Race Relations on Campus

Race Relations on Campus (1992)

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Themes: Education and Families |

Guests: John Telford, Darryl Dawsey, Byron Williams, Tomeka Mingo
Host : Cliff Russell
Producer : Carlota Almanza


Summary: In this program from mid-1992, host Cliff Russell leads a panel discussion, with a studio audience, about the problems that black students face in dealing with racism on college campuses and in high schools. The discussion was an outgrowth of a similar forum conducted a few weeks earlier in the wake of the verdict in the Rodney King beating case and the subsequent rioting in Los Angeles.

This program begins with a video clip from the earlier Rodney King forum in which several adults had mentioned the needs of young blacks. Russell then introduces the panelists, who include: Darrell Dawsey, who had been the main spokesman for black students who staged an 11-day sit-in at Wayne State University in 1989; Byron Williams, founder of the Michigan African Student Coalition and a student at Olivet College; Tamica Mingo, president of the NAACP's Detroit Youth Council and a student at Detroit's Martin Luther King High School; and Dr. John Telford, a white former school administrator.

Dawsey says Wayne State has not followed through on the commitments it made to the demonstrators in 1989 to increase scholarship support and to create courses that the students had demanded. The university, he says, remains "openly hostile to the concept of a majority black student body."
Williams says that at Olivet, where black students had boycotted campus for the last three weeks of the spring semester, black student concerns had not been addressed. Telford states black students felt marginalized and intimidated.

Telford believes many college and school administrators simply do not understand the nature of institutional racism. "I think that there are many educational leaders who very honestly don't recognize the gravity of the problem and the depth of the responsibility they have to turn the problem around," he says. "Because, if it doesn't get turned around in the educational environment, the country is going to go under."

The program includes a short field report from Dianna Craig, who presents a series of brief comments from black students about the situations they encounter on campus. Questions and comments are added by members of the studio audience and by callers from the viewing audience.

This program offers an interesting snapshot of the attitudes and concerns of black students in the early 1990s. It is worth noting Dawsey's pivotal role in the WSU sit-in of 1989, the largest and longest of several black student protests that rocked college campuses in Michigan and around the nation that spring. Dawsey later became a reporter for the Detroit News.