Sandra Stewart Holyoak: This begins an interview on May 28, 2010 in New Brunswick, New Jersey with Al Howard, Paul Clemens and Sandra Stewart Holyoak. To begin, let us go over a bit of what you talked about last time.
Paul Clemens: Okay, well, to bring us up to date, we talked for about an hour-and-a-half about Allen's personal life and how he became a college professor and how he came to Rutgers University and to teach at Livingston College. I think we'll take up today with the story of Livingston College, and I think we might start sort of over again and I thought what we'd start with when you got here, as you explained it to us last time, you had, or to me, you had no real sense of what Livingston College was or was designed to be or expected to be. You got a job.
Allen Howard: Oh, no, no. I wouldn't.
PC: Okay, all right, okay. [laughter]
AH: I wouldn't say that. [laughter]
PC: All right, then, tell us what it was like at the very beginning when you got here? What did you anticipate Livingston being? What sort of job were you entering as you understood it? Now, you were hired. It was explained to you.
PC: What was the expectation from the very beginning?
AH: No, I think I came here or came to Livingston very explicitly because it was a place that was progressive. It was addressing urban and, especially, African American issues, and there was a lot of non-conventional dimensions to it that appealed to me. So, I knew what it was about in a certain sense of the word, but, of course, in other senses, you could never understand what it was until you got there and started being part of it, because it, actually, wasn't functioning, but I was very much engaged with the sort of vision of it that was represented to me.
SH: What year was this?
AH: That was 1969.
SH: Okay, thank you.
AH: Yes, so, I was interviewed.
PC: Do you have a sense that that first class of students that entered Livingston in 1969 themselves had a feeling that they were going to a school that was significantly different than Rutgers College or some other school in New Jersey? Was there a commitment on their part to a certain type of education?
AH: It's a good question. I think the original student body may have been a clue to some of the later problems that emerged. Quite a number of the students who came to Livingston at that time were already in Rutgers, if I remember correctly, right. So, they were coming over there from other units and there was this mix in the beginning of suburban students and urban students, and I think most of the suburban students and small-town students were white, but not all, by any means, right, and more middle class. Many of the students of color were urban and working class, but by no means all, again, so there was a mix. But I think they were being drawn to Livingston for two different reasons, and the advertising, probably, of Livingston College that went out into the high schools and to other campuses and so on was advertising that was sending two messages. One message was the message that we would address these urban issues, right, and we would have a special emphasis on bringing about a strong education that was compensating for the lack of good education that many students in the cities had, and the other message was that Livingston was very radical, and quite a number of the white students, who were middle class, I think, came here for the radicalism of it, and not necessarily for the other, you know, the other main feature. Those two dimensions of the college were always somewhat in tension; although, people worked hard to try to reconcile those tensions. So, I was, of course, more aligned with the one than the other, but I still was very interested in all these kinds of experiments in education, and I think what I tried to do was find ways to navigate both of those, you know, visions of what Livingston could be. When I say radical, I don't necessarily mean left, although that certainly was part of it. We were drawn to the leftist aspect, and I think a lot of students, you know, remember the days, it was the '60s, right [laughter], a lot of students were drawn to that too. But it wasn't just the fact that it was politically left in perceptions of a lot of people, not everybody, by any means, but that it was experimental educationally, radical educationally. This is why we had the grading system, which I'll probably talk more about, and I brought along some of my files, because I was pretty much at the center of that issue. It was also that there was this idea of much greater equality between students and faculty, that, you know, students could actually have a role in the governance of the college. I don't know if I understood this in the beginning, you know, in a kind of constitutional sense, but certainly committed to that idea that students should have a voice, right, and that we were opposed to hierarchy, sometimes to the degree that [laughter] we, well, we don't like authority, we don't like hierarchy, right. [laughter] So, that was one of the contradictions we had to sort out. How do you be a teacher, who really knows so much more than most students, yet have a respect for the students as people who can really contribute something to the classroom and that you would view on a more equal basis than, you know, in the past or that most other colleges and universities would? You know, their faculty would view students somewhat differently. So, that was a problem sometimes, right. So, I think that my way of dealing with this, if you want me to be more autobiographical, was to eventually do things like oral history projects, which I started doing at Livingston College, and then, continued once we centralized, but also use a lot of documents, so that students would be able to give their own interpretations of things, right, and to try to put a heavy emphasis on discussion, on writing with a lot of feedback where, you know, that would then use my expertise in a kind of skill-building way. I think that was very important. So, that was a way to, you know, be a professor, but try to play down hierarchy. There were a lot of other dimensions to that too. So, I would say that when I came here, to go back to your central question, when I came here, I was certainly committed both to the idea of building something that was relevant to the cities and to the African American and Latino populations, in particular, and also committed to this idea of a[n] innovative place in terms of methodology, approaches to education that were less hierarchical and less emphasizing the authority of the teacher. So, I think that was something that was there that I picked up before I ever came, and some of the administrators and others who, you know, interviewed us, and some of the literature that came out, I think, emphasized that, and you probably see it right here in the first part of this booklet [Livingston College catalog, Year?] too, right.
PC: So, Al, you conflated two words.
AH: [laughter] Yes.
PC: I want to ask about it.
PC: Just to make sure. In the minds of many people in New Jersey when I came here.
PC: When I heard criticism about Livingston.
PC: It wasn't the radicalism, which was what I heard about for Rutgers more generally.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: But at Livingston, it was the fact it was an African American student population.
AH: Yes, sure.
PC: You used urban and African American not interchangeably, but was that true? Was the typical urban student an African American student?
AH: Well, I think that's, again, it's very complex, and I think this is why it would be good to interview the people who were really very much involved in the admissions process, but, no, there were plenty of African American students from small towns and who were middle class.
PC: That I know.
AH: Yes, so.
PC: I guess I'm asking the reverse.
PC: If you got a student who came to Rutgers-Livingston and they were from Newark or Paterson or Jersey City or New Brunswick.
PC: Would that student likely be an African American student back then?
AH: African American or Latino, but there was also a white working class.
PC: That's what I was wondering.
AH: There was also a white working class, and yes, a lot of those students came from, you know, lower income.
AH: Right, yes, so.
PC: Newark through the mid-'60s, at least, still had a significant working white, working-class population.
AH: Right, definitely, definitely, there was.
AH: Of course, from the beginning, we had the labor studies department, or at least, early on, there was the labor studies department, and I think quite a lot of students who gravitated to labor studies came from working-class families from parents, mothers and fathers, who were union people, and they were committed to, you know, a strong labor movement. So, I [had] a lot of students, who, I think, come from that white, working-class background. Some were living in the inner cities or in the cities, I should say. Others were probably living also already in suburbs.
PC: Suburbs, right, yes.
AH: Right, yes, but they were working class.
PC: How about the Latino population? Was it substantial, at that point in time? It wasn't, certainly, at Rutgers College.
AH: It was considerable. I can't remember the statistics, but we always hoped to achieve in the admissions something above a quarter of the students as African American, right, and I think Livingston, at one point, had maybe twenty-eight, twenty-nine percent African American students. I can't remember exactly if it got that high, but I think that's, we considered that a good thing. The Latino population probably was maybe seven percent at the top, something like that, so it was significant, right.
PC: Would they show up in your actual classes? Were Latino students taking history as a major or an area of interest?
AH: Sure, there were Latino students who took history as a major, and some Latino students would come into my classes, but it tended to be African American and white, right. Yes, there would be some Asian students and some Latino students, but the percentages were probably smaller than the percentages in the college, overall.
PC: Gwen Hall was there teaching some sort of course.
AH: Yes. Well, last time we talked, we figured out what year she came.
AH: It was '71, right.
PC: Yes, so, by two years in, you had somebody that was actually offering courses.
PC: Some Caribbean.
PC: Or some large.
AH: Not much on the Caribbean, but more on Latin America.
PC: Latin America.
AH: With emphasis on, you know, Mexico and the other big countries, yes. She did some on the Caribbean, certainly. Actually, I started teaching, you know, courses that had quite a bit of Caribbean content fairly early on too, yes.
PC: Okay. That's where I was going to head next. Can you tell us a little bit about what your teaching was like, say, for the first five years there, what sort of courses you taught, how large they were?
PC: What sort of concerns you had in the classroom, as you were teaching?
AH: Right. [laughter] Well, you know, we were pretty free to make it up as we went along, and as you know from looking at that booklet, at first these courses were put on the books by Seth Scheiner, I think, consulting with me, and we made them very generic. So, they were sort of like "Studies in African History" at a lower level, and then, "Studies in African History" at an upper level. By the way, I should say that I really was on the ground floor of the development of African history generally, not that I was a major player, but that all of us who started at that period of time were inventing African history as we went along, right, just like people were inventing women and gender history, right--it wasn't even gender history at that time--and quite a few other fields. They were all new in the United States and generally in the world, right. The fact that I had taught African history in West Africa even earlier was, I think, one of the reasons, probably, that I was even hired. So I began to build on courses I had already done, or the courses that I had taught at the University of Wisconsin. So, then I created an ancient Africa course and a modern Africa course, and those were, that became fairly standard, I think, throughout the profession, right. I also created a West African course and a Southern African course fairly quickly. I would have to look up the exact dates, right. So those generic courses gave way to much more structured kinds of courses around particular time periods and geographic areas. So, the idea was that the, you know, the general courses would lead into the upper level courses, just like, you know, we have now or anywhere else. So the beginning level courses, ancient, modern, and especially modern, which I probably taught more, but I taught both, would have sizeable enrollments for mostly all Livingston College, so, you know, we weren't drawing on a huge clientele. Some students would come over from other colleges too, right, but they might be sixty, seventy or so students in those courses. Upper level courses, West Africa and Southern Africa were smaller, but they still could be quite a good size, if I remember, like thirty.
PC: You were the only African historian on campus.
AH: Yes, I was the only one.
PC: I mean, by campus, I mean everywhere, Douglass, Rutgers College, Livingston.
