Connect with us

Commentary

COMMENTARY: Let’s stand up for Black excellence at the U of M

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Currently, the University of Minnesota is in the process of changing the names of four buildings named after presidents and vice presidents who have been shown to have racially discriminated against students and faculty during their tenures in the 1930s and early ’40s.

Published

on

By Ken Foxworth

Sometimes we wait for other people who we think are smarter than us to stand up for the truth and fight on our behalf. We think that we don’t have the strong, intelligent voice the others have, so we go silent. But, sometimes they have other agendas.

Currently, the University of Minnesota is in the process of changing the names of four buildings named after presidents and vice presidents who have been shown to have racially discriminated against students and faculty during their tenures in the 1930s and early ’40s.

These buildings are Coffman Memorial Union, Coffey Hall, Middlebrook Hall and Nicholson Hall.

On October 4, 2018 U of M President Eric Kaler and Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson charged members of a task force to “recommend actions regarding the specific buildings…and to utilize tools to gather community feedback on the buildings in question.”

The advisory recommendations of the task force will be considered by President Kaler and Provost Hanson, following which President Kaler will present recommendations to the Board of Regents on the four buildings in question. The president has made a presentation to the Regents on the renaming but has not identified any specific individuals whose names would be considered for this honor.

I visited the president’s office and asked the senior secretary if any African American names had been presented to the president; she told me none at that time.

I was stunned and shocked that the African American faculty had not at least recommended for that honor three iconic African American former students, faculty and administrators who gave their lives to the University of Minnesota campus and showed minority communities that they were welcome there.

These three administrators changed the way the University of Minnesota invited businesses, corporations, students and faculty to the University, a method of practice the University is still using today. I refer to Dr. Josie Robinson Johnson, Dr. Frank Wilderson, and Dr. McKinley Boston, Jr. Limited space here does not allow a full description of their extensive contributions to the U of M, but briefly:

Dr. Johnson served on the University’s Board of Regents between 1971 and 1973. She accepted the University’s offer of a senior fellowship in 1987 and directed its All-University Forum as diversity director from 1990 to 1992. That year, she became responsible for minority affairs and diversity at the college as the associate vice president for academic affairs. The U of M has established the annual Josie Robinson Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award in her honor.

Dr. Wilderson came to the U of M in 1962 as an assistant professor in the educational psychology department, then moved up to a full professorship. He was selected by students to help them negotiate and end their 1969 takeover of Morrill Hall.

He secured the Dr. Martin Luther King Scholarship around 1975 with funds coming from private donations, and he started the University of Minnesota Student Legal Services to help students with legal issues. The U of M president recruited him to run both the men’s and women’s athletic departments, and he was part of a six-person committee that went to Washington, D.C. to entice the Kennedys into bringing the Special Olympics to Minneapolis.

Dr. McKinley Boston, Jr. completed his undergraduate degree in education at the University of Minnesota in 1968, earned his master’s of science degree from Montclair State College in 1973, and completed his Ph.D. at New York University in 1988.

He was employed by the University as vice president for student development and athletics, serving as the chief student affairs officer for those services and programs that support and enhance student’s academic experiences and contribute to their healthy personal and social development. During his tenure at the U of M, Dr. Boston generated through sponsorship and fundraising over $75 million in support of student life and intercollegiate athletics.

He is published and active in a number of social justice strategies aimed at supporting noncustodial fathers and their desire to be partners in rearing their children.

This is just a sample of the many positive contributions these three remarkable human beings have made as members of this great institution. We have to stand up and SHOUT to this community that Dr. Johnson, Dr. Wilderson and Dr. Boston all deserve to have their names on campus buildings in recognition of their outstanding service.

[Editors’ update: On Friday, April 26, the U of M Board of Regents voted 14-1 against renaming any of the campus buildings.]

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of July 10 – 16, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of July 10 – 16, 2024

Published

on

To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Opinion: A Strange Tale of Two Political Fights: Sheng Thao and Donald Trump

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao must be wondering how can a convicted felon with 34 guilty verdicts be riding high, while she, an uncharged elected official, fights for her political life? That’s how strange politics is in America today.

Published

on

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

By Emil Guillermo

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao must be wondering how can a convicted felon with 34 guilty verdicts be riding high, while she, an uncharged elected official, fights for her political life?

That’s how strange politics is in America today.

On the national stage, President Joe Biden made an historic ask of Americans this week. It’s summer, and everyone is a “low information” voter now. But for the sake of the country, and the future of democracy, it’s time to pay attention. Get nerdy now.

Biden is essentially tied with Trump, a newly convicted felon, which tells you how cockeyed political values are in America.

Instead of policy, Trump is all bluster talking about a pre-debate drug test because he’s sure Biden is going to be “jacked up” on some kind of performance enhancing drug.

That kind of thing gets attention. Not whether you’re going to things to improve people’s lives.

But rest assured, if Donald Trump is elected for a second time, the blueprint is already out. The Heritage Foundation’s plan calls for a “Department of Life,” and a theocratic-based world view where abortion is illegal, and minorities of all stripes are disempowered.

A vote for Trump represents a radical reformatting of democracy.

POLITICS IN OAKLAND

In the meantime, local Oakland politics is slightly different, but no less confounding.

Sheng Thao, 18 months into her tenure as the first Hmong American to be mayor of a major U.S. city, is recovering from the worst week in her life.

First, a group of Oakland citizens qualified enough signatures to hold a recall election of Thao. Then, on Wednesday, 15 people were shot at an unauthorized Juneteenth celebration in the city’s Lake Merritt area. The topper came Thursday, when the FBI executed a pre-dawn raid of a number of houses including Thao’s, all connected to a case reportedly involving improper campaign donations from Andy Duong, a Vietnamese American businessman whose company, CalWaste, won the contract to run the city’s recycling program. No arrests were made, just boxes and computers hauled from the various homes. Not a good look.

 

THAO: “I AM INNOCENT”

For five days, Thao was silent, but on Monday, she came out firing her best shot.

“I have done nothing wrong,” Thao said at a news conference. “I can tell you with confidence that this investigation is not about me. I have not been charged with a crime and I am confident that I will not be charged because I am innocent.”

Thao said she was seeking answers from the U.S. attorney as to why she wasn’t “offered the opportunity to cooperate voluntarily.”

Good question. Unless they thought she was hiding something.

Thao addressed the shootings last week first with care, then said she won’t be distracted from the real issues of Oakland. Like safety or the selling of the Oakland Coliseum to a Black-owned group.

But she went back to questioning the timing of last week.

“I want to know more about the handful of billionaires from San Francisco and Piedmont who are hell bent on running me out of office,” she said, questioning how the recall announcement and the raid seemed orchestrated with the media “to fan the flames and bend the facts to shape a narrative.”

Trump, the convicted felon, overcomes reality and is propelled by “friends” who see him as a winner. Thao was voted in through RCV, rank-choice-voting. She was the most people’s No. 2, not No. 1.

Maybe that’s why few allies are standing up behind her now. The Oakland NAACP, and even one Asian group is calling for her to resign.

For Thao, this will be the test if her story can overcome it all, again.

About the Author

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. See him at www.amok.com

Continue Reading

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of July 3 – 9, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of July 3 – 9, 2024

Published

on

To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending

Copyright ©2021 Post News Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.