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    Negative Qualities Ascribed to Blacks at Root of Discrimination by White Greek-Letter Groups PDF Print E-mail
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    by Lekan Oguntoyinbo 
    Diverse Issues in Higher Education


    The University of Alabama’s Greek system, which dates back to the late 1840s, is one of the largest and oldest in the country. With its lengthy track record of dominating student government, which for nearly 100 years has served as a training ground for many of the state’s leading politicians, the system has one of the highest profiles in the country.

    The overwhelmingly White system is also one of the most controversial for famously refusing to accept Black members. The system’s determination to exclude Blacks has been a source of controversy for decades and has been the subject of stories in several prominent national news outlets, including Esquire magazine and NPR and a major embarrassment to a university with a turbulent racial history.

    The system may soon put that dubious history behind it. Prodded by University of Alabama President Judy Bonner, some White sororities offered bids to several Black students last month. The developments came following a story in the university’s campus newspaper that alumni and advisors of some White sororities had pressured the chapters to deny bids to Black members. The revelation was another black eye to the university, which is commemorating the 50th anniversary of its integration this year, and which has struggled to live down its reputation as a racist institution. A student and faculty march on campus that attracted attention from the national media further fanning demands for change.

    But many observers and experts on Greek life point out that stories of racial exclusion among White Greek-letter organizations are not just an Alabama phenomenon. They note that Black fraternities and sororities are actually more likely to accept people of other races.

    “First you have to consider that many White fraternities and sororities had Whites-only clauses until the ’70s, so you’re seeing the legacy of that historical racism,” says Dr. Matthew Hughey, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and a member of the university’s Institute for African-American Studies. “Alabama has been called out for years for this semi-secret group [of fraternities and sororities] called the Machine. But this happens all over the United States. It’s easy to call out flagship schools in the South. But they function in the same way all over the country.”

    He points out that a fraternity and sorority at Dartmouth recently got in trouble for holding a Crips and Bloods-themed party over the summer. According to published reports, racially insensitive language was used at the party.

    Adds Gregory Parks, an assistant professor of law at Wake Forest University, who closely follows issues of legality regarding Greek-letter organizations: “Most people have automatic subconscious anti-Black biases, and they play out in various forms of behavior. The story doesn’t surprise me. I’m sure if you ask these alumni, they will say they have no ill will, but that doesn’t mean they don’t ascribe negative qualities to African-Americans.”

    Hughey says that, in many instances, the exclusion of students of color from these powerful White Greek organizations effectively denies them access to resources and networks that could be helpful to them in college and beyond.

    Ron Binder, associate dean of students at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and co-chair of the Fraternity and Sorority Knowledge Community for the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators, says he’s noticed a trend of more racial, ethnic and religious diversity among White Greek fraternities and sororities — as well as a trend in the emergence of more Greek letter groups that cater to Asians, Hispanics, American Indians and Christians.

    “We see a lot of diversity in terms of religion and sexual orientation,” adds Binder, a 30-year student affairs veteran whose resume includes stints as Greek adviser at the University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Georgia.

    But, he adds, “one group where we’re lagging behind, in my opinion, is African-Americans.”

    That opinion comes as no surprise to Hughey at the University of Connecticut.

    “African-Americans are still seen as the ultimate type of other in this country,” says Hughey, adding that many Whites still view Blacks as dangerous, dysfunctional and not good enough. Many White fraternities and sororities simply do no form of outreach to this population, says Hughey, a White man who pledged Phi Beta Sigma in college. “Campuses themselves are very segregated entities. The color line is quite stark.”

    If anything, Black fraternities and sororities are more likely to accept people of other races. Alpha Phi Alpha initiated its first White member in the 1940s, at the University of Chicago, according to Walter Kimbrough, author of Black Greek 101 and president of Dillard University in New Orleans. At the University of Alabama, Zeta Phi Beta, a Black sorority, initiated a White member in 1986. The following year, Phi Beta Sigma initiated a White member. A White sorority didn’t initiate its first and only Black member until 2003.

    “Historically African-Americans, despite our history, have been some of the most welcoming people in the country,” he says. “We’ve always been more diverse and inclusive than other groups. [In the fraternities and sororities], there were never were any rules that prohibited non-Blacks from joining.”


     
    Joyce Roché to Speak at Park Place Outreach – Youth Emergency Shelter October 28 PDF Print E-mail
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    12218919-joyce-rochJoyce Roché, retired CEO of Girls, Inc., will discuss and sign copies of her new book, The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success, on Monday, October 28 from 1-2 p.m. at Park Place Outreach – Youth Emergency Shelter, 514 E. Henry St. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited; please call Park Place Outreach at 912-234-4048 to reserve a spot.

