Medgar Evers College: What’s at Stake
The ships running the Middle Passage stopped at many ports with their human cargo. Each beginning a new journey as a chattel slave, whether it be Brazil, Virginia or New York. It is their descendants that come together at Medgar Evers College, bringing the languages and cultures from a good part of the hemisphere, recognizing the similarities and enjoying the differences and taking pride in an institution that members of the Diaspora had called into being, gotten fully-accredited and was a source of excitement and new ideas.
After three years of tumultuous leadership under President William Pollard, the college has received a negative warning from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and a deferred decision on accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) decisions that point to the potential loss of the hard-fought for full accreditation that MEC has enjoyed and been rightfully proud of.
It must be remembered that MEC did not spring from the goodwill of the city. It was birthed by a coalition of civil rights organizations, community residents and elected officials spurred on by activists such as Sonny Abubadika Carson and a young Al Vann, presenting a united front to the city’s Board of Higher Education. And it is only after struggle and agitation was the college born to uplift students of African descent.
Now CUNY has put in place people who certainly mean well, but who derive their authority from the CUNY system rather than the community the college was built to serve, and if there are no community organizers, organizations and united elected officials proactively inserting themselves into the search for permanent effective leadership at Medgar, the vision of its founders, of an institution that is a place of learning and ideas from the best of the African Diaspora, will be lost.