by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
A controversy and confrontation that has been brewing under the surface is about to come to a head. It has been roiling since President Edison O. Jackson stepped down from Medgar Evers, and his mantle was passed on to William Pollard, who now serves as its current president.
In assuming the position of president, it is natural for the new executive to make some changes in order to brand the college under his leadership. It is natural, also for them to bring in new programs that would enhance what the college has to offer.
What is not natural is for a Black college president to come into an environment where the students and faculty are predominantly Black, and lay waste to programs that have been of benefit to the Black student body and surrounding community. However, over the past year, this appears to have been Pollard’s scorched campus policy. He has evicted Dr. Divine Pryor, founder of Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions, an outreach program that helped ex-offenders get back on their feet. And has sent letters of eviction to what can only be called Brooklyn’s African American Think Tank.
Thus far the following people have been either sent termination or eviction notices:
Hon. Roger L. Green, Founder and Executive Director of the DuBois-Bunche Center, was appointed a Distinguished Lecturer at Medgar Evers College within the City University of New York in 2006. From 1981-2005 served in the New York State Assembly, and was an expert on educational reform; children and family policies. chaired the Committee on Science and Technology, and the Committee on Children and Families. A longstanding advocate of civil and human rights, Green was MEC’s professor of Public Administration, bringing to the students his vast array of knowledge and experience. The DuBois-Bunche Center for Public Policy is in jeopardy of being excised from the campus, as are the founding members who are integral to the organization.
John Flateau, Ph.D.: Professor of Public Administration, received his Ph.D in American Politics and Public Policy from the City University of New York Graduate Center. He served as Chief of Staff to Mayor David Dinkins; Senior Vice President of the NYS Urban Development Corporation; Dean of the School of Business, and Dean of Institutional Advancement at Medgar Evers College. He also served as a Commissioner, of the NYC Districting Commission; Advisor to the NYS Legislative Advisory Task Force on Demographics and Reapportionment; Chairperson of the US Census Advisory Committee on the African-American Population; and Executive Director of the NYS Black and Hispanic Legislative Caucus. He is a generalist and strategic thinker, with expertise in urban policy, economic development, voting rights, legislative redistricting, census demographics, campaigns and elections, diversity management, and governmental processes (whether or not Dr. Flateau is on the hit list remains to be seen, however, MEC’s Black Think Tank is definitely under siege).
(NOTE: to their credit both Green and Flateau worked to resolve the problems in Albany under Governor David Paterson, as well as providing advice on an ongoing basis on State, City and National issues.)
Hon. Major Owens served as a member of Congress representing Central Brooklyn from 1983 to 2005, and brings a wealth of expertise. Former New York City Commissioner, and a NY State Senator. Congressman Owens is widely respected for his lifelong commitment to reduce poverty in the United States and throughout the developing world. He is also respected for his legislative leadership which fought to eliminate barriers to educational opportunity. His position appears to be safe for now. But with the lack of insight on the part of the current Administrator, I wouldn’t turn my back or relax if I were him.
Zulema Blair, Ph.D.:was Chair of MEC’s Public Administration Department in 2007. Dr. Blair’s focus is organizational theory and it’s applications to public administration. She has produced research which studies low income populations and their participation in the political process. Dr .Blair directs the American Democracy Project at Medgar Evers College. Dr. Blair was not returned as chair of her department.
Hon.Ambassador Eugene Pursoo became a Distinguished Lecturer at Medgar Evers College. after serving with distinction as the United Nations Ambassador and Permanent Representative with plenipotentiary powers for Grenada, from 1991 to 1995. During his tenure at the United Nations he was elected Vice President of the General Assembly in 1993, Chairman of the United Nations Decolonization Committee, and Chairman of the Organization of Small Island States in 1994. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Fordham University. Ambassador Pursoo is the Director of the International Affairs Center. He as been committed to the mentoring of students and scholars who seek to advance diplomatic approaches for the expansion of peace and justice throughout the World Community. His contract was not renewed. Why????
