Students Protest Afro-Am Tenure Offer
50 Gather for Rally
More than 50 people gathered in the rain Friday before vacation to show their support for the Afro-American Studies Department and to protest the proposed appointment of Lawrence W. Levine, a history professor at the University of California Berkeley, to a tenured professorship in the department.
Dean Rosovsky announced before vacation that he had offered positions to Nathan I. Huggins, a history professor at Columbia University, and to Franklin W. K night, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University, as well as to Levine. The Afro-American Executive Committee, a group formed by Rosovksy, recommended all three men.
All of the speakers at the rally said they were opposed to Levine's appointment because they did not think he was dedicated to the field.
Levine has not taught any Afro-American history courses in the past few years, Aaron A. Estis '80, a speaker at the rally, said. Levine said two weeks ago that he has been doing work in the field for the past 15 years.
Levine added he is currently doing research on the social and cultural history of the depression.
Estis said Levine has written only one major work in the field, a book titled "Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom." He added that the book's section on music is very similar to research published by Eileen Southern professor of Afro-American Studies and Music.
An Afro-Am faculty member said before the rally that much of the information in the book, which was the runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1977, came from secondary sources.
However, David B. Davis, a Yale history professor who has been affiliated with his school's Afro-American department, said Levine used mostly primary sources, and did so with "great sensitivity."
Ewart Guinier '33, the only professor at Harvard tenured solely in Afro-Am. told the crowd that both President Bok and Dean Rosovsky want to "destroy the department."
"We want the right to self determination," Ricardo Guthrie '80, another speaker, said, adding Afro-Am concentrators have always been active in the department's policy making, and had been a major force in its formation.
Speakers said they were even more strongly opposed to the possibility of Levine receiving the chairmanship of the department. "We feel a Black person should be given the chairmanship of the department," Estis said.
Rosovsky said before vacation that he had discussed the chairmanship only with Huggins, a Black, who had expressed interest in the job.
Estis said the chairmanship should be given to Ephraim Isaac, a former associate professor in Ethiopian Languages and Literature and Church History, who was denied tenure in 1975. Estis added that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a preliminary report in December which indicated Isaac may have been discriminated against on the grounds of race (Black) and nationality (Ethiopian).
Estis said it is inconsistent to be offering an appointment to Knight, a specialist in the Caribbean, when there is no African specialist.