April 20, 2018 - Vol. 1, Issue 29
A Timely "Formation"
Above: Beyonce on stage at the Coachella music festival on April 14, 2018. 1
Ernie Suggs
Last weekend, pop icon Beyonce became the first African American to headline the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Her performance made headlines as she was anchored on stage by marching band members from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs ). 2

Defined as any “college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans,” 3 HBCUs were confronted in recent decades by critics who called upon the institutions to demonstrate their relevancy, particularly considering widespread issues of funding, curricula, accreditation and leadership. 4   This created a pernicious cycle, where HBCUs were prompted to respond to detractors, instead of using their resources to confront the aforementioned challenges.

Beyonce’s historic production is a timely reply to those who believe that Americans are living in a “post-racial era” that invalidates HBCUs. 5 Scholars like Jessica Exkano discredit this myth, as she situates HBCUs within a Western postcolonial discourse: “HBCUs provide a sense of belongingness to their students and contribute to positive racial construction, while continuing to graduate students into traditionally underrepresented fields and positions.” 6 Journalist Ernie Suggs covered the activities of HBCUs in the 1990s, and he echoed Exkano’s sentiment when he stated that HBCUs “are probably more democratic than majority schools…because your talents are based on who you are, not what you look like.” 7 Furthermore, as Bishop Vashti McKenzie points out, HBCUs graduate a preponderance of first-generation college students. 8
Historian Merline Pitre ’s book, Born to Serve: A History of Texas Southern University was released yesterday 9 : an opportune addendum to Houstonian Beyonce’s spotlight on HBCU culture and relevancy.
For our subscribing institutions, check out our curated playlist of stories that accompanies the above feature. To do so, copy and paste the below URL to the tail end of your university’s specific URL for The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. For example: [Your Institution URL] + [Playlist Tail]

Playlist Tail: /stories/6;IDList=475686%2C22294%2C251728%2C352102%2C316808%2C572754%2C560274%2C468020%2C572750%2C6839%2C265815%2C10225%2C379937%2C5762%2C450552%2C377946%2C650844%2C178586%2C159274%2C159273;ListTitle=The%20Relevancy%20of%20HBCUs

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive in Action
The Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting 10
We were thrilled to join the OAH conference last weekend in Sacramento, California. In addition to exhibiting the digital archive, The HistoryMakers hosted a workshop that spotlighted the playlist function--or VJ Mixtape--which many professors use to incorporate The HistoryMakers content into their curriculum.

At the workshop, Dr. Joel Christensen spoke to the utility of the mixtape for policy research, as his graduate students use the archive to study the experiences of African American scholars in the field of classics . Dr. Karen V. Hansen further demonstrated ways that the archive can be used to understand oral history methodology. Finally, Dr. Marcia-Walker McWilliams talked about solutions for students who wish to use the archive to search more complex topics, like intersectionality.

It was also wonderful to see and honor our Sacramento-based HistoryMakers: Frank Washington , Nathan Cox , Cassandra Jennings , Rick Jennings and Allen Warren .
Please share with us your stories of how you incorporate The HistoryMakers Digital Archive into your curriculum and research. We'd love to hear from you!

This week, 22 new interviews were added to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive:

Hank Aaron

Baseball player Hank Aaron (1934 - ) began his career in the Negro Leagues with the Indianapolis Clowns. He led the Milwaukee Braves to a 1957 World Series title, and broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.

Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.

Minister Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. (1935 - ) served as the fifth Senior Minister of Riverside Church in New York City from 1989 to 2007, making him the first African American Senior Minister of one of the largest multicultural and interdenominational churches in the United States.
The Honorable Ras Baraka

Mayor The Honorable Ras Baraka (1969 - ) was elected mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2014.
The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan

The Honorable William "Mo" Cowan (1969 - ) was a litigator and chief of staff to Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, and served as an interim U.S. Senator from Massachusetts in 2013.
Willie Cole

Sculptor Willie Cole (1955 - ) was most known for his found object assemblages, which featured steam irons, high heeled shoes and plastic water bottles. His work addressed themes of domesticity, femininity and racial identity.
Jill Nelson

Author and journalist Jill Nelson (1952 - ) wrote for The Washington Post Magazine, Village Voice and Essence. She also authored several books, including the National Bestseller Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience.

