Thursday, December 5, 2013

Notes from the Master Teacher of Black Studies: Dr. Nathan Hare, sociologist, clinical psychologist

Knowing how much a little learning can be a dangerous thing, I hasten to add that there had been no promise of demography to Edwards on my part – indeed, it was years before I figured that part out. As a matter of fact, one day Prof. Edwards happened to come by the University of Chicago Population Center, where I was a graduate student research assistant for Prof. Duncan in 1960. Prof. Edwards was in the company of a former Howard professor who had moved on to teach at the University of Chicago in the Political Science. Dudley’s wife, my immediate supervisor, came upstairs with them and introduced them to me. It was I who naively informed them that I was going to teach at Howard when I finished my studied for the Ph.D. They said, “well, when you finish let us know.” That evening I wrote my mother that I was going to be teaching at Howard, which was a big thing then, without considering they’d have to have an opening, as I had no doubt they would hire me if they did. Actually, I had turned down a chance to be the first and only fulltime Negro on the teaching faculty of Colorado State at Fort Collins, though my duties would expectedly include research in collective behavior, the field in which I had taken my special field exam. Howard was offering 40 per cent less,, but the head guy from Colorado (they had come to Chicago to interview me etc.) called over and over saying you’re making a mistake, talk to your family and friends, why don’t you name a salary. I had a plan and went to Howard expressly to make Howard students more concerned and aware of the black condition, and other black college students would emulate them and they would be the leading Negroes if not the Negro leaders and have an impact on the entire race. Such was the naïve hopes of a young black man living isolated in the cemetery of  whiteness as a graduate student making the decision to go to Howard against everybody’s advice accusing me of holding back racial progress by not taking the opportunity to integrate Colorado State. One night it broke up a party of friends and acquaintances who had gathered to say goodbye, and it ended my friendship with two individuals to this day.

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