Monday, February 14, 2011

Dr. Julianne Malveaux: Black Economic History

Leveling the playing field for African-Americans

By Lynne Brandon

As part of Black History Month, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the 15th president of Bennett College for Women, spoke about her latest book, Surviving and Thriving: 365 Facts in Black Economic History, at the Greensboro Central Library and the role African-Americans have played in our economic history.

Dr. Malveaux’s columns appear regularly in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education, Ms. Magazine, Essence Magazine, and The Progressive. Her syndicated weekly column appears in more than twenty newspapers, including the Carolina Peacemaker. She is also a frequent commentator on CNN, BET, PBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC and C-SPAN.

Dr. Malveaux is also credited for being an architect for change at America’s oldest historically black women’s college since taking the helm of the educational institution in 2008.

Surviving and Thriving was a 20 year labor of love said Dr. Malveaux who explained that the book was also a “love note to African-Americans.” Surviving she added, “is the least we can do, but thriving is what we are called to do.”

In the introduction to her newest book, Dr. Julianne Malveaux writes that “[T]he playing field has never been level for African-Americans, yet even with the slant, we have been players and often winners. We have also been integral parts of the economic history of our nation, contributing to economic growth and development in ways that are rarely acknowledged.”

Surviving and Thriving introduces readers to people who have changed history by their refusal to give up or give in. Business leaders, scholar activists, policy makers and working class heroes are just some of the folks you will meet in Dr. Malveaux’s stories of inspiration and determination. There are riveted accounts of Black Wall Street, Dr. King, Rosa Parks, the Memphis sanitation strike, and other history changing moments imparting hope, strength and courage to readers who are reminded of monumental struggles that paved the way for progress when institutionalized racial inequality was both custom and law in many states.

Dr. Malveaux stressed the importance of education and concern over America’s. diminished world ranking for graduation rates, currently 11th. India, China and Eastern Europe are now producing more engineers than the United States. Malveaux further touted the importance of a liberal arts education and said she teaches her students “not what to think, but how to think.”

“People thought I couldn’t write a book because of the color of my skin,” said Dr. Malveaux. “I teach my students that we ‘assume’ you are capable and we allow you to prove you are not. At Bennett, I am allowed to level the playing field.”

Dr. Malveaux ended her talk with stressing that Surviving and Thriving is not just a book about people, but more importantly, about the notion of progress.

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