Don West

Photographer and photojournalist Don West (1937 - ) documented Boston’s African American community for over thirty years.
Jose Griñan

Broadcast journalist Jose Griñan (1952 - ) was the senior morning news anchor on KRIV-TV Fox 26, where he worked from 1993.
Bev Smith

Management chief executive Beverly E. Smith (1948 - ) established the HR Group, Inc., a small business management consulting company.
Ron Allen

Journalist Ron Allen (1957 - ) was a national and international correspondent for over twenty-five years at CBS, ABC and NBC News, and was responsible for the initial coverage of the Rwandan genocide.
Karen Slade

Radio station manager Karen Slade (1955 - ) was the vice president and general manager of Stevie Wonder’s KJLH radio station in Los Angeles, California.
Clarence Waldron

Journalist Clarence Waldron (1957 - ) was a senior editor and writer at JET magazine for twenty-nine years.
Reverend Marcia Dyson

Civic activist and public relations chief executive Reverend Marcia Dyson (1951 - ) founded the Women’s Global Initiative.
Meli'sa Morgan

R & B singer Meli'sa Morgan (1960 - ) recorded the hit songs "Do Me Baby" and "Fool’s Paradise," and collaborated with the likes of Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston and Mary J.Blige.

Karen Hill-Scott

Educator and education consultant Karen Hill-Scott (1946 - ) was the founder of Karen Hill-Scott, Inc. and the cofounder of Crystal Stairs. She served as an educational consultant for companies like NBC/ION Networks, Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel.
Marcus Samuelsson

Chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson (1970 - ) was the executive chef of the Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit, and the owner of the Red Rooster Harlem in New York City.
Charles N. Atkins

Investment banker and lawyer Charles N. Atkins (1952 - ) was the executive director of Morgan Stanley from 1990 to 2013, when he founded Atkins Capital Strategies LLC.

Billye Aaron

Nonprofit executive and television personality Billye Aaron (1936 - ) hosted Today in Georgia and Billye , and served as a regional vice president of the United Negro College Fund.

B Michael

Fashion designer B Michael (1957 - ) was a noted milliner and couturier whose hats were featured in the Ebony Fashion Fair. He created the b michael AMERICA brand.
Andrea Meigs

Media executive Andrea Meigs (1968 - ) was a high-profile talent agent, representing stars like Idris Elba and Beyonce Knowles Carter.
Billy Porter

Actor Billy Porter (1969 - ) won a Tony Award for his starring role as Lola in Kinky Boots in 2013. He also wrote Ghetto Superstar and the semi-autobiographical play While I Yet Live .

Dr. Ada Cooper

Dentist and lawyer Dr. Ada Cooper (1960 - ) was a partner at the law firm of Jenner and Block before she became a dentist. She served as the national spokesperson for the American Dental Association.
1. BANNER PHOTO: Beyonce performs at the Coachella music festival. Accessed April 20, 2018. .
2. Benbow, Candice, “On Beychella, HBCU’s And Black Culture: Beyonce’s Performance Reinforced That We Never Need Whiteness To Validate Us.”, April 18, 2018. Accessed April 20, 2018. .
3. White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, U.S. Department of Education. “What is an HBCU?” Accessed April 20, 2018. .
4. Cantey, Nia Imani, Robert Bland, LaKerri R. Mack and Danielle Joy-Davis, “Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Sustaining a Culture of Excellence in the Twenty-First Century,” Journal of African American Studies 17, no. 2 (June 2013): 142-153.
5. Cantey et al: 146.
6. Exkano, Jessica, “Toward an African Cosmology: Reframing How We Think About Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Journal of Black Studies . 44, no. 1 (January 2013): 63-80.
7. Ernie Suggs (The HistoryMakers A2014.073), interviewed by Larry Crowe, February 18, 2014, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 4, story 10, Ernie Suggs talks about reporting on historically black colleges and universities in the late 1990s.
8. Bishop Vashti McKenzie (The HistoryMakers A2007.088), interviewed by Larry Crowe, March 17, 2017, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 2, tape 9, story 10, Bishop Vashti McKenzie talks about the importance of historically black colleges.
9. Pitre, Merline, Born to Serve: A History of Texas Southern University . University of Oklahoma Press, 2018. .
10. PHOTO: Organization of American Historians logo. Accessed April 19, 2018. .
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