Roberta Meek, October 20, 2021

Dublin Core

Title

Roberta Meek, October 20, 2021

Subject

African American college students

Description

In this interview, Professor Roberta Meek shares her experiences as a student, activist, and educator at Muhlenberg College, reflecting on her work with Black students, support of and mentoring for Black faculty, and the college’s efforts toward diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Date

2021-10-20

Format

video

Identifier

MCA_09

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Kathryn Ranieri
Susan Falciani Maldonado

Interviewee

Roberta Meek

Duration

01:12:36

OHMS Object Text

5.4 October 20, 2021 Roberta Meek, October 20, 2021 MCA_09 01:12:36 MCA-D History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College Muhlenberg College: Trexler Library Oral History Repository African American college students Roberta Meek Kathryn Ranieri Susan Falciani Maldonado Roberta Meek_ 20211020_trimmed2.mp4 1:|13(4)|22(7)|31(9)|41(2)|51(5)|61(11)|70(8)|82(4)|95(14)|107(16)|118(19)|134(8)|145(6)|154(10)|166(5)|183(8)|194(5)|205(7)|216(2)|225(1)|234(8)|244(1)|255(11)|265(6)|275(4)|283(1)|292(5)|304(10)|318(14)|328(9)|336(11)|347(14)|357(15)|367(15)|374(9)|383(1)|392(8)|404(1)|414(6)|423(3)|433(9)|442(10)|452(14)|462(9)|473(4)|483(3)|494(6)|504(2)|515(4)|530(5)|539(1)|549(10)|561(9)|571(2)|581(9)|593(11)|604(12)|614(10)|623(10)|634(10)|645(16)|653(13)|664(9)|675(13)|690(4)|703(9)|713(1)|722(2)|734(13)|747(3)|756(2)|764(7) 0 https://youtu.be/991AGBV076E YouTube video English 0 Introduction So today is October 20th, 2021. I'm Kate Ranieri. I'm here interviewing Roberta Meek at Muhlenberg College. Thank you very much. And so I would like to start with, if we may, your early life. Tell me about what it was that made you seek out the college experience and then who were your influences to go to college and why Muhlenberg. 25 Early Influences Well, I came from a family where it was kind of an expectation that we would go to college, which to some degree is why I ended up with Muhlenberg, because that expectation meant that though I probably, in retrospect, was not ready to independently learn without structure and was enrolled at Yale University as a traditional student in the class of 1978, I didn't last for a lot of reasons, including, you know, being one of very, very few black students on the campus at that time, but also--I don't know that they even had a name for it back then--undiagnosed, probably because it didn't even exist in people's vernacular, ADHD. Right. So all of that combined meant I did not succeed in finishing. Thank God I got decent grades. 207 Choosing Muhlenberg And why Muhlenberg? Because in Allentown it was close by. But importantly, I had heard of Muhlenberg because my very best friend in childhood-- her father was a Lutheran minister and lived up the block from us at the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. And he had always wanted her to go to Muhlenberg College as a Lutheran college. So I had heard of it. I hadn’t heard of some of the other institutions around. Plus, Muhlenberg was one of the only liberal arts schools 338 Following History Education RM: Yeah, having been a history major, I got involved in a fabulous project, which was an oral history project actually, with a couple of the professors at Muhlenberg who were collaborating with the senior center in Allentown and Touchstone Theater in Bethlehem. And it was an oral history project which began as an oral history of the African-American experience in Allentown, but then expanded to Bethlehem and Easton over the years. And so I got involved in that, which ended up turning into an original theatrical production, which I got involved in. And all of that, that particular process, plus an independent study course that I took, and then my honors thesis that I did, all made me want to continue. 752 Trailblazers in African-American Courses RM: The first time that I actually took any courses like this and was really aware of it, was when I returned in 2004. I had taken courses in the early 1980s and then wasn't able to because of raising my son and then in the 1990s, I came back and by that time they had a program through the Evening College, which again, I can't remember when Wescoe became the name, but they had a program where you could get a degree like kind of in human resource stuff, which, you know, I was a unionist at the time, so it was like, that could be useful. So I, that's the first time I actually tried to matriculate was in the early 1990s. 1117 Black Students' Activism RM: Well, actually, I'm going to go back a few years before that, when I was still a student, between 2004 and 2006. At that time, the Black students on campus, part of BSA, the Black Student Association, had a number of complaints that they wanted to air and had approached the Dean of Admissions, I think, would have been the title at the time, and the institution as a whole, basically. And I happened to see that there was a BSA meeting, I happened to have been involved at Yale and the Black Student Association at Yale, and I was like, “I wonder what this is all about?” And I stopped by a meeting, where there were probably five, a handful of students--not all Black, by the way, there were white allies who were part of the group--and they were talking about approaching the administration about some of their concerns about courses, about particular professors, about admissions and needing to increase both the faculty and student body with faculty of color and students of color and particularly Black students. And they were going to be meeting with the Dean of Admissions and the Provost at the time. 1717 The Diversity Vanguard KR: Africana Studies. She was the one that made the change. So, we're talking about 2009, 2011, you were talking about that time frame, about ‘11 and ‘12, and I know there was a big push on diversity when we had President Helm supporting it ([I’m]being careful here), but there were a lot of students, which is the same thing that you're talking about at the same sort of thing that we hear from students in the ‘60s and ‘70s, some of the similar this is-- it's like Groundhog Day in a way, you know. So there were students that were organized and wanted to approach the president like, that was the Diversity Vanguard. 2708 The Origins of First Diversity Strategic Plan So it'll be interesting to know whether this was new. But if anything, it was new in the last couple of decades where you had across the spectrum, right, affinity groups coming together as a coalition for-- looking for change. And one of the things that those who were working alongside me, working with the students, we have them do some research. What are the statistics of the number of students, Black students? Latinx students, students, Asian students and faculty. Get those demographics, get those numbers so that when you are asking for something, you are not talking from nothing. Right? And so their demands-- I mean--I could--I was so proud. They just, they were so-- they put it out passionately, but, you know, perhaps we're talking the politics of respectability, you know, everybody who's dressed nice so that they came off in a way that could not be poo-poohed. And again, you know, I know that's to some degree sometimes poo-poohed, but it worked with this administration where-- and the demands that they were asking for also had been echoed to some degree when the faculty had met and kind of come up with some plans as well, which was, you know, more faculty and staff of color, more students of color. 3141 Diversity Strategic Plan Loses Momentum RM: Yeah, yeah. You know, the DSP was comprised-- like a number of folks who were on Diversity Vanguard demanded positions on that-- seats at that table. I was asked by the president to be on it, and I--you know, people go, well, you never refuse the president--I refused the president because when you sit at the table, your perspective changes, it's important that people be at the table, but it is important that people be on the outside who can keep the folks at the table focused and I felt like that was my role and several of the Diversity Vanguard members felt that same way and-- at the beginning, you know, the problem also is with college campuses, you're talking about this, this thing started in January. The DSP didn't really get started until the very end of the spring semester. So it was really starting to work over the summer. That's always a problem because by the time you return, many of the leaders who had made that happen, right, because that would, that would that would, I don't know if it would have eventually happened, but it would not have happened at that moment in history without student demands. And, you know, half the leaders were already graduated, right, or going to study abroad, so that allowed things-- and whether they admit it or not, the administration knows this, right? 