"Are You a Member of The Talented Tenth: Faculty, Staff and Students?"


"Are You a Member of The Talented Tenth: Faculty, Staff and Students?"


The Nubian Message, North Carolina State University's African American student newspaper, was first published on November 30, 1992. In this April 11, 1996 editorial, Staff Writer Carolyn Holloway took readers to task for complaining about African American leadership on campus. She argued that students cannot call faculty, staff, or student leaders ineffective in promoting community activism and cohesion because the students themselves did not support leaders adequately. On the contrary, Holloway wrote, students routinely skipped important African American cultural events, student organization meetings, and academic lectures that would challenge their thinking and galvanize them to work for the betterment of the entire community. Holloway thus called for African American students to stop complaining about their leadership, and instead lend their support to leaders by participating in active campus organizations.

Holloway's article addressed one of the common themes of The Nubian Message: African American student involvement on campus. During the 1990s especially, the paper often argues that African American students had become indifferent to and passive in resisting racism on campus. Consequently, numerous editorials from this time called for more African American students to make their voices, opinions, and experiences heard by actively participating in the African American Student Advisory Council, the Society of African American Culture, and other campus organizations.


Carolyn Holloway, Staff Writer


Carolyn Holloway, "Are You a Member of The Talented Tenth: Faculty, Staff and Students?", The Nubian Message 4, no. 13 (April 11, 1996): 7. Digitized by the Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.




Rose Buchanan




Are You a Member of The Talented Tenth: Faculty, Staff and Students?

By Carolyn Holloway

I have always been a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, because through the power of the ancestors - anything is possible. For the past two weeks I have attended programs and meetings that I had no intention to gracing. The programs and the meetings I went to tended to shift focus from just a simple get-together to conversations about leadership in the Afrikan American community and the lack of faculty and staff involvement in the lives of the Afrikan American students here at N.C. State.

These two topics certainly have to be the most talked about subjects in the past 50 years at any institution where a significant number of Afrikan Americans attend. That is probably why I dislike discussing them. Though sometimes the ancestors tell you, or give you, an inspirational feeling and the only thing you can do is say, "Yes Ancestors." So, in keeping with my convictions, I guess I have opportunity of speaking from their strength once again.

Leadership is a funny thing, because depending on who defines it, only a small percentage of the Afrikan American community has leadership. To make sure we are on the same page, I will use Merriam Webster's definition of what a leader is: "a person who has commanding authority or influence." From this definition, I will share my interpretation of what leadership is at NCSU.

One of the recent questions asked was, "Do you think Afrikan American leadership on campus is effective?" And the answer was unquestionably no.

Well, I guess in this case I will be the one to beg to differ because I believe in the talented tenth as so finely defined and originated by W.E.B. DuBois which means that only 10 percent of the Afrikan American population will lead the masses (in this case, the talented tenth is a talented group of 10 people).

Usually, the people who speak about campus leadership being ineffective are those who are not leaders - in most instances. Those non-leaders are usually the people who say "I do see effective upperclass leaders, though I never see them at any constructive programs (excluding the too many other "social" programs that seem to be upsurging this year). How many of these people who yell ineffective leadership are in socially inactive organizations or political organizations that do not challenge their thinking?

"Do you believe that leadership has failed you?" was another common theme this week. I think the question should have been "have you failed the leadership." What have you done to make the leadership effective?

Have you involved yourself with any Afrikan American Student Advisory Council (AASAC) or Society of Afrikan American Culture (SAAC) meetings? Have you asked the Association for the Concerns of Afrikan American Graduate Students (ACAAGS) if you can volunteer your services at the Symposiums they hold every semester?

Have you asked the staff of the Cultural Center if they need something you can help with? Were you at Kwame Ture's lecture? Will you go to see Sankofa during Pan-Afrikan week? These are the questions that should have been asked by the people in the audience when leadership was involved, and the "future" leadership should have been the ones who were answering the questions.

I, personally, do not think the leadership on this campus is in a dilemma - especially when I saw a "sister" of mine putting up flyers at 7:45 a.m. on a Monday morning for the Sankofa program to be held the following Monday.

The leadership is doing what it can with what they have. The Leadership brought Kwame Ture to campus, presides over AASAC meetings, is at The Nubian Message everyday, and is an active member of the Peer Mentor Program. Where were you when [sic]

Maybe you were at a roll-out, (as a first choice) or maybe you were volunteering your precious time and energy for the Afrikan American Basketball Association in Carmichael Gymnasium. Who knows what you were doing or why you were doing it, but you were not at these intellectual programs?

The next topic we will cover is the faculty and staff involvement here on campus. We all know that faculty and staff member involvement is virtually non-existent, but we must work with what we have.

There are some very dedicated advisers, coordinators, and staff persons, though, who make up for all the bad those misguided individuals [sic] we have here at NCSU, so why dwell on the bad people who we already know are pitiful?

Our elders used to say that if you dwell on the bad people all the time, you never see good people any of the time. Good faculty and staff members are available to us all. Ignorance of their existence is no longer a plausible excuse. Symposium occurs every semester where each freshmen [sic] gets to meet their coordinator and ask questions. It is up to you, no longer the coordinator, faculty member or staff member to establish positive relationships with them.

Finally, I will stray for a moment and direct part of the article to all those people who bandwagon on 1992. Now when I say bandwagon, I mean those people who say "well back in 1992 things were so much better." "In 1992, we marched to the chancellor's house." "In 1992, everybody spoke to each other." Well, in 1992 I was in high school and had no idea what was happening at NCSU. Which means 1992 is not my excuse, and is not my incentive for leadership - nor my only good moment here at NCSU.

Therefore, I will not constantly reiterate "well back in 1992." 1992 was not the best year, and 1996 is not the worst year - therefore those who were here in 1992, find something better to use as an excuse for your poor leadership.

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Carolyn Holloway, Staff Writer, “"Are You a Member of The Talented Tenth: Faculty, Staff and Students?",” The State of History, accessed April 14, 2024, https://soh.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/690.