Dr. Carter G. Woodson once said,
“When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one” (Woodson, 71).
Taken from his pivotal work, The Miseducation of the Negro, this quote encompasses a reoccurring theme of socialized inadequacy on an institutional level. Woodson goes on to include potential solutions to the miseducation problem that could be implemented not only in schools, but also throughout the entire community. Years later, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante would incorporate Dr. Woodson’s ideas in his articulation of a functional theory that calls for an intentional shift of the mental paradigm through which African-Americans learned and taught.
Afrocentricity, as defined by Asante, is a “consciousness, quality of thought, mode of analysis, and actionable perspective where Africans seek, from agency, to assert subject place within the context of African history” (Asante 16). In essence, all roads converge and diverge with the African continent, with its rich history of pioneering triumphs and profound tribulations; Africa and all of her descendants are the end all, be all of one’s focus. There are five criteria to Afrocentricity: “(1) An interest in psychological location; (2) a commitment to finding the African subject place; (3) the defense of African cultural elements; (4) a commitment to lexical refinement; (5) a commitment to correct the dislocations in the history of Africa” (Asante 41).
The aim of this piece is to explore the education currently received by African-Americans attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (henceforth referred to as HBCUs) through the program models set forth by Booker T. Washington and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, respectively. Biographical information for both of these influential and controversial leaders will be included to illustrate the position from which their ideologies were formed. In addition, this essay will gauge the apparent and applicable success of both perspectives using Afrocentrism as a theoretical framework and the qualitative reflections of today’s Africana scholars.
The first pillar “an interest in psychological location” refers to understanding of the initial mindset and thought processes of Africana peoples. This is deeper than simply knowing what African-Americans do, but involves investigating why, the rationale behind their actions. In this regard, fundamental function of Afrocentricity and Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s diagnosis of a miseducated Negro race intersect. Both assert that African-Americans are taught almost from birth that “his black face is a curse and that his struggles to change his condition are...