3511 Black Faculty Letter and Action Plan KR: When we move to June of 2020, we have the letter that comes out. Black faculty letter-- with many of the things that they're asking for-- demanding-- are the many of the same things, it seems, we've been asking people before, way before any of us, you know. What was your read on that and how that-- how that's looking like the impetus that got it there? I mean, obviously the impetus has been there for a while. But do you have a few words about that? I really appreciate it. It's-- I think it was-- it seemed to have a bit of heft, if you will. 3924 Advice for Students KR: When you think about advice that you would give students--we ask this all the time, no matter whether-- what era that we're doing or on topic or whatever, but-- any advice to students of color that you would give, and I know you give them all kinds of valuable advice, but for the record, let's put it this way, what kind of advice would you give them? RM: I think the advice that I have given is students are the most powerful group on campus. And don't forget that you have that power, you know, does not matter how old you are. You were the reason the institution exists, so, don't ask permission to do what you think needs to be done, to make the place a place that you can call home as well, because that was one of the things that was happening a lot in the 2013-2014 timeframe. Where they would, you know, students would come-- not always students of color, sometimes white allies-- who would sit with some of us and kind of lay out what they were thinking about doing, but in a way that was kind of asking for permission. 4161 Closing Comments RM: There has been periodic momentum, and again, that's one of the difficulties when you're talking about the turnover that happens on a college campus, just by its very nature of being a four-year institution, you also have what-- was really great that semester was that so many of the seniors were involved because a lot of times, for example, with BSA organizations across the country, when you get first-years and second-years tend to be really, really gung ho. And then as you get closer to graduation, you know, you might be applying for jobs, you might be applying for grad school and your focus, it's rare that you find really heavily involved seniors in things like affinity groups and leadership positions. And-- but the danger is that, again, by the time you come back in the Fall, those people who have been pivotal to that particular protest are gone. In this interview, Professor Roberta Meek shares her experiences as a student, activist, and educator at Muhlenberg College, reflecting on her work with Black students, support of and mentoring for Black faculty, and the college’s efforts toward diversity, inclusion, and equity. ROBERTA MEEK OCTOBER 20, 2021 KATE RANIERI: So today is October 20th, 2021. I&#039 ; m Kate Ranieri. I&#039 ; m here interviewing Roberta Meek at Muhlenberg College. Thank you very much. And so I would like to start with, if we may, your early life. Tell me about what it was that made you seek out the college experience and then who were your influences to go to college and why Muhlenberg. ROBERTA MEEK: Well, I came from a family where it was kind of an expectation that we would go to college, which to some degree is why I ended up with Muhlenberg, because that expectation meant that though I probably, in retrospect, was not ready to independently learn without structure and was enrolled at Yale University as a traditional student in the class of 1978, I didn&#039 ; t last for a lot of reasons, including, you know, being one of very, very few black students on the campus at that time, but also--I don&#039 ; t know that they even had a name for it back then--undiagnosed, probably because it didn&#039 ; t even exist in people&#039 ; s vernacular, ADHD. Right. So all of that combined meant I did not succeed in finishing. Thank God I got decent grades. But the people who influenced me were all of the members of my family, my grandmother on my-- my paternal grandmother was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. And as a black woman, you know, in the early 1900s, even though she was actually valedictorian of her high school class, was actually demoted so that a white student could get that position. And although she did have some college experience as a young person, she wasn&#039 ; t able to complete that for all kinds of reasons, which frankly, I don&#039 ; t even know. You know, it&#039 ; s something that I learned about her actually kind of recently. But she did start taking college classes in her 70s. So I had lots of role models of returning to school, so that after I, you know, dropped out for the second time from Yale, had moved to Allentown from Philadelphia with my ex-husband because of his job...I started taking my very first class at Muhlenberg in 1980 and-- as an attempt to return to school. And I had been an Afro-American Studies major at Yale, which is now probably African-American studies. I don&#039 ; t think they converted to Africana, but there was no such thing at Muhlenberg. So history, which was a love of mine, was the course-- the first course I took. And why Muhlenberg? Because in Allentown it was close by. But importantly, I had heard of Muhlenberg because my very best friend in childhood-- her father was a Lutheran minister and lived up the block from us at the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia. And he had always wanted her to go to Muhlenberg College as a Lutheran college. So I had heard of it. I hadn&#039 ; t heard of some of the other institutions around. Plus, Muhlenberg was one of the only liberal arts schools in the area that was actually at that time offering evening courses for adults. It was called the Evening College at that time. So I think that answers that part of the question. But that&#039 ; s how I ended up at Muhlenberg. And then, you know, it was, of course, here, the vicissitudes of life get in the way. So children, divorce, all of that, attempts to come back multiple times. But finally, in 2004, after my daughter-in-law, who was not even out of her late teens, had two children and was taking college credits, I thought, I guess I don&#039 ; t really have an excuse not to finish my degree. So I came back in 2004, taking two classes every semester through what had become Wescoe [the Wescoe School], which has now changed names again. But I took a traditional major, so I was a history major, which meant that I had experience with lots of the faculty who were not adjuncts through Wescoe and graduated in 2006, proudly. KR: Yay, thank you. And I believe there was a further-- you furthered your career and your education elsewhere. RM: Yeah, having been a history major, I got involved in a fabulous project, which was an oral history project actually, with a couple of the professors at Muhlenberg who were collaborating with the senior center in Allentown and Touchstone Theater in Bethlehem. And it was an oral history project which began as an oral history of the African-American experience in Allentown, but then expanded to Bethlehem and Easton over the years. And so I got involved in that, which ended up turning into an original theatrical production, which I got involved in. And all of that, that particular process, plus an independent study course that I took, and then my honors thesis that I did, all made me want to continue. And so I went to Temple as a history doctoral student. And what I was really looking to do was actually not teach. I had no thoughts of being a professor. I actually wanted to do some more creative work like I had done with that production. And one of the things I knew was important was to get some of the funding that we had gotten. It was required to have people who had specific credentials. So I thought, you know, if I were to have some of those credentials, maybe I could, you know, spearhead some additional projects. And then I ended up, guess I&#039 ; m not supposed to say names, but someone in the Media and Communication department who I knew from other work I was doing at the time, allowed me to teach a summer course because they needed someone to teach race and representation, which is one of your courses, and you were kind enough, Kate, I guess I can say your name since you&#039 ; re on here, you were kind enough to share your syllabus and all kinds of other things because I was like &quot ; [T]each? I&#039 ; m not even done with grad school. What are you talking about?