A noose was found in the Smithsonian’s African American History Museum

A noose was found on the floor of an exhibition in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, leading museum officials to remove visitors from that section of the facility.

The rope — which was left in an exhibition on segregation — was the second time this week a noose was found on the grounds of a Smithsonian institution, BuzzFeed News first reported.

Park police investigated the incident and removed the rope, allowing the exhibit gallery to reopen within several hours, Smithsonian officials said, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity — a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face,” Lonnie Bunch, the director of the museum, said in a statement.

On Saturday, a noose was found hanging from a tree outside of the Hirshhorn Museum — another Smithsonian institution that showcases contemporary art.

“I don’t know what to say,” Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas told BuzzFeed after Wednesday’s discovery.

“We do consider this one to be different,” she added. “In this case it’s clearly a message to the museum.”

Nooses were often used in lynchings of African Americans throughout the periods of slavery and Jim Crow laws and can be interpreted as a painful symbol of those eras of discrimination.

Park Police are continuing their investigation of both incidents, according to reports. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article originally appeared on Time.com

Learn about ‘Doctoring Women’

In her class “Doctoring Women,” Martha Bireda, Ph.D., explores the lives and work of “the midwives and grannies who provided the foundation of health care for enslaved African-Americans.”

“I refer to the midwives and grannies as powerful doctoring women because they used their skills not only to heal the sick, but they also practiced cultural freedom, resistance and ensured the survival of traditional African practices,” Bireda said.

You are currently not logged in
By logging in you can see the full story.

Subscribe to 
							the E-Edition
Get the Sun Delivered

Rewriting False Narratives To Imagine Justice In Baltimore

The following is a guest post by Qimmah Najeeullah, the International Affairs Program Manager at Morgan State University.

At Morgan State, Najeeullah supports international partnerships and compliance with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She received a B.A in Art History from University of Maryland College Park, minoring in Portuguese through her studies at Pontifical Catholic University in Brazil. She holds a M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University. A Muslim Honduran-African-American woman, Najeeullah served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Turkmenistan. She was awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship Award to study Arabic in Madaba, Jordan. Najeeullah is the mother of 2 and an avid indoor climber.


“By negligence and silence we have all become accessory before the God of mercy to the injustice committed against the Negroes by men of our nation. Our derelictions are many. We have failed to demand, to insist, to challenge, to chastise.” -Abraham Joshua Heschel

I discovered the life and work of Abraham Joshua Heschel through the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies’ Imagining Justice in Baltimore project. Heschel was a Polish-born American Rabbi who is considered to be one of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the 20th century. The sensitivity and self-reflection of this humanist-scholar is often reflected in his writing and sampled in the quote above. Like all men of great faith, Heschel is a testament to the potential of the human condition, one balanced with the sentiments and logic required to prioritize the humanity of himself and the humanity of the other.

Heschel highlights the need for greater action by the faith community to challenge injustice in the U.S. However, his good intent only peripherally acknowledges the gravity of his request for personal accountability. I commend his attempt, but he neglects to address an underlying monolith: European American’s and Jewish American’s repressed fear of Negro empowerment and leadership

When envisioning a just world, it is reasonable for any person in a position of power and influence or of those recipients of un-assumed privilege to ask: how will our [European American and Jewish American] nation be impacted? Can we [European Americans and Jewish Americans] live the same way and flourish in a just society? Will we maintain our resources? Our influence? Can we still feel the “same way” about ourselves? And if not, how do I develop consolation with these changes?

I believe addressing this line of questioning is where scholars, activists, and humanists of European American and Jewish American communities have neglected to holistically prepare their communities to work authentically to address their derelictions. Without answering these questions for themselves, the European American and Jewish American community will never challenge the status quo for a future they have yet to envision fully and fairly.

However, this neglect of unexpressed barriers to challenging injustice is not the European American and Jewish American community’s alone.

As a multi-cultural American of African descent in search of solutions to my concerns, I naturally translated Heschel’s statement as if he were an African American leader speaking to his own nation, seeking justice from every angle. In contrast to the Jewish community, the unexpressed barrier to challenging injustice within the African American community, low self-esteem, stems from the collateral damage of the ongoing war with white supremacy.

