunity (Justice Louis B. Butler was appointed by Wisconsin’s governor about four years ago). Outside interest groups and Butler’s opponent ran millions of dollars worth of racially charged ads that were compared to the “Willie Horton” campaign of 1980s presidential politics. Newsweek magazine ran a story about the dirty politics being played just prior to the election, yet Butler still became the first incumbent in decades to lose a Wisconsin State Supreme Court election. How can it be so easy to vote a highly respected incumbent out of such an important office by simply playing the race card? This bodes poorly for Sen. Barack Obama and is certainly worthy of study and discussion.
— Detmer Wells
Relationship Violence — A Moral Issue
I write in response to “Relationship Violence Strikes Campuses” (see Diverse, March 20). The matter of relationship violence, as aptly pointed out by writer Pearl Stewart, is one of paramount importance, particularly on the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities. Any threat to the safety of women co-eds — in fact, women in general — is a threat to the balance of our communities and must be addressed urgently.
As the new president of Morehouse College, I engage in regular dialogue with students on a myriad of topics, including gender diversity and inter-gender respect in our campus community and beyond. I do not “admonish” [my] students to behave” in the face of issues this serious and morally consequential. To the contrary, the Morehouse family realizes that relationship violence is a moral issue being faced by the entire nation and fosters an environment where high standards and character are the watchwords and being proactive is an imperative. In that vein, I was being proactive when I spoke to the Morehouse community — a Maroon Tiger interview from which Ms. Stewart quoted. I was neither responding to a specific incident nor trivializing an issue that is so grave by equating its eradication with the advancement of my presidential duties.
Finally, I am an avid reader of your journal and regard it as essential for well-informed educational leaders. And while I affirm the right of the media to research and reprint statements that are made in open forum, I am, however, concerned about the apparent removal of context that strips the meaning of the messages, and, as a result, misleads the reader.
—Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr.,
President Morehouse College
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