&quot ; But she had seen me in the work that I had done and knew that I could do the teaching thing. And that&#039 ; s how I ended up starting to teach in the summer of 2009 and fell in love with it, you know, and therefore took me in a whole different direction, which was, you know, my final career before retiring, which is happening at the end of this year as a conclusion to this particular journey began, kind of, out of just, happenstance, that I needed a job that summer and ended up being a wonderful 12 years or 13-- almost 13 years of work. KR: Lots of things going on, too, during that time. RM: Oh, yes. KR: If we can just go back just for a moment, think about when you were a student, I&#039 ; m assuming, that-- that could be totally false--that you probably didn&#039 ; t have time for a lot of social activities on campus when you were on the Wescoe School, is that or did you? RM: No, because I was a single parent, I was self-employed, so I was a consultant doing a bunch of different things. But what I will say is because I was not in one of the accelerated programs and was in a traditional major, I ended up learning a lot more about things going on. So I would go to talks and those kinds of things, because at that time-- I would say it&#039 ; s improved somewhat. But for the most part, adult students don&#039 ; t necessarily even know about a lot of the things that are going on, even if they had the time. And so I was fortunate that, you know, as I said, I was in a major where I would hear of things because I-- and because I was a consultant and was flexible, I could take day classes, you know, Saturday classes. I wasn&#039 ; t always all adults. So I learned about things from other, you know, traditional-age[d] students who were part of the residential college experience. I did not do social things because number one, people are-- especially half of the classes tended to be, you know, as young or younger than my children, but also because I didn&#039 ; t, you know-- the college experience, which I experienced all the way back in the 1970s, you know, you&#039 ; re meeting new friends, you&#039 ; re making lifelong friends, all of that. That wasn&#039 ; t part of what I even required out of a college degree and the program by the time I was taking it as an adult. But as I said, I did attend a lot of things that-- and one of the things I did as I became, a teacher of students who were also adults because I often made sure that my classes included Wescoe students, was I would make sure that they were aware of a lot of the things that happened on campus, because that was something that-- for example, the honors program I found by-- because I&#039 ; m a nerd and I was reading the catalog and found out that there was such a thing and therefore, you know, asked about it and pursued that. Otherwise I wouldn&#039 ; t have known it even existed. KR: Thank you, so go ahead. SUSAN FALCIANI MALDONADO: Could I ask one? KR: Yeah, course. SFM: Roberta, thank you. So as you said, when you first in 1980, I believe, when you first started attending courses at Muhlenberg, even the early precursors of the Africana studies program were not yet extant, even in any courses being offered. But we know that by around &#039 ; 84 or so, by the mid-eighties, there had started to be at least a Black history course taught by a white professor. But of course you were a student at that time and perhaps intermittently. Can you speak at all about the first time you became aware of any offerings or movements in this direction? RM: The first time that I actually took any courses like this and was really aware of it, was when I returned in 2004. I had taken courses in the early 1980s and then wasn&#039 ; t able to because of raising my son and then in the 1990s, I came back and by that time they had a program through the Evening College, which again, I can&#039 ; t remember when Wescoe became the name, but they had a program where you could get a degree like kind of in human resource stuff, which, you know, I was a unionist at the time, so it was like, that could be useful. So I, that&#039 ; s the first time I actually tried to matriculate was in the early 1990s. So I wasn&#039 ; t-- at that point I wasn&#039 ; t even taking traditional courses. I was taking specific courses that were evening courses. So, yeah, I don&#039 ; t think I really became aware of any of that until I returned. And Charles Anderson and Mary Lawler were in the midst of trying to propose that because at the time I returned, they had, I don&#039 ; t remember if it was African-American or I think it was African-American, not Black, they had like in the history department, they had a way that you could almost get like a certification, basically, that you could kind of track with that way. So obviously, there must have been courses and they were in the midst of trying to get it approved, which might have even been the year I graduated in 2006. If not, it was right after that where they ended up having an African-American Studies program that became official. And that&#039 ; s when I started taking classes, which is also how I got involved in the project that I talked about. So, yeah, I wasn&#039 ; t aware of when that got started. And I do-- I know the professor and admired the professor who started the program or teaching, who also started courses in women&#039 ; s studies and public health and all of that. So. Trailblazer. KR: Yes, God rest his soul. SFM: And I will say as far as the naming thing is concerned, certainly feel free to do so, it&#039 ; s just, if anything particularly pejorative were to come out, that would --might call for a redaction. But yes, Dan Wilson, may he rest. He was a-- RM: Oh, and I just mentioned two other people, so therefore... SFM: And that&#039 ; s what made me think of it, of course, this is part of building the history is who were the players? RM: Who were the players? That&#039 ; s right. Well, then I really would like to actually name a couple of people, which is Su-- Susan Clemens-Bruder was my mentor and adviser who worked with my independent study courses and was the advisor on my honor&#039 ; s thesis. And Judy Ridner was the other professor that I was working with, and Ethel Drayton-Craig, who was the Multicultural Life director at that time, and those are the folks who I worked really closely with on the Black history project that we were working on. And I don&#039 ; t know that I would have ended up in grad school or in the play or a lot of other things, if it had not been for for them and it was, Judy Ridner&#039 ; s class, which was the African-American experience, part two, which is-- I teach, I&#039 ; ve taught now-- which actually introduced me to the project that I ended up working on because she was going to be on sabbatical and said, &quot ; Well, there&#039 ; s this ; I&#039 ; m not going to be teaching courses, but you might want to talk to Susan Clemens because she is working on a project we&#039 ; re working on&quot ; and blah, blah, blah. So, those names are really important because one of the first collections of oral histories on the Black experience in the entire Valley, you know, there&#039 ; s been several others that have been happening in recent years, funded by some of the humanities projects, et cetera, with Lehigh and and others. But, I mean, I don&#039 ; t know this for sure, but I would venture to guess they were some of the first to, kind of, make that happen. KR: Names all sound kind of familiar, people that I&#039 ; ve met, of course, worked with. Thank you very much. For-- there&#039 ; s a few places that we were thinking about and know