The false narratives permeating American history of African Americans (being less-than human, less intelligent, feeling less pain than whites, etc.), are immersed in our criminal justice, education, and health care systems, and on and on. In reaction to an overwhelming amount of negative internal and external criticism and stereotypes, it has become tradition in the African American community to refuse to self-reflect and/or self-criticize out of love and shame.

Yet, an acknowledgement and delineation of what elements of African American tradition, behavior, and thought are detrimental is urgent. It is reasonable of any African American to ask: what is our definition of justice and success? What should be reevaluated in my community’s tradition? What parts of my culture were constructed out of agony and/or scarcity and no longer serve our development? Where can we improve?

If these questions are not being addressed in black institutions (i.e. churches, mosques, colleges, universities, business, etc.) and preserved as a part of African American transcendence, the basic value and purpose of these institutions are undermined and epidemics in black communities will never be fully addressed.

ICJS has challenged all of our religious and cultural communities to produce more collective-minded individuals who do not fear asking difficult questions about their communities. Heschel did this by willingly disarming himself and observing his impact on our shared social environment and on the consciousness of others. Abrahamic faiths share enough of the same values and barriers to equally perceive that we all have the same amount to lose, and work to do.

As those committed to establishing justice for all in America toil (with the same conviction and self-love) toward protecting and serving ourselves and our shared environment, our energy should be put toward identifying a specific concern and working to address it. Our community presence should result in the sharing of findings, reflections, and revelations as we uncover our fears of failure (and fears of success) on the path to develop solutions to the concerns that are our life’s work.

The city of Baltimore is part of a national conversation around questions of justice, race and community. At this pivotal moment in our city’s history, indeed our nation’s history, the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies highlights the continued importance of bringing diverse religious perspectives to address civic and social challenges. In the initiative Imagining Justice in Baltimore the ICJS will contribute the perspectives of local Jews, Christians and Muslims to the public conversation about justice, and injustice, in Baltimore. Each contributor represents her or his own opinion. We welcome this diversity of perspective and are not seeking a single definition of justice between traditions, nor denying the multivocal nature of justice within traditions. The long-term goal of the Imagining Justice in Baltimore initiative is to create a model of interreligious learning and dialogue around differences that demonstrates how a robust commitment to religious pluralism can shape public life.

Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most.

‘Racism is a white problem’

… the tradition (stronger among African American than black British writers … relation of its African American equivalent, not least because … existential threat to African American lives. The gold … notions of “reverse racism” and “positive discrimination”. … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

Art Sanctuary holds 33rd Annual ‘Celebration of Black Arts’ Awards Ceremony

ABOVE PHOTO:  Executive director of Art Sanctuary Valerie Gay, Colson Whitehead, Legacy Award Recipient for Excellence in Literature and Max Rodriquez, Founder, Harlem Book Fair.  (Photo: Robert Mendelsohn)

By Kharisma McIlwaine

A welcoming crowd gathered for the Art Sanctuary’s Legacy Awards at The Arts Bank at UArts last Friday.

Iconic CBS-3 anchor Ukee Washington, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, noted conductor and composer J. Donald Dumpson and renowned illustrator Bryan Collier were honored for their achievements and as Black men making a positive contribution to the community through the arts as part of Art Sanctuary’s  33rd Annual “Celebration of Black Art”.

As host of the Legacy Awards, music and radio pioneer Dyana Williams led the audience through a tour of artistic excellence.

The first award recipient of the evening was Washington, who received the Legacy Award for Excellence in Journalism. Created in honor of the late veteran journalist Chuck Stone, the award honors a journalist’s longevity and impact.

With a career that spans over three decades, Washington had lots to say, particularly about appreciation.

“It’s all about trying to make a difference while being the same person off-air that you see on-air,” Washington said. “Journalism has come such a very long way over the years, but no matter how you slice it, or how you write it, or how you present it, it’s still about the who, what, why, where, when, how, and based on truth. I will always be a proponent of the human experience. I take great pride and joy in this profession. I’m truly honored to do what I do and to have a great team beside me.”

Margaret Cronan, Vice President & News Director /CBS 3 and Ukee Washington , CBS 3 News Anchor. Washington was the recipient of The Legacy Award for Excellence created in memory of late veteran journalist Chuck Stone. (Photo: Robert Mendelsohn)

Collier received the Legacy Award for Excellence in Visual Literacy and stressed the importance of our children seeing reflections of themselves on the covers of books and represented in the stories within them.

