Although question nine falls short of its intended meaning, the panelists looked beyond a literal interpretation and focused on issues related to mentoring, training, and inspiring future leaders for the field. As in any culture, nation, organization, or institution, leadership succession in Black Studies is key to its continued value and survival. Succession of leadership requires intergenerational contact, communication, and coalition. Understanding between generations is the result of dialogue and knowledge. According to Southern Illinois University’s Continuance magazine, the essence of intergenerational leadership is learning—learning about other generations, their needs and issues, and their willingness to be agents of change. This is not a unidirectional process, but rather a two-way course of action where different generations learn about each other. The building blocks of intergenerational leadership are exemplified as younger and older generations combine their talents, goals, creativity, and energy.
In order to achieve the type of pedagogy advocated herein, educators must reject the fixity and “hideboundness” of present pedagogical approaches that transform us into custodians of sameness. … We must begin to resituate our work, our projects, and our missions at the junction that signifies “change, motion, transience, process … motion and meaning yet to be deciphered”. The prophetic practices contained in the rich legacy of the African American tradition can serve as our guide.
The ninth panel consist of papers from Rhett Jones, Daryl Michael Scott, Austin Jackson, and Manning Marable as panel facilitator. (The position paper by Rhett Jones is included although he was unable to attend the convening due to illness.) As with most of the other panels, funding was an overarching theme. Three points mark the central elements of this panel’s discussion: the need for communication and collaboration across institutional borders, acknowledging and documenting the past as a resource for the future, and mentorship that includes the multiple layers of an academic career (scholarship/research, teaching, and service). Scott emphasized that intergenerational leadership development is key in the primary areas significant for all fields—intellectual, teaching, and service. He focused his contribution to the discussion on intergenerational leadership in service by pinpointing problems in the operation of departments/programs, professional organizations, and journals and presses. In lieu of the volunteer nature of service, Scott emphasized that problems ensue when student and faculty volunteerism blur the lines between staff and volunteer and encroach on one’s ability to successfully carry out other obligations to the field.
Jackson provided insight into graduate students’ points of view. He suggested there is a need to bridge the gap between the original social responsibility initiative and the contemporary lived experiences of today’s generation. The important aspect of relevancy is the reconnection to the “real material circumstances confronting Black people today.” He argued that a contemporary application of relevancy includes both theoretical and programmatic training and mentoring devoted to administering and establishing Black Studies programs and departments, which will in turn provide employment opportunities for new PhDs in the field. He went on to point out that an assumption appears to exist among the early groundbreakers in the field that social justice is a given, but from his view it is not a value instilled in his generation. The panel acknowledged that practice is key both inside and outside of the academy for obtaining the goal of intergenerational leadership succession.
Members of the professional organizations emphasized the need for more interaction and communication with graduate students. They suggested more mentoring is needed in student participation in conferences and annual meetings, understanding the value of sustaining through membership the professional organizations, and producing articles for publication. And, in her summary of the discussions of the convening, Irma McClaurin invited the panel to think out of the box of historical philanthropic endeavors find ways to continue and even inclusive conversation beyond the parameters of the Ford convening.
- Southern Illinois University, “Intergenerational Leadership: The Sleeping Giant for Education,” Continuance Magazine, Fall 2005/Winter 2006. ↵
- Baker, 1984, p. 202, as cited in Peter L. McLaren and Michael Dantley, “Leadership and a Critical Pedagogy of Race: Cornel West, Stuart Hall, and the Prophetic Tradition,” Journal of Negro Education 59, no. 1 (1990). ↵