Publication Date

April 1, 1996

The Committee on Minority Historians continues in its efforts to highlight issues of particular concern to minorities within the profession. The committee members during 1995 were Cynthia Blair (Harvard Univ., graduate student); , chair (Howard Univ.); Donald L. Fixico (Western Michigan Univ.); Neil Foley (Univ. of Texas); Gary Okihiro (Cornell Univ.); Joseph Taylor (Bethune-Cookman Coll.); and Zaragosa Vargas (Univ. of Arizona), Noralee Frankel, AHA assistant director for women, minorities, and teaching, has consistently provided excellent support for the committee's endeavors, ably assisted by administrative assistant Rosslyn Rosser. The committee also profited from constant interaction with AHA Executive Director Sandria Freitag, who attended the committee's meetings and made every effort to advance the committee's objectives.

The committee's discussions and activities centered on four ongoing projects: fundraising for the annual Wesley-Logan Book Prize; further development of the AHA Teaching Diversity pamphlet series; reaffirmation of the Association’s support for affirmative action; and strategies for recruitment of minority faculty and students into the historical profession and Association membership.

Regarding the Wesley-Logan Prize, our committee, with the help of Thomas C. Holt (Univ. of Chicago) and David Levering Lewis (Rutgers Univ.), solicited additional funds from members and other donors.

For the pamphlet series, the Committee on Minority Historians approved four new essays: (1) "Cultural Encounters: Immigration, Migration, and Diasporas of People of Color"; (2) "The Construction of Race and Ethnicity"; (3) "Families: In Different Cultural Traditions in America"; and (4) "Changing Notions of Gender." Antonio Rios-Bustamante (Univ. of Arizona) has contributed greatly to this effort by continuing to coordinate recruitment of authors and editors for the series.

In its deliberations concerning affirmative action, the committee agreed to draft a strong resolution, built around existing AHA policy, reaffirming support for affirmative action. The resolution is to be presented the Committee on Women Historians for joint sponsorship and then submitted to the Council for endorsement. The committee also recommended that the Association assemble a selection of the most cogent related materials bearing upon academic life, which can be sent as a packet upon request to members and facilities concerned with issues surrounding affirmative action. As an additional measure, the committee plans to sponsor a session on affirmative action at the 1997 annual meeting, as well as another on changes in historiography due to inclusion of the history of peoples of color.

With respect to recruitment of more minorities into the Association, the committee resolved to carry out a formal recruitment drive during 1996. One other decision reached concerning ways of highlighting issues of particular interest to minority historians is a plan to publish a series of essays in Perspectives that will focus on how the teaching of history in the 21st century will affect the special concerns of minority scholars.

The committee's sponsored session at the 110th annual meeting was a plenary panel, "Entitling Citizens: Retrospectives and Prospects of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States." Chaired by Sara M. Evans (Univ. of Minnesota), who was joined by panelists Mary Frances Berry (Univ. of Pennsylvania) and Julian Bond (Univ. of Virginia), this panel was well attended and very enthusiastically received. The reception the committee hosted at the meeting was also well attended.

The committee wishes to extend a special thanks to Donald Fixico and Joseph Taylor, who rotated off at the end of the year.

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