The Boycott: Pro and Con


To the Editors of The Crimson:

There seems to be some misunderstanding of the issue of Afro-Am Department's status at Harvard (Charlotte Salomon's letter of April 18, 1979 to The Crimson).

The status of the Afro-Am Department is of major concern to all self-respecting members of the Harvard community. While continuing to help cripple the black community in South Africa, Harvard is now threatening ato cripple its own black community with the dissolution of the Afro-American Studies Dept. Indeed the boycott planned for Monday, April 23, 1979 to protest the racism that Harvard shows both at home and abroad is not "devoid of meaning," for the issues of divestiture and the Afro-Am Dept. are inter-related. To describe the threat to the department as a "hot issue" is to undermine the needs and feeling of Harvard's black community.

But let's look at the facts:

1) Dean Rosovsky, a man who opposed the creation of the Afro-Am Dept. in 1969 and still believes it should be a committee, has the ominous responsibility of making a decision about the department based on the evaluation of a Review Committee.

2) The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has found it sufficient to have one tenured professor in the department--Prof. Eileen Southern, who is away in Europe studying music while her department is under fire.

3) The requirements of the department for concentrators are more than those for a pre-med (biology major).

Given these facts can one assume that the Afro-Am Department will receive a fair shake from the Review Committee and/or Dean Rosovsky?

We must remember that the struggle is not limited to international issues. In the words of Martin Luther King, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Racist attitudes, be they directed toward South Africa or Black Harvard students are still racist attitudes that must be eliminated.

I sincerely hope that Ms. Salomon and others like her will not limit their minds and actions to one aspect of the struggle for human rights and human dignity that is slowly but surely gaining support. John L. Johnson III '8