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President's Blog - July 2013 - The Great Migration-- A Journey Only Half Completed

July 08, 2013

Recently I have been reading the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Isabel Wilkerson, in her book, The Warmth of Other Suns.  In this rich and beautifully written prose, Wilkerson artfully weaves numerous stories of persons of African descent who demonstrated significant acts of courage to escape plantations, overseers, Jim Crow Laws, and other indignities to move to the North for freedom, for opportunities to support their families, and for better futures for their children.   

Even though Wilkerson, a Howard University alumna, takes great pains to portray the lives of individuals from the thousands of persons she interviewed, she is really telling the story of The Great Migration of persons of African descent from the back-breaking and humiliating work of the fields to the work of the Northern factories, docks, railroads, and households.  These individuals and families fled the South for Northern and Western cities...for better lives and opportunities for their families...for freedom.
 
From 1915 to 1970, approximately six million people participated in an exodus that changed the face of America.  The Migration from South to North, as monumental as it was, is still incomplete in many American cities.  
 
Daily we are bombarded with data that confirms, without dispute, that the migration to freedom and equity is yet to be completed.  Indeed, families who moved to the North were only caught, again, in a cycle of poverty, high unemployment, poor educational opportunities, and diminished hopes and dreams.  The families who struggle to send their young men and women to Cheyney University––often for the first time in their families’ histories––are very much among those impacted by these inequities. 
 
Higher education––which can transform students by helping them to develop higher cognitive abilities, confidence, compassion, and exposure––is one of the portals to complete this Great Migration.  The Great Migration from South to North can be viewed symbolically as a move from captivity to enlightenment.  This enlightenment can also be viewed as spiritual, in part, and it should fortify us to go beyond the desire to acquire personal possessions. It should further awaken in us a moral certitude that it is imperative to pave a way for future Americans, so that they can experience, more fully, the multifaceted American dream. 
 
The Great Migration will be complete when it produces resilient, exposed, altruistic citizens who realize that education is a matter of national well-being and prosperity.  The Great Migration will be complete when we care more about other people's children than about acquiring bling and comfort.
 
We move into next year with plans to protect the core of the University and to retool our academic offerings to meet the workforce needs of the 21st century.  The cycle of continuous budget deficits and struggles at Cheyney University which span several decades is a story that itself deserves just and proper resolution.  Chairman of the Trustee Board Robert Bogle and Trustees have recommended that we cut more than $5 Million dollars from an already meager and depleted budget to achieve a balanced budget.  
 
Yet, even with these sacrifices, it is imperative for us to realize our purpose here is ultimately about our young people, our children, and our next generation of leaders who deserve the promise and realization of the Great Migration––equity, well-being, freedom, and a fair chance to pursue the American dream.
 
In his recent Op Ed in the New York Times, Charles Blow states "Our problems would be fixable if only we could agree that the protection and healthy development of this country’s children is not only a humanitarian and moral imperative, but also an economic and cultural one: today’s students are tomorrow’s workers."
 
Moreover, President Barak Obama has affirmed: "We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools.  We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will... but no money...can still get the best education possible." 
 
President Obama further states "In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.  It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or for those who seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.  Rather, it has been for the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women, obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."
 
Without a doubt some of these unsung and obscure heroes/heroines, are linked to the legacy of Cheyney University.  It is because of their vision, hard work, and belief in our young people that this University continues today.
 
Dear Friends, I ask you to join me, in yet another critical point in our 176th history, towards the path that will lead us to a successful Reaffirmation of Accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a path that will lead us towards prosperity, enlightenment, and freedom–– the unfulfilled promise of the Great Migration! 
 
Michelle Howard-Vital, Ph.D.
President

 

  

Tags: Cheyney University , Dr. Hazel Spears , integration , Lindback Foundation , Michelle Howard-Vital , Middle States Commission on Higher Education , president , teacher certification , The Great Migration , Title III

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It's my first visit of this site. I found very helpful posts here.
 
Reza 3:16PM 08/30/13

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