Box 19, Folder 6, Document 34

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From Poolhall Address
Delivered at It, Miesisséippi
(February 2, 1960)

"Keep your cue-stick chalked,"'
-Junebug Jabbo Jones-

Education, as it is now constituted, is a disruptive force
to the needs of Afro-Americans and the Afro-American community, To
focus on this thesis, it is necessary to discuss the beginnings and
history of Negro education.

The first schools black people attended, were slave breaking
schools, where black men, women and children, would have their
spirits broken in order to make them into obediant servants of their
white masters, The history of our education in the United States
cannot be separated from this fact.

In Africa, Asia, etc., education grew out of what people
had to do in order to survive and the need for one generation to
pass on to the next the knowledge acquired through experience, But
in America, where white men and black men met, this was not the
casee InAmerica, some men were taught to be masters, and others
were taught to be slaves.

Mass education in the United States grew out of the need to
rationalize racism and exploitation in the United States. Itis
important to understand this if we are to begin to effectively deal
with the problems of edwation we face today.

The first Negro colleges were set up for the half-breed or
"illegitimate" children of white slave owners, The white man
understood then, as he does now, the necessity of spiintering the
Afro-American community, The most effective mechanism for affecting
this has been the taught and bred-in orientation towards a white

culture projected as superior,

wo Leo

There are many historical examples of hay Negro eduational
institutions have abdicated their responsibilities to the Afro-==
American community, and embraced the concept of white supremacy,
During it's early days, Howard University required you to submit
a picture of yourself before you were admitted, Of course, the
picture established yolts color credentials, "If white, all right;
if black, Wet back;" along with the "palm test"--the palm of your
hand had 20 come damn close to the color of your face in order for
you to get bnij

At Fisk University, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were "happy ahd
satisfied," educated darkies, in the finest of white cultural tredi-
tions and to this day are acclaimed for establishing much of the
prominence and validity of Fisk University, They sang before Queen
Victoria of Britian (which at thet time was the major colonial force |
oppressing our colonial brothers and sisters around the world---{"the
sun never sets on the British Empire," "take up the white mans burden"
and that sort of rot)--— and were acclaimed great because they sang
by white standards (four part harmonies, rounded tones, and proper
diction), ard didn't pat their feet, shout, and get happy--=ya'll
know, embarrass the race,

Booker T. Washington and his policy of accommodation is
another example of Negro education. Tuskeejee Institute was
attempting to provide Negroes with "industrial education". At the
beginning of the 20th Century, the industrialists who financed

Booker T. knew industrial education was not going to do the black

ang ee

man any good, It was outdated ard could only keep the black man in
tasks of menial, servile, labor. Today, there is a statue of Booker
T. on Tuskeegee’s campus, in which he is supposedly raising the vél
from over the head of a young Negro who is kneeling, At least some
people say that he is raising theveils; probably he is lowering it,
But, supposing for the moment that he is raising it, that statue
$:snds as a symbol of the fact of Booker T.'s acceptance of the
gontept of Afro-Americans! inferiority==that Afro-Amerivans had tot
be raised and uplifted to the level of whites, In other words,
Booker T, was awhite supremist (an insidious example of the white
war to annihilate feelings of blackness is found in the number of

Negro schools named Booker T. Washington) 4

At every level, the history of our education has been motion

towards white standards of culture, or a white posture, which was
somehow supposed to be superior, Educated Negroes were set up as

a separate class, the model toward which the community should aspire
in order to be considered "civilized," or on the way to progress,
Negro progress is measured by its closeness to total imitation of
the white model.

Another example of the orientation towards whiteness is
reflected in the orientation of freshman males at Howard University.
On the first night of residence, freshman males are gathered on top
of Drew Hall and warned of the dangers of the surrounding community
of northwest Washington. "Block boys" beat up Howard men, rape

girls and steal, the students are told. The are further told, that


if they have to go out at night (to be avoided if possible), try
not to go out alone. Avoid community parties, Always, the posture
of the university is how to defend yourself from that savage, wild,
uncivilized community, They are saying in fact, "youlre better than
those niggers. You might get your picture in Ebony Magazine."

