Guinier And Kilson Square Off


Ewart Guinier '33, chairman of the Afro-American Studies Department, and Martin L. Kilson, professor of Government, brought their four-year-old debate over black studies at Harvard to New York TV screens last Sunday. Their arguments were familiar ones and the only fireworks to come out of the half-hour discussion were charges that the Economics and English Departments discriminate against blacks.

During his appearance on the locally-produced program "Positively Black," Guinier--a central figure in the long-brewing controversy over the Afro-American Studies Department--claimed that Kilson "wants to put the study of the history and culture of black people into the hands of white folks who have been keeping that study out or distorting it or lying about it."

Explaining the philosophy of his department, Guinier said, "We study the black experience from the point of view of the people who lived that experience."

For his part, Kilson reasserted his position that students need to get a grounding in academic discipline before beginning in Afro-American studies. Kilson defended his stance by saying, "To succeed in post-industrial society, one needs highly complex analytical skills."

Kilson has repeatedly attacked the Afro Department for lacking academic discipline, and he has called for mandatory joint concentrations for Afro majors.


Guinier's charges against the Economics and English Department were made while the Afro chairman was listing examples of white-run departments which ignore blacks.

The claims of discrimination elicited quick denials from faculty in both Economics and English. James S. Duesenbury, chairman of the Economics Department, said Monday that his department had not yet hired a black professor because no qualified applicants have been available when the positions were open.

Duesenbury said that the dearth of applicants was due to "the extremely scarce number of black Ph. D.s. in economics."

Robert J. Kiely, associate professor of English, also blamed the absence of black tenured faculty in his department on the lack of qualified black Ph. D.s. "There is certainly no discrimination in faculty hiring in the English Department," Kiely said.

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