Block I Illinois Library Illinois Open Publishing Network

21 Question Five Discussion

Role of Black Studies Organizations

Summer L. (Henry) Melay (NCBS): … My answer to the question is yes, because we play a significant role in institutionalizing the field of Af­ri­ca­na Studies.

In coming to this conclusion, I thought about the internal building blocks and what it takes to build an organization. Therefore, I focused on what I do and what I deal with, that is, annual conferences, publication of the bi-annual journal, the International Journal of Africana Studies, and the development of our membership. These things aid in the growth of NCBS and organizations as well as the field of Africana Studies.

The first key element that I feel is one of our strongest contributions to the field is our annual conference. This conference covers a wide variety of topics that appeal to the general interest of conference attendees. We have averaged 250 to 300 attendees. Personally, I feel this is a little low considering we’re supposed to be a premier organization. Being the executive director, you see the good, the bad, and the ugly. …

Some of the opinions are not only from those who are in the field, but also those in the community as well as those in the public. I think this type of open-door policy strengthens the network and contributes to the growth of NCBS as well as the field. Because we are not only educating those in the field, like students and scholars, we are also educating the community, which I feel needs to be more educated about Africana Studies.

Another factor that I looked at with the conference is the opportunity that it brings for students who attend … because they are the future builders of Africana Studies. They have an op­por­tu­ni­ty to network with different veterans who are in the field [and who] encourage undergraduates and graduates, through panels and roundtables. This gives [students] an opportunity to dem­on­strate their talents and viewpoints while also receiving constructive criticisms from their mentors, their superiors, and their peers.

This was the fifth year of our Steven Biko Student Summit, which is an open discussion period, chaired by our students, and gives them an opportunity to discuss different issues in the field. We also use our conference as a way to encourage our students through their academic progress. We also have honor society members and we ceremonially recognize those who win the student essay contest.

I also thought about how the conference is a highlight for a lot of the students. I’ve seen students who have been coming year after year and I’ve had discussions with students who actually get excited about coming to the conference because they get to meet Maulana Karenga and Molefi Asante and others whose books they have read or heard about in their Africana Studies classes. This can also build the field because the students are the future of Africana Studies. If we could encourage them to join the organization and come to the conferences, then they, too, can promote academic excellence and social responsibility.

Another key element that I thought contributed to the field of publication is our bi-annual journal, the International Journal of Af­ri­ca­na Studies. This journal is subscribed to our members as well as over fifty institutional libraries throughout the nation. We have about ten articles published in each issue of the Journal, and I think that this gives an opportunity for scholars to simplify their points of view and ideas from a variety of perspectives. I believe that some people think—and I hope I am not out of line here—that NCBS largely reflects the Afrocentric perspective, but not exclusively. I think we reflect a variety of different perspectives. For example, we have people who speak on queer studies, anthropology, or from a psychological perspective. Therefore, I think when we acknowledge views from other perspectives, it adds a key building block for institutionalizing the field.

Finally, our institutional membership has grown over 50 percent in the past five years, and our student membership has tripled … . The growth of our membership is due to the benefits we have available, as well as the improved technology. The fact that our website is [set up so that] people are able to register online, enter membership online, find contact information for board members as well as see the different departments or schools that offer masters and PhD programs in Africana Studies; I feel this is a way to expand the parameters of NCBS both nationally and internationally with the world wide web being global. With these key elements, I feel that Africana Studies is on an upward path to success.

Sylvia Cyrus-Albritton (ASALH): I would like to begin by saying that I appreciate this opportunity. Summer and I have had an op­por­tu­ni­ty to talk before. I am not a scholar; I am a historian. I come out of a corporate background and was brought to the association specifically for that. So a forum like this, I’d like to thank Marilyn for inviting us and for all of you for being here; because it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly important for those of us that are advocating for Black Studies to get this sense of the field. As important as you know this work is, I am impressed by being able to be in this room with all of you. I am going to read a few parts out of my paper, though I could probably write my whole paper over based on the information I’ve heard today … .

