Benson

The Daily Texan, Jan 24, 1971

Author: Fegan, Katie

Henry Allen Bullock, the first Black professor in the faculty of arts and sciences at UT, began his academic study with a B.A. in Latin and social sciences from Virginia Union University in 1928. An esteemed sociologist and historian, his appointment to teach the first course on Black history was vociferously supported by many UT students.

Courtesy of UT Black Studies Archive, Benson Latin American Collection, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin.

Institutional Request for B. A. Degree in Ethnic Studies, Dec. 12, 1969

Author: Bullock, Henry Allen

Bullock prepared this formal proposal after the success of his Institute for Ethnic Studies that summer. During the 1960s and 70s, Bullock was active in pushing for new pedagogies to train Black teachers. Note the long justification on pragmatic grounds before the brief culminating point about the need to reclaim and preserve the cultural experiences of minorities “as a part of the American heritage”. 

Courtesy of UT Black Studies Archive, Benson Latin American Collection, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin.

“The Course of Negro History”, December 1968

Author: Banks, Dean

This retrospective from 1968 in the Alcalde describes the rising demand for Black studies at UT, which would be partially addressed by Bullock’s hiring, against the background of increasing civil unrest across the nation. Arguments about the proper focus of Black education had changed considerably from the early 20th century debates in which Lovinggood and Kealing participated. The 1960s saw concerted efforts to advance specifically Black and Africana cultural studies against their marginalization in the educational system.

Courtesy of UT Black Studies Archive, Benson Latin American Collection, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin.

The Reorganization of Southern State Systems of Higher Education: Some Black Perspectives, 1972

Author: NAACP Division of Legal Information and Community Service

This memo from the NAACP assesses the needs of Black education in the wake of desegregation. Among the many criticisms of the current state of affairs, one point resonates with the protests at UT – that curricula were not designed with Black students’ interests in mind. In a distant echo of the early 20th c. debates, the memo recommends that Black colleges innovate by focusing on practical subject areas of direct use to the community. At the same time, the authors raise a concern that the colleges might become too vocational and lacking in prestige.

Courtesy of UT Black Studies Archive, Benson Latin American Collection, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin.

Pre-award contract review of the UT affirmative action compliance program, 1976

Author: Office for Civil Rights, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

Affirmative action efforts at UT, begun in 1973, were fledgling when this 1976 review was conducted. UT’s Classics Department represented a particularly egregious failure to meet University aspirations: the department had no women among its permanent faculty. Although some other departments were entirely male, they had either fewer women within the discipline or fewer total faculty. Many departments, including Classics, failed to respond to the request to submit data on hiring minorities, featured two pages later. A slow increase in the number of women faculty in Classics began shortly after this review came out, but improvements in minority representation did not occur until much more recently.

Courtesy of UT Black Studies Archive, Benson Latin American Collection, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin.

Exhibition Board - Demographics and Values: Classics in the 21st Century

This board displays information relating to the learning of Latin and Greek in Texas across the 20th and early 21st century. It compares mission statements from HBCUs a hundred years ago to their equivalent at UT today. And it features charts illustrating the changing role of Latin in Texas education. Against the context of increasing numbers of students in the state, recent years have seen the lowest Greek and Latin enrollments on record. Despite these challenges, Latin remains a widely available and relatively popular subject in comparison to most modern languages outside the top three.

“Race Mixture in the Roman Empire”, 1916

Author: Frank, Tenney

In the early 20th century, pseudo-scientific theories of race were widespread (discernible even among African American figures fighting against discrimination: see #4). In this especially pernicious article, however, a prominent historian notoriously argued that race mixture led to the fall of the Roman empire, a view now long discredited. The article nevertheless continues to be cited by white supremacists today.

Credits: The American Historical Review, 1916, Vol. 21

The Jews of Ancient Rome, 1960

Author: Leon, Harry J.

By the 1940s, classical scholarship was paying closer attention to racial and ethnic minorities in the Greco-Roman world. Harry Leon was Chair of the UT Classics department from 1942-1962. Though his full bibliography includes some sixty-six items, Leon became especially known for his groundbreaking research on inscriptions relating to Jewish people in Rome, work begun in the 1920s but culminating in this book-length study from 1960. 

Credits: Jewish Publication Society of America.

Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Graeco-Roman Experience, 1970

Author: Snowden, Frank

As the 20th century progressed, scholars began to view ancient conceptions of Blackness as different from contemporary notions. One Black classicist, Frank Snowden, who taught for most of his life at Howard University, inspired fresh discussion with his argument that racism and color-based prejudice were distinctly modern phenomena.

Credits: Harvard University Press

Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity, 2022

Author: Derbew, Sarah F.

Today, research in Classics continues to explore questions of race in the Mediterranean world, exemplified by this study of the representation of Blackness in ancient Greek texts and images by the Stanford professor Sarah Derbew. In drawing on the work of theorists from Africa and the Global South, Derbew’s book adapts the egalitarian and universalist aspirations in Lovinggood’s classicism for a modern, global, and multicultural field.

Credits: Cambridge University Press

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