Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Black on Campus Hall of Shame 2007

December 30th, 2007 by Ajuan Mance

On balance, it has been a good year for Black people on America’s college and university campuses. This banner year for Black progress in higher ed owes no thanks, however, to the individuals, organizations, and institutions on the following list. Fellow free to nod in disbelief as you give a Hall Shame salute to these 2007 inductees:

1)Boston University — Singled out because, although the population of the city of Boston is now 25 percent African American, Black people make up only 2.6 percent of the BU student body. These numbers are even more disappointing when considered in light of the fact that although Black applicants to Boston U have increased by 39 percent over the last 10 years (in fact, “between 2004 and 2005, [B]lack applicants increased by 18 percent”), the percentage of Black students enrolled at BU has remained constant. Source: JBHE

2)California Community Colleges — Singled out because, according to a summer 2007 report in The Washington Post, only about 25% of those California community college students seeking a certificate, associate’s degree, or transfer to a four-year school succeed in reaching their goal within six years of enrolling. The Post adds that the success rate is even lower for  Black and Latin American students.

How much lower? Well, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reports that, “for black students seeking a degree at a California community college, only 15 percent earn an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year college or university.” JBHE goes on to explain the importantance of this statistic, adding that, “one of every 14 African Americans who are enrolled in higher education [in the U.S.] today attends a California community college” (emphasis mine), and, “one of every seven black community college students in the United States is enrolled in a state-operated community college in California.”   Sources: Washington Post and JBHE

3)The University of Virginia Cavalier Daily — Singled out because early in the fall 2007 semester, the UVA Cavalier Daily published two racially offensive cartoons created by Virginia senior Grant Woolard. The cartoons were printed only a few days apart and provoked accusations of racism from Black readers on the UVA campus and beyond.

The first cartoon was published on August 31, 2007, and mocked the controversial sexual relationship between UVA founder Thomas Jefferson and his enslaved teenage mistress.


The second cartoon appeared on September 4, and seemed to mock the very real legacy of famine in Ethiopia, depicting loincloth-clad Black people fighting each other with inanimate household objects.

When asked about the choice to print the “Ethiopian Food Fight” cartoon, Cavalier editor-in-chief Herb Ladley responded that, “my initial reaction was, ‘This is offensive.’ But we print a lot of offensive things. The instant the public raised a question about it, we realized it was a mistake.” On September 9th, the managing board of the paper voted to fire cartoonist Woolard. Reflecting on the way that his Ethiopian cartoon was received, Woolard was philosophical, saying, “I will admit that I really lacked the foresight in anticipating the reaction. I should have thought that they were going to think I was portraying Africans as savage and misshapen.”

4)Presidential Candidates Fred Thompson,  Rudy Giuliani,  Mitt Romney, and Sen. John McCain — Singled out because these four candidates snubbed a PBS-sponsored Republican presidential debate, held on the historically Black campus of Morgan State University. Each cited scheduling conflicts, despite being notified of this event well in advance of the official date. Source: Washington Post

5) Fisk University — Singled out because the current financial crisis at this pioneering institution (alma mater of Nikki Giovanni, W.E.B. DuBois, James Weldon Johnson, Judith Jamison, Hazel O’Leary, Johnetta B. Cole, and numerous other African American leaders and innovators) suggests strongly and tragically that too few within its current and recent leadership truly cherish and appreciate the immeasurable value of this historically Black university. Fisk University is also singled out because it’s most recent solution to its persistent financial woes (to attempt to sell off a substantial portion of it’s stake in a valuable art collection donated by the late Georgia O’Keefe) underscores the gulf between the high regard in which Fisk has long been held by many outside of the university (including Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz) and the apparent apathy of that handful of figures within within the institution who have overseen its financial decline. Source:

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in African American Students, Black Colleges, Black Students, Boston University, Community College, Current Events, Fisk University, Georgia O'Keefe, race, racism

2 Responses

  1. MadPoetic

    I am an alumnus of Fisk Univerity and I agree wholeheartedly with you observation. My freshman at Fisk in ’88 was amidst yet another crisis and threats of closing. There were always rumor of mis-management and folks taking money.

  2. dave

    Huh… Your blog is nice in general, but this very post… It is brilliant!!! It can be never better.