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.’”

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Nelson Street: Behind the Catfish & Cotton

By T. DeWayne Moore
Filling in the Silences: Part 2

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the black schools in Greenville schools were the best in the state. While most state politicians virulently opposed the education of blacks and some districts spent as little as sixty-eight cents a year per black student, the Queen City allocated an annual seventeen dollars for the education of each black child enrolled in public school, which offered not only reading, writing and arithmetic, but also courses in foreign languages. Senator Leroy Percy and his allies may have allocated the funds that made it possible, but the principal of Greenville’s main black school, Lizzie Williams Coleman, provided the vision, determination, and hard hand required to shape a curriculum that endowed young blacks with pride, self-respect, and intelligence under the racial stigma of Jim Crow.[1] Possessing great pride in herself and her own black heritage, she was known to exclaim, “I don’t believe in the melting pot.”[2]

The staging at Heathman Plantation for Southern Living magazine invokes a bubolic fascination with the South, a mythic version of a bygone era. Notice the silences, and how space is filled with nostalgia and longing. What don't you see?

An African American family of sharecroppers
in the Delta circa 1935
Born to “pure negro parentage”[3] in Yazoo County around the end of the Civil War, she had moved to Greenville, married the formerly enslaved Jerry Coleman, and started her career as a teacher in the 1890s.[4] Lizzie Coleman possessed an excellent memory and command of mathematics that served her well in teaching elementary students, but over the years she realized the need for a broader educational agenda, which required a deeper commitment to teaching standards and fundraising. After becoming principle of the Number Two School in the 1920s, she required that aspiring teachers attend summer instruction programs, pass the state examination, and observe experienced instructors for a period of time before setting them loose on their own. She taught them to push students to excel in their studies, and she made it mandatory that each teacher raise over one hundred dollars for the school each year, which, along with the city funding, ensured that black youths got the best education in the state. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

T.J. Wheeler's Epic: "All Roads Lead to the Blues" Chapter 6-8

©2007 all rights reserved By TJ Wheele

Chapter 6
Back Upstairs in the Basement 

With Bukka, resting safely under Leola’s watchful care, I decided, as promised, to head back to see if Furry had woken from his siesta. The sun was just starting to set, as Old Blue and I traveled, once again, up Mosby Street. It was only two and a half blocks to Furry’s, but I followed everybody’s advice to drive, as it was sure to be dark soon. 

Folks, after their Sunday dinners, were starting to head back to church for the evening service, still dressed, to the “ninths”, in their best church clothes. It seemed as they been in church all day, which for me was surprising. In the all white church my family attended, back in Bremerton, Washington, that was unheard of. If the service went a minute over an hour, people would start fidgeting in their pews and would get upset enough to take their collection money back, if they had half a chance. 

While Church goers marched back up to the church across from Furry’s, I marched back up to Furry’s door, and this time, without any prodding, knocked loudly. Opposed to earlier that afternoon, an alert voice responded “Who’s there and what do you want?” 

Addressing him in the same manner as the next door lady I said; “Hey Mr. Furry, it’s me, TJ, the white boy that was here earlier.” A moment or two later, I saw, out of the corner of my left eye, his window shade drawn open to the side for a few seconds, before being pulled closed again.