PC: If you wanted a course in African history.
PC: Were there any other Africanists at the university, at that time?
AH: So, then shortly thereafter, well, there were other Africanists.
PC: That's what I'm asking.
AH: In the interdisciplinary sense there were quite a few.
PC: Do you remember?
AH: Livingston College hired quite a number of people who were Africanists from the beginning, so that Ernie Dunn was there from the beginning and he was teaching Hausa, because he was a Hausa language specialist, and also African cultural courses within the Africana Department. Pretty quickly, Cy Motisu, who was a Kenyan, was there. I don't think he was there from the beginning. Barbara Lewis was there from the beginning. Barbara started teaching African politics courses in 1969, right. She, early on, became one of the residence advisors living in the dorms, yes, and that's a whole different story, because the dorms are a very important part of Livingston College, but we should put that off. There were quite a few other people too who were Africanists. Again, shortly after the beginning, Ibrahim Shariff was hired, who taught Swahili and who taught art and who was a very fine artist and later left Rutgers altogether and wound up in, he's actually from East Africa, right, from Zanzibar, yes, but he ended up in the Emirates and painted paintings for, you know, very wealthy people. He had a house out in East Brunswick where we used to go quite frequently, and his house was loaded with paintings, and there were quite a number of his paintings hung in buildings at Livingston College, including, at some times, the Great Hall, which was a very important place for Livingston College, the Great Hall in Tillett. So the idea was to have people who were in the arts and the humanities and the social sciences doing Africa, right, and there were also several, there were, who else was there at the very beginning? I could tell you a lot of people who came over the next few years. Anyway, there was a core of people, right, and they always emphasized arts, so that was the languages and painting and so on, and history was sort of more of a social science and then, you know, the politics.
PC: Would this group of Africanists meet as a group, I mean, not a formal group.
PC: Was it a group of people that you had conversations with regularly about the field of African studies, let's say?
AH: Yes, we were, most of us were pretty good friends and we taught together, actually. I think I mentioned last time various interdisciplinary courses. So, I taught a course with Barbara Lewis. I taught a course with Cy Motisu, and then, once she came, Barbara Masekela, who became a really good friend of mine, she and I taught courses together a couple of times. Now, there were also quite a number of people who were in various African American fields who were very African-oriented. I guess some of them you would say were Afro-centric people, right, that they emphasized the African dimension of Afro-American history and culture and so on, so some of those people consider themselves Africanists in a sense, but they weren't necessarily like the rest of us. They hadn't done a lot of field work in Africa or hadn't grown up in Africa. There was an overlap then between those that were Africanists and those who were coming out of African American history, culture, etcetera, etcetera, who were Afro-centric or African-oriented, right, and there were quite a number of people like that.
PC: I should know this, but I don't. The Africana studies program or department.
PC: Is that in existence in 1969?
AH: I think so.
PC: It's a Rutgers College program though. [Editor's Note: African studies began at Rutgers University in 1970, when Livingston College and Rutgers College started offering programs in African and Afro-American studies. Douglass College instituted its African and Afro-American Program in 1971. In 1971-1972, the programs on the three campuses became known as Africana studies, now the Department of Africana Studies.]
AH: Well, we'd have to look it up and see, but I thought that very soon, it was created at Livingston too.
PC: It was at Livingston, okay. So, it had a wing at Livingston as well.
PC: Or it was at Livingston?
AH: Sure, I mean, I think several people were hired, I thought, to create that department, but I may be wrong. We'd have to look it up. Yes, well, here's, for example, "African Dance and Music" with Sylvia Kinney. It says Kinney, but, you know, she was a figure who was, she taught ethnic musicology. So she was in anthropology and stayed a few years and then left. They don't list African, let's see, yes, they don't list African or Africana studies here.
PC: I guess my question was really more about what the institutional base was in 1969.
AH: Right, right, right.
PC: Something I should know, but I, as I go forward with my own work on Rutgers, I should know it, but I don't know.
AH: We'd have to look it up to find exactly when it was formally created as a department that offered its own courses and its own major, but it was right near the beginning.
PC: It would have to be. It would have to be somewhere between '67 and '71 or '72, I would guess.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: But I just don't know.
AH: Okay, here's Toni Cade Bambara. So, yes, people like Toni Cade and Nikki Giovanni and others were very important people. [Editor's Note: Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995), an acclaimed writer and social activist, taught at Livingston College from 1969 to 1974. Nikki Giovanni, a world-renowned poet, writer and activist, began teaching at Livingston College in 1969.] Here, now, here it is, this is '71-'72, and you've got Afro-American and African studies, right, so that's got, yes, it's got a whole lot of people here. Many of these people had joint appointments. God, this is an interesting mix. [laughter]
SH: Just for the record, we are looking at the Livingston College catalogs. [laughter]
AH: Yes. Livingston College catalogs. This is 1971-'72. So, it says, "Afro-American studies, or Black studies program, and African studies program have been arranged as two separate yet interlocking areas of scholarly inquiry," right. Then there's the faculty committee. The faculty committee, I mean, I wasn't on that, and I think everybody on that committee was African American or African or Afro-Caribbean, in other words, was black, right. There were quite a number of administrators, some of whom had also faculty appointments, right.
PC: To switch back to where I was before, the urban part of Livingston's, or the emphasis at Livingston, what was the goal of that, as you understood it? Was it, I mean, why a campus concerned with urban concerns, especially one out in the middle of Piscataway?
AH: Well, that was a little of a contradiction also. [laughter] A lot of people said, "Why isn't this college located in the heart of New Brunswick?" [laughter]
PC: Right, yes.
AH: Again, I think there were [laughter] always the two dimensions to it. It was clearly going to try to resolve problems that were considered urban problems, right, and that included, then, a lot of faculty who were professionals, urban planners, in particular, right, and there were people like Don Krueckeberg, who became a very close friend of mine and who passed away a couple of years ago, and others. I already was very oriented toward urban affairs, because of what I mentioned last time, you know, working in West Africa and my own research interests and so on. So I got to know some of those kind of people pretty well. The other side of it was this more activist side, and a lot of those people did not have PhDs, did not have research degrees, and many of them had a bachelor's degree and no advanced degree and had a lot of street experience or administrative experience running programs that were urban-oriented, you know, various Great Society programs, and so on, right, or NGOs [non-governmental organizations] of some sort, right. So there was some tension, I would say, between those two streams of the urban orientation of Livingston College, but also a lot of those people worked together and there was a lot of crossover. Someone like Ed Ortiz was a very important figure, I would say, in that since he came out of an activist background, but could really talk to and communicate and work with the people who were the more academically trained with, you know, the advanced degrees and the professional qualifications and so on in the urban studies, urban-planning field, and eventually then, he went to the Bloustein School. Before the Bloustein School was created, the urban studies was located at Livingston, and there was one whole wing, the far wing, over where the geography and other departments are now, of Lucy Stone Hall that was devoted to urban studies. From the beginning, it also, I would say, was regional studies, right. So, it had, over there, lab space, and I used to, actually, hang out in that space quite a bit, because there were a lot of interesting things going on. There were people who were doing work on, you know, city planning, where there would be models of the cities there and there would be a lot of maps up on the walls and so on and so forth, and that whole approach down the hall, just a little bit further into the core of the building, you would, there would be more people who were doing more of the sort of activist, social side of it, right.
AH: So, it was clear that it was a[n] urban-oriented place, even though it was sitting out on this military base.
PC: To try to make it into a specific sort of question, were there outreach programs, that's what we'd call it today.
AH: Yes, outreach.
PC: For New Brunswick? Were there ways that this college was conceived of or actually operating that interacted with New Brunswick?
AH: Well, there were, I would have to think about that a bit, but I would say the main thing was to get the students to come from the cities into the college and get high-level training, a good education. Now, this goes back to what we talked about last time. The idea was that education was empowering. The students would come onto the campus, right, and be empowered through education. That was the main thing right there, right. Now there were several other things going on. There were some outreach programs, but I can't tell you without having, you know, review when they started. I don't think there was a specific program aimed at New Brunswick, for example.
PC: Well, give you me one concrete sort of contradiction. As I look through the newspapers from this period one of the things that is clearly on the minds of people in New Brunswick that you can tell from The Home News and from the Targum is that there's this sort of eruption of disruption that is occurring, because town and gown are going at each other in a way that was unprecedented.
AH: Right, right, right, of course. Well, I was going to get to that. [laughter]
PC: Part of it is focused on these publicized incidents that occur around rock concerts or the Student Center.
AH: Right, exactly.
PC: On College Avenue, that is.
PC: So, I'm thinking what's going on over at Livingston, across the river, which is urban-oriented, while New Brunswick is having this really difficult adjustment problem, figuring out what it means to have a concert with some major, what at that time I guess they would have been called, soul singer that brings in two thousand people from "outside" the university.
AH: Right, right, right.
PC: And results in people beating each other up at the doorsteps and the police get called in.
AH: Right, right, right, right, okay, sure, of course. [laughter] Some of the same issues were there at Livingston College, because the idea was that, I mean, people were aware of this contradiction of being located on a former military and really in a sort of suburban environment. So the idea was that the campus would be linked with the cities, right, and what that really meant, among other things, what were, again, first staging these events, right, so there were a lot of events that people came to and some of them were pretty unruly. Again, concerts were always potential flashpoints, right, and there would be, you know, police around, but there were other things that were less flashpoints where people tried to draw upon all this talent that was at Livingston--plays, so a lot of plays were staged at Livingston College that would draw people from the community. So it wasn't just, you know, these unruly events. I can remember quite a number of these plays. We would go to them, because, you know, we wanted to be a part of what was the far-out cultural production that was going on. So, for example, they staged Amiri Baraka's the Dutchman, right. Dutchman is quite an incendiary play, right, when it comes to race issues. You know it, right?