Whitehead, whose book “The Underground Railroad” received the Pulitzer this year, received the Legacy Award for Excellence in Literature. As part of his acceptance speech, he talked about that experience.

“It’s been a crazy year, I’ve never had a response like this,” Whitehead said. “’The Underground Railroad’ is my eighth[book]. I first got the idea 17 years ago. I remember I was in the fourth grade, and my teacher was explaining how it worked. I had a vision of a subway beneath the earth. I was from New York, and that’s what I thought. Then she explained that’s not how it worked and I was very upset. So, I had a cool idea for a book, to make the Underground Railroad real. I added an element of each state, each being based on an American possibility like Gulliver’s Travels. And though it was a good idea, if I would’ve tried it then I would’ve screwed it up. I didn’t think I was wise or mature enough.”

“Thankfully,” he continued “timing has a way of working things out exactly as they should be.”


Dumpson, President and CEO of Diverse Arts Solutions, received the Gamble & Huff Award for Excellence in Songwriting and Producing. He has shared the stage with Quincy Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Babyface, and Whoopi Goldberg – people known worldwide for their dedication to keeping the arts alive. After thanking the Art Sanctuary, the founder, and Executive Director Valerie Gay, Dumpson charged the audience to keep the arts alive by doing the following – supporting the arts, and supporting Art Sanctuary.

The Urban Guerilla Orchestra (aka UGO), provided music throughout the night for various performers including composer and musician Hannibal Lokumbe, and spoken word artist Ursula Rucker.

You can support Art Sanctuary and their future endeavors by visiting their website at www.artsanctuary.org. Also, be sure to join the conversation about Black men doing positive things in our community by using the hashtag #BlackMenIKnowPHL.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

The arts and taboo subjects

Are you familiar with the term “cultural appropriation” and the recent account of protests regarding Carnegie Melon graduate Tom Megalis’ painting “Within 2 Seconds, the Shooting of Tamir Rice,” depicting his outrage at this event in which police killed this 12-year-old black child?

The Associated Press article also reports an incident at the Whitney Museum of American Art in March of this year in which a black artist demonstrated because white artist Dana Schutz had used historic photographs as inspiration for a rendering of the murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black child killed in 1955.

It seems as if in these two cases the protestors believe that only African American artists have a right to use these two young black men as subjects for artistic expression.

Do you believe in inclusion? If you do, does your personal history indicate that you have translated your personal philosophy into your life? I do and I have.

Have you ever been told that you needed to revise your resume because you had too much “diversity” in it and that it was off-putting to some responsible for hiring decisions? I have.

I have believed in inclusion and acceptance of persons unlike me since I was a young girl and two of my buddies were Norman and Sonny Wiiliams, African American brothers. My brother Bill, the two Williams brothers and I had adventures as we romped throughout our neighborhood playing cowboys and Indians.

As a college CEO for 15 years in states “from the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun” as Janice Joplin sang, I took positive, constructive action to let the communities I served know that the tent was large enough to hold all who wanted and needed an education, regardless of race or ethnicity. I also demonstrated by my actions that the tent could hold faculty, staff and administrators of color.

Minority communities embraced me and my work, and I am proud of the Barbara Jordan award given to me by an NAACP group in Texas and of my being named an honorary madrina by the California Latina Leadership Network.

A measure of the success of my work with inclusion, diversity, was obvious to the state when I was called before a California Assembly committee to explain why the diversity programs used when I was chancellor of Rancho Santiago College District were intentionally used to invite into the college persons of color who had previously thought that college was not in their future.

I write, and I’ve written in the past. As a white woman, should I be writing about women of color? What about other topics that some might consider off limits for me?

In the 1990s at Rancho, I wrote and directed a play entitled “Voces,” with the second iteration “Mas Voces.” The play was performed at 15 colleges, universities and conferences from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

The work was an exploration of the lives of Chicanas, Latinas and Hispanic women in regard to their upbringing, education, marriages, religion and careers. In the discussions that followed performances-with the most lively responses coming from primarily Hispanic audiences — no one ever expressed an objection to a white woman writing the play. Occasionally, a person would ask, “How did you as a white woman understand our lives so well?’