that you have a lot of background as, not only a student from what you&#039 ; ve shared this far as in terms of your history and the history of the black experience in the Lehigh Valley, but when we think about what&#039 ; s going on at Muhlenberg, where-- what were your early recollections through today, if you will, of what-- and this is a broad question so, you know, I&#039 ; m just going to open up the floodgates here and [you] say whatever you want to add, in the sense of-- when you first started, I know that when you started with &quot ; Race and Representation&quot ; that summer, what was going on on campus in terms of their concerns? Is your recollection of diversity, diversity or equity or inclusion or just diversity? How did you-- how do you see it? Remember it? RM: Well, actually, I&#039 ; m going to go back a few years before that, when I was still a student, between 2004 and 2006. At that time, the Black students on campus, part of BSA, the Black Student Association, had a number of complaints that they wanted to air and had approached the Dean of Admissions, I think, would have been the title at the time, and the institution as a whole, basically. And I happened to see that there was a BSA meeting, I happened to have been involved at Yale and the Black Student Association at Yale, and I was like, &quot ; I wonder what this is all about?&quot ; And I stopped by a meeting, where there were probably five, a handful of students--not all Black, by the way, there were white allies who were part of the group--and they were talking about approaching the administration about some of their concerns about courses, about particular professors, about admissions and needing to increase both the faculty and student body with faculty of color and students of color and particularly Black students. And they were going to be meeting with the Dean of Admissions and the Provost at the time. And I gave them a little bit of advice because, you know, that&#039 ; s what I did. And so I had said, you know, I&#039 ; ll happily attend that meeting. But, you know, I prefer not to be talking because I&#039 ; m not-- you need to advocate for yourselves, and so I showed up at the meeting, which was in Seegars in front of the fireplace, and I sat back and I was listening and they were expressing their concerns and then the Dean of Admissions said, &quot ; Well, you know, I hear what you&#039 ; re saying--&quot ; I don&#039 ; t remember the exact words, but the crux of it was, you know, &quot ; [B]ut one of the reasons that we have had difficulty recruiting Black students is because when students visit, you know, you share negative things about the college.&quot ; And the person who was the pres-- I don&#039 ; t even remember, so I couldn&#039 ; t say her name because I don&#039 ; t remember her name, but the person who was president of the BSA at that time, you know, attempted to advocate for themselves and basically was like pushing back a bit and, you know, he pushed back, and I could not help it. I had to-- I said, I mean, I remember it was pretty ugly. I said, &quot ; I cannot believe that you just said that to these students, you have put, squarely on their shoulders, the responsibility of increasing enrollment by Black students. How dare you?&quot ; I remember pointing my finger. &quot ; How dare you?&quot ; I said, you know, at that time, maybe it was 30 years ago, I don&#039 ; t remember because I was in college five million years ago, but whatever the time would have been since I was at Yale, I remember saying &quot ; I cannot believe that you are putting this in this way,&quot ; which is the same stuff that I was fighting, you know, the administration at Yale University, however many years ago, it was at that time. And I literally said, &quot ; How dare you?&quot ; You know, so I hadn&#039 ; t intended to get involved, but they couldn&#039 ; t have defended themselves. They had no ammunition. It was not a time when activism on campus was in vogue. So kind of that kind of protest skills and that kind of thing that I would say students for the most part have nowadays, because of many years of things building over the last few years, but I&#039 ; m not sure, even if they had had that that they wouldn&#039 ; t have had enough students to do much push back. So I know and I know that that&#039 ; s recycled through because-- so this is tangential. Again, I&#039 ; m sorry, I&#039 ; m not directly answering your question, but, you know, the protests that happened on Through the Red Doors, I think it was. In 2019, probably, I think that was the class that was graduating-- some of that same kind of thing got said because they had been smart and strategically placed their protest on a day when they knew that lots of people that would affect the institution. And unfortunately, it tends to be the same concerns over and over and over again. So that predated my being a professor. When I came in to teach that summer, a number of the students, you know, one of the things at that time there was still, I don&#039 ; t know, there were probably less than two percent Black students on campus, if that, and a course like &quot ; Race and Representation,&quot ; as it has consistently done, tends to have-- it does not have the lone Black student in the class, there tend to be several students who were in the class, and I believe all of the students who were in the class the following fall, who were of color, were part of, I think it was called &quot ; Jump Start&quot ; before it was the &quot ; Emerging Leaders,&quot ; and I heard from students about concerns regarding particular professors who were teaching some of the courses in what at that time were still, I think, African-American Studies or teaching any of the Black-focused courses, some were allowing, you know, as part of kind of &quot ; because it&#039 ; s in the text,&quot ; the articulation of the N-word, for example. Or saying that Black literature didn&#039 ; t exist anymore because it was based on one particular book by a scholar who, frankly, I-- I don&#039 ; t admire at all who made a ridiculous argument about, it had phased out was no longer considered Black literature, so there were complaints about the approach. So I was hearing some of that as somebody teaching students in 2009, through like 2011 or so, kind of before I became full-time faculty officially, so they were folks who were in my evening classes. And so there were concerns about how people were being treated and importantly about kind of the insensitivity about, it is not that white faculty cannot teach courses on race and or on Black history or anything like that. That&#039 ; s ridiculous, because there are many, many fabulous scholars out there. It was the way in which faculty were assumed to be schooled enough or have expertise in areas that they didn&#039 ; t. Right? So if you&#039 ; re going to have faculty teach it, there should be an extra layer of, number one, sensitivity, but, number two, some kind of expertise where they&#039 ; ve done some research on something, something, rather than an assumption that anyone can teach those courses. So those are the kinds of things I was hearing in my early years here, because I wasn&#039 ; t, you know, I wasn&#039 ; t on campus kind of full time until about, I&#039 ; m trying to think, I think the Fall of 2012 is when, you know, I pretty much had an office and was here with some regularity. Not sure of any of that is what you asked me, but there you go. KR: Thank you. Susan, do you have a question? No. OK. SFM: Oh, no, I don&#039 ; t. I just wanted to say thank you, all of that was amazing and exactly-- you know, that&#039 ; s why we opened the floor. You know. RM: If you give me the floor, I will take it. So there you go. KR: I&#039 ; m all for that. So, as you&#039 ; re mentioning these things, I&#039 ; m thinking about when Jump Start was started and then and then changed to Emerging Leaders. But then there was also the change, I think when Kim Gallon came, she changed the name to-- this is after Charles. RM: Right? KR: Africana Studies. She was the one that made the change. So, we&#039 ; re talking about 2009, 2011, you were talking about that time frame, about &#039 ; 11 and &#039 ; 12, and I know there was a big push on diversity when we had President Helm supporting it ([I&#039 ; m]being careful here), but there were a lot