Cheyney University Blog

President's Blog - March 2013 - Our Daughters and The Broadening of The Talented Tenth

April 03, 2013

Recently, a colleague and I had lunch with our two twenty-something daughters. Both of these young ladies are college graduates, fluent in Spanish, and have traveled and lived in other countries.

While I watched their youthful faces aglow with stories of college experiences and living abroad - one had lived in an African country for two years in the Peace Corps, and the other had lived in Spain for six months studying abroad - my emotions ranged from pride to concern. These two young ladies, from different parts of America, stood as examples of what should be for many more millions of Americans. Without a doubt, these two young ladies, even though they are not men, would represent the Talented Tenth that W. E. B. DuBois first argued for in 1903 to describe the one in ten black men who would become the leadership class who would lead, elevate, and save others by talent and character. Unfortunately, both young ladies admitted that they did not see too many young men of color traveling abroad.
For W.E.B. Du Bois the leadership class would be the exceptional men (I think we can now expand that to women) who would guide those of diverse backgrounds to a higher standard of living. They would also demonstrate how others could be so prepared and educated. 
In his 1903 paper, "The Talented Tenth," DuBois discussed that such a curriculum would include "intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it -- this is the curriculum of that Higher Education."
However, some historians believe that W.E.B. DuBois altered his thinking later in life to recognize that leadership could come from many who were not the Talented Tenth and that a broader movement of the masses could push forth positive social change.
At Cheyney University, our task is to help expand the intellectual capital of the Commonwealth, region and nation. It is our vision that the Talented Tenth could be nearly every citizen, if he/she has the benefit of exposure to higher education, entrepreneurial possibilities and future-oriented workforce options. We acknowledge that a higher education curriculum that produces intelligent, compassionate and responsible citizens raises the quality of life and well-being of all of our citizens. 
We hope that more families will look at their sons and daughters and support their attempts to contribute to a higher quality of life for all. W.E.B. DuBois ends his famous essay with a statement like this, “If you do not lift them up, they will pull you down. Education and work are the levers to uplift a people."
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.


Tags: President's Blog , study abroad , The Talented Tenth , W.E.B.Dubois

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9 April 2013 Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital, PhD (President), thank you for the encouraging words and thoughts. As a father of a "talented" daughter who graduated from high school earlier than her peers and will obtain an associate degree before she becomes 18 years old, I often share with her the importance of ...knowledge of the a critical part of ...the curriculum of Higher Education. Frankly you nailed "it" when you cited what Cheyney University, my wife's graduate school alma mater, is contributing with your clear notation about the university's task. I will share your Blog and passionately encourage others to read you as you lead us all where we ALL need to be...thinking about the next generation of "The Talented Tenth" of both genders. In Seminary at Virginia Union University a professor shared the following quote which has helped shaped me. It reads: Catherine Esther Beecher (1800-1878), an American educator, wrote in her book, A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1843): “Let the women of a country be made virtuous and intelligent, and the men will certainly be the same. The proper education of a man decides the welfare of an individual; but educate a woman, and the interests of a whole family are secured.” I remain, TJ Hunter Hayes (
TJ Hunter Hayes 5:44PM 04/09/13
Excellent President Vital! The Pennsylvania NAACP Youth & College Unit, made up of 46 Youth Councils (youth ages 8 to 24) and College Units (youth enrolled in a college) is issusing a challenge to its members to read the "Talented Tenth" by W.E.B. DuBois and understand that they are the members of the Black Race that Dr DeBois was talking about. And being the ones he was talking about in the 21st Century, they have a moral impartive to take full advantage of the opportunity to be in schools and colleges being trained to represent as the best in our race. Therefore, the attainment of education, in all of its forms, must be their first pirority and then to impart that knowledge and know how to others who could not attain that college educaiton. Thus creating a cycle of education that will cause the entire race to rise higher than before and, ensure a better future for the entire race of Black people. Thank you Madam President for this blog reminding us and telling us to do more and better for both our Black males and our Black females, because they are our today and our tomorrow.
Rev. Elisha B. Morris 10:50PM 04/07/13
hey dude..!! thnx for the discussion i really appreciate it but not only our support and comments made this efforts, your also own efforts helps you.. see you on boards dude..! Ahman Adam - Legal Transcription
RPJ 4:01AM 04/05/13
Dr. Howard-Vital: Your thoughts are well taken and as the parent of a graduating senior I too, I do whatever I can to lift my daughter up. At this time, I hope you can help with what may seem like a trivia matter in your busy schedule but it is monumental to the students and parents of graduating seniors. It is just over 45 days to graduation and the pieces are not falling into place. The cap and gowns were finally ordered, the rings, invitations and pictures have yet to be ordered because decisions are still being made on some of these items. For some reason the pictures need to be retaken (urban legend). I have viewed the Cheyney website and there aren't any instructions on graduation procedures, when you view some of the other HBCU websites, there are instructions on what to wear, where to park for parents/students, hotels, etc. At this point it is frustrating because graduating seniors should be concentrating on their studies, not wondering why the pieces are not falling into place. I did notice that a few years back, a well known company provided the invitations, rings, etc. I am not sure why that is not being done this year. Is it possible to light a fire under someone so that the students can move forward with this process. This would go a long way in lifting the students up. Thanks!
concerned parent 8:46PM 04/02/13
Great smiling faces, love it!
Korepetycje 9:37AM 03/27/13



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