Interview with Charles Epps

Dean Epps, with the students demands we were talking about, having Black studies program, what did you think of this idea of a so-called Black curriculum at Howard?


Well, with regard to their request for a Black curriculum I really don't think very much about that because I, I don't see the, the practical application of that. The curriculum should be, I think, standard, depending upon your occu- your, ah, vocational aspirations. To give you a good example, ah, there was a movement afoot at one time where the students were demanding Swahili in the high schools for example. They wanted to be taught Swahili to speak and, ah, that seemed to me to be, ah, a rather useless ambition because they needed to learn English. I had, ah, when I was in practice, ah, I used to hire high school students from Washington, to, to work in my office. And their skills and in English and in mathematics were poor. And some of them I couldn't use because they could not, ah, handle the English properly and they, they, their mathematical skills were very poor. So, you know, before we learn Swahili we should learn English and mathematics and history, the basic skills. I think that would be fine as an extra course for those who have the time and the ability but as a, as one of the main courses I think, I think not. I think the same would apply to, to students in college. I think the, the, you're there with a mission and the mission is to prepare yourself. And I think, ah, the Black, the Black studies would be good as, a, as a, as, as an elective but not for your main course of study. There's, you can't market yourself with just Black studies. You need to study engineering, architecture, history, English, math, something that lead to a vocation and an ability to earn a living.