of students, which is the same thing that you&#039 ; re talking about at the same sort of thing that we hear from students in the &#039 ; 60s and &#039 ; 70s, some of the similar this is-- it&#039 ; s like Groundhog Day in a way, you know. So there were students that were organized and wanted to approach the president like, that was the Diversity Vanguard. RM: Yeah, that was actually in spring semester 2013 and you know what, what had happened was between 2009 and 2013, let&#039 ; s use that time span, one of the things that I know had started to happen was the Jump Start program. One of the flaws of the Jump Start program was that it was trying to be more of a bridge program than it was trying to be one that was about bringing a cohort in and doing things to assure retention, right. So a bridge program is, you know-- the concept of a bridge program historically had been one in which there&#039 ; s an assumption that students couldn&#039 ; t have gotten in without some special dispensation, right? And unfortunately, the recruitment that was done for those early students, indeed, brought unprepared students to campus with no supports that would have allowed them to succeed. It was not that these folks were not just as smart as any of the other students, but their under-resourced schools that they came from, right? And it&#039 ; s kind of like my daughter when she went to Swarthmore, it was like, you are brilliant and you will do fabulously there. But understand that the Allentown School District did not prepare you for the writing skills and the critical thinking skills you&#039 ; re going to need. You have them innately, but you are going to have to use every resource available to you in that first year or so or it&#039 ; s going to smack you in the face. Right? And so many of the students who entered in, you know, who were in those early classes, you know, may be graduating sometime between 2009 and 2012, for example, really struggled, and many, in fact, were you know-- they might have come in wanting to be premed. Well, we know premed is notorious for weeding out students, and students of color in particular were weeded out pretty early. But importantly, you had people who wanted to be psych majors or whatever, who, because they performed poorly in the early part of their tenure, and again, largely because not only the shock of being on, like we call it, predominantly white, well, at that time we&#039 ; re talking really, really white, but also not having-- like the Writing Center wasn&#039 ; t set up for any kind of remediation. Right? So you had students really floundering, and what happened is they ended up channeling a lot of students who had interests in other areas into American Studies because they thought they should be able to do fine with this, right? It&#039 ; s not as challenging and there are some who I know to this day are resentful of having been channeled into that, because I know one student in particular who was in my &quot ; Race and Rep[resentation]&quot ; class, probably the second time or third time I taught it, so in those early years, who wanted to be a psychology major and wanted to go on to graduate school for that and had no grounding to be able to do that because they had been really steered to take classes which they thought would be easy enough for her to, you know, to get a degree. So those are the kinds of-- those are the kinds of concerns that, as we got to 2013, were percolating. By then, it was called Emerging Leaders, there was a small cohort of students who had come in and they were in the class of 2015, I think. Is that true? I think so. 2014, 2015. Who wanted to see the same stuff that we see time and time again, more faculty and more students, et cetera, and there was a visiting professor who actually was a CFD, the Consortium for Faculty Diversity. Am I able to say his name? It&#039 ; s not like he&#039 ; s not sort of famous on campus, but he made a Martin Luther King speech that rocked the world. We all sat mouths agape and many of us were quite happy, it was said, but he really critiqued the institution. Number one, he had arrived as-- the CFD program in theory is to prepare diverse faculty to actually become tenure track and tenured faculty. Many institutions that participate in the program do not simply have a revolving door of one-year CFD that actually does not guarantee that the person will end up with a position. But it is you know-- they&#039 ; re bringing folks in to mentor them to go find faculty positions, tenured faculty positions on campuses that are liberal arts campuses, but also often have the anticipation of a position that might open, that they could apply to and not be given preferential treatment, but that there is the chance of a full-time position, permanent position. We, at that time, did not use the program in that way. We used it as a revolving door of having somebody of color on campus. And so at that time, there were three of us, the visiting person, Kim Gallon, and me. And I was not tenure track, so we had still one tenure track Black faculty member. And, you know, it was not that he had been promised a position, and in fact, when you come in for just a one year CFD, you&#039 ; re essentially on the market the moment you hit the campus that you are on. So if there isn&#039 ; t a position available, unless they are going to convert your position, you&#039 ; re basically looking elsewhere. Right. So that was always the case when we had somebody on campus and I don&#039 ; t know how many preceded him. I don&#039 ; t know how many people have been on campus prior to his arrival, but during his tenure, that one year, you know, he was asked, basically, as Black faculty tend to be, asked to kind of participate in all kinds of things, including being kind of a mentor to Black male students on campus, like officially, like, not just where that happens, which it does, you know, we&#039 ; ve become informal mentors and advisers to students across campus, regardless of whether that&#039 ; s our formal role or not. But he was actually asked to kind of participate in some of that, which is crazy because you&#039 ; re there for one year, which means you were setting up the students for a very bad experience of losing the person that they kind of rely on as a faculty mentor. And so he critiqued all of that. He critiqued specific administration folks, some of whom were sitting in the audience. So it was tense ; as much as I was happy, I was cringing a bit because I was like, holy moly, what&#039 ; s happening here? But it was fabulous because he had already gotten a position, right. So it was not a question of even sour grapes. This was-- he knew he had nothing to lose and said what needed to be said. And the students were fired up, both the Black and brown students in the audience and white allies, and they began to gather after, like, small clumps, they didn&#039 ; t leave the room, right? And what can we do? What can we do? And the response from the president of the college--perhaps [he] would deny this, the timing is very interesting--very shortly after that, we got the campus wide email that had to do with the diversity statement for the college and asking for input in tweaking it and some of those same students were like, excuse my language, &quot ; I&#039 ; ll be damned. You&#039 ; re trying to rein in that conversation as if you&#039 ; re doing something.&quot ; And they were angry and I was in teaching &quot ; Race and Representation&quot ; in the library. And what is it, B-6, whatever that room is, the big room down there. And I see students [and the] Multicultural Life director come and knock on the window and call me out and I&#039 ; m like, &quot ; What is up?&quot ; And what was up was that students from SQuAd [Students for Queer Advocacy], BSA, Comunidad Latina, and the Asian Student Association, there was a small group of the students who were really fired up and had drafted a letter that they wanted to know if I would be willing to sign that they wanted to send to the-- they wanted to take to the president&#039 ; s house that night, demanding a variety of things. And I said &quot ; I&#039 ; d be happy to sign it. But let&#039 ; s talk strategy.