I’m sorry that Alison is not here because I was struck by her comment that maybe she was the only one that needed to introduction herself to the group, because we all know each other. In re­al­i­ty, we have not had an opportunity to all read each other. Thankfully, the discipline has been around long enough that we can’t possibly know everybody. Certainly, one of the primary functions that Sum­mer and I both have around Black Studies means that conferences provide very unique opportunities — one of which is to get to know each other and making sure the music in the bar is good because we all know that, just like on the golf course, that is where the deals are made. The more informal session is where a lot of work has had its foundation. Therefore, conferences certainly become a very important part of the reason why these institutions are so important.

… I also speak to the fact of how important foundations are to scholarship and our mission. The association has been very successful over the past three years in terms of turning our financial ship around. For context, I encourage you to read my paper if you have not had an opportunity to do so. We’ve received some funding from Farmers Insurance to do a documentary which has been very important in exporting the field to laypeople, which is where this has really got to happen. We are not talking about how important it is to reach these multi-millionaires who are rap stars and ball players, etc.

It reminds me of a story that we hear frequently from our representative in Washington, D.C., Eleanor Holmes Norton. She was very instrumental in pushing through legislation to make Carter G. Wood­son’s home a historical site and now the National Park Service has taken over that property for the Association. She has done this because a high school teacher by the name of William Simon, who sat on the ASALH board as treasurer for ten years and has been a life member, impacted her when she was a middle school student. The thing I say to the scholars that sit around this room … of course Summer has her membership form, I have mine, I know everybody will make that right; it is important for us who are ad­vo­cat­ing and who are out here trying to secure the funds for the scholars to be a part and to understand that with all the work that you have to do from a scholarly standpoint that laypeople like to rub shoulders with you. You can only sell your books to each other so much before you run out of the pool. You’ve got to want Grandma to buy the book and get your signature. Your autograph means something to these folks. These are the folks who at some point you want to leave money to your program, to the association, etc.

You must also understand that when we advocate to the corporate world and foundations, it is important for me to have your name on my roster to be able to procure funds. Because they really want to know at this day and time, [who] are your constituents? Are they supporting this institution so that we can support it also? It is important for institutions like the association and others that are out here, to really have our support. Thank you.

Charles E. Jones (Georgia State University): I, too, am very honored to participate and to interact with colleagues that I have spoken with but have not had the opportunity to meet. I’m going to raise a couple of issues and I hope no one takes what I have to say personally. I think this is an opportunity for NCBS to gather in­for­ma­tion about our role in the field, and how we are perceived by such an obvious body of scholars.

As we well know after nearly four decades of struggle, African American Studies has finally acquired a bit of academic legitimacy within higher education. We always fight against the negativity, like the Chronicle article we talked about, but there are several promising developments beginning in the 1990s that reflect the current status of Africana Studies. First and foremost is the proliferation of Af­ri­ca­na Studies graduate programs; six PhD programs; about twenty MA programs and several schools are considering PhD [degrees]; Uni­ver­si­ty of Louisville had a PhD on the drawing board, and Emory is considering that as well. We do know that Northwestern is accepting its first class this fall.

In addition, there are several new journals; the International Journal of Africana Studies that Dr. Kershaw edits and pays for out of his budget. There is Manning’s new journal. We have another journal co-sponsored by NCBS as well as the University of Illinois’s African and African American Studies research program called the Journal of Black Women, Gender and Families. We’re not all the way home on the gender question, but we are attempting to address that. Then answering the …[men], we expanded what was called the Journal of African Men, through the Journal of African American Studies, which is published four times a year.

We also see the creation of new Africana Studies undergraduate units starting in the 1990s: the one where I was hired as founding chair in 1994 at Georgia State; Virginia Commonwealth Uni­ver­si­ty; Tennessee State, which I think signals also a new development in the field in terms of how Africana Studies departments are being developed on historically Black campuses. Josephine’s Clark At­lan­ta led this, but we have Morehouse under Barksdale, who was our organization’s former secretary, and Tennessee State, one of the first Black schools that formed a BA in 1992, and Dillard’s new program, etc.

Finally, in the case of programs that already existed, we see the enhancement of these programs in terms of more money, and most importantly, going from programs to departmental status. We see this in the case of Emory receiving departmental status a couple of years ago. The key to that is setting salaries, and most important, determining who gets tenure. One thing that is always clear to us is serving two masters. Also, Penn State, Jim’s place, also received departmental status due to student protest.

Notwithstanding this newfound legitimacy, the field of Af­ri­ca­na Studies has yet to obtain the similar level of institutionalization found in other traditional disciplines and this is not just a matter of timing, I would argue. Where we miss the debates on issues of shared agreement in terms of what are the criteria that defines Af­ri­ca­na Studies? This is still an ongoing debate. Other issues such as methods, theory, and the fact that many of our folks who teach Af­ri­ca­na Studies do not have terminal degrees in Africana Studies make a difference.

Membership is another issue. Summer gave the numbers and I was torn when she asked me whether or not she should give the numbers. Three hundred members after thirty-five years is not good. And we realize it’s a two-way street. As an organization, in order to perform its roles and contribute to the discipline, we have to do our thing.

The inclusion of gender and sexuality is necessary in order to make our field what it should be. Most importantly, and I think we have certainly dropped the ball on—or we’ve not defined to the degree that we should have—what Terry spoke to in some degree, and that is the question of empowerment. In many ways we are just reproducing what these students’ fathers did in 1968. And we all understand the currency of tenure. I tell my faculty if you’re on this campus, you’ve got to have tenure. One problem with early Black Studies departments is that we put too much emphasis on com­mu­ni­ty and when it came to getting tenure, we didn’t have it. The 1980s came in bringing retrenchment, and it was so easy just to take departments out. Washington State University was an example of that. So there’s a lot of work we can do on empowerment.

How can professional organizations help this? Both ladies spoke very eloquently on this, so I won’t go into too much detail; but certainly a forum for dialogue among scholars. This is what a professional organization can do in many different ways through conferences. We give space to scholars who might not otherwise have any.

You saw things in terms of a clearinghouse for curricula vitae, some of our best practices. NCBS gives grants for community outreach programs, money that comes from the National Black United Fund and charities; professional development, curriculum workshops; we can do administrative workshops. I was a beneficiary of the administrative workshops where I participated in 1994 as the first-time chair in the department; we now have a commission for program assessment on professional development; and student mentoring, the idea of intergenerational replacement with our student essays that we don’t get funding for from anyone; we fund this out of our own budget, three projects—undergraduate and graduate.

One product of this student mentoring is a person who won the undergraduate essay at Georgia Southern University and the masters’s grad essay at UCLA; and she just finished her PhD in English at Florida State University, and the department of English at our university just hired her. She would be more of an Africana Studies scholar than an English scholar because she came up through us.

What do we need to do to ensure we get all your support? We have to deliver; we have to publish our journals on time; return calls. We have to add to your professional development. We must have a broad section of people; this is not a litmus test; this is not a cult. This is a professional organization. We do not apologize for being nationalist; the same way American political scientists don’t apologize for being Eurocentric. Everybody is welcome. In 2005, we had a Marxist, Sundiata; we had Brother Sells from New Jersey; we had three or four panelists on queer studies; and we had panels on Afrocentrism. We are a heterogeneous organization.

My question becomes this, why so few members? Manning will be here tomorrow. In his 2005 publication, Manning made provocative statements saying people need to be frank and talk openly about the glaring disconnection between the top tier of African American Studies [and the]most prominent and widely read scholars from NCBS. He attributes this to NCBS’s narrow Afrocentrism which drove away in droves feminist and the progressive scholars—the big-name scholars, whoever they may be, the public in­tel­lec­tu­als. I spoke with them before this was published. I would maintain that a lot of these scholars were never participating in NCBS from the beginning.