Divine Pryor, Ph.D. has established a national and international reputation as an expert in the field of criminal justice reform .Before receiving his undergraduate degrees and a Ph. D. in forensic psychology Dr. Pryor was incarcerated for several years. In the tradition of Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz), Dr. Pryor rediscovered his love for learning and a passion for justice during his incarceration and developed a commitment to reverse the disproportionate number of African Americans in prison. Dr. Pryor has served on the National Re-entry Policy Council for the Council of State Governors board of directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the Community Justice Center. Nu Leadership is the only organization in the nation that was founded and is currently directed and staffed by formerly incarcerated individuals who possess advanced degrees (masters, doctorates) in the areas of criminal justice reform. Pryor’s eviction from MEC was covered on WRKS-FM, where he revealed that Pollard had begun to dismantle many of the programs that had been successfully serving the community for nearly 20 years.
During the selection of MEC’s next president, a search committee had narrowed the candidates down to three women. They were all extremely competent, heavy hitters. Any one of them would have been a wonderful choice for the campus. Dr. Pollard was not initially on that short list, and was only added at the last minute. Each of the candidates had to participate in a public hearing, where the community had an opportunity to ask key questions to ascertain which of the candidates appeared to have MEC’s wellbeing and expansion at heart. Dr. Pollard’s answer was the least satisfactory. In fact, if memory serves, Dr. Pollard did not appropriately or adequately answer the question.
After the final interview session, the consensus was that any one of the three female candidates would have been an excellent selection, and would lead MEC into the 21st century. Imagine the shock when it was announced that Pollard was given the position. At the time it was conjectured that perhaps individuals had used undue influence (and threats) to bring get him the position. There were several of us who were not happy with the selection.
Those of you who remember your Roman mythology still remember the Trojan Horse. In the story, a beautiful horse was led into a community. The people accepted it as a gift. They took it inside their gates, and begin to “rejoice” over such a wonderful present. However, while they slept through the night, soldiers, killers, evil intentions climbed down out of the horse and invaded the community, catching the citizens unawares and destroying all that they had developed.
We are now facing a modern version of the Trojan Horse, and we need to wake up before it’s too late. The faculty and staff of Medgar Evers are beginning to take steps, as well as elected officials and national figures. The evisceration of Medgar Evers will not be tolerated. The policies could reverse all that has been accomplished and put MEC back to pre-Edison Jackson days. Medgar Evers belongs to the Black community of Brooklyn, and it’s up to the community to make their voices heard.
The divide and conquer methods that were the basis for our being sold into slavery and brought here over 400 years ago, is still in effect in this situation. If the Brooklyn community continues to sleep on this, they may well find they no longer have a Black college in Brooklyn.
Below is a resolution from the Faculty and Staff of Medgar Evers College. Please print, post and pass it on. Make sure your neighbors and your children know what’s going on, and that you lend a voice to speaking out against Pollard’s and Johnson’s policies.
Medgar Evers is considered to be a predominantly Black college, and the only one of its kind in New York. Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania is the only Historically Black College/University in the North. Both were formed because of a need to provide the Black community with quality education. Of all the colleges in the City University system, MEC is the only college whose policies were determined by the Brooklyn Community.
Brooklyn has stood out unique in the world as being the only community that actively participates in the direction of Medgar Evers. A privilege and a right that may well be under threat at this point.
This is the beginning for the battle of the soul of Brooklyn and the well and expansion of Medgar Evers. While it is hoped that things can be resolved amicably, it must be made clear that the Black community will not allow MEC to be destroyed.
STAY BLESSED &
bullet Columnist Gloria Dulan-Wilson Is a veteran New York City Journalist. Her experiences, perspective & sense of history are an invaluable combination. “check out my blog:” www.gloria-dulan-wilson.blogspot.com