Loss of West Shows Lack of Progress by Harvard

Letter to the editor

To the editors:

Harvard has driven away another brilliant African-American professor, Fletcher University Professor Cornel R. West ’74 (Online Breaking News, “Harvard Loses West to Princeton,” April 12). The truth is that Harvard College is still a stronghold of institutionalized racism, which has reluctantly allowed some black scholars to exist in its midst. I can say that because I spent four years of my life on the campus. In the 1960s and 70s, we African-American students had to take over Harvard’s main administration building in order to persuade the rulers to create the first Afro-American Studies Department. Even though decades have passed, the University's controllers still think of Harvard’s black faculty and students more as servants and recipients of white tolerance than as independent scholars who have the right to shape and mold their own intellectual destinies.

Malik S. Hakim ’71

Quincy, Mass.

April 12, 2002