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News & Events Archive

Conversations with. . .

Elias Blake Jr.


Elias Blake Jr., former president of Clarke/Atlanta and director of the Benjamin Mayes Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C., visited campus during the second week of February. In addition to his Black History Month lecture and other activities, Blake spoke at a conversational gathering in AAADS M-39. He compared the first case of African Americans suing a board of education (Boston, 1812-1815) with the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, and detailed how each case, while different in circumstance, was about equity of resources leading to the best education for black children. Blake went on to tell how virtually all parties involved in Brown became sidetracked from that fundamental issue and into the issue of segregation vs. integration. Blacks, as well as whites, knew that better education might lead to better jobs, which might lead to better income, better housing, etc., which was the outcome of full citizenship. Brown was a lawsuit for full citizenship through the mechanism of education. In actuality, over time, the public education system resegregated to large extent, and blacks became heir to a broken public system that was, once again, less than the best. It is from this analysis of education history that Blake objects to Indiana University’s raising SAT score requirements for admission. He says that higher admission scores will not help IU increase its minority enrollment, another of the university’s goals. He said the university has no legal obligation to sustain minority enrollment, only a moral obligation. Blake condemns public universities that decide to become elite and selective, calling it a “betrayal of the public-interest purpose of higher education in America.”