&quot ; So, I talked them off the ledge of-- it is not that I had, you know-- hell, I had, you know, shut down the Yale Daily with other students, you know, over something that had happened on campus. So it was not that I had any problem with even storming the castle. Right. But in an era where protest was not the norm, and on a campus like Muhlenberg&#039 ; s, that kind of very aggressive, not assertive but aggressive tactic should be held off for a different day, not as your first-- in my opinion, not as your first entree, because it would shut down any kind of negotiating that could happen. From my own experience in the union, from my experience as an activist, I gave them my advice and it was up to them whether they took it or not. And I said, you know, give it in the morning. Right? And don&#039 ; t go over and knock on his door tonight ; it won&#039 ; t be received well. And they followed that advice, and I&#039 ; m really glad they did, because it opened up some channels of communication. And so that continued in the meantime, that same evening, there were-- is this OK for me to say? So that same evening, more students, including those students who had come knocking on the door, gathered, I think it was in Seegers-- one of the rooms in Seegers, and began to kind of talk more collectively about what they were looking to have happen. And then I think it was the following night, I&#039 ; d have to look back at dates. I have a whole file on Diversity Vanguard, but very shortly thereafter, they called an emergency meeting of any students interested in the topic at the Multicultural Center. And at least in my experience with Muhlenberg, again, I cannot swear to-- I know that there were things that happened in the &#039 ; 60s and late &#039 ; 60s and early &#039 ; 70s, but my guess is there wouldn&#039 ; t have been enough students to do what happened that night where it was like 80, 90 students or so who converged on the Multicultural Center. And again, I do not believe in telling young people how they should protest. However, if they ask for advice, I am willing to give it. So I gave a lot of advice and I said, &quot ; You know, what you want to do is break into small groups, get an idea on what people are looking for.&quot ; You know, we pulled out the big paper to, you know, brainstorm on. And then once the students have left, we can then do kind of a multi-voting thing and figure out what the priorities are out of all of those and/or massage the language so that we can get it so it makes sense to the administration. And so, you know, that all happened and we continued to meet several times to put out-- to make that list manageable, and so they drafted something to ask for a meeting with the administration and they asked specifically-- again, I suggested, &quot ; You&#039 ; ve got to make sure it&#039 ; s in your space. Don&#039 ; t be sitting across the table where they&#039 ; re in their kingdom.&quot ; So the administration did agree and they met in the Multicultural Center and it was pretty much most of the cabinet was there and the representatives from the student organization. So, Diversity Vanguard, which I don&#039 ; t remember if they had named themselves before or after that meeting, but I think there were about 12 of them at that time, you know, it tended to be the president or the president and vice president of each of the organizations, which, again, was something that felt new. And again, you&#039 ; re looking at the history. So it&#039 ; ll be interesting to know whether this was new. But if anything, it was new in the last couple of decades where you had across the spectrum, right, affinity groups coming together as a coalition for-- looking for change. And one of the things that those who were working alongside me, working with the students, we have them do some research. What are the statistics of the number of students, Black students? Latinx students, students, Asian students and faculty. Get those demographics, get those numbers so that when you are asking for something, you are not talking from nothing. Right? And so their demands-- I mean--I could--I was so proud. They just, they were so-- they put it out passionately, but, you know, perhaps we&#039 ; re talking the politics of respectability, you know, everybody who&#039 ; s dressed nice so that they came off in a way that could not be poo-poohed. And again, you know, I know that&#039 ; s to some degree sometimes poo-poohed, but it worked with this administration where-- and the demands that they were asking for also had been echoed to some degree when the faculty had met and kind of come up with some plans as well, which was, you know, more faculty and staff of color, more students of color. And specifically we&#039 ; re looking at Black students and Black faculty and all of the affinity groups had agreed that the focus could be with a privileging of the, you know, the Black experience on this campus, because that was who had received the brunt of a lot of the stuff that happens on campus and where the majority of folks in the Emerging Leaders program, for example, and their demands included that, but then they asked-- they demanded, they didn&#039 ; t ask-- they demanded that there would be a diversity-- like that we have a diversity-- a strategic plan for diversity which had never existed in the institution. So that&#039 ; s kind of all happened. And, you know, the matter of-- I think the meeting with administration was on February 1st and MLK Day had been maybe two weeks prior. So it all happened pretty quickly. And the administration did respond by creating a Diversity Council to kind of look at the issue. And that&#039 ; s where it gets tricky. Because that took way too long and was way too-- was not transparent at all. Long winded answer, so you open that floor and the floodgates will fill out, so. SFM: Well, two thoughts, I mean, in talking about how the students who had come in even up to 2012 in those-- the period from when you started teaching, absolutely reflects what we know from the record about student experiences in the &#039 ; 60s and then what those folks have echoed. We have one amazing quote for-- and I can&#039 ; t wait for you to hear these when they&#039 ; re public. We have one quote from one participant from the class of &#039 ; 77 saying, you know, &quot ; they-- of DEI they wanted the D, but they did nothing for the E and the I and there just-- there was no support.&quot ; So, that is a theme consistently. And what you say about it being new for the affinity groups to come together then at this point, that is a true statement. That is-- that was a first. RM: Yeah, yeah. SFM: Thank you so much for speaking to that. KR: And also the notion that there was no urge to be active politically, to be protesting anything. In fact, one of-- Sallie [Keller Smith]-- who said that one of her professors called Muhlenberg a &quot ; hotbed of tranquility.&quot ; RM: And Muhlenberg wasn&#039 ; t alone. I mean, the reality is that even when I was in college and, you know, from &#039 ; 74, you know-- I was in the class of &#039 ; 78-- there was certainly still activity, kind of reverberations from the &#039 ; 60s by that point. In the-- you know, 1980s, early &#039 ; 80s, you started to have, like, against apartheid, for example, but in terms of campus-- campuses across the country, for the most part, by the time you&#039 ; re getting to, you know, 1990s and early 2000s-- for the most part, they&#039 ; re fairly quiet. So Muhlenberg was not an anomaly in any respect. And in fact, the kinds of percolation that was happening here was how it started to happen on other colleges. You know, at that moment, there were-- I&#039 ; m trying to remember, there was, I can&#039 ; t remember if it was Smith, I don&#039 ; t know if there was some college that, like that spring, that same spring had closed down the entire campus to have a day of reflection based on problems they were having because somebody had scrawled some horrific thing on a building or whatever. So it was starting like, the trend was starting again for activism, and then, of course, by 2014, we&#039 ; re pretty much in full bloom by then. And that&#039 ; s not just, again, Muhlenberg, but across the country. So we were following national trends in many ways, but it&#039 ; s still very personal when you&#039 ; re talking about your own campus. It wasn&#039 ; t like when you had SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] or those kinds of things in the &#039 ; 60s where you