My response was, “I observe, I listen, I understand.”

More recently, in 2016 at the Mayflower Theatre in Troy, Ohio, and at Edison State Community College in Piqua, Ohio, I directed a play entitled “Women’s Untold Stories.”

Although I invited others to submit monologues and they did, I wrote much of the play. My cast was diverse and included Anglo Americans, a Filipino American, an Asian American, an African American, a Jamaican American; females from age 17 to about age 90; and a person with a sexual orientation unlike my own. The monologues, many of which originated from stories of women I have known, featured drug addicts, a murderer and victims of abuse.

Since I am neither 17 nor a woman of color and am heterosexual, would some indicated that I had engaged in “cultural appropriation” and had no right to tell the stories of many of these groups? I’ve never been an addict, a murderer and any physical abuse I’ve endured was primarily at the hands of my brother Bill when we were children. I’m quick to add we exchanged blow for blow, so he would maintain, rightfully so, that I hit as hard as he did, and I was two years older.

Are we to wait to understand others until someone from the particular group is ready to paint a canvas, write a story, photograph a scene or sculpt the subject? And are we ready to accept that person’s rendering whether it qualifies as art from the persons who make such judgments? And what if we object to the message, the theme, that is presented?

When persons tell us that subjects are off limits if we are not a member of a specific group, it becomes censorship, a violation of the rights of the artist. This is neither Russia nor China nor one of the multitude of countries in the Middle East where voices are silenced when the ruling powers declare that they should be.

Can we imagine a world in which subjects are taboo if artists are not members of the particular groups they are depicting? Where does this aspect of political correctness end?

Contact Dr. Vivian Blevins at [email protected]

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
comments powered by Disqus
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Black Americans living longer, but racial gap remains

Kerry James Marshall addresses the absence of blackness

Slinky, unfurling forms run around and through many of Kerry James Marshall’s paintings. They frame individual pictures’ contents and rope together serial canvasses into a narrative of styles and scenes. In his 1993 De Style, a barber shop (“Percy’s House of Style”) is crowded with African-Americans sporting regal, extravagant hair: on one man’s head sits an afro mass shaped into topiary wings, a girl balances a tangled hive of piled braids, and, cropped so we can’t see his head, a waiting customer wears a chunky golden “STUD” knuckle plate. Behind the braid-hive, a houseplant mimics its twisty form, and the red cord of Percy’s electric clippers repeats the cord draining from a wall clock mantled, high in the picture, by a snaky water hose.

I’m piling up details because the crunched, crisp visual information rubs drily against the historical source of the title, early modernism’s de Stijl movement and the angular rigor of its most famous child, Mondrian. Like so much of Marshall’s work, the picture tiles together artistic tradition, contemporary African-American life, and the history enfolded in that life. In his tonally complex and lyrically ambiguous compositions, we see traditions being lived into by a black artist whose subject is blackness and whose intent isn’t to persuade or provoke. The work says: this represents life. A big, broad-shouldered overview of his career in now on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Born (in 1955) and raised in Jim Crow Alabama, Marshall moved with his parents to Los Angeles in the closing years of the Great Migration and lived in a Watts housing project called Dickerson Gardens, a thriving, tranquil community of two-story townhomes, extensive green space, a gym, and a toy and book library. Nineteen-sixty-five marked a turn: the family moved to a house in South Central, down the street from Panther headquarters (and the barber shop that inspired De Style, which was owned by a local barber); Watts rioted; Marshall entered fifth grade and was already drawing; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opened and the boy made his first visit there. By seventh grade, he was taking classes at Otis Art Institute, where he later took his B.A. He began showing his work in the late 1970s and 1980s. By then he was living, and has since lived, in Chicago.

Marshall’s ambition was an American mission huge in specific ways: he wanted to make great pictures, purposely destined for museums, about black people. He said he missed in museums “a grand, epic narrative painting with black figures in it, and that’s the kind of painting I became interested in making — pictures in the grand manner.” He aspired to make history pictures, portraits, genre scenes, love idylls, nudes, and landscapes, with a passion to intervene in the endless museum representations of white people. After some early abstract and collage work, he pitched himself into painting the figure and by the 1980s was pursuing a more forceful clarity of presence and practicing an imperious figurative energy. “The image as a force,” he said, “has to carry the responsibility of making a picture work. That is what has to produce the feeling of awe.”