AH: Yes. So that kind of thing would then lead to a lot of talk sometimes after the production, or it would ripple on the campus for a while. So, you know, beside, then, that kind of unruly event like some of these concerts, there was all this kind of cultural production. Another thing that drew a lot of people on were the jazz concerts, and jazz was a very important part of Livingston College from early on, and several well-known jazz artists were hired and stayed for years and years and years. Exactly what time they came, I don't know, but one, for example, was Larry Ridley. Larry Ridley is a major figure, and I still see him every once in a while. Another very important person was Lloyd McNeill. Lloyd McNeill also made a lot of records, but he was also a painter and his painting would be up. So these were people who were like full-time members of the faculty and really contributed a lot to faculty discussions and so on. When they would perform, and there were others, James Spalding, a whole lot of other people, who were there at least for some period of time, they would draw a lot of people. Those were like bigger events on the weekends and so on. There were also, maybe it was Wednesdays, like, especially in the spring and fall, there would be outdoor concerts, and those were more for students. They would draw less from the larger public. When people like Toni Cade Bambara and Nikki Giovanni and others read poetry, again, that would draw people from the outside. They would be widely advertised. They were oftentimes in the lounge at Livingston or in the big assembly hall. I went to quite a few of those. I mean these are just major poets, right, world-renowned poets, and they were performing. Once Miguel Algarin came, he was an important figure too. Those people had direct links with New York City and with other cities around. Look, we have to be honest here, a lot of people outside of Livingston College hated Livingston College. A lot of people outside Rutgers University did not like Rutgers University, because they were trying to bring change, right, and especially Livingston, you know. It was a place where black people had power. It was a place where the, you know, a lot of things were going down that were challenging the larger power structure, the larger racial structure, and so people painted Livingston College in very negative terms, and all of us who were there defended Livingston to the death, and we hate people who we see as those trying to tear the place down and paint it negatively. So there were all these things that happened. There were a lot of other things that happened. There was drug dealing.
PC: Yes. Let me stop you there.
AH: There was drug dealing.
PC: Let me stop you.
AH: Guns were on the campus. There were a lot of things.
PC: That was also true at Rutgers College.
AH: Yes. So, there were things that were negative.
PC: Al, was that true from the very beginning? In other words, today, that's my perception of Livingston looking back.
PC: That it was a campus which a lot of people in New Jersey had a negative attitude toward, but was that true at the very beginning?
AH: I think it was true. Well, the beginning was, if not '67 or so, when it was first on the drawing board. I may have to drink some water, because I got this cinnamon, it was on the bottom of the cup there. But I think that happened very quickly.
PC: It did, okay.
AH: Yes. Quite quickly, and partly that was because of some of these incidents. But I think there were people, I mean, you know, we might be paranoid, we might, but I think there were people who they wanted it to fail. I think there were people who were looking for every negative thing they could to emphasize, and they would emphasize these kinds of things, you know, like arrests on campus, fights on campus, and things like that.
PC: I guess part of the reason I ask is when I've gone through the papers from that time, I'm much more, not shocked, but pressed, struck by how much trouble there was on Rutgers College campus. I mean, the Student Center was clearly a center of considerable danger.
PC: People were getting assaulted, mugged. There was drug dealing going on. That's what's in the newspapers.
PC: Not Livingston.
PC: Livingston doesn't show up that much.
AH: That's good. [laughter]
PC: You go five years down the road it begins to, but in '69, that's the year of the moratorium on campus, but it's also the year in which they actually literally closed the Student Center, because it's such a dangerous place to hang out. [Editor's Note: On October 15, 1969, millions of people in towns, cities and campuses across America, including Rutgers, participated in anti-war demonstrations, called the Vietnam Moratorium or National Moratorium, to protest American involvement in the Vietnam War.]
AH: Yes, at Rutgers College.
PC: That's Rutgers College.
PC: It's not Livingston.
PC: So, I was wondering, clearly, I heard what you've just described, when I came here in '74, I heard those stories about Livingston.
PC: But they can't have been the stories from the get-go, because the school did attract students.
AH: It attracted a lot of students.
PC: Parents were sending their sons and daughters there.
AH: They were, they were. I think you're making a good point. Incidents built up, but, frankly, I never felt threatened there at all.
AH: I would go to the campus any time of day and night. I think where the troubles were were in the dorms, more than anything else. The Student Center, I never felt unsafe there. Of course, I never felt unsafe in any teaching building.
AH: Of course, I also went to the dorms a lot, but sometimes on the weekends, I think, that's when the troubles happened, and it probably did not happen in the first year or two, but I think it happened before '74, definitely, it did. Certain things arose, like the issue of should friends of students be allowed to stay on the campus?
PC: Yes, the closed-dorm issue.
AH: Right. That was a big issue. So, a lot of students said, "Well," you know, "if this is an open campus, we should be able to have people stay overnight here." Of course, the others said, "No," you know, "these people don't belong on the campus, because they're not students, and they're the ones who bring in drugs and guns and cause fights," and so on and so forth. So, that was a big issue. Now, when that arose, I can't, I don't think it was there the first couple of years, but, as I said, I think it certainly arose before the mid-'70s.
PC: It wouldn't be surprising if it arose initially, actually.
PC: Because that was the same period in which they were debating sort of the flip of that, which was doing away with the curfews at Douglass.
PC: Doing away with the open, close-door policies at Douglass and Rutgers College.
PC: The whole issue of access to dorms was in the air in '69.
AH: Yes, yes. No, I think the issue was there.
AH: Yes, okay, so what, some of the big debates happened around several things, and, again, what year, I can't remember, you know. There were some muggings or threatenings of students and so on and so forth, in which they would happen in one dorm, and then, students or non-students typically, although I think there were some students who were involved in criminal activities.
PC: It wouldn't be surprising.
AH: It shouldn't be surprising, right.
AH: They would run from one dorm to the next dorm underground, because there's an underground tunnel system that linked the towers.
PC: Really? I didn't know that.
AH: Yes, yes, yes. So, then, the first thing to do was to shut off that underground system. [These] underground hallways, they were quite wide, not as wide as this room, but maybe half this room, and three, you know, not what they call the Towers now, but the three original dorm buildings were linked underground, and that was an issue, so they closed those off at some stage, I think fairly early on, so to keep people from moving from one dorm to another, attacking somebody or stealing something or whatever, and then escaping.
SH: Do you know why the dorms were constructed that way?
AH: I don't really know, but it might have been, part of it might have been this theory of the dorms as places where there would be a mixing of social life and intellectual life, and, second, that the dorms were community, right, and that community then would be linked with the kind of teaching community and with the larger community. I think there was a lot of this talk of community, so you, they were clustered together, and they were supposed to be places where people interacted a lot, rather than, you know, breaking down into parochial identities, right.
PC: That's a good question. We can ask Carla Yanni [Rutgers Professor of Art History, whose expertise is nineteenth and twentieth century architecture] at some point because she's at least studied that.
AH: She has, yes.
PC: I remember at Wisconsin, I moved into a tower, Witte tower.
AH: Right, yes.
PC: There was a whole debate about how this is an alienating sort of structure.
AH: Right, right, right.
PC: What can you do to connect it to other groups.
AH: It was very much part of the…
PC: Culture at that time.
AH: The culture at that time, right.
PC: To worry about those sorts of things.
AH: Yes, yes, so.
PC: Now, you said that one of your friends was actually a resident, a faculty resident in the dorm.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: Can you tell us a little about that? How did that work? I mean, it's a tradition.
AH: Yes, there's, right, right, right.
PC: An American idea.
AH: Those three original dorms had very nice suites in them for faculty, and, you know, they were sizable enough so there could be, you know, children there too, and quite a number of children did live in those places. The whole idea was that, again, these were like residence counselors. They would be interacting with the students, and, in fact, I know that this put tremendous burden on some of these people.
AH: They were on call all the time and [would] be awakened late at night by, you know, incidents that happened or just the usual things.
AH: Someone getting sick or whatever. There were also then quite a number of rooms devoted to the student residence counselors.
PC: Preceptors or what they were called.
AH: Yes, they were, yes, I think they were called counselors, but, and this is very interesting, because a lot of those people were guys who had been in Vietnam. Remember, this is the war too, right.
PC: I know.
AH: So, the war was affecting everything. We haven't talked much about that, but that was very important, and, you know, from Livingston College, we organized buses to Washington and New York constantly. I mean, I can't tell you how many demos [demonstrations] I went on.
AH: The anti-war stuff was as important as the, if you want to say, civil rights stuff, so quite a few of those figures were really important. Right now, I can't remember the names, but there were several people who I remember well and just talking with a lot who lived in the dorms and who were maybe twenty-two, three, something like that, mostly African American, and these guys had seen a lot, right. They had been in Vietnam. They, you know, they had been in firefights and so on and so forth, and they were able to interact with a lot of the students, but they were also able to create more order too in a place, right. Yes, they were important figures, and I think the administration looked to them, you know, that social side of the administration, the student counseling and advising, counseling and student life.
PC: How long did that system of using faculty members living in the dorms remain? Do you know?
AH: I think it remained all through the first ten years, anyway.
PC: Ten years.
PC: Did those people pay a price and not get tenure?
AH: I think some people did.
PC: I can't imagine doing it, frankly.
AH: Yes, yes, right.
SH: How would you [unclear].
AH: Well, ask Barbara Lewis about it. You should interview Barbara.
AH: She'd be a very good person to interview. Yes, ask her about that. There were several other people who were there. I think Ed Ortiz for a while lived in the dorm, yes, you know, I know he did. Did he say anything about that? Yes. I'm trying to think of who else.
PC: I mean, it seems very attractive until you actually think about what it would cost you as a scholar [laughter], and then, you say, "Can you survive?" and the answer's no.
AH: Yes. I think it probably cost Barbara.
PC: Yes, yes.
AH: Yes. It was psychologically costly, as well as taking your time, right, yes. I personally would not do that. I, you know, I just wanted a little space as well, right.