had-- or SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee]-- where you had mobilizations across the country, where you had chapters and those kinds of things. So they were individually, you know, erupting and we were part of that early front that starts to happen by the time you get Black Lives Matter. About a year-- about a year later ; year, year and a half. KR: So, the DSP [Diversity Strategic Plan] kind of spun out of-- kind of lost its momentum. It seemed like. Is that? RM: Yeah, yeah. You know, the DSP was comprised-- like a number of folks who were on Diversity Vanguard demanded positions on that-- seats at that table. I was asked by the president to be on it, and I--you know, people go, well, you never refuse the president--I refused the president because when you sit at the table, your perspective changes, it&#039 ; s important that people be at the table, but it is important that people be on the outside who can keep the folks at the table focused and I felt like that was my role and several of the Diversity Vanguard members felt that same way and-- at the beginning, you know, the problem also is with college campuses, you&#039 ; re talking about this, this thing started in January. The DSP didn&#039 ; t really get started until the very end of the spring semester. So it was really starting to work over the summer. That&#039 ; s always a problem because by the time you return, many of the leaders who had made that happen, right, because that would, that would that would, I don&#039 ; t know if it would have eventually happened, but it would not have happened at that moment in history without student demands. And, you know, half the leaders were already graduated, right, or going to study abroad, so that allowed things-- and whether they admit it or not, the administration knows this, right? Same thing happened with the work that was being done in 2019. The majority of that leadership of those students were seniors. Right. And so by the time you come back in the fall, you&#039 ; ve got a whole new class entering and you&#039 ; ve got people who don&#039 ; t even know it existed. Right. But importantly, because-- you know, one of the things that I kept asking faculty representatives to demand was that you have an outside facilitator for that, because if you have the president of the college, as well-meaning as that person may be, that&#039 ; s not, that&#039 ; s not going to be a facilitated process that is in any way neutral or fair, because it&#039 ; s skewed by folks who are deeply invested in, not necessarily in a positive way, but deeply invested in the status quo and in. making sure the institution is OK. Right? And so because, you know, there was a refusal to have outside facilitator and so the process took almost two years and by the time it was done and they were rolling out like having people come and, I don&#039 ; t know, they did one of those roundabouts where you go and you look at whatever was being proposed and you give feedback. There were so few people on campus who would have even known what that was about to begin with, that the kind of feedback that really would have been needed to keep folks on track wasn&#039 ; t happening and it had gotten diluted. And it&#039 ; s not like some of the things that came out of it were not good, but they were not what the original intent was. So, for example, one of the things that came out of the DSP, which folks were so proud of, was the gender neutral-- the first gender neutral bathroom on campus. Important thing ; was not part of the original plan. It had skewed so far from increasing faculty, staff and students on campus, particularly Black students, which was the original thrust, that-- but it was still important, it&#039 ; s still an important part of history because of the fact that we had not had a strategic plan like that. And so that when the new president was hired and, what was it, 2015 maybe, something around there, that was something that the Board was saying you need to have at least some focus on, right? And that&#039 ; s when I think-- I think that&#039 ; s when there was really a beginning of a push that have not happened under the previous administration of increasing faculty and staff numbers and, you know, we had training from an outside consultant who came in and, you know, trained on DEI and we have done a significantly better job. I mean, you know, there&#039 ; s not just one, two or three Black faculty anymore or faculty of color more generally. The real trial now is retention, whether people actually make it to tenure, because prior to this, you know, Charles Anderson made it to tenure, but left right after. Kim Gallon left in her third year and people since then have left prior to and that is not because they were doing poorly, which is a real reflection on the institution and our reputation, you know, in terms of people attracting candidates, people who hear these things, you know, that there&#039 ; s a revolving door. So we&#039 ; ve done better. And we&#039 ; ve got some folks close to tenure now and that will be the proof of the pudding, whether we are in a state of change and advancement is if we get folks over that tenure line who then stay. And to date, we have not done that, so. KR: When we move to June of 2020, we have the letter that comes out. Black faculty letter-- with many of the things that they&#039 ; re asking for-- demanding-- are the many of the same things, it seems, we&#039 ; ve been asking people before, way before any of us, you know. What was your read on that and how that-- how that&#039 ; s looking like the impetus that got it there? I mean, obviously the impetus has been there for a while. But do you have a few words about that? I really appreciate it. It&#039 ; s-- I think it was-- it seemed to have a bit of heft, if you will. RM: Yes. It had heft because the folks who contributed to the actual drafting of the language are incredibly talented. And one person in particular and I&#039 ; m sorry, I&#039 ; ve got to, I&#039 ; ve got to name: Emmanuel Kucik is phenomenal. And her wordsmithing is phenomenal, but it was a collective effort of a number of faculty. I will say I was one of the people who signed it. I definitely looked it over, but I cannot take credit for drafting that letter. What I will say is that I wrote my siblings upon reading the final draft and said, &quot ; I&#039 ; ll be damned if this is not what my father was fighting for, as you know, for the Black presence at Penn back in 1970 to &#039 ; 76 ; it is the same stuff, the same stuff we were fighting for students, the same stuff that Black faculty were fighting for, you know, 50 years ago, which is really criminal at this point.&quot ; What I will say is what the impetus was obviously, the kinds of protests that were going on created a real momentum and sense of urgency. But importantly, it was one that-- it was a strategic moment to be able to make these demands because people were listening across the country in a way, including on our campus, in a way that they might have meant to be, but in actuality, if you don&#039 ; t change A or B, C is always going to be the same A plus B, equal C ; if those components A plus B don&#039 ; t change in some way, C is not going to change. And we were kind of in that station where we would keep doing things but not things that would change dramatically how the institution functioned. And because of the political moment, it was an opportune moment to make those demands, and the letter was brilliant, received a lot of support from allies and I will say thus far, I think the institution is thus far responding well. I think that there are, I mean, I have seen definite efforts to make real the kinds of things that they say they want to do regarding DEI. Even the term DEI, I find just-- I don&#039 ; t know. I used to train on pluralism and diversity. Right. So during the &#039 ; 80s and &#039 ; 90s when that was the fashionable word and that&#039 ; s the problem, it becomes a buzzword, to some degree for many institutions, and it also becomes a protective device for the institution to stave off some of the protest. But I will say that this administration does seem to be receptive and seems to want to make real those things and different departments. You know, the Theater Department-- Theater and Dance Department spent months trying to kind of talk through how they can approach things differently, whether that&#039 ; s casting or choosing the kinds of productions that go on. So I see a real effort again. I don&#039 ; t know, you know, it depends on when you&#039 ; ve got a turnover of students every four years, it&#039 ; s hard to say whether it will be sustained, but I think it was, again, the first that I know of it does not mean it was the first, but it was the first of that kind of, kind of letter of demands that was presented and that had received-- that was received positively by the institution itself. Does that answer? KR: Yes, thank you very much. It was-- I thought it was a very profound moment for certain, you know just...Susan, do you have any questions? SFM: Well, not, not a question per se, but I did want to say this, and I&#039 ; m happy to have this be on the record: years ago when I was new, you came and mentioned to me that your daughter at Swarthmore, that you-- through your connection with her, of course, you had come across a site that talked about Swarthmore&#039 ; s diversity history, and you had said to me, you know, &quot ; I wish we could have-- what do we know about this? It would be cool if we could have something like that here.