Friday, October 18, 2019

Bowling Green Seminar To View `Black Oratory' [1968]

Monday, Sept. 30, 1968 
(Fremont, OH) News-Messenger page 9 

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a
Dream Speech" on the National Mall in 1963.
For the first time Bowling Green State University is offering Black and white undergraduate students classroom time to exchange ideas on contemporary racial problems. An experimental liberal arts course entitled "Black Oratory" is being offered under the direction of Dr. Raymond Yeager, speech professor. 

A casual, relaxed seminar is planned and Dr. Yeager says he would be disappointed if “we didn’t have some lively discussions.” 

Although Black history and culture classes have been offered on a number of other campuses, Bowling Green’s course is unique in that it deals with speeches made by Black leaders, according to Dr. Yeager.  

The textbook, “Rhetoric of the Racial Revolt” includes a collection of speeches made by African American leaders beginning with Civil War-day speaker Frederick Douglass, father of the protest movement, and concluding with modern-day orator Martin Luther King Jr., martyr of the peaceful agitation movement. 

Other African Americans to be discussed include Booker T. Washington, advocate of the “separate but equal” principle, Marian Anderson, one of the world’s foremost contralto singers; Dr. Ralph Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X, militant leaders of the Black Muslim movement. 

Booker T. Washington
Through the oratorical approach, Dr. Yeager hopes the biographies and personalities of these speakers as well as the temper of the times in which they lived can be studied. 

Six contemporary films also are slated for the course. Dr. Yeager plans to bring a number of prominent Negro leaders to speak to his class. Cleveland's Mayor Carl B. Stokes and Julian Bond, Georgia politician, are two who have been asked to visit Bowling Green. 

“Black Oratory” stems from the success of a similar graduate course taught last year by Dr. Yeager. At that time many undergraduate students expressed a desire to sit in on the sessions. 

“The course is being offered in anticipation of what students want…not in response to student demands,” Dr. Yeager said. 

Malcolm X
Although the decision to offer the class came too late to make this year’s catalogue, students learned about it through word of mouth and about 20, equally divided between white and black, enrolled. 

Dr. Yeager doesn’t pretend to be an expert on the subject of African American history. 

“I should think many of the Black students will know as much about it as I do. I certainly hope I can learn from them,” he said. 

“I envision my role as a listener as well as a director. I would hope that the students could become the teachers and I would only act as a ‘master teacher.’”