In the early 1980s, Marshall read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. It fixed a lifelong preoccupation with what he calls “the notion of being and not-being, the simultaneity of presence and absence.” His small painting, A Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self, marked his coming-into-consciousness: a grinning black face, big bright teeth set off by a black tablet where a tooth once was, a field hat, jacket, and black eyes set in mothy sockets. The image is saturated with Ellison’s idea of there-ness and not-there-ness. The visual force of the man’s blackness is set off by his “code-smiling” countenance, the Jim Crow, white-man-pleasing expression, with its unseen veils of minstrelsy and slavery. Marshall’s former self was in the process of being re-made: the blackness in his work would be defiantly casual, confrontationally ordinary.

Marshall spent his young life in housing projects that he memorialized as an almost prelapsarian interlude before cities burned. His several “Garden Project” pictures are urban pastorals that mix gladness and melancholy. One of them, Watts 1963, jostles mixed pictorial and emotional tones. Bluebirds of happiness drape the scene with proscenium-arch bunting (a version of the wiring, wreaths, piping, and vines that “present” most of Marshall’s large works) like a blessing or civic commendation. Banners waft boosterish real-estate claims: “There’s more of everything.” That must have been the feeling cherished by residents, but the message is ominous, now that we know how dreadfully the “more” of certain things damaged those communities. Three children sprawling on the green enjoy the eerie calm. But all’s not right: among the palm trees is a disordered garden of overgrown stalks, tangled blooms, and scattered daisies and dandelions. The good life is threaded and bounded by wilder, menacing energies.

The classical, museum formality of Marshall’s art is mined with disruptive social-racial energies. The backward-glance Past Times is modeled on the leisurely bucolic imagery of the Fête galante, the French Rococo depiction of country delights enjoyed by city folk. Against a high-rise project in the distance are set a country lake and greensward. A speedboat and water skier zoom past; on the lawn, a father drives a gold ball, the girl plays croquette, the mother opens a picnic hamper while she and her boy harken to boom boxes that pay out sheet-music strips like ticker tape, their lyrics — “it’s just my imagination,” “money on my mind” — streaming like hopeful social hymns. Around them squares of abstract art hang mysteriously in the scene like DNA markers. The black family’s faces are shut down. They look us in the eye and don’t welcome our presence. We’re the violators of their culture of leisure. They’re in the cone of their (racial, urban, familial) culture where trespassers aren’t welcome. Bluebirds oversee this scene, too.

African-American portraiture is just what it is, portraiture, and as such is inflected with historical and contemporary race consciousness. One of Marshall’s series is made up of pictures of artists looking intent and aloof, addressing us, addressing their work. In some they’re holding palettes the size of desk tops and are working on paint-by-numbers self-portraits. The paint-by-numbers kits popular in the 1950s were abstract, predetermined masterpiece maps. You didn’t buy a kit patterned in your own image. Marshall’s artists are working on picture-identities that are appearing and disappearing at the same time. The pictures are recipes of presence. They’re a rudimentary, Invisible Man–channeled version of the “painting structure” Marshall is so passionate about. He makes this mechanical exercise in picture-making into a subtle essay on black self-perception and destiny. The partially executed compartments compose a sectional topography of one kind of constructed, museum-ized self. These paintings are about the messy palettes of life and the formed abstraction of “identity.” A very different action happens in Marshall’s variation on Velázquez’s Las Meninas, that great essay on the porousness of life and representation. In Untitled (Studio), four figures look away from each other: a nude male model in the background, another changing behind a drape, the (female) artist posing the sitter, and the sitter herself, whose patchy in-progress image on the canvas is just barely coming into form, into image-completeness.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

UNC grads say African and Afro-American classes were rigorous

This story originally appeared in The News & Observer on September 10, 2012.

Sam Pride did not envision graduating with a degree in Afro-American Studies when he first stepped on to UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, but as the history buff from Rocky Mount searched for classes to take, an introductory course within the department quickly put him on the path.

That class, and the subsequent ones he took from the department, broadened his understanding of the world.

“It’s another retelling of history that you really don’t learn,” said Pride, who plans to graduate in December. “It just opened my eyes to a whole new world of history and possibilities.”