PC: I would've too.
PC: If somebody had suggested it to me, I would've been horrified.
AH: Yes, yes. Then, I had a small child also, Margaret. I can remember taking her to demos and so on and so forth. She did a lot of political stuff, starting at the time, you know, I was just carrying her around at Wisconsin when, you know, we used to be tear-gassed and so on, but I didn't want to be in those dorms really. Every day, we went to campus, and we, oftentimes, were there at night and so on, but to live there, that was a little bit much for me.
PC: The political ferment there that you're describing and the problems that are more [a] matter of legality and things that people are doing that are illegal, how does that, if at all, spill over into what goes on in the classroom?
PC: In some ways, I'm sure it made it more exciting, in other ways more difficult to teach.
AH: Right. Yes. Those are really good questions. [laughter] Sometimes, the college would actually shut down, more or less, and time would be devoted to talking about issues. Now, I can't remember if we did that specifically about any one of these incidents on campus, but we certainly did that around other kinds of things, which were big decisions about governance or student-faculty relations and so on. So, sometimes, we had to just pause. We also spent quite a lot of time as a, and those would be student-faculty gatherings, right, and we had that joint assembly that we talked about last time, but these would be extraordinary assemblies. We also spent quite a bit of time meeting as faculty off the campus, as well as on the campus, and here, Lynton was very important. Dean Lynton, Ernest Lynton, was a, he was a major figure.
AH: Ernest Lynton was, I think, I have the greatest respect for him. I just think he was very, very, very important. You know, he died quite a long while ago. Someone, I don't know where his papers are, but someone should get his papers up, they really, you know, you, Paul, they might be up at where he was last an administrator, right. [Editor's Note: After a career that began at Rutgers in 1952 as a physics professor and expanded to administration as the founding dean of Livingston College, Ernest A. Lynton became Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at University of Massachusetts-Amherst from 1973 to 1980 and later a Commonwealth Professor at UMass-Boston. Special Collections and University Archives at UMass-Amherst houses the E.A. Lynton Papers, 1951-1975.] He had kind of an inner council, which, at the beginning, I was never a part of, because I was really too junior, I think, and didn't, I probably didn't represent one of these constituencies either. [laughter] He would have larger gatherings at his house. They were social, but also, oftentimes, designed to talk these issues through, and then, he would also have meetings, like, late afternoon, where you'd just get a bunch of people together in his office, and I think he would have several of these meetings around a particular issue. Now, this goes back to your question, as faculty members, we thought this was a[n] important part of our role, not just to participate in the government, the governance, which was a very active governance, extremely active governance, totally different than what it is now, right, totally. We were involved in so many decisions of all types, but these extraordinary meetings and these informal meetings that oftentimes were called by the dean, but also faculty would just get together. We just had to, you know. This went on for years and years. Sometimes, we would go to eat in one of the restaurants in Piscataway or Highland Park and talk, that sort of thing. So, I think it, you know, it impinged upon us a good deal in that sense. Then, well, second point, in the classroom, yes, I think sometimes you would stop or you'd have to, when you'd walk into class, you knew there was something going on or had been something going on, you would open the class up by saying, "Let's talk about this," right. You sort of had to do that, at least in certain kinds of classes. Not all faculty did that, by any means. A lot of faculty tried to insulate themselves from all of this and teach in much more [of] a bubble, but I didn't think that was the right thing to do, first of all. I though, you know, it's better to bring these issues up and talk about them. So, I would do it sometimes in the classroom, but also because, you know, the classrooms, well, oftentimes, we taught in, once we got out of the dorms, we taught right in Lucy Stone or in Tillett, right. Oftentimes, I taught in Tillett. When you went to teach at Tillett, or you went to your office on the fifth floor of Tillett, you walked through the Great Hall, and the Great Hall was politicized, right.
PC: Yes. [laughter]
AH: There were always lots of, there were posters up. There were always events there. The number of times that something was happening, either a cultural event or a political event or one of these on-campus events that then affected the Great Hall was, there was a large number of those events, right. I can remember standing on the balcony there or on the stairs or being down in on the ground floor, and there were just scores or hundreds of students and faculty there and things were being talked out. So, you pass through the Great Hall or you went into get a cup of coffee or something in the lounge, which was, you know, it was right there on the first floor, not the lounge. It's not the cafeteria, the, what do you call it? There was a name for it, but, you know, it wasn't as commercialized then. It was a place that you could get your burger or your coffee or whatever.
PC: I don't remember it.
SH: Was not a real dining hall then.
AH: No, there was a dining hall, but that was up on the second floor. Okay, so, you, you know, you would go there, and there would be a buzz, right, or
AH: You'd go through [the] Great Hall, there would be a buzz, or you'd look at the Medium and everyone's reading the Medium. That's where Rob Snyder and there were some other editors who were very important figures here, and they know a huge amount. The Medium was a very important paper. So, you know, you walk into your classroom, after having gone through these spaces, or having looked at the Medium, and, you know, you can't just ignore that stuff necessarily. So, we did talk about those things in class, and sometimes my class itself was directly relevant, so I would take up issues of race, right, or issues of cities or whatever.
PC: Did students ever challenge you in the classroom?
AH: Sure. Students challenged me all the time [laughter] in the classrooms. I'll come to that in a second. I had another thought here I sort of lost.
SH: You were talking about going through the Great Hall.
AH: Of course, I do a lot of stuff, I've written a huge amount now on spatial analysis, but I think these spaces are very, very important. Tillett Hall was really a major place for all sorts of activities. Now, I thought of what it was. Originally, there was no faculty dining hall. I'm answering your question, really, I'll come to what happens in the classroom.
PC: Yes, okay.
AH: It's the environment of the classroom that is very important, right. So, you come out of the classroom, and sometimes you would go and eat with the students, right, because the students and the faculty eat together in this dining hall, right, and then, some faculty, maybe Shanti [Tangri] and a few others were unhappy with this, and eventually, we got a separate faculty dining hall [laughter], and that was just, you know, adjoining the student [dining hall]. So, then you would sort of be pulled. Do you eat with the students or do you eat with the faculty? I, oftentimes, would go and eat in the faculty dining hall just because it was a little quieter and so on, but the point is you could, not only going into class, but coming out of class, you would be talking with the students about issues that were happening either on campus or anti-war stuff or what's happening in New Jersey or what's happening globally, well, war and anti-war, and these conversations would start before the class and would continue after the class, either downstairs, in the Great Hall, or having a coffee or going right to the dining halls. These spaces were very much part of a single, you know, I don't want to say community, but a space of interaction and discussion and so on. So, you know, this, obviously, is going to affect your classes, right, I mean, at least in my case. I was going to say some faculty did not interact with [students]. They would walk through something, rather than stop and participate, right, stop and listen. There were plenty of people who tried to buffer themselves, you know, faculty, but many of us, we, you know, were on the other end. Okay, now, in the classroom, sure, students challenged you all the time. I mean, first of all, as I mentioned last time, many of my classes were like sixty percent black, forty percent white, or forty percent black, sixty percent white, that, right in that fifty-fifty ratio, right, and to me, those were good teaching situations. I liked those teaching situations. I especially, actually, liked the situation where African American students were equal in number or in the majority, right, but not the situation necessarily where they were ninety percent African American, because then that would be, oftentimes, [laughter] intimidating for the white students. There would be a few Latino students, a few Asian students, and so on, right. The first thing to say, I think, would be that some black students would not take my courses at all, because I was a white person teaching a black subject. That's how they saw it, right. I just had no, with them, I had no authority, and they would not want to take a course taught by me, right. In the class itself, there would be a wide range of African American students in terms of what we talked about before. So there would be, you know, students that come out of the really deep inner city, if you want, right, [who] may have gone to very poor schools for twelve years, and then, suburban, middle-class African American students. That range was probably there in almost every class. Then, in terms of political outlook, there would be in the class, these were the ones who decided to take the class, people who were Afro-centric, and then, people who were, and I'm talking only about African American students now, who were very much involved in science and just wanted to take one or two courses on Africa, or some other professional subject, you know, discipline, and were not involved in, you know, on-campus debates or a lot of the debates going on in the United States, except sort of distantly interested. I'm sure there were plenty of students who didn't take my course, because they figured, you know, "What does Africa mean to me?" and they were black. So, Livingston College had this very wide range, from people [who were] very Afro-centric students, very Black Power students, who wouldn't have anything to do with a white professor, to other students who were very professionally-minded already, and then, there was this big group in the middle [laughter], and I think those were probably the students who came into my classes. You know, some would take only science courses or whatever, and they didn't, you know, except for a few requirements, so they might occasionally come in. So, within the class then, I, to be honest, I would start off these classes, look, I had taught in West Africa, right, so here I'm a white guy, teaching African history to African students, right, [laughter] which, but, look, then we were pioneers, because there wasn't African history. African history was not being taught in many African universities, right. I could go into that whole history too, but we'll put it aside. So, I was aware of all these kinds of issues, and I would oftentimes start a class by saying, "Look, I am not from Africa, right. I've spent quite a bit of time in Africa, and I've worked hard to learn about African history, but I'm not speaking as an African, and I'll teach this course in a way that will open up a variety of perspectives," right. "You'll hear my perspective, but there'll be other perspectives." So, I would have this kind of disclaimer at the beginning of classes, and oftentimes, I still do that, because I think it's an issue. Then, it was a very hot issue. Now, it's a, oftentimes, still there under the table, "Who is this white guy teaching African history?" right, "Why?" [laughter] So, students would ask you right away, they would ask you, "Why are you doing this? Why are you interested in this?" and I would, you know, talk about that. Students in the class would just ask you very tough questions, not necessarily about me as a white person teaching these courses, but, you know, there was just so much debate going on. People read outside the class. This is the amazing and wonderful thing. People, you know, people had read Kwame Nkrumah, so they would come in and they would say, "Look, here is this on page fifty-seven" of one of Nkrumah's books, Consciencism, or one of these books, says this and this and this, so, "How does that relate to what we're talking about now?" [Editor's Note: Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and president of modern Ghana and advocate of Pan-Africanism, wrote Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonisation in 1970.] Or they would come in and, you know, talk about Malcolm X or whatever, right. Students read a hell of a lot, not, you know, every student, but there was a core of students who they were very deeply involved in these things, just like the faculty, just like the larger community. So they would ask you some tough questions. So we would oftentimes, you know, explore these kinds of things, right. I liked teaching about race in Africa, for example. Especially, I liked teaching the "Southern Africa" course, because if you look at the history of South Africa and you look at the history of the United States, it's like looking in a mirror. You see yourself, right. You see our country. Now, of course, there are, obviously, key differences, but there are some very important similarities. The reason this is important is that you want to get the white students and the black students to talk about these issues. That was a very important thing, I felt, and I think the campus, you get whites and blacks to talk these things over, Latinos also, but, you know, a lot of this was white and black, right, especially in my courses. So, by talking about Africa, I could get people to talk about the US, and I felt that was a good thing, and this is, again, why this ratio of sixty-forty was oftentimes very interesting and very important. It created a dynamic in which students would listen to one another, talk with one another, learn from one another and so on and so forth. So, it was very important to talk about race and use African history to talk about that. There were all sorts of things going on on the campus that, you know, there was such an effort to get faculty to work together across racial lines, right. There's this wide range of both, of African Americans and Africans, and then, whites in this political spectrum, you know, from conservative to very radical and a "racial spectrum" from very nationalist to very, whatever you want to say, integrationist, right. So all those tendencies were there, and faculty had a strong-felt need to talk with one another about these kinds of issues. We, for example, there were a couple of people who were really important. I was going to look up the names. Carol, she was really trained well in psychology, and she was one of the counselors. I have to think of her name. Carol Turner. Carol Turner, she was the assistant to the dean. Here she is, right here in the Livingston College administration and staff. Carol Turner, she happened to be white. She was a very important figure, because she ran a lot of, see, we did a lot of stuff that was considered anti-racist, right. So Carol ran these PAR sessions, for example, that was People Against Racism, right. So there's this felt need of white people to work to overcome racism, right. Now, again, a lot of whites who didn't care, but, you know, I cared because I had been involved in, you know, these civil rights kinds of things and then these African liberation things and so on. I still was very much involved in them. So we used to have these sessions of PAR and other groups like this. So then we would talk about how to bring understandings that we gained into the classroom, right. Carol, and there were some other people, ran these sessions. Some of it I didn't like, because it was like touchy-feely, I don't like some of this touchy-feely stuff too much, you know, where they put you through these little exercises. I felt I didn't need these exercises, but also I just didn't like them. But the conversations were good. They were to sensitize people, especially white people, about race issues, so you would learn to understand things better. You would learn to hear things better. You would read a lot of stuff, especially we read, you know, the, you know, black poets and playwrights and black thinkers generally, try to understand things better and in order to work together better as a faculty and in order to bring better understanding to the classroom. So I felt, generally, I, you know, maybe this sounds arrogant or something, but I felt that, generally, in my class, if you could create a pretty good environment for interaction among black and whites and Latino students or others if they were there, and get people talking with one another and learning from one another, and I always emphasized, you know, that we had to learn from one another, so as much [as] teaching [is] important, learning is more important. So it was a big emphasis on learning and then bringing in these insights we gained from participating in all these things on campus or off campus, dealing with issues of race, bringing those understandings and insights into the classroom. So this is a kind of long-winded answer, but, you know, this is all of a piece, if you understand what I'm saying.
PC: When I was at Wisconsin, I remember in '69, I was taking undergraduate courses to fill in my rather deficient background, and there was a half dozen times when a student would stand up right in the middle of a lecture.
PC: Yell an obscenity at the professor and go off into a speech which the professor either could or couldn't stifle in some way given his skills in dealing with this. So, did that happen in your classes at all?
AH: Yes, I think, I don't remember people yelling obscenities. [laughter]
PC: But I mean …
AH: People would, yes, people would.
PC: Breaking in and sort of challenging you.
AH: Sure, yes, yes, yes. People would break in. They would challenge me sometimes, not necessarily, you know, as a white person, although that might have been underlying, but they would challenge ideas that were in the book or ideas in a lecture or whatever, but they would also challenge one another. This is the interesting thing, you know. So, one thing, you know, to keep a classroom flowing, you had to be able to, oftentimes, work with a variety of opinions, yes, so sometimes people would get so aroused. Like we saw it the other day when Joe Miller [University of Virginia Professor of History] gave this talk. Were you there? [Editor's Note: Professor Howard is referring to a seminar and discussion given by Joseph C. Miller called "Africa and World History: A Discussion of New Directions in African and World Historical Study and Teaching" on April 22, 2010 at Rutgers University?]
PC: No, I wasn't.
PC: Unfortunately, I was off campus. I would have loved to hear it.
AH: Yes. Well, okay, here's this other faculty member who's at Fordham, Carina Ray, who I know very well and I work with, and she heard Joe, and after a while, she just couldn't take it anymore [laughter], and she interrupted. She just, it just burst out. Yes, those things would happen, right. They would happen, more than, well, plenty of times. The stuff was so heated. It was deeply emotional, because, you know, there was a lot of--see, I don't like these terms like identity politics.
AH: Although there was a lot of identity politics. These were really young people who were struggling with who they were and where they would fit into this roiling society, right. So, they would read stuff, or things would be said by other students that would cause [debate]. I think sometimes people actually did stand up. But people would certainly challenge one another and challenge me or challenge the books. That happened a lot, but I loved it. I thought it was, you know, it was exciting. Sometimes, it was a little [Professor Howard makes an exhaling sound], you had to quickly run and [laughter] read up. So, I, you get very used to saying, "I don't actually know the answer to that, but I'll read up on it," because people would, a lot of times they weren't just challenging, they would be, yes, yes, the challenges were there, but they would be, "I want more of this." There actually was a lot of this real desire to learn. I mean, the atmosphere was wonderful for a teacher, you know, compared to the greater passivity that took hold among students.
SH: How big were the classes?
AH: Well, they, I mean, they ranged. We had small classes too, right. So, there were some that were eight, ten, twelve, but a lot of them were in the thirties to sixties and seventies.
PC: You've described your classes and your situation as a white professor teaching African history. You would have been there roughly the same time as Seth Scheiner.
AH: Yes, Seth.
PC: Who was teaching African American history.
AH: African American, right.
PC: And urban history.
PC: And was a white professor.
PC: Did he ever talk to you about what his experiences were like?
AH: Yes, I think we did talk some. Seth and I were pretty good friends, and Seth and I talked quite a bit. I didn't talk in the same way with Gerry Grob, for example. So I guess, of the four that started, John Wilson was a very close friend of mine, and we did a lot of things as family, with his wife and my wife, Mary then, and our kids and so on, and then John and I used to talk a lot about all sorts of issues. Seth and I talked about the content of courses and about some of these things that went on in [the] classroom, but I don't know that he talked very much about these race issues. I cannot remember him, well, he must have encountered these things quite a bit, I don't remember him.
PC: It's impossible for him not to have.
PC: On the other hand, I can't imagine him responding the way you just did to that question. [laughter] I should probably ask him at some point.
AH: Yes, you should ask Seth.
AH: He'd be a very important person to interview, again. Seth, you know, is a liberal person with, you know, a real commitment to African American history.
AH: And a very solid, committed person, but not, you know, not a radical.
PC: He was a liberal, not a radical.
PC: Like you, he came, interestingly, he sort of came in at the ground floor in creating that field.
AH: Yes, he did.
PC: In a scholarly way.
PC: Not that some people hadn't worked on it before.
PC: I have a hard time imagining him in a classroom in the late '60s being challenged by students and responding to it in the way you just talked about it. [laughter]
PC: I don't know how he would have done it. I don't know.
AH: You have to ask him about it.
PC: To go off on a tangent for a second, it raises another question. Seth was involved in the, I don't know how it was defined at that time, the Rutgers College-New Brunswick or Rutgers-New Brunswick graduate program.
PC: He was the trainer of the first African American PhDs here.
AH: Right, right, right.
PC: Did you have a role in the graduate program? Did you have a connection through the larger whatever it was called, section, or I don't remember what it was called back then?
AH: Right. Yes, I did. It goes back to another question you asked earlier, about who else was teaching. On the Rutgers College campus, now I can't think of his name.
PC: I can't help you because he wouldn't have been there by '74, or she wouldn't have been.
AH: Yes. I'll think of his name. It just slipped my mind [Sylvanus Cookey]. He's a Nigerian, very good historian, who was hired, and he and I used to talk about building up the larger African history program. He might have come a year or two after I. Then Ibrahim Sundiata came. Ibrahim and I were very good friends, and we are still very good friends. Ibrahim stayed here a few years, and then went to Brandeis [University], and then went to Howard [University], and then went back to Brandeis actually and here's there now. He lives in Boston. Ibrahim Sundiata is a wonderful person and a great scholar, published a lot of stuff. So, isn't that funny, I can't think of the person who preceded him. I know him well too.
SH: It will come.
AH: It'll come, right. I can see him and I can even see what he wrote. [laughter] So, we talked about how to try to build up a[n] African history [program] at the graduate level, and we did bring in, early on, a couple of students, so this might have been mid to late '70s, right, while I was still at Livingston College. The person whose first dissertation committee I was on was John Oriji [in 1977], and John Oriji is, again, like the person whose name I can't think of. Oh, the person whose name I can't think of is Cookey, Sylvanus Cookey.
AH: S.J.S. Cookey, who is a really good historian. He comes from one of these very important families in the Niger Delta and wrote a book about, actually, I think, one of his ancestors who was a major figure in the nineteenth century. Cookey later went on to become an important scholar/administrator in Nigeria, and then was involved in politics too, Sylvanus Cookey. We were good friends. So, Oriji was from the Igbo-speaking area and he wrote a very good dissertation, a kind of deep history dissertation, in the later '70s and published that and published a whole series of oral histories that he collected. This is in the Ngwa area of [the] Igbo-speaking part of southeastern Nigeria.