&quot ; And-- RM: Good memory! SFM: Since you said that to me, I started, whenever the opportunity presented itself, to create a document that had every piece of history and mention and movement, and this just accumulated over years and years. And it&#039 ; s thanks to the partnership and the practice that I built with these other two partners on this project that we finally worked-- the project that we&#039 ; re doing right now and the fact that we were able to include students in it and the fact that we were able to collect oral histories around this is a seed that you helped to plant. And it is while it is six or seven years down the road, I&#039 ; m delighted to have you be a part of it, and I can&#039 ; t wait for you to see it. RM: Me either, I&#039 ; m excited about it. Well, that&#039 ; s really wonderful. I did not even remember that, but I&#039 ; m glad to have planted a seed. KR: When you think about advice that you would give students--we ask this all the time, no matter whether-- what era that we&#039 ; re doing or on topic or whatever, but-- any advice to students of color that you would give, and I know you give them all kinds of valuable advice, but for the record, let&#039 ; s put it this way, what kind of advice would you give them? RM: I think the advice that I have given is students are the most powerful group on campus. And don&#039 ; t forget that you have that power, you know, does not matter how old you are. You were the reason the institution exists, so, don&#039 ; t ask permission to do what you think needs to be done, to make the place a place that you can call home as well, because that was one of the things that was happening a lot in the 2013-2014 timeframe. Where they would, you know, students would come-- not always students of color, sometimes white allies-- who would sit with some of us and kind of lay out what they were thinking about doing, but in a way that was kind of asking for permission. And that&#039 ; s the advice I gave, which is, you know, I&#039 ; m not asking you to, you know, get totally crazy and violent, but I&#039 ; m saying protest, you&#039 ; re completely within your rights to do that. You don&#039 ; t have to ask permission and, in fact, asking permission to some degree minimizes what you are trying to do. So I&#039 ; m happy to give advice. But don&#039 ; t ever ask me whether it&#039 ; s OK. You know, in the words of Ella Baker, who was one of my idols, she advised SNCC, right? She did not guide them or tell them what to do. She said, this is your battle. I am here as a resource. But you don&#039 ; t have to ask me how to do this fight. And I think that&#039 ; s really key because young people have been the folks who have made the most substantial change in this country since its founding. And I think that&#039 ; s who&#039 ; s made the most difference on this campus. So the Black faculty letter is really, really important. But again, if we hadn&#039 ; t had other things percolating that were student-driven, and if it weren&#039 ; t that political moment, I&#039 ; m not sure how the institution would have responded to it. So I think that&#039 ; s the most sage advice I can give, you know, this is your home for four years, so you demand what you need to make it a place that is safe, happy and healthy for you. All right. KR: I think it&#039 ; s great advice because I&#039 ; ve used the same thing, just pretty much the same stuff. But, Zaire was-- the President of the Student Body--was talking about the protest that took place outside of the Sports Center on the day that Red Doors announced-- he said those are particularly-- him as a freshman, he was talking about what it felt like. He was like, &quot ; I think I&#039 ; ll just watch&quot ; and then pretty soon he was jumping in, you know? So I think it&#039 ; s really important for them. There was a lot of, you know, momentum going on it seemed like. RM: There has been periodic momentum, and again, that&#039 ; s one of the difficulties when you&#039 ; re talking about the turnover that happens on a college campus, just by its very nature of being a four-year institution, you also have what-- was really great that semester was that so many of the seniors were involved because a lot of times, for example, with BSA organizations across the country, when you get first-years and second-years tend to be really, really gung ho. And then as you get closer to graduation, you know, you might be applying for jobs, you might be applying for grad school and your focus, it&#039 ; s rare that you find really heavily involved seniors in things like affinity groups and leadership positions. And-- but the danger is that, again, by the time you come back in the Fall, those people who have been pivotal to that particular protest are gone. And therefore, it kind of went [audible &quot ; pop&quot ; ] for a while until 2020, which, you know, George Floyd changed the world in that regard. You know, we had never, you know-- whether you&#039 ; re talking about the modern civil rights movement-- we have never seen protest on the basis of race like we saw with that particular, lynching, I&#039 ; m going to call it, legal lynching by police because you&#039 ; re talking about the volume of people in the streets, and the diversity of the people in the streets, right? Yes, there&#039 ; s always been white and non-Black allies, [but] not to the numbers that we had consistently day after day in the streets and then across the globe, because anti-Blackness is a global problem like white supremacy and coupled with anti-Blackness is a global reality, and again, one of the things I said, I was very hopeful with that summer, but I said we have to see what happens. Does it sustain itself? And to some degree, it&#039 ; s dipped again. So we shall see, we shall see. But yeah, I think there&#039 ; s like that&#039 ; s how, that&#039 ; s how protest goes. It&#039 ; s rare that it&#039 ; s sustained for years and years on end, unfortunately or fortunately-- I don&#039 ; t know. It&#039 ; s unfortunate because the problems don&#039 ; t seem to get fixed and then the protest wanes or it gets co-opted. The DSP was a co-optation. SFM: So, Roberta, thank you so much for participating in this. We very much value your time and your perspectives. And it has been a pleasure. Copyright remains with the interview subject and their heirs. video The interviews collected as part of the project &quot ; The History of Diversity and Inclusion at Muhlenberg College&quot ; are hereby shared with the consent of the participants under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0). Under this license, the interviewees have agreed for the interviews to be publicly available in the Trexler Library archives and as a freely available resource on the internet for educators, scholars, students, and others who wish to explore the many stories about Muhlenberg College’s path toward diversity and inclusion. 0

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“Roberta Meek, October 20, 2021,” Muhlenberg College Oral History Repository, accessed February 7, 2023, https://trexlerworks.muhlenberg.edu/mc_oralhistory/items/show/84.