This is a double tragedy, because 1) Howard University students

are subject to all the above dangers, Howard is an alien in what

could be a responsive community; and 2) given what it is oriented

to, it seems impossible for Howard to change itself in order to
become relevant to the needs of the Afro-Americans community around
it. Therefore, it stands as a source of frustration tn the eyes
of the AfrotAmerican community that surrounds it, subject to the
hostility that flows from what it (Howard) denies,

Howard is typical of Negro schools, To describe them in
terms of what they really are is to call them isiands of whiteness
in a sea of blackness, These schools relate to the white community,
and feed individual Negroes into the white community, that is they
teach these individuals how to step on the backs of their black brothers,
"up" towards whitey, and/or act as a buffer and transmit the white
message and culture into the AfroeAmerican communities, In a real
and profound sense, Negro schools are only inportant as they relate
to the white community, They tell the Afro-American people that you
are inferior; that you have nothing to offer; that you are rot worth
giving anything to, Negro educational institutions are very much
vulnerable to questions from Afro-Americans as to why they should be
allowed to exist if they continue to play such a destructive role in

our communi ty.


If we accept the proposition that Negro schools are white
oriented, amd geared not to the need of Afro-Ameri dks, but to the
needs of white supremacy, then to examine Negro edication is also
to examine in part the nature 6f education in this country. The

idea of education as a magic key that unlocks the door, that gives

you entrarce into the chamber, that has thie buttons, that runs

things, is & myth, The education that we get is designed to keep

us in our place. For instance, in October, when Stokely Carmichael
was invited to speak at Fisk as a guest lecturer by students involved
in the honors program; the white people of Nashville put pressure

on acting Fisk President James Lawson to cancel the engagement,
Knuckling under to pressure, Lawson cancelled the engagement on

the supposition that Carmichael's presence would be disruptive to
the campus ard the city of Nashville.

We have to understand that education is exclusive, The
persons who are educated, or the children of the persons who are
educated, have the best chance of being edwated, That circle
does not expand very much. In white society, class is important
to this exclusiveness. In the Negro community, caste and class
are key to this exclusiveness. And, as you know, those closest
to white ere of the highest caste.

Eacation és a key to running things in the country is also
amyth, The country is run informally and the first requirement is
no> a college degree, but a white skin, How many presidents of

ma‘or corporations lave you seen advertised for? ‘They are bred.


They meet certain social, as well as edwational requitements, If
they have a college degree, it is because socially, it's required
these days. And us scuffling niggers is just out here, believéng
all the stuff the man says about 'get a degree ard work your way
up?, like the brother in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man who on
seeing the contents of an envelope given him by the President of
what might be Tuskegee, sav: "Keep this nigger running,"

| The motion of the so-called civil rights movement around
the question of education has been on the assumption thiit Negro
schools were inferior in this society, The facilities were poor
for the teachers, The teachers were poor for the students, The
students were culturally inferior, Finally, in 1954, the U. S.
Supreme Court decided that us poor cullud folks could go to the
superior white folks schools. They did it for us, they say,
however, in many respects the 195h Siyreme Com+. decision marks
a new stage in the United States program of International Pacifi-
cation, Faced with a worldewide struggle against westerm imperla—
lism, the U. S. had to project an appearance of resolving the
contradiction between it's claims as a representative of "democracy",
and "freedom", and it's domestic policy of racial exploitation,
Needless to say, the hypocrisy of that move is reflected today in
both the Vietnam war amd the situation of Afro-Americans.

The white schools decided to integrate with "all deliberate
speed", That is, about or 5 years apart, We were supposed to
be most appreciative of this opportunity opened up to iw through
the "good" graces of white society, Hallelush, we could all go

to white schools.

We began to feel as if we had to push as many Negroes as
we could into these schools, in order that they get the information
that we felt whites were getting, This was vitally necessary to
functioning in the white society, The whole Afro-American community
was kept in motion, directing our energies towards the responsibili-=
ties necessary to allow individuals from our community to function
in the white mans society,

Several things happened in regards to this integration effort.
There was massive resistarce, especially in the south and in the
north when we came in great masses, Fogmerly all-white schools
became all bleck. We began to realize that if we ever wanted to
integrate with whites, we would have to chase them all over the

country. The south in many instances put up physical resistance,

In order to make it easier on the whites, in some northern areas
it was proposed that a few black students be bussed out of the
ghetto before dark, Sort of a daytime whiteness attempt, And in
the south, we were asked to ignore spit in our faces, mobs around
our children and bombs thrown at our homes.

