Letting Go of Bitterness

While later articles in The Nubian Message did not necessarily focus on slavery, they continued the call for African Americans to take inspiration from their collective past. At the same time, later writers adopted a more positive outlook on the potential for African Americans to change their lives and succeed in defining their future.

"Do We Shrink Like a Raisin or Explode?"

For instance, in this March 28, 1996 article, the Students for the Advancement of Afrikan American Studies appealed to African American campus leaders to support the creation of an African American Studies Department at NC State. The coalition first laid out the reasons that NC State needed such a department. Writers explained that African American Studies is "part of a greater narrative in a pursuit of a greater version of the truth." Because Africans and African Americans have long been omitted from the American national narrative, these writers believed that an African American Studies Department would bring black experiences to the fore and in the process redefine not only what it means to be African American, but what it means to be American.

The student coalition then traced past efforts to create this department on campus. As the writers explained, students inspired by the civil rights movements of the 1960s attempted in the 1970s to establish an African American Studies department at NC State. Denied their request by the faculty and administration, these students eventually led a protest that halted final exams and forced the university to create the first African American Studies courses. In the 1980s, students again appealed for an African American Studies department, were again denied by the administration, and again turned to protests. They ultimately succeeded in pushing the university to create an African American Studies minor, but in 1996, a full department devoted to African American Studies had yet to be developed. The student coalition therefore ended their article with a call to students, faculty, staff, and administrators to fulfill this dream and make an African American Studies Department a reality.

"Understanding Bitterness"

Likewise, in her November 14, 1996 article, "Understanding Bitterness," staff writer Conitsha Barnes took a positive view of the potential for African Americans to bring about change in society if they remembered the lessons learned from the past. At first, she vented her frustration, anger, and bitterness at the current state of American society. She argued that mainstream society continued to "dehumanize" African Americans, and African Americans continued to let themselves be "brainwashed" at the "hands of the oppressor." Barnes was most frustrated at fellow African Americans who said that "things are as good as can be expected" and thus accepted a lesser status in society. Yet, countless African American men and women did not let slavery's oppression crush their spirit; individuals such as Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X in the twentieth century did not let white supremacists and civil rights nay-sayers silence them either. Barnes argued that the same struggle that past men and women faced in combating racism was not over in the 1990s.

Nevertheless, Barnes asserted, growing bitter about ongoing racism was not the answer for African Americans. Here is where her article differs in tone from past articles in The Nubian Message about historical oppression. Barnes saw the possibility of a bright future for African Americans, regardless of past or present racism, if they will only take action to realize it. As she wrote, African Americans should "become aware, and thus, knowledgeable. We must learn about ourselves" and the collective African American past in order to shape the collective African American future. Her arguments thus dovetail with the calls for an African American Studies Department on campus. Both she and the Students for the Advancement of Afrikan American Studies embraced the African American past as a way to mold the African American future.