Professor discusses need for NU to worry about diversity

By Kristin Lusis

History and African-American Studies professor Robert Hall spoke on the past, present and future, of African-Americans in the nation’s higher education, last night at Meserve Hall.

Northeastern is not included in the group of schools, like Florida State University, considered to be the best and most comfortable for African-American college students, Hall said.

“I think we should explicitly worry, especially with our new president, about being in the top 50 schools in Black Enterprise Magazine in addition to climbing to the top 100 in U.S. News and World Report,” he said.

Hall describes himself as “a campus brat from the deep south” and he attributes his current studies to much of his upbringing.

“My parents were college graduates and ever since I was brought home from the hospital, I have been on a college campus,” he said.

Hall began his sociological study on the desegregation of higher education in the south in collaboration with Jefrey Jacques. They focused specifically on the history of exclusion of African Americans in higher education.

“Many institutions now, that are historically white, are beginning to recognize the history of exclusion and are starting to recognize inclusion,” Hall said.

The history of exclusively black and white schools begins with states appropriating money to desegregate their schools, and using that money to instead send black students out of the state, Hall said. The Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, changed that procedure by forcing schools to admit black students, but internal segregation still occurred, he said

“The alternative was, since out of state was no longer possible, that we create black schools or exclusively black departments in white schools,” Hall said.

This alternative resulted in the formation of exclusively black law schools at institutions like Texas Southern University, but these programs usually had little to no funding for books and supplies, he said.

“African American graduates of Texas Southern couldn’t even practice law; they ended up teaching high school social studies – what they would have been doing anyway,” Hall said.

Hall reiterated the fact that Northeastern has room to grow in diversity, and that the extent of diversity on campus goes hand in hand with greatness. Top Ivy League schools like Harvard generally have a higher percentage of African American students, he said.

“The predominant schools that are ranked higher are good schools in the first place and that is why blacks want to go there,” Hall said.

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