On the college level, the effort of Negro colleges is to
become as "good" as white and, therefore, schools like Harvard,
Yale, etc, are being used to evaluate the needs of Negro education.
One result of these kinds of evaluations is that the President of
Howard University has recommended that within five to ten years,
Howard become 60% white in order to be able to compete with white
schools, In essence he was saying that it was impossible for a

Negro schoole«-that is a school for those of African descent, a black


school-=to measure up to white schools; therefore, these schools must
be flooded with whites, who's presence by definition would bring

Another development in regards to Negro colleges is the
concept of pairing. Princeton takes responsibility for Miles, the
University of Michigan for Tuskeegee, Brown for Tougaloo, These
schools would correct standards, design a better curriculum in
ies ef national educational standards, Whiten them, Brothers
am Sisters "First there is a tragedy, then there is a farce",

The deep crisis in education that we face today flows from
a much brogder and profound political problem that pervades every
segment of the black community, Ina phrase, we, blacks, control
none of the resources and institutions in our communities. And,
until #e can begin to move to exercise this control over our
lives, anything else is an exercise in futility.

Eduwation consists mainly of two factors: indoctrination
to a certain point of view ( the slaves were civilized by
being brought here; the indians were savages and destroying them
was taming the west); ami the accumulation of factual information
(e.g- the sun isifin the sky - water is wet). However, our indoce
trination in many respects determines what is factual. For example,
you would laugh if we said that England wasn't discovered until the
first time Sekou Toure, President of the African country of Guinea,
first set foot there, but we accept the idea of Columbus! discovery

of America, despite the fact that fPargle were here to meet him

oo ieee

Columbus, a poor navigator at best, accidentally got here
trying to get to India amd he died thinking he had made it to India.

We are only éducated in our schools, but the white attitude
also breaks into the Afro-American community through television,
radio, movies and magazines (both white and white aspiring-dig
Ebony); through advertising such as Nadinola, Silky Straight and
the white knight that drives out dirt. Infact, we are overwhelmed,

It is safe to say that every device for indoctrination
including institutional education is used to lock us mentally within
the white prison of western civilization,

If we are to survive, we must break the chains that bind
our minds and bodies within the prison of western civilization,
We must, stherefore, build within our communities, educational
insitutions that allow us to locate and utilize in our own interests,
the resources that we have as a people. This effort, which we mst
all commit ourselves to, will be resisted, as it has been historically
by this country and her sister countries of the West, who's committment
to the protection of white supremacy prevents an understanding of
human rights and needs.

We want to begin now, to braak out of a very negative concept

of ourselves and of our possibilities taught us as a result of our

American captivity. We should urderstand that bhile there world

wide oppression am exploitation along color lines, there is strength
for us in the struggle against the oppression, For we, the oppressed,
represent 87% of the worlds population.

We have outlined a déscription of white cultural ani educational
domination ard many of you must be asking by now, how do we deal with

this? =9=

How do we move as Afro-iiericans to meet our educational
needs? Let us begin to think of a school, international in itts
scope, yet parochial in that it's aimed at the needs of Afro-Americans
colonized within the United States,

The thrust of swh a school would be to break out of the mental
barriers posed by western (the U.S. in particular) education, There
would be a positive and a direct effort to relate to Africa, Asia and
_ Latin America, Language as a basic communications tool, would be
very importants; emphasis would be put on these languages: Swahili
and French in terms of Africa; Spanish in terms of Latin America;
Chinese and Japanese intterms of Asia, Coupled with this language
learning process would be to travel to countries in these areas
to begin to break through the overwhelming mental effect of a life
within the American society whoga every function is controlled by

We need to begin to conceive of our community in a different
light. Instead of a place to escape from, we must now see our life, ©
work, labor and love, in terms of that community, With this different
attitude towards our community in terms of our life work, we must
begin to get specific technical skills directly relevant to the Afro-
American community. Specific technical skills gotten by individuals
should be seen as community resources rather than individual profit;
for true profit for the individual flows from the profit of his
community. Medical care and health for example, would be organized
as community programs, not as lucrative private practices. Techni-
cians would see as a part of their work, the organizing and encourage=
ment of their communities to tap it's own resources in it!s own interests.

For in the final analysis, education is not a gathering of
intellectual skills, but a preparation for participation in living;
and life is lived with people and community.

Integral to the purpose of this kind of s&hool, is the
shedding of our inability to understand in anything other than
western cultural standards, The west is not the culture, but a
cultures one of many and in many ways more primitive than most,

We, asAfro-Americans, must choose on which side of the
color line we stand. We have, in fect, only one choice. The
choice is made by the color of our skins.


Copyright 1967

Student Voice
360 Nelson Street, S. W.
Atlaita, Georgia 30313

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