PC: How do you spell his last name?
AH: O-R-I-J-I, John Oriji. Then John went out and taught at [California Polytechnic State University-] San Luis Obispo and taught there for thirty years. I still am in touch with him. He may have retired in the last year or so. He and I worked together on various things, so really a nice guy and a very good scholar.
SH: Did he come up through Livingston College?
AH: No, he didn't. You know, he came in as a PhD student. He knew Sylvanus Cookey and he was looking for a place where he could do some of this deeper Igbo history, and so, yes, I worked on, as I say, I was on his dissertation committee. Fairly quickly, I also started doing dissertations in other fields, so I've been on a lot of dissertations in the School of Education, for example--it had an African component, or the Bloustein School, or its predecessor, right. So I was on quite a few of those graduate dissertations, but there were never many people in African history, right. So, at some stage, and this, I'd have to really review, I haven't thought about it, at some stage, I started working with then Michael Adas, right, and we began to develop this world history, and that became my niche in the graduate program, but that did not happen until after we were centralized, right.
PC: Did you know Clem Price when he was here?
AH: Yes, I knew Clem Price.
PC: You knew Spencer Crew?
AH: I knew Spencer, but not very well.
PC: How about Gene Robinson?
AH: Yes, I knew Gene Robinson as well, yes.
PC: What can you tell me about him?
AH: I liked Gene Robinson a lot.
AH: I really liked his personality and his qualities. He was one of these people who could move in and out of the community, you know, the urban community.
AH: Maybe I should turn this off.
PC: No, no, don't worry.
AH: He and Clem, I would say, complimented one another. I think that Clem moved more comfortably in the more elite circles, and Gene Robinson probably moved in those circles, but also more comfortably in the more deeply urban circles, right, and the community-organizing circles and so on, right. So, yes.
PC: I think he's deceased now.
AH: He may well be.
PC: Do you remember what Clem told us?
PC: When we talked to him?
SH: I know he mentioned his name.
PC: I think he's deceased, but I'm not sure.
AH: Yes. He could be, right. He was certainly older than I and older than Clem, right?
AH: He was an impressive person, Gene Robinson, yes. You know what, okay, I can say something about this that fits back with Livingston College. I don't know how much I should mention, various names. But, okay, I think partly because I had taught in Africa, partly because of what was going on in Africa and in the United States, I and certain other people, some of them happened to be African American or African, but I think at a fairly early stage, became quite adept at judging, now, we probably made mistakes too, at judging who was a serious person and who was gaming, right. All of us who were Africanists and especially if we had worked in Africa or had been a part of African revolutionary and liberationist movements, we went through a period of great disappointment when people like Kwame Nkrumah, but many lesser lights, in a sense, you know, became either elitists or dictators or corrupt, right. So those of us who had this great love for Africa and this kind of hope for Africa as, you know, the beacon to the world and the place where all sorts of things would be dealt with in new ways, had to go through this period of disappointment and pessimism as a lot of things didn't work out the way we had hoped, right. Remember, I went to Sierra Leone, really, almost two years after it became independent, right, and I was in countries that were still colonies, right, and I interviewed lots of people who lived through the whole colonial period, but also I went to, quite quickly, to Ghana and was very much involved in this kind of sense of Ghana as the black star of Africa and leading the world, right, into a new, better kind of future. Okay, so, we come out of this, we were dealing with this kind of disappointment and pessimism that began to take hold with regard to Africa, but we also began to see that there were a lot of black leaders who were, they were playing a game here. We tried to sort people out--who really cares about the students, right, who really is a revolutionary, and who is a bullshitter, right, and who talks the line, but doesn't work hard, right. I could go down on names and make judgments about some of these people, and some of whom turn out to be quite reactionary, right, and serve right-wing interests. This is where, you know, we begin to see the relationship of, the complexity of black nationalism, right, that it can be very progressive, it can be very liberating, it can be very radical, and it can also lead to something that's reactionary and conservative, right, and you know all about this, Paul, right?
AH: [laughter] We've all lived through it.
PC: We've studied it.
AH: So, we studied it, right. We lived through it; we studied [it]. At Livingston College, there were people who were gaming and there were people who were self-serving, but there were also people who were really dedicated and hard-working and who put the students first or who put the community first or who kept these community college links and so on. I would say Gene Robinson is on the good side of things [laughter], and there are quite a few other[s], a lot of other people too. Many of those people undercut themselves, right, by, again, not publishing stuff.
AH: Or by continuing to emphasize the community aspects of their careers. Then, at a certain point, probably starting mid-'70s already, with Mesthene coming in as dean, and others, as distinct from Lynton, right, they began to say, "Well, if you don't have the normal academic qualifications, if you don't publish, you're out of here or you'll be isolated," and so on, right, "We'll put you in an administrative locker" so to speak. So a lot of people who were really good people, were quarantined, weakened, forced out, not promoted, etcetera. They also eliminated some people who were in these, you know, playing these kinds of games too. So, there was this very complex thing going on. People I really, really respect a huge amount, Giles Wright would be one, right. Giles is a great person.
AH: Did really serious work, right. He never finished up the PhD, right, and you were involved in this, I guess.
PC: No, I knew him.
PC: I became a friend later in his life.
AH: Yes, right.
PC: But I only vaguely knew him when he was [teaching].
AH: So, I knew him from when he was a student, right, and I knew quite a few of these other students who were doing African American history. Giles would be one. Paula, who's my dear friend, what was her name before she got married, Paula Jenkins, Paula, she was another one, right. Now, of course, she got married and had four children, so that interfered in some way with her finishing up her PhD. I was actually working with quite a number of, to go back to your other question, quite a number of students who were in African American history and sometimes on their committees, but also at least working with them. Some did a minor in African history. So, we had minor in African history that people did exams in. Do you remember, what was Paula? Fullerton, Paula Fullerton Jenkins, right. Paula still, she calls me up every few weeks, we talk. All the way along, she tried to keep a kind of a career going while she was, you know, raising this sizable family and some pretty impressive kids, and her husband rose up through the ranks and became a school principal, an influential guy in several communities that they lived in in sort of South-Central Jersey. Paula never finished up her dissertation, and when I was a graduate chair, we arranged for her to get her master's degree, which she had never actually completed and she did do that. There were some other casualties like that within our program itself, right. So quite a few of those people did several courses with me, sometimes African history courses or independent study courses, and then did an examination in Africa, so that's another way of participat[ing]. So I'm really mixing together here two themes that you asked me about, but [laughter] they are interconnected. Yes, so, I guess even while I was at Livingston, I started doing this, working in the graduate program. So we did have these ideas about building up an Africana studies PhD or at least master's degree, so there was a committee. Ernie Dunn, Barbara Lewis, myself, and a few others, and we made various proposals to get a master's degree, and I think that was put on the books. Certainly, a certificate was put on the books, so there was a graduate certificate, interdisciplinary graduate certificate. We also had this committee, which we occasionally got money from the administration, deans, whatever, and we started running programs while we were all at Livingston College, or most of us were at Livingston College. So, that's when I sort of got interested in doing programming, and later on, that committee then gave way to the committee that set up the Center for African Studies, and I was one of about six people that set that up, but we had the basis in this earlier committee. That was mostly Livingston, and the second committee that led to the Center for African Studies was cutting across all the colleges, because then we were unified [as the Faculty of Arts and Sciences after 1980], and a lot of new people had come. So, actually, when we created that committee, I became the first program chair, but I had already been doing quite a bit of programming, and I have a big file of all these kind of things. So, it was like, as an African studies undergraduate and graduate committee, we would bring speakers on campus, show films and stuff like that, as well as try to develop this graduate certificate, and then, teach graduate courses.
PC: Let me go back to something you mentioned in passing. I know in this period at Rutgers College, there were climactic battles over curriculum.
PC: Curriculum reform.
AH: Right, curriculum reform.
PC: Susman, Howard on one side, Jackson Toby.
AH: Jackson Toby.
PC: Sidney Simon on the other.
AH: Yes, yes, right.
PC: Issues like pass-fail grades.
AH: Yes, exactly.
PC: Abolition of requirements.
PC: Etcetera, etcetera. What was going on at Livingston [with] this?
AH: Yes. Well, that's why I brought along this file I just dug out of the box I had sealed up for like twenty years or more. I just pulled it out this morning, so I haven't read [it]. Okay, I mean, there're two or three things to mention there, and I can go through this, and we can talk more if you want, or you can just take the file, which has got an awful lot of stuff in it. It looks like a very disorderly file. I just put it away when.
SH: We all do.
AH: When we were defeated, more or less. [laughter]
AH: I never went back and sorted it out. I haven't looked at it for decades. Okay, so there are several things to think about. The first two points, I think, are what we've already talked about, that faculty were very much involved in the governance at Livingston College. We were also involved in the admissions. We were involved in the retention of students and we were involved in the graduation of students, so all phases, and that took a lot of time, a lot of time. I never was one of the primary members of the admissions committee. A person you should interview would be Peter Klein [Rutgers Professor of Philosophy], if you haven't already interviewed Peter.
PC: We're going to.
