Black Colleges

Black Colleges (1991)
Duration: 00:28:20

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Themes: Education and Families |

Guests: Alvin O. Jr. Chambliss, Dr. Marjorie Harris, Dr. Anthony Ingram, Ed Vaughn
Host : Greg Mathis
Producer : Tony Mottley

Summary: This program from the first months of 1991 is interesting, both for the subject matter and for some of the personalities involved in the show.

It was aired shortly after the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Ayres v. Mabus, which considered the obligations of states to support historically black colleges and universities as part of a remedy to past segregation. The program uses the pending court case as a springboard to discuss the role of black colleges and universities and the relative quality of education that African American students receive at those schools.

Greg Mathis is the show's guest host. Three years later, Mathis was elected a judge of Detroit's 36th District Court, a post he held for five years before launching his nationally syndicated television show, Judge Mathis.

The in-studio panel includes: Dr. Marjorie Harris, president of Lewis College of Business, Michigan's oldest black college; Dr. Anthony Ingram, an adjunct professor at Wayne State University's Africana Studies Department; and Ed Vaughn, identified then as a teacher at William Robinson Elementary School in Detroit.

Vaughn, however, had long been an important political and community figure. He had been executive assistant to Detroit's first black mayor, Coleman Young, for nine years, and later ran unsuccessfully for mayor himself, against Young's successor Dennis Archer. He also served as a state legislator and opened a bookstore in 1959 that was an important intellectual hub for the city's African American community during the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s.

Also participating, by telephone, is Alvin O. Chambliss, Jr., a Mississippi attorney who had argued the Ayres case before the Supreme Court.

The panel discusses the origins of the historically black colleges and universities in the segregated American society of the decades immediately following the Civil War. Although the state of Mississippi was arguing in the court case that it had ended segregation and should not have to continue supporting the black colleges, the panelists argue that the schools are still needed because black students are not well served by white institutions.

"The brightest of all black students today are opting to choose schools such as Hampton, such as Fisk, such as Spellman and such as Clark to experience the black experience without dealing with the issues of racism and without being questioned in terms of their native abilities," Ingram says. "A paradox impacting black colleges is that although the majority of black students attend white colleges in the United States, black colleges graduate more black students."

Harris adds, "It troubles me when people ask, is there a need for black colleges. No one questions if there's a need for Catholic colleges. No one questions if there's a need for Jewish colleges. Why do we question if there's a need"

The program also includes a short film clip from a Black College Fair at Robinson Elementary School, and a number of questions called in by viewers. It offers a valuable discussion of black colleges and an interesting look at both Vaughn and Mathis.

Related Production Materials held at MSU Libraries, Special Collections:
Box 4, File 19, Black Colleges – Will They Survive? – November 18, 1991 – Show # 2304