I don’t want anybody to take this personally. We want this for points of information. We heard about an excellent program at the University of Texas; we heard about the University of Michigan; we have the director here from Michigan—you say you have scholars that would double this room. I would be willing to bet that we don’t have one member from the University of Michigan in our organization. I’m willing to bet the same thing about Texas; and a lot of other organizations here. So I think in terms of conversation and dialogue we want to know why.

NCBS is ujima. That’s how we built this organization. We borrow from Georgia State. It comes out of my budget. Summer is one of my administrative assistants; she works for NCBS—we do a lot of stuff. Terry has a budget. When he got hired at Virginia Tech one of the things he wanted was a journal that they would have to pay for; that goes to NCBS. You want an accreditation committee, Sun­di­a­ta’s paying for ten rooms so he can come up there and set up these standards for acceptance. So that’s how we do it. We do it through a collective effort.

But we need the help. We need the help of a Michigan, a Texas, a Yale, of a Harvard, and so forth. Unfortunately, we don’t have that type of support. We have a number of distinguished scholars from a host of universities even though we have over a hundred schools participating in the Houston conference, about sixty-five students, and about sixty-three panels; and the student panels used to give me some concern. Daryl, like you, I’ve or­ga­niz­ed five out of the last six conferences. I think this is how we can rebuild NCBS through our conferences and our national office.

If you would please give me input on why we have so many people in Africana Studies and we talk about the good things a number of programs are doing, but yet we seem to be mired in, like the NFL, a whole thing of free agencies that leads to isolation. I’ll leave it there.

Abdul Alkalimat (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign):

This track was distributed free on the web. It’s about Katrina. My thesis is we live in revolutionary times; not the revolution of the 1960s; and many of us missed it. But there’s fundamental structural change based in this society—throughout the entire society—that is being driven by the right. In any revolution what you’re going to find is deconstruction. But you’re also going to find what’s rising in this society. We’re being hurt by destruction. But at the same time we have to be part of what’s rising in society:what’s going to transform society. There are a lot of people we want to help that might not be at the cutting edge. So we have to find out what’s rising.

Here’s the whole point I want to make about hip-hop. Precisely at the point when corporations are telling us that the script of gangsta rap is what is dominating the youth, in fact, at the base of the very community that’s supposed to be regarded as digitally divided, the first global digital culture was created: hip-hop. So I think we need to be serious about how we read our own experiences to understand exactly what the kernel of truth is that will take us somewhere as opposed to looking at it through the lens of somebody else and that makes us different.

It’s a great time; it’s a revolutionary moment. I think this is a wonderful time for Black Studies if, as we did in the past, we get involved in what’s rising and help to redefine the university. I think that’s the main task for us now. Thank you.

Lee D. Baker (Duke University): We’ve had a set of provocative interventions and discussions.  … It is a new century and we need to move forward; and we need to look at the past. I think A. Phillip Randolph said it best; that we cannot get to the table without or­ga­ni­zations.

Baker identified social reproduction, the politics of archives, and policy issues as recurring themes throughout the discussions that reveal important ways Black Studies professional organizations can weigh in and shape the analysis of the experiences of people of African descent around the world. His discussion continued to focus on  organizations as  the key entities for extending voices of Black Studies into the public arena by weighing in on major issues of concern to communities of the African Diaspora.

I think … whether it’s NCBS with their students’ papers in support of people coming through the pipeline or [ASALH] reaching out to the school teachers and coming up with a whole new constituency for Africana Studies, each one of these [is] important in terms of reproducing the next generation of scholars in Africana Studies. …

Daryl Michael Scott (Howard University): Let me put my other hat on which is my ASALH hat. I need to make a clarification about ASALH that speaks to the future of Black Studies. ASALH is not a professional association. We do not have a professional association’s tax designation. We are a charitable, not-for-profit 501(c)(3). We have an obligation, not to the academy, not to scholars; we have an obligation to the people in the United States, where we get our not-for-profit status from; but also to the world. This is how we’ve changed the fortunes of ASALH. Academics alone would have killed the or­ga­ni­­za­tion. Academics are notorious for trying to go to a conference for free, for not paying membership dues and then calling you and telling you about your shortcomings.

