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We Are an African PeopleIndependent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination$
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Russell Rickford

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199861477

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199861477.001.0001

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Black Studies and the Politics of “Relevance”

Black Studies and the Politics of “Relevance”

(p.46) 2 Black Studies and the Politics of “Relevance”
We Are an African People

Russell Rickford

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses reforms in curriculum and pedagogy that guided redemptive visions of “black education” in the late 1960s. Many African-American activists and intellectuals believed black children required a distinctive education designed to address their social realities and cultural heritage. They pursued educational “relevance,” demanding the incorporation of black studies and the reshaping of the educational experience to complement what some progressive theorists identified as distinctive black values and “learning styles.” The idea was to edify and empower poor and working-class children of color who had long been branded culturally “deprived” according to standards defined by the majority culture. The quest for “relevance” was a major element of the struggle for community control. Yet the defeat of community control in Brooklyn’s Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhood led some activists to look beyond public education, seeking educational “relevance” in the creation of “independent black institutions.”

Keywords:   relevance, black studies, black values, decentralization, Uhuru Sasa Shule, Leslie Campbell, Jitu Weusi

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