Recently in February 2010 Category

A Message from Scott

Thumbnail image for Picture1.gifIdeas, action, and people these are the heart of the Department of African American & African Studies. We are a department full of energy and believe with our alumni and community support we can meet the challenges of an ever changing world, which is why the Department of African American & African Studies is one of the nation's most proactive ethnic studies department.

In the forty years since the department began offering students opportunities to explore American cultural diversity and the wide diversity of the African continent, we have designed a unique culture built on internal and external collaborations, experiential learning, global perspectives and intellectual depth. Whether you are an alumni or friend you know the department pushes learning beyond the classroom.

In this edition of The Village you'll discover Minnesota's first African American Museum and Cultural Center, learn about Professor Brewer's course on public policy, gain first hand experience of the famous Morrill Hall takeover, and end with important upcoming events happening in the Twin Cities. Throughout the coming year, I hope you will connect with your alma mater in whatever way works best for you. Whether you volunteer as a alumni speaker at one of our partner high schools, join our Community Advisory Council, or donate funds, I hope you will reengage with the Department of African American & African Studies.

We have big plans for 2010, please jump in and help us realize them. I look forward to hearing from you!

Breaking Ground

Coe_House_Minneapolis1-300x206.jpgLead by Roxanne Givens Minnesota will have it's first African American Museum and Cultural Center. The museum will be housed in the former historic Coe Mansion and Carriage House, located at the southwest corner of 17th and 3rd Avenue South, in Minneapolis. The museum will open its' doors December 2010. With a goal to preserve and present interactively the dynamic history, unique culture, as well as the many contributions of Minnesota's pionering African Americans.

The Department of African American & African Studies is excited about this new opportunity to preserve the rich African American culture that has influenced Minnesota for more than 200 years. The success of the museum is of great interest to the Department, according to Community Advisory Council member Willie Braziel, "the museum will help shape Minnesota's African American history long into the future, giving future Minnesotans a lense to observe our accomplishments and every day life."

Rest assure early conversations between the Department and the African American Museum are underway to ensure this State need.

Course Spotlight

Afro 4231 The Color of Public Policy: African Americans, American Indians, and Chicanos in the United States

Picture2.gifThis course is designed to familiarize students with the history of U.S. public policy development and social relations across racial-ethnic-nation cultures. Professor Rose Brewer focus will be on the United States, but recent developments from the global context will be incorporated for comparative purposes. In this courseProfessor Brewer will examine the structural and institutional conditions through which people of color have been systematically marginalized, and how diverse populations have fought for and won or lost policy change. The course will help students better understand and interpret the "dominant paradigm" in which public policy has been set. Professor Brewer will examine how and why this paradigm has shifted over time, and what the current prospects are for policy transformation in the domestic and global arenas.

Morrill Hall takeover remembered by alumni

The following is an excerpt from the Minnesoata Daily by Mackenzie Collins.

On Jan. 14, 1969, a group of 70 students took over the offices of University of Minnesota administrators in Morrill Hall and refused to leave until a list of seven demands calling for black culture's recognition and recruitment on campus were met.

Though not all of their demands were met, their stand has made a lasting impact on the number of scholarships, programs and the amount of representation students of color now experience on campus.

By the mid-20th century, the University had a small minority representation and little racial tolerance. A 1948 survey from the Office of the Dean of Students showed that 27 student groups had restrictive clauses prohibiting black students.

On the 1969 University campus of more than 40,000 students, only 87 students were black.

Rose Massey Freeman, past president of the later-established Afro-American Action Committee (AAAC), the current equivalent of the Black Student Union, came to the University from the South in the late 1960s.

"I realized that the North wasn't all that it was cracked up to be; it wasn't the promised land," Freeman said about her first years at the University. "When you encountered racism, it wasn't overt, but you knew [it was there]," Freeman said.

While Black History Month seeks to preserve black history and the culture's struggle for freedom across the United States, the University's storied history becomes evident.

With the civil rights movement and the group of University students who decided to take a stand, several things changed.

While the University's cultural history is not restricted to the active members of the Black Power Movement, the Department of African American and African Studies would not exist at the University without them.

These are three stories from black students in Morrill Hall that January day and how their stand in 1969 shaped their futures.

Rose Massey Freeman -- B.A. 1970

Rose Massey Freeman graduated from the University as one of the first two students ever from the Department of African American and African Studies. Freeman served as AAAC president during the Morrill Hall takeover, when Freeman said the group presented the list of demands to the administration and University President Malcolm Moos.

"There was a hostile group outside yelling the 'N' word," said Freeman, recalling the Morrill Hall takeover. "It wasn't surprising it was happening, but I think it was surprising the amount of positive support we also got from other students."