We have turned ASALH around by going back to basics. The association did not begin with the Ford Foundation or any other funding source. It began with Carter G., as you all know. He did not get it off the ground until he said we have to bring the people into this organization. And you know it is all related to the start of Negro History Week. It is what freed the association from dependence on funding sources.

The point I’m trying to make here is that the academic part of ASALH is now underwritten by people other than academics. And I’m saying here today that to the extent you think this is important for funding purposes, you have got to underwrite the academic portion of this organization.

I have listened to people say … I didn’t understand the money behind NCBS, but I got it now. It’s public institutions, universities and people cutting deals at their institutions. This is how ASWAD [The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora] is being funded. And it means [it is] the clout of those individual academics in this room that keeps you going. ASALH is not dependent upon such individuals. It’s dependent on the charitable public and the foundations. And we have funding for the public side of our mission. We don’t have funding because people don’t like giving money for us to pad our conveniences. The journal, for twenty-five years, was published irregularly, as you know. It’s only the V. P. [Franklin] who keeps it afloat with his hard work. He works for a pittance.

… Our journal has 900 subscribers, at one point we had 12,000 subscribers. We built it back up from 300 to 900. So it can be done. But it’s being underwritten with public money: truthfully, the money of old Black ladies who believe in Black history.

Abdul Alkalimat (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign): I would like to reiterate the notion of three stages of Black Studies: social movement, academic profession, and knowledge network. H-Net has a list. The largest list is H-German; that’s 11,000 people; we have two and [a] half. We could, in this room, over the next six months bump that up to 10,000; literally everybody in Black Studies and everybody—all the journalists, all the organizations—would get a market share. In other words, there isn’t going to be a share and it will change. I think we have to think about leaving this room with the notion that we can form an e-group and continue this discussion and not just have it end. That would be easy to do.

… Organizationally, we have to ask the question whether or not old organizational forms are going to continue to provide as they have been. There continues to be a need for certain kinds of or­ga­ni­zation forms. But we do need to have, as always in the African American tradition, an opening to the new things so that we can be improvisational about creating a future that makes sense for us. You know, like jazz.

It seems to me that the main thing we need to talk about with regard to the face-to-face meetings, is a job market for people with PhDs and MAs in the field. And it seems to me it comes down to the fall meeting of ASALH and the spring meeting of NCBS, with the main emphasis being in the fall; because that’s when people get jobs; and collectively here, we could start a movement where all the graduate programs show up at both meetings, arrange interviews and all graduate students come so that we can begin to have a pipeline that overcomes the insti­tu­tional status that will wipe that out.

If you have a degree from certain institutions, and you have a Black theme in your dissertation, you’re likely to be bumped to the head of the queue when it comes time for cherry picking on who’s going to be on your short list unless we create a collective environment and pipeline that can begin to shift things so that people would [find] someone to come into the process that has the background that we’re talking about. It’s wonderful to talk abstractly. But I think at this day’s end and tomorrow, it would be useful to come out of this meeting with some real marching orders for each other: the job market, the notion of e-group so we can continue this discussion … and the notion of trying to figure out a way on the web for all of us to unite and share our ideas.

James Stewart (Penn State University): Two points: first to follow up on Daryl. The National Council for Black Studies offers the opportunity for institutional members to get grants up to $2,500 for community education and citizen engagement. We’re sitting on $40,000 but we can’t get any of the programs, departments, and institution members to submit. This money comes through the kinds of institutions that you have been talking about, the National United Negro Fund through federal workers who have designated these contributions to the National Council for Black Studies. They give more to us than anyone else. So it’s the type of engagement we talked about in the early 1960s’ and we need to step up to the plate.