    During her presentation on the topic “Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success,” Roché will discuss impostor syndrome, a feeling of being a fraud and not deserving ones success. She will examine how imposter syndrome impacted her own life and the lives of many other successful people whose stories are documented in the book and provide techniques for quieting the voice of self-doubt.

    Roché, who serves as secretary of the Park Place Outreach Board of Directors, retired as CEO of Girls, Inc., a 145-year-old nonprofit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold. She previously served as COO and president of Carson Products Company, now part of L’Oreal, and was the first female African-American vice president of Avon Products, where she oversaw global marketing.

    Roche was recently featured in USA Today and the Huffington Post, and she appeared on a segment on Today New York.

    In The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success(Berrett-Koehler, 2013), written with Alexander Kopelman, Roché shares her own lifelong struggle with impostor syndrome. She uses her own experiences and those of other high-achieving leaders who have suffered from impostor syndrome to offer advice and coping strategies.

    Each chapter of Roché’s book includes first-person accounts by well-known leaders, including BET Network Chairman Debra Lee and former General Motors Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, who have struggled with impostor syndrome. Throughout the book, readers learn the difference between insecurity and impostor syndrome, common behavioral symptoms of impostor syndrome and strategies for overcoming it. Roché also examines the reasons why women, young professionals, the economically disadvantaged and minorities are especially susceptible to impostor syndrome.

    To learn more about impostor syndrome and to take a quiz to find out whether you suffer from it, visit www.empresshasnoclothes.com

    Click here to read more.


     
    USA Today: HBCUs talk affordability and completion at annual summit PDF Print E-mail
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    Dr. Kimbrough is quoted in this article in USA Today:

    Walter Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University and well-known "hip hop president," spoke on the importance of using social media as a valuable tool for recruitment and to leverage relationships between students and college administrators and faculty.

    Click here to read the full article on USA Today's website.


     
    United Methodist HBCUs Working to Recruit Minorities in STEM PDF Print E-mail
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    psbDillard University in New Orleans has been ranked by the National Science Center for Engineering as the #50 producer of black STEM doctorates amongst all universities in the nation, #21 HBCU producer of black STEM doctorates and #2 in producing the most African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees in physics, according to the American Institute of Physics.

    Click here for more.


     
    Dillard speaker helped make history at Martin Luther King Jr.’s side PDF Print E-mail
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    By Katy Reckdahl
    Special to the Advocate
    September 24, 2013


    Clarence B. Jones, who will speak Tuesday night at Dillard University as part of its annual “Brain Food” lecture series, is a well-known scholar and lawyer. He was the first African-American to become a partner in a Wall Street investment-banking firm.

    But what Jones, 82, is likely to be best remembered for is six paragraphs he wrote 50 years ago.

    Those paragraphs began the celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington in August 1963.

    At the time, Jones was King’s personal attorney and one of his closest advisers. Speechwriting was just one of his duties, he said in a recent phone interview. Because of the importance of the march and his address to it, King had invited several key labor and civil-rights advocates to give him input on the speech.

    During those meetings, Jones was the appointed note-taker and synthesizer. Afterward, he incorporated everyone’s suggestions, wrote a draft of the speech in longhand on yellow legal paper, and gave it to King. He expected his friend to change the text significantly, as he recounted in his 2011 book “Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation,” which he wrote with Stuart Connelly.

    But the next day, as he listened to King deliver the speech to a crowd of more than 250,000 in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the words were very familiar. “A pleasant shock came over me as I realized that he seemed to be essentially reciting those suggested opening paragraphs I had scrawled down the night before in my hotel room,” Jones wrote.

    In fact, it was exactly Jones’ words. “He hadn’t changed a sentence or even a comma,” Jones said last week, in a strong voice that makes him sound like a man half his age.

    Then, in what is now a well-known part of history, King’s good friend, New Orleans-born gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, yelled out, “Martin — tell them about the dream.” Jones saw King shift the prepared notes aside, grab the lectern and deliver the rest of the famous speech extemporaneously.

    “The effect was nothing short of soul-stirring,” Jones wrote.

    Jones, whose specialty was intellectual property, also penned a small copyright symbol on the copies of King’s speech given to reporters before the speech.

    The handwritten symbol, he said, became a key part of legal opinions that have kept the speech out of the public domain; its proceeds have provided King’s estate with a consistent source of income.

    Jones relied upon his personal experience for the speech’s fourth and fifth paragraphs, which compare America’s promise with a defaulted promissory note.

    Instead of fulfilling its promise, Jones wrote — and King read — “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’”

    They’re now famous words. But they were written about a moment when Jones thought he himself might default on a debt he couldn’t repay.

     
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