The curriculum did more than help him discover a part of American history that many have a hard time accepting, let alone understanding. It inspired him to start a mentoring program in which he and several other UNC-Chapel Hill students visit the C.A. Dillon Youth Development Center in Butner, a state facility for youths who have committed serious crimes, to talk about race, history and opportunities.

Many others who have graduated or taken numerous courses within the African and Afro-American Studies Department tell similar stories of enlightenment and inspiration. That’s why they are so disheartened by the scandal that originated within the small department and now has some calling for its end.

“I worked as an undergrad,” said Christina DeLane, a 2006 graduate now in a Washington, D.C., law school. “I had papers to write, things to read, a lot of studying. It was several books in a class. This was real, and to think it wasn’t real for other people is beyond me. You don’t major in African and Afro-American studies to get by. UNC is a hard school.”

A recent internal investigation of the department found 54 classes with little or no instruction over a four-year period, and dozens more independent studies with little accountability. Nearly two-thirds of the enrollments in the no-show classes were athletes, with football players representing the largest block.

The no-show classes are a small percentage of the 616 classes held in the department during that period. University officials say only two people in the department were involved in the suspect courses: Julius Nyang’oro, the former longtime department chairman who was forced into retirement in July, and Deborah Crowder, the longtime departmental manager who retired in 2009.

More evidence suggests the no-show classes and loosely-monitored independent studies went back years beyond the 2007 to 2011 period reviewed by university officials. But Pride, DeLane and several other nonathletes interviewed by The News & Observer who either graduated with degrees from the department or took a high concentration of courses say they knew nothing about classes that offered little instruction or academic rigor.

“Everyone I talked to was shocked by it,” said Rob Stephens, 26, a staff member for the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and a 2009 graduate.

The graduates’ comments about the department’s overall rigor raise more questions about who were the intended beneficiaries of the suspect courses. UNC-CH officials have said the academic fraud is not an NCAA matter because nonathletes were in the classes and were treated the same as athletes. So far, the NCAA has agreed, though other investigations into the fraud continue.

None of those interviewed said they had Nyang’oro as a professor, and some of them said they do not recall meeting him during their time on campus. Jason Warner, a 2006 UNC graduate who is now a doctoral student in African and African-American studies at Harvard University, said he defended his senior thesis paper before Nyang’oro and two other professors, and was impressed with the department chairman.

“I really remember him for his intellect and the questions he would pose to me,” Warner said.

He and other graduates say the small department of roughly 25 professors and instructors has top experts in their fields who are also gifted teachers. One of them, Reginald Hildebrand, was one of five professors this year to receive the university’s top undergraduate teaching award. He and other department professors, however, have declined to be interviewed about the department’s strengths and weaknesses.

Extensive classwork

A review of syllabuses shows courses with rich topics and extensive classwork. A syllabus for a 2006 class titled The African American in Cinema required reading several books, watching more than a dozen films, producing two papers and completing two exams.

University officials say the department also plays an important role in the university’s study abroad programs in Africa, and helps students doing volunteer work there in areas such as health care.

But the scandal has caused some people – including a student who published a recent letter in the campus paper – to say the department should be eliminated for being at the heart of the scandal. Others such as Jane Shaw, president of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a conservative think tank, have questioned the need for a separate department that specializes in African and African-American studies, fueling a debate that has gone on at other universities untouched by scandal.

“While the investigations have implicated no one except the former department administrator and the former department chair, a cloud of suspicion seems to have settled over the entire department, “ said Jan Boxill, the chairwoman of the university’s Faculty Council, in an email to her colleagues Friday morning. “In a few cases, indeed, some have suggested that two individuals’ misdeeds call into question the scholarly rigor and value of the department’s work as a whole. We must firmly reject such suggestions.”

With Chancellor Holden Thorp’s urging, the council on Friday passed with no dissent a resolution backing the African studies’ department and its mission. When Kia Caldwell, a department professor, read a statement asking for the council’s support she received a standing ovation.

The department has a new chairwoman, Eunice Sahle, and numerous reforms have been put in place to try to prevent a similar scandal. One planned change that might bring relief to the department’s graduates who are now worried about the scandal’s impact on their careers is a new name that better reflects the range of the department’s focus. It will soon be called the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies.