Interview with Adrienne Manns-Israel

And what kind of courses did you come expecting that you found, what did you find?


I came looking for Black history courses, Black literature, music, it was a kind of void in my life I wanted filled. And Black Studies is what it was called but it was at that time just Black History and literature. And Sterling Brown was there which was very exciting because he was a poet I had admired for a long time and Arthur Davis, so I was expecting to study Black literature with Sterling Brown, was my first expectation. And what I found was that he, he, first of all, told us that he could not teach Black literature that it didn't fit in the curriculum and was not offered. There was only one course and that was Negro history and you had to be a history major or an upper-classmen to take that. And you couldn't fit it in your schedule. You know after you got finished with all the humanities and the, the Western Civ type of courses, you couldn't fit that one course in. It was very hard to get in. There was no music. You know, you couldn't play jazz in the Fine Arts Building, all you heard when you passed the Fine Arts Building was opera, all day long, opera, opera, opera. And it was so-called classical music, National Symphony and this kind of thing. So I was, I was very disappointed and, ah, well, I think they said they were making it the Black Harvard or something like that. And, it was just not what I wanted.