April 15, 2010

Streak of Disrespect for Civil Rights Icons Continues With Haki Madhubuti and Chicago State University

The old lions in our village are being disrespected quite abit lately. Calling Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) the N-word during the health care debate was out of line. Spitting on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) as he walked to his place of work was out of line. Next we learn that civil rights icon Haki Madhubuti was forced out of his job as an educator at Chicago State University after 26 years of service.

"This is a difficult time for me. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I have been forced to seek early retirement. On June 22 , 2009, I issued an open letter to the university community in regards to the appointment of our current president, Dr. Wayne Watson," said the Third World Press founder and Chicago Public Schools charter operator. "I questioned in no uncertain language the flawed and undemocratic process in which he was selected. I was as fully aware when I issued the letter as I am now that all actions have consequences."
Madhubuti said his split from the university came after Watson, who took the helm of the South Side institution last year, demoted him.

Madhubuti said Watson demanded he teach four courses a semester -- contrary to his contract -- removed him from the paid staff of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center he founded, and reduced him to volunteer status with the master's program in creative writing that he co-founded.

"I am convinced that this move against me is personal and vindictive," Madhubuti said. "Although I did agree to increase my course load, I rejected the points that removed me from the structures I founded and co-founded at the university."
Watson denied Madhubuti was being forced out, although Watson declined to discuss details of the departure.

"That is his decision. I am only asking him to teach," said Watson.
Madhubuti has filed a grievance against the university.

Madhubuti rose to international fame as a fiery poet who gave voice to the pain of the 1960s civil rights movement and founded the renowned Black publishing firm that distributed Black authors deemed untouchable by the mainstream publishers in the early '60s.

The prolific poet and longtime educator also operates three Chicago public charter schools and a private preschool he founded with his wife.

"Haki Madhubuti, he is an institution," said acclaimed author, biographer and researcher Maryemma Graham, a university of Kansas English professor inducted into the center's hall of fame Friday. "The Chicago State MFA program and Gwendolyn Brooks Center has become as powerful and renowned as it has in part because of his presence. That will never change."

I first learned of Madhubuti when I was taking Black Studies college courses back in the day. I'm sorry that Chicago State University chose to join the Tea Party in its disrespect of our old lions.


myundiary said...

Speaking as a former student and staff member of CSU, I think that it is quite sad. Sometimes the administrators...no most of the time the administrators feel that they can keep things under lock and key and behind closed doors. With all the knowledge that I have, I should right a book. But that would not benefit anyone. I think that everyone should really take a closer look at the practices and policies of CSU, its administrators, and various departments. Its all corrupt!

Villager said...

MyUndiary - Thanx for sharing your unique insights based on your time at Chicago State University. Please keep us informed on this story if you hear anything new.