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John V. Monro 35, former Dean of the College, writing in the October 27 issue of The Nation magazine said that ways must be found to strengthen the black colleges and suggested that one of these ways might be for black and white colleges to work together.
Munro left his post at Harvard in 1967 to become director of freshman studies at all-Negro Miles College in Birmingham, Alabama.
"We must quit worrying whether it is the 'right thing' to suport the black colleges." the article said. "They are here to stay because, poor though they are, they are performing a critical function as educational insti utions and as centers of community strength."
Noting that "what white America respects is not weakness but strength." Monro called upon the black people to folow the example of the industrial workers of the 1930's and begin thinking of themselves as "a great, national, black union."
Monro stated that the biggest task facing the black colleges is to educate disadvintaged black students who seem, "after twelve years of school, to be on the average at the 9th-or 10th-grade level. This is not a job the fast-moving, rich white colleges and universities can do, at least by themselves," Monro said.
Monro listed Miles' central role in the Birmingham Head Start program, in retraining programs for industrial workes, in the fight against illiteracy among local adults, and in the regional VISTA program to illustrate the way in which the black colleges can perform a second function as centers for the development of institutional strength among black people.
Discussing his "new incarnation" as a white teacher in an all-black community. Monro praised the moderation and patience of all his students, particularly of one who is a Vietnam veteran. "The daily miracle of Miles College and the Birmingham black community... is that [this student] and his classmates, and parents, have not yet come to hate white people categorically," he said.
In his article, Monro stressed the importance of strengthening the work in the early grades and urged continuing efforts to desegregate the public schools. He suggested that segregation is at least as harmful for whites as it is for blacks, causing in the whites a dangerous "sickness of soul."
Monro also discussed the need for black studies programs in both schools and colleges. Quoting sevreal times from the report of the committee which discussed black studies at Harvard last spring, he said he was "most heartened" by work going on here in this area.
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