The second point is this. My discipline of training is economics. There are about forty different economics organizations and they all meet at the same time because they know they are drawing on the same constituency. We have a lot of small organizations that meet at various times; and there are probably two other conferences that meet at the same time and it is simply an irrational sort of arrangement. Considering what Abdul was talking about, we need to look at business, ways to share membership dues if we’re going to be efficient in the twenty-first century. A lot of us don’t want to talk about that because we’ve got vested interests in the organizations that we serve.

Maulana Karenga (California State University, Long Beach): I want to say that the question of building these professional organizations is central here. And I want to take us back to the whole con­ver­sa­tion we had about funding, which is about collaboration. Beverly rightfully asked how can we get … she was talking about private funding.  … We can also deal with the question of public funding that Abdul raised; whatever funds we deal with, the greater our degree of collaboration, the greater the degree of success we’ll have. And when we talk about this whole collaboration project I think it’s important for us to talk about ourselves in dignity-affirming ways; and to talk about what we have done; and not make invidious comparisons between what other people are doing, who have a long history and got all the money are doing, versus what we’re doing. They are different contexts.

Like when we talked about Black people in Jamaica. We don’t need to do that stuff. Our present cannot be our teacher. So what we have to do is be able to learn from everyone, as Beverly suggested, but we absorb without being absorbed. None of us are against talking to the rest of the world. But what we don’t want to do is for the world to instruct us to the point we reason ourselves out of existence and actually declare we haven’t done anything and everybody else has done everything else.

Funding requires several things, and of course, the most important thing it requires is that we collaborate, that we have patience, and that we have contingency-targeted case-making and that we’re willing to go back again and again. We’re talking about these hip-hop people. One of the problems we have with them is people are praising them for doing nothing. What we have to do is make them feel responsible. We have to challenge them. A lot of times, especially Black intellectuals, they are so busy buck-dancing for the hip-hop people instead of setting some kind of direction of how they should walk as Africans in the world. Now we say we have a better understanding. When we get down to infantile rhyming, being the fundamental way we understand ourselves, we got a problem. So I think it’s very important and know it sounds kind of harsh, but sometimes that’s what it sounds like because you have people coming from up north who, because they’ve been disassociated from the source, they find themselves associating with one aspect of Black life so that they can regenerate themselves in Blackness. And they choose the wrong thing to do it. They need to do it [with]Black Studies; not the street. Hanging out with street people doesn’t make …

It’s very important for us, if we’re going to be serious, to answer Charles’s question: What is it that makes us not join our professional organizations? And, if it is too hard to answer for NCBS, answer for ASALH. But let’s see what answer we have because that is an African professional organization and Daryl has told you ASALH is not that. But if you need a gateway as Carole said, then come to ASALH.

Lee D. Baker (Duke University): We have five more minutes. Can we hear from someone we haven’t heard from?

Josephine Boyd Bradley (Clark Atlanta University): I think we need to make sure that we support all of the organizations as much as we can. I don’t like to put it in terms of this one and this one; why can’t I participate in all of them? Each brings something different to the table that I need as a person who is professionally looking at what can I do to develop myself.

The other part is that there seems to be a breakdown in communication in organizations. We don’t hear about the conferences until two days before they take place. Come on, people, give me a break. I have to plan a little ahead of time to know when to go; but we don’t hear about them, and for some reason at HBCUs especially. We need to know when a Toni Cade Bambara seminar or conference is going on before one of the students walks in and says, “Oh, you know, we need to be over there.” We live right around the corner from each other but we don’t share in­for­ma­tion as openly as we should. I think when we come to or­ga­ni­za­tions we do the same thing. We don’t share information as easily and as customer friendly as we should.

Edmund T. Gordon (University of Texas, Austin): I appreciate the question you raise, Dr. Jones. I don’t have anything coherent to say. But it seems like the question needs to be addressed. … We’ve got more than thirty affiliates in Africana Studies and I don’t think any of us are associated with the National Council for Black Studies. Why not?

