"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.