Interview with Charles Epps
QUESTION 32
SAM POLLARD:

Dean Epps, the students made this request for a Black studies program, what do you think of this so-called Black curriculum that they wanted? Incorporate that story about the two high school students and Swahili.

CHARLES EPPS:

During the same time frame, one of the things that the students were requesting and especially high school students in the Washington area were requesting Swahili. They wanted to learn to speak Swahili. What I regard as unfortunate about that is that they, ah, had not yet mastered English, which is our official language in this country and, and the language they that needed to market their skills. I don't, I don't know of any business where they could have gotten a job because of their knowledge to speak or read Swahili. Now, I had an experience during that same time, I was hiring high school students to work in my private medical office, as clerks during the summer and I found them lacking in, in the English skills. And so it was paradoxical that they would be wanting to learn Swahili when they had not yet mastered English. I think there was misplacement of, of values there. And I think basically when they're asking for African studies, I think they need to put it in proper context that they, they, they want to know these things so that they can learn more about their heritage and understand their roots. But that should not be confused with learning the basic skills to become a productive member of society with marketable skills.