Classics, Black Colleges, and Civil Rights (March 23-24, 2015)

Part the Theodore B. Guérard Lecture Series, this year’s colloquium, held in cooperation with the Program of African American Studies,  will bring to campus four distinguished speakers to present their work centering on  the theme of “Classics, Black Colleges, and Civil Rights.”

By 1877, the official end of Reconstruction, twenty-five black colleges and universities had been established, mostly in the South. These institutions were created on the classical New England model, with the teaching of Greek and Latin at their core. Over the next four decades, however, there would be a concerted effort by the white educational establishment, philanthropic organizations, and black conservatives to halt the teaching of Greek and Latin. This colloquium will explore the reasons why the opponents of these institutions felt it dangerous for black students to learn Greek and Latin and the measures they took to eradicate these courses. More broadly, the colloquium will explore the tactics of defiance, resistance (both physical and mental), and dissemblance employed by black teachers, parents, and students to maintain the quality of their curriculum. Indeed, the lessons learned at black colleges and universities were not simply academic. They were life lessons of social uplift and civic empowerment.

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Dr. Kenneth Goings (Ohio State University) specializes in 19th-20th century African American History. His The NAACP Comes of Age and Mammy and Uncle Mose: Black Collectibles and American Stereotyping both won the Gustavus Myer’s Center’s Outstanding Book Award. Title: Creating a “Culture of Dissemblance”: African American Resistance to the Suppression of the Classics at Black College and Universities, Monday, March 23, 4:00PM [Alumni Center, School of Education, Health, and Human Performance]

Dr. Patrice Rankine is the Dean for Arts and Humanities at Hope College. His interests include how modern authors, in particular African-American Literature, employ classical themes. His recent books include Aristotle and Black Drama: A Theater of Disobedience. Title: “Performing Classics: The Black Body,” Monday, March 23, 5:30PM [Alumni Center, School of Education, Health, and Human Performance]

Dr. Eugene O’Connor is a managing and acquiring editor at The Ohio State University Press. His interests include Greek and Roman elegy and the reception of classics. He and Dr. Goings are at work on a book on African Americans and the classics from the 1870s to 1940s. Title: “Tell Them We are Rising”: The Formative and Subversive Role of the Classics at Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Tuesday, March 24, 4:00PM [Alumni Center, School of Education, Health, and Human Performance]

Dr. Michele Valerie Ronnick (Wayne State University), an award winning educator, is one of the leading biographers for 19th century African-American educators. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on the subject, including “Virgil in the Black American Experience.” Title: “Black Carolinians and Classical Education- A Look at the Lives of Five Native Sons:       Daniel Payne (1811-1893), Francis Cardozo (1837-1903), Cornelius Scott (1855-1922), William Bulkley (1861-1933) and Kelly Miller (1863-1939),” Tuesday, March 24, 5:30PM [Alumni Center, School of Education, Health, and Human Performance]


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