Police later arrested Freeman, Horace Huntley and another member of the AAAC. They were charged with unlawful assembly, inciting a riot and destruction of property, though they were later acquitted of the most serious charges.

After a night of occupying Morrill Hall and communicating with administration officials and community members, administrators agreed to speed up the process of creating an African American studies department, to fund a February black student conference and include an AAAC presence on the Martin Luther King Scholarship Committee, according to the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.

Horace Huntley -- B.A. 1970

Horace Huntley was the other student to graduate with an African American and African studies degree in 1970. As vice president of the AAAC, Huntley headed the occupation of Morrill Hall with Freeman and negotiated with the University's administration for an entire night.

Huntley and the AAAC worked to bring black culture and racial problems to the forefront at the University by organizing events and bringing prominent black speakers to campus, like Muhammad Ali, whom Huntley, Freeman and other group members spent the day with.

"He just had a very magnetic personality," Huntley said. "He was really a hero for younger folk at that time ... by determining that he would stand on principle to not fight as the heavyweight champion of the world."

Huntley continued on with his education to earn his doctorate degree and is a professor of history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

John S. Wright, Ph.D. -- B.A. 1967, M.A. 1971

John Wright was on campus as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University from 1963 to 1973. He was a member of Students for Racial Progress, a student group connected to sit-ins and Freedom Rides in the South in the 1960s.

Wright was also the only graduate student member of the AAAC and was one of the key members who took place in the Morrill Hall takeover. Wright drafted the original seven demands.

"We were routinely subjected to police harassment, stopped by patrol cars, taken down to city hall and police headquarters on false warrants," Wright said.

University police handled most of the protests during the civil rights and Vietnam War unrest era, Wright said. There was a great deal of question at the time as to which police department, UMPD or Minneapolis police, should handle some of the demonstrations.

"We were also under government surveillance because the FBI and CIA during those years had whole units devoted to putting civil rights and Black Power and black student organizations under scrutiny," Wright said.

Quote of the Month

"For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place."

Maya Angelou

Upcoming Events

"What We Call Slang": Shattering the Myths of African American English

Date: February 11, 2010

Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Location: Black Student Union Coffman

Cost: Free

Sponsored by the Univeristy of Minnesota Black Student Union

Unbought and Unbossed: Remembering Shirley Chisholm

Date: February 11, 2010

Time: 7:00pm

Location:Bush Student Center, HUB Hamline University

Cost: Free

Contact: (651)523-2423

Before Jesse, before Al, before Barack, there was Shirley Chisholm. Chisholm was the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress (in 1969) and the first African American to seek a major party's presidential nomination, an effort recounted in the documentary, Unbought & Unbossed. Come and learn about a true trailblazer!

Unsettling Truths: Reflections on the Black Arts Movement

Date: February 11, 2010

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Sundin Music Hall, Hamline University

Cost: Free

Contact: (651)523-2423

An exploration/performance of a forgotten movement that continues to impact today's cultural, political, and social landscape of Black America. Tributes to Fannie Lou Hamer, Amiri Baraka, Sonya Sanchez, Malcolm X, and others. Performances by Hamline students & local actress Trena Bolden Fields.

They'll Say We're in Love Concert

Date: February 13, 2010

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Capri Theater

Cost: $25.00

The concert stars T. Mychael Rambo, Regina Williams, and Thomasina Petrus. Tickets can be ordered online at, or by calling OvationTix at 866-811-4111.

Hip Hop Extravaganza

Date: February 14, 2010

Time: 2:00pm-4:00pm

Location: Rondo Community Outreach Library

Cost: Free

Hosted by Tish Jones, with performances by Unicus Harry of Kanser, Niles Miller, Alissa Paris, Aneka McMullen, MC Isreal Coleman, Brittany Delany and B-Boy Showcase.

The Future of Black Youth: A Panel Discussion

Date: February 16, 2010

Time: 6:30pm

Location: Bush Student Center Lobby Hamline University

Cost: Free

Community leaders gather to discuss educational, employment, cultural, and social issues and opportunities facing Black youth in Minnesota.

Full of hope that the Present has Brought Us

Date: February 21, 2010

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Location: Ted Mann Concert Hall, West Bank of the U of MN

Cost: Free; no tickets required

For more information please go to

Sponsored the U of MN Office for Equity and Diversity and the School of Music.

When the University of Minnesota's Martin Luther King Concert began nearly 30 years ago, it was the only tribute of its kind in Minnesota. The late Reginald Buckner, professor in the School of Music and an accomplished performer, composer, and educator, founded the concert and began the tradition of celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr. King through the performing arts. Professor Buckner's death in 1989 left us without his personal dedication and artistic genius, but in his memory, the University carries on the inspiring legacy of this annual celebration.