New York Amsterdam News
A resolution to the situation at
Medgar Evers College
Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Kevin Powell, Danny Simmons, Cornel West and others respond
Published: Thursday, February 24, 2011 12:05 AM EST
As writers and educators who have participated in literary programs at Medgar Evers College, we have viewed from afar its situation with deep concern. Medgar Evers College has long been known for its tradition and legacy of providing an educational and cultural haven for the preservation, study and celebration of the heritage, arts and traditions of Black people throughout our country and the world. Those who find it necessary to advocate on behalf of preserving this legacy and mission have the right to do so. The practice of active engagement in a cause based on one’s principles is to be celebrated, not denigrated. This practice of activism forms the bedrock of our institutions of higher education.
Professor Ragland’s insinuation in the Amsterdam News that this struggle to maintain the mission and integrity of Medgar Evers College is all about Dr. Greene’s teaching schedule is bizarre to say the least. Dr. Greene’s work as the founder of the Center for Black Literature, as the director of the National Black Writers Conference and as an educator who has demonstrated her professional commitment to Medgar Evers College and the community throughout her career is well documented. The critical issues of leadership that have been cited by many involved in the struggle to preserve Medgar Evers College’s mission are broad and demand attention
There must be a resolution to this situation. Medgar Wiley Evers died advocating for the civil rights of Black citizens throughout this country. The mission of a college named in honor of his legacy and founded on the principles of activism and engagement must be preserved. We commend the broad constituency of educators, students, clergy, elected officials and community citizens from across the city of New York for their courage, conviction, commitment, tenacity and willingness to advocate for a resolution to the events and actions that have negatively impacted a college built on a foundation and tradition grounded in the struggle for social justice. This is democracy in action and should be respected.
Amiri Baraka, writer, activist, professor emeritus, SUNY Stonybrook; Edwidge Danticat, writer; Marita Golden, writer; Haki Madhubuti, poet, the Ida B. Wells-Barnett professor at DePaul University and founder and publisher of Third World Press; Kevin Powell, activist, writer; Ishmael Reed, writer, professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley; Quincy Troupe, poet, writer, editor, Black Renaissance Noir; Sonia Sanchez, poet, writer, activist, professor emeritus, Temple University; Danny Simmons, artist, writer, chairman RUSH Philanthropic Foundation, NYSCA chairman, Crown Heights resident; Cornel West, professor, Princeton University; and John Edgar Wideman, writer, ASA Messer professor, Africana studies and literary arts, Brown University
If you haven’t already signed the petition, you can do so here.