AH: Yes, and Peter was very much involved in this, right, in the admissions side. Don Pfeiffer is critical on this, right, and Don Pfeiffer is a very important figure. He was one of these administrators who participated all the time in these deliberations, right, that we had. So I was less involved in that; although, you know, occasionally, we would read files, because it was such a big task, so we would volunteer and read admission files and so on. I was more involved in the retention side and, very quickly, was a member of the Academic Evaluation and Scholastic Standing Committee, AESS, right. Okay, the Academic Evaluation and Scholastic Standing Committee had two major functions. One was to review all students and especially those students who were in danger of ultimate dismissal from the college. Then the second was the grades, right, and of course, both of these systems came under attack eventually. So it goes back to what we talked about last time, that Livingston began with this honors, credit, no credit system, right. Okay, how this ties up with, I have to really think about this more, because this is a really rich history. I think this history is very relevant for the larger history of the United States and all these progressive, well, half a dozen progressive places around the United States-- Old Westbury, Federal City College, and a few others, and Livingston was part of this. We were all trying to reform the educational system, and in several ways. What made Livingston, I think, fairly unique was that we, I mean, you know, a certain core of faculty--a lot of people didn't like this, who were faculty from the beginning. They didn't like it and they opposed it. Then, I think, people like Gerry Grob, this is one reason that he left, beside other reasons, the idea was this, go back to the student constituency, right, that a lot of students came from very poor academic environments, right, and that at the very beginning, there were not in place enough institutional ways to assist people to succeed in college, right. So students come with a tremendous educational deficit and there aren't yet enough things in place that help them while they're on the campus. There're also many, not all, but a significant number of students are dealing with tremendous psychological and social adjustments to the campus, right. College is an alienated place for many students who come out of, you know, working-class environments, poor urban environments, and so on, white, black, Latino. It wasn't just black students, right. There were white students who did not feel comfortable there in class terms. There were African American students who didn't feel comfortable there in a lot of ways, and as we talked about last time, many people, and I think this cuts across so-called races, they felt guilty sometimes about being there, because, "Why should I be here when," you know, "the struggle is going on the community?" or when, "None of my siblings or my friends are here," right. "What am I going to do with this education?" you know. There's this whole idea [that] you [have] got to give it back, right. So people are dealing with all these psychological problems, social problems, such as, you know, the difficulties in the dorm, trying to adjust to all these racially complex and socially complex environments, and they're expected to succeed in the classroom, and they have a deficit in terms of skills, right. So that long preface is to say that we believed in a non-punitive environment, right. So what we developed in this system was that students can't stay here forever, right, [laughter], but they should be able to stay here six years, right, and they may not at first have to have this, you know, the background to succeed at college, but by the end of their six years or five years or four years, they would be equal to any other student, right. We believed that was possible, and I think a lot of students achieved that, right. So, the emphasis was on positive achievements, right, in two ways. First, that the grading system emphasized only positive achievements, right, so there was no "F." "No credit" was not a punitive grade; it was just "no credit". You didn't get credit for it. So, that's one thing. Then, secondly, there is this, and this is what's in these documents, you've probably seen it already, Paul. We developed within the first couple years, graduated system. I remember a lot of debates about how to structure this ladder and how to apply it especially, so that at the end of each semester, students had to have "X" number of positive achievements, right. Those were credits or honors, right, and you had, as you went further along, time-wise, you had to have more and more positive achievements. The whole idea was that by the time you reached, hopefully, you would do it in four years, but five or six years, you would have the foundation to be, you know, a well-educated person who had the skills--reading, writing, analytic skills--and you could go out into the world and compete, contribute to your community, whatever, right. So, this was going to be achieved by emphasizing positive achievements and not punishing people. We did not like this idea of a negative grade. In fact, it took me a long [laughter] while before I could ever give a student an "F," [laughter] but, you know, eventually, I had to do that. We fought several things, and this went on through the '70s. Eventually, I was the chair of this committee, and if you read these documents, I'm sure they show that in the latter years, that would be like '76, '77, '78, we were fighting this rearguard action to preserve this system, right. There were certain people who attacked this system all the time, and they attacked it early on, but the attacks became stronger as the general attacks on Livingston and what it stood for and the way it was organized mounted. Okay, so, the attack that probably was the most influential was the attack from within and it was especially faculty in the sciences. He wasn't here at the beginning, Frank, he's [an] African American guy who was in biology. Frank, I'll think of it, I have to think of his name again, some of these people I haven't thought about for a very long while [laughter], but I'll think [of it], and others, they said, "Look, with this grading system, our students cannot easily get into medical school."
PC: Med school, right.
AH: Right. That was the biggest attack, and then, there was a comparable attack from within where people said, "Well, with this grading system, our students cannot get into law school" or other professional schools, and this was a telling criticism, right, and it was a telling criticism for two reasons. First of all, a lot of other schools definitely could not read our system, right. These professional schools did not know how to handle this honors, credit, no credit [system]. There was no GPA [grade point average], right. They were suspicious of this, "What does it mean to get credit?" Okay, so, the system didn't translate easily into the system that most law schools and medical schools and graduate schools were used to dealing with, so that was a problem right there. We could not change the world. We didn't live in isolation, unfortunately, well, not unfortunately, but that's the reality. Am I going on too long here? It's over two hours.
PC: Actually, you need to be somewhere.
AH: At ten o'clock.
PC: You say you have to take a break.
PC: We should take a break right now.
AH: I could finish this up in two more min[utes], just this little bit right here.
PC: Okay, let's finish.
AH: Or at least get a few more points out. So what we argued was that the system, if we are good enough at explaining the system, it should not be a disability. The second problem was that the system relied on the faculty to write up reports on students, right, and at first, I think a large share of faculty took that responsibility seriously. I know I certainly did and I know Seth did and many others did, right. I'm sure everyone in the history department did, Grob as well, and people who came on did. Those were like a triplicate report. You had to either write out in hand or type out, you know. This is, again, before computers. This was laborious. You wanted to indicate the quality of the student's achievements, the strengths and the weaknesses, because we would write weaknesses, right, and then that would be entered into the student file. We felt that if necessary then either a faculty member or an administrator could synthesize those reports and send a written statement to a law school or a medical school or a professional school, a grad school, summarizing, but this is very time-consuming and very laborious, right.
PC: When I was graduate director in the '80s, there were still liberal arts colleges that were doing that.
PC: I remember getting those incredibly detailed, individual reports.
PC: There may still be places. I don't know whether it was Oberlin.
AH: Yes, probably Oberlin, right.
PC: Some small, liberal arts school where you didn't give grades.
PC: But if a student applied to a professional or graduate school they would send the reports.
PC: I just sat there and said, "This is an impossible workload on the teachers."
AH: What do you do? It's impossible, right.
PC: Impossible to interpret in any comparative way.
AH: Right, that's exactly right. Yes, you said it.
AH: No, we, I think we borrowed these ideas from places like Oberlin, and in fact, you know, if we went back and talked about the faculty, there were a number of faculty who either had gone as undergraduates to those kind of liberal or progressive places, very progressive places, or who had taught there or were influenced by, you know, we were all reading the stuff about different, you know, more progressive ways of teaching.
PC: So, I'm curious.
AH: Anyway, eventually, this was undercut.
PC: If you write these reports, what happens to them? They go to the students or they go into the student file?
AH: One goes to the student, one goes to the student file, and one you keep.
PC: So, somewhere, sitting over in the archives in the dust bin are thousands and thousands of these handwritten reports.
AH: Thousands of these, thousands of them.
PC: About individual students from that era.
AH: I think that's a tremendous resource.
PC: [laughter] I wasn't thinking of it in those terms. I was just thinking, "Wow."
PC: All that stuff.
SH: All that work.
AH: So, this is one of the criticisms, but there were other, but we can stop here. I shouldn't go on.
PC: We should, yes.
PC: You're going to come back here today, right?
AH: Okay, if you want me to. [laughter]
PC: All right, you said you could go to eleven. We still have things to ask you.
PC: I'm going to do these in reverse chronological order. I want to ask you an end-game question about Livingston.
AH: Yes. We still have to finish up this AESS [Committee on Academic Evaluation and Scholastic Standing] stuff.
PC: Oh, no, I know, I know.
AH: Yes. Go ahead.
PC: I sat on reorganization committees in whatever it was, '79, '80, '81.
AH: Right, right, right.
PC: My memory of those is pitched battles and byzantine politics over Douglass. I do not have a memory of ever the issue of Livingston coming up, and we had Livingston members on the faculty. That is to say, nobody said, "This will be a horrible thing, because it will end Livingston as an operating college."
PC: That wasn't an issue. So, from your position as an insider, by the late '70s, as we were thinking about reorganizing, whatever that meant, what sense did you have? Was there still something there worth fighting for? Were you upset about reorganization? Do you have any memory of it?
AH: Yes, sure. Again, it would have helped if I would have refreshed a little bit on this. Yes, I think we definitely did not favor certain aspects of the reorganization and tried to maintain or retain as much of the Livingston spirit as possible. In fact, that still exists in the committee run by Cheryl Clarke that attempts to revive and keep alive certain aspects of Livingston College, and I'm on that committee [Livingston's Social Justice Living-Learning Community (SJLLC)?] and we have meetings and we have students and so on. [Editor's Note: Livingston's Social Justice Living-Learning Community offers students a twelve-credit, two-year program that fosters student activism in achieving progressive social changes.] I think we had given up on certain aspects. We were defeated, but in other ways we wanted to keep as much of the Livingston College spirit and programs going, and so, we sort of fought within the, you know, the centralized system to try to promote what we believed in, and then, we tried to retain what we could at Livingston. By the time the centralization occurred, I think we had many allies who were, again, feminists, and people in women's studies were very important. So we saw Douglass as an ally. So there were people in our department, obviously, like Dee and Phyllis and others, especially I would say Dee, who wanted to keep this Livingston spirit going, and then, there were those of us in what we talked about the other day, so-called non-Western, but African, Asian, Latin American history and studies generally, so we wanted to, within the department, as well as within the university, keep some of these things alive. So this idea of having within a department, a requirement, right, that all students take non-Western history, which we had had at Livingston from the beginning, I think that that was important for us to keep going, and, you know, John Gillis and others who were committed to this, were not necessarily people teaching those kinds of courses. So, I think there're the three aspects. Some things we were defeated on and we gave up. We didn't see how we could maintain them. Other things we wanted to keep going in the wider university, and then, third, we wanted to keep things going at Livingston College. So there were quite a lot of us who continued to work at Livingston College once centralization had occurred, and I certainly did that. As you know, there were still deans, and early on, Walton Johnson became the dean of Livingston College, and Walton is a very close friend of mine, and I worked with him at Livingston after centralization to maintain some of these dimensions of Livingston College, especially the emphasis on students, you know, and creating an atmosphere that would be positive for students of color. In fact, at one point, when he went on leave, he wanted me to be the dean, and he had nominated me to be the dean, and that was blocked at some other level, but I didn't have much administrative experience, so that probably. [laughter] We continued, for quite a few years on a series of committees and other things, to keep some aspects of Livingston College going, recognizing we had lost control over most other aspects of it, right. So as far as the centralization goes, I actually then joined the Curriculum Committee and later became the chair of the Curriculum Committee for all of the university, right. This is that job that later Dennis Bathory held.
