Flashback Fridays (Way, Way Back): Ivies Reach Out to Southern Black Students, 1966
Northern Universities and Southern Education
The program organized by Yale, Harvard and Columbia for 120 Negro students this summer is an encouraging first step in using northern universities to upgrade southern education. Officials at the three schools hope to increase the number of Negro students going on to graduate school by supplementing the preparation they receive at southern colleges. Stressing humanities and social sciences, the program will enrich summer school courses with special tutorials; it will expose the Negro students to the complicated process of admission at northern graduate schools, and return them to colleges in the south with more ambitious ideas about undergraduate education.
Dean Ford has very rightly warned, however, that the benefits of the program should not be judged by the “statistical jump” in the number of Negroes going on to graduate school this year, or in the immediate future. The current program will only involve only a handful of students, for barely more than eight weeks. Although the southern Negroes will live with students from many other parts of the country, and meet regularly with men who are going through the academic mill, concrete results will not be visible for some time.
In fact, the most important contribution of the present program may be the example it sets for further action by northern universities, rather than its immediate benefits for southern Negroes. The principle of joint action exemplified by this experiment provides in many cases the most effective means for upgrading southern Negro education. By combining resources northern institutions will broaden the impact of their projects.
This program should encourage further joint efforts by northern schools to improve the quality of undergraduate education available to Negroes, and open the doors of graduate schools. Joel Fleishman, the moving force behind this summer’s program, has suggested that Ivy League schools form a “consortium” with other universities, and work through established white institutions in the South to extend more staff fund to Negro colleges. He hopes that the energy and innovation may “rub off” or “ricochet” from North to South in a “cooperative educational exchange.”
This kind of consortium may eventually prove impracticable as a result of opposition from southern universities. But the principle of collective action is a good one, and this summer’s program should inspire more ambitious projects in the future.
–The Harvard Crimson, Monday, March 23, 1966
Posted by Ajuan Mance