Interview with Charles Epps

What about the student's charges that the curriculum wasn't focusing on sort of giving them an understanding of their ancestry and their history. There was only one Black course in the school. What was your reaction to that?


Well, you know, I learned about, ah, I learned about Black history as a, as a student in my high school. It was unfortunate that we had to do it that way but they always had Negro History Week in, in, in high school when the whole school system literally stopped everything else and concentrated on Black history. And so I learned about Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Marion Anderson, Roland Hayes, Paul Robeson, people like that when I was in, in, in high school, in junior high school. I don't know, and so I felt comfortable about my heritage when I came to college. I did take a course, by the way, from a Professor Leo Hansbery about Africa which I found very interesting. But, my mission there was to, was to become a doctor. And I, I needed, ah, ah, the sciences, ah, and, ah, to prepare myself for medicine. I, I, I, think that the, there's an opportunity for those who wished to take course about Black history could do that. But I think the major, ah, mission of the university is to prepare you for your life's work. And if there's an opportunity to take these other courses as an elective I think that's sufficient. There was a great interest in this kind of activity for a number of years as you may know. And what happened of course was that many universities sort of geared up and produced courses in Black, ah, in Black history but there was no real market for people who majored in Black history. I'm not sure what they're doing now but that was a fad that passed. I think it's important to, to know our history and to understand it but I don't think that we need to, to subvert or amend the basic themes of our programs to the point that they're compromised.