PC: Okay, right.
AH: For several years. I was on that committee or chaired it, and we did what we could to maintain Livingston courses and Livingston-like courses in the larger curriculum, right, because we went through long lists of courses we had to approve and disapprove, and then we would present it to the faculty as a whole. So, actually, I chaired that committee for a while, that curriculum committee, and that was one way we hoped to keep some of what had been developed at Livingston going in the centralized system.
PC: If you had to, as a historian, explain what happened to the Livingston experiment.
PC: Would you put more emphasis on the fact that there were people outside the system who weren't comfortable with it or emphasis with the fact that inside the system, you hired people who, for reasons of professionalization and just sheer survival, couldn't afford to do, you know, things like live in dorms or write student reports on every individual student?
PC: Every individual student? There must have been enormous pressures to conform to a national model of…
AH: Right, there were enormous pressures.
AH: Right, yes, absolutely.
PC: Where would you put the emphasis on what happened at Livingston, if you had to explain how it?
AH: Well, it's all of a piece, and I, you know, we don't want to be too conspiratorial or paranoid, but I think there were people who wanted to eliminate Livingston College and worked hard to eliminate it or to weaken it or to drain it of its main qualities, right. Some of those people are just reactionaries, frankly, from my perspective, just very conservative people who did not like what was going [on]. I believe that certain people did not like Livingston College, basically because black people had power there, really had power. There're just white people in this administration and in the larger State of New Jersey who don't like that, frankly. Without naming names, but we know some people.
AH: We know some people like this, Paul, some of whom are historians, right, [laughter] or were. You know, there are people who give sort of lip service to a kind of moderate, liberal approach to race relations and so on, but that's different than, you know, see, I actually believed that in the days of Livingston College, and I actually still believe, that the way to, because I don't think we're past this really, that it's best when people, when there's actually a spread of power, and people bargain things out, right. That's why we had that kind of system with, you know, [a] guaranteed voice for African American and Latino students, and then, faculty in the committees and in the larger assemblies, because this would build trust, right, based on really listening to one another, bargaining and so on. So that kind of idea, I think some reactionary or very conservative people didn't like that and they went after that idea as well as the grading system and so on. Then there were other people who, and I would put people like Gerry Pomper and so on in that boat, they were certainly not reactionaries. They're far from being racist. They're not that at all. They just have a liberal vision that wants to move past race as an issue and puts an emphasis on people as, you know, people who are not necessarily racially marked [laughter] coming together, and they felt that we had gone too far in emphasizing issues of race and probably class and probably gender too. They have much more of that typical American liberal idea of individuals, whereas I still tend to see more power and power blocks and so on. So some people from more of the center, if you want, liberal center also, I think, were opposed to some of the aspects of Livingston, and I don't have ill will against them. Their position is a valid position. I do have ill will against some of the other people who tried to, I think, undercut Livingston by spreading rumors, by doing what they could behind the scenes to undercut it and so on. I don't want to get into naming names and a lot of that is just suspicion anyway, because you weren't absolutely sure. So I would say that there were people who wanted to ruin the place, undercut it, weaken it, possibly destroy it, eliminate it, at least what it stood for in its earlier days. There were other people who were committed to Livingston College, but had a different vision than the, you know, the more progressive people. I would not put myself in the most radical camp, by any means. There were other people who were more than I, but I was leaning in that direction, let's say. Then, inside, I think it was undercut by people who did not do their job, you know, people who did not fill out these reports, and people who just dragged their feet or were only partially committed to it, but were based there and sometimes wanted to get out of there or wanted to move their department out of there and so on. So, there was quite a lot of internal as well as external [pressure]. I think there was actually pressure statewide, you know, at higher levels.
PC: Oh, I think so too, yes.
AH: To undercut Livingston. So it was a combination of pressure external to the university, probably a state level, Board of Governors level and so on, pressure within Rutgers from more conservative people, and then, the people who were committed to Livingston who had an honest debate, and a lot of these people were, I would say, more liberal in their approach. They're fine people. They worked hard. They put in huge numbers of hours, huge number of hours. Then there were people who either were gaming the system [laughter] or didn't want to work. Look, in the long run, the structural realities undercut Livingston, and, I, look, we're all, most of us, or many of us were trained as academics. We believe in academia. We take pride in our scholarship.
AH: I just got something in the mail from a friend of mine who wrote an article that acknowledges me heavily for stuff I've been doing on spatial analysis, and, you know, I'm proud of that. So the structural realities are that I liked, actually, participating in the graduate program. I like training graduate students. I like writing, even though I didn't do a lot of it for years and years. That pulled me, especially once I saw that Livingston was not going to be what it was when I committed vast amounts of time to it. I think there's certain clear markers, beside the way in which the grading system was undermined, and I was at the center of fighting that. I think these documents would show that. I mean, I'm not saying this in a bragging way. This is a reality. That was part of it, but then there were other things that turned me against Livingston, and one was the firing of Walton Johnson. When they fired Walton, and this was, you know, well after centralization, they pushed him out, right.
PC: Yes, right.
AH: To me, that was a clear, first of all, that infuriated me, because personally, he's one of my good friends, very, very good friends. Also, I thought he was doing a great job, and he was.
PC: To be clear on this, he was fired as dean. He, obviously, was kept on as a tenured professor.
AH: Right, he was fired as a dean. So, after that happened, I basically said, "Screw this," [laughter] "I'm not putting any more time into this," into Livingston College. So I came back to it then when Cheryl Clarke started up this new Livingston thing, but for years I didn't do much of anything because I felt I didn't like the dean that replaced him.
PC: This was Mesthene.
AH: No, no, no, that replaced Walton.
PC: Oh, okay, right. It goes Mesthene, Walton. [Editor's Note: From 1974 to 1977, Emmanuel Mesthene served as dean of Livingston College. He was succeeded by W. Robert Jenkins. In 1990, Walton Johnson replaced Jenkins. ] Who came next?
AH: We don't have to name. [laughter]
PC: Well, no, it's just a fact.
AH: Anyway, well, we can go into that. There were certain people they put in place there, who, I don't know who's going to listen to this tape, who were designed to undercut the system or to weaken its progressive nature, and that started with Mesthene.
AH: When it was still a[n] independent college.
PC: At that time, yes, right?
AH: Right, okay, and then, after the centralization, when they replaced Walton, they put in a person who was not committed to the things that Livingston stood for, but would maintain, you know, I give him some respect, maintain certain of the programs, so what they would do was limited. Some people at Livingston continued to work very hard and did a great deal for students, and among the real champions, great people, would be Paul Herman. Paul Herman worked huge amounts of time to create a positive atmosphere for students, to fight to get better funding for eventually the new Student Center, which I'm suspicious at what that is part of really, but, you know, Paul's a really important person. He should be interviewed too, right. He and others just didn't get the [credit they deserved]. He recently retired and there was a very nice event over here in the student center over on George Street here. What's it called?
SH: They call it the SAC [Rutgers Student Activities Center] now.
AH: The SAC, right, the SAC [laughter], honoring Paul. He deserves it. He was a great person and worked so hard for student programming. There were other people in the area of student counseling and the psychological aspects, who continued to work very hard to make Livingston College a good place for students to live and, you know, continue on. At the very top of the administration, after Walton, there was no, there wasn't much commitment to what it stood for, in other senses of the word, which were political. So putting Mesthene in was definitely designed to undercut Livingston, and we disliked Mesthene very much, right. First of all, we thought he was incompetent and we thought he was there to try to serve the central administration and not serve Livingston College. I think that's probably true, and he worked hard to undercut a lot of things that it had stood for in the first six, seven years, yes, and he probably succeeded in that, but he didn't stay around too long, [laughter] but, you know, it wasn't just him. It was people in the central administration that wanted to see changes, so they began pushing those changes while it was still an independent college or an autonomous college.
PC: The end point is not the failure of Livingston, it seems to me, but another way to talk about it is Livingston played an enormously importantly role in a short period of time.
PC: And a fundamental transformation of the way in which this became a state university as opposed to being an elite prep school. [laughter]
AH: Yes, yes, yes, right. We basically judged people, you know, and we judged a lot of the old, white males, you know, the ones, you know who they are, they're old, the generation ahead of you, accordingly. We thought they were protecting a vision of Rutgers College and Rutgers University that was out-of-date and inappropriate and not serving the people of New Jersey. I never felt comfortable with those people, most of whom were in [the] Rutgers College department who were a generation ahead of you, right.
AH: Look, John Gillis and Norman and Dee and several others of us, we used to talk a lot in the '80s about how, you know, we, with allies at Douglass and elsewhere, and in your department too, I mean, you would be one of them, brought about a different kind of history department. You were important in that too, right.
AH: Yes, yes, you were. [laughter] You definitely were. [laughter] So, you know, a new, you know, a different way that had respect for social history, had respect for "non-Western," I hate that term, history, and so on and so forth, and for gendered history.
PC: Rutgers College, by the time I got there, was not the world that you've described for Livingston. We were a world in which we all learned all too quickly that either you professionalize or you die.
AH: Yes