There are a number of issues. One is we don’t have an Afri­ca­na Studies department. What we have is affiliates that are located in departments all over the university. So the first problem is they have other masters to be concerned with. If they are going to get tenured and promoted, then they need to be published in journals, or they need to spend time with certain [predominantly White] professional organizations. So there’s that reality. I would like to have a department of Africana Studies at University of Texas; but that requires a whole bunch of stuff including the [state] legislature. Besides that, if I did have a department of Africana Studies I’m sure we’d have five faculty and that would be it. We wouldn’t have thirty faculty.

Charles E. Jones (Georgia State University): You do have a center. You don’t have to have a department.

Edmund Gordon (University of Texas, Austin): Yes. The other thing is I know personally that I feel like I should be involved in an organization that is beyond the university level. I’m supposed to be involved in the Association of Black Anthropologists. But because of the conflict in time of trying to do your academic work and trying to do the things that are necessary, it’s just very difficult. If I had better ideas of what the National Council of Black Studies was doing that was directly apropos to either my political or academic or both responsibilities, I might be more active in it, which isn’t to blame you; I’m just trying to find the balance.

Charles E. Jones (Georgia State University): We understand there are a lot of professional conflicts. We really only have two African American Studies professional organizations, there is three out there; SCAASI [Southern Conference of African American Studies, Inc.] is one; they’re basically a southern-based organization made up of folks from historically Black colleges; they don’t have a national set of standards; and the other one is on paper only; something called the National African American Studies Association led by Lemuel Barry. It basically does conferences as a way to make money; people go to it. He is also the executive director of the National Association of Native Americans, Latino Americans. He had problems motivating the Asian Americans nationally and so he had to broaden it with an international focus. You can go on his website. So basically we have two. And, any of the other ones like ASALH, and NCOBPS—of which I am a member—the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

All I’m saying is we know professionally there are some places that have departments [that are members] of NCBS that help you get tenure. We have two editors around the table. You got six articles and you can do two articles apiece if they’re good.

Then I say, when in doubt, even if you don’t join, send us $100. If those students around this country had not sacrificed and raised hell on these campuses, we wouldn’t have a job. Du Bois never had a tenure-track job at predominantly White institutions. We got folks starting out at $60-, $70-, $80,000 and they moan about paying $50 to ASALH, $100 to NCBS, and then we are supposed to take them seriously. If we’re not doing something right we need to know what so we can expand. If not, we’re going to continue to spin our wheels.

Claudia Michael-Kernan (UCLA): I think we have to give some consideration to what are on-the-ground realities. The way people participate in professional organizations of any kind has to do with the value added that they perceive those organizations to bring. The ones that you see expand are ones that are perceived to be adding more value.

That to me begs another question, and that is, what is it that the community of African Americanist, Pan-Africanist, and Africana scholars believe these associations can do to bring this value added that would lead them to participate more? I think it might be very useful for the organizations themselves to undertake a discovery of exactly what that would be.

Josephine Boyd Bradley (Clark Atlanta University): I want to add something to the question you asked earlier about what it is we need to be doing. One of the things that I found that I was having arguments about was whether or not the journals published in African American organizations were reputable. One of the things I suggested is pull together all the journals, the types of journals and the fact that these are refereed journals, so that people will feel comfortable publishing in those journals. People look at you strangely when you are not talking about something or a journal that they recognize.

Molefi Kete Asante (Temple University): As the editor of the Journal of Black Studies for thirty-six years, the majority of the people who send manuscripts to the Journal of Black Studies are not from departments of Black Studies: they’re from sociology, psychology, political science, communications, and so on. So the rest of the world has no problem with the credibility of the quality of our journal or the fact that it’s a refereed journal.

Lee D. Baker (Duke University): We’re going to have to sum things up. This has been great. There will be many more opportunities to have these conversations. There were a lot of provocative ideas and issues on the table, and this will be an opportunity to have extended conversations. I’m sure we’ll follow up and continue to have conversations online and in the future.


Question Five Discussion Copyright © 2018 by marilyn m. thomas-houston. All Rights Reserved.

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