The Black Caucus Protest
It was at the Dallas Convention in 1971 that members of the Black Caucus, as it was then known, exploded in protest to being ignored and generally left out of conference proceedings. Participation at NAEA convention by Black art educators had continued to grow. Regularly attending– to cite but a few by name– were: Della Taylor (WV); Ronald Craig (MD); Madge Evans (NJ); Esther Hill, Mercedes Thompson, and Lana Henderson (NC); Sam Banks, and Bill Harris (VA); Howard Lewis, and "Major" Hooper (FL); Al Britt and John Hall (AL); John Nash and Yvonne Catchings (MI); Barbara Nicholson (AR); Alma Simmons, Eve Booker, and Lee Ransaw (GA); Margaret Lewis, Horathel Hall, and Al Blair (TX); Althea Williams (DE); James SMith, Mary Parks (WA); and Esther Cannon (CA). These are but a few of the regulars who came from distant states and were joined by others attending who lived near the convention city. The underground Caucus convened after hours, after the convention proceedings and after the parties, to talk about conditions and our relationship to the NAEA. These were heated discussions with some wanting to stage a revolt or a walkout while others argued for a calmer more rational approach. But all wanted to let the convention know how we felt. It was at the NAEA Dallas Convention in 1971 that a strategy finally evolved. A committee prepared a statement, "a manifesto," which was approved by the ad hoc or "rump" group that had been meeting after hours for the last three or four conventions. The unanimous choice to present the manifesto was Grace Porter (now Grace Hampton). She was chosen because of her stature, her delivery, and her unwavering calm. We didn't realize, at the time, that she was a faculty member at Northern Illinois University and that William Bealmer, her Department Chairman, was also President of NAEA. He did not appear to be one that would accept revolt easily. The Caucus requested opportunity to address the NAEA convention at a General Session.
The "Black Caucus Manifesto" as presented by Grace Hampton née Porter
We would like to ask your indulgence at this time to air some very pertinent concerns that relate to the framework of NAEA. This applies to the national organization and to each regional.
As a group of concerned Black Art Educators, we came to this eleventh NAEA Biennial Conference with great hope. Hope that has been generated by a projected theme which could do much toward making all of mankind truly and fully human.
The theme, while an ambitious and worthwhile one, has fallen short of its potential for truly effecting these ends. From the beginning of the convention, activities have failed to treat fully the humanizing aspects with due justice. For instance, the Artist in Resident film and the cowgirl extravaganza, "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You!" are good examples of the sins of omission.
In short, efforts to date to promote humanism have been a farce. Humanism cannot be promoted by mouthing words and esoteric art education articles. Humanism must be promoted by observable deeds.
The NAEA has set forth some worthy conditions and salient points that make it clear that its job is to represent all of the teachers of the country and to improve conditions for the teaching of art.
If our random sampling of future art teachers, as represented by those students in attendance at the convention, is any indication of future minority participation and leadership– then the picture is, indeed, frightening.
We have taken a serious look at the operation of this organization, and it is clear to us that is has not fulfilled its commitment to the theme of the convention, as well as its stated goals, policies, and purposes as set forth in the Constitution of the NAEA, Article 2 under "Purposes."
Our evaluation of this conference clearly manifests that minorities have not been included significantly in the fabric of the conference. This inadequate representation has caused us to be overtly misrepresented as professionals and as active members of NAEA.
The following four areas are of great concern to us:
To this date, circumstances have not allowed us freely to participate in plannings and procedures.
Historically, we have not been represented by major conference keynote speakers.
We feel that minority groups should be consulted on those matters that relate directly to their ethnic status, as well as on the total picture of art education.
In light of the nationwide drive for increased membership, it is our belief that members of minority groups will be encouraged to join the organization if it is realistically to fulfill its humanistic function.
As active members of NAEA, we are committed as professional art educators to make a contribution to our profession and to help make this organization a truly viable one which, and I quote, "represents all of the art teachers in the country," for we feel that the greatest resource of any corporate group or nation is its people.
Again, as concerned Black art teachers, it is our moral obligation to bring these matters to the attention of this national body.
We will continue to work to make the spirit of humanism in Art Education a reality in practice as well as in theory.
We consider this statement a positive move toward the improvement of this total image and meaning of NAEA. We are convinced, therefore, that this document will be received in that light. NAEA can be the great organization it purports to be.
Meet the Executive Board
gloria j wilson, PhD
University of Arizona
Ahran Koo, PhD
California State Universiy, Fresno
Adriane Pereira, PhD
Maryland Institute Colllege of Art (MICA)
Zerric Clinton, PhD
Artist/ Henry County, GA Art Educator
Hazel Beaumont Bradshaw-Young, PhD
Past Chair, 2018-2020
Delaware State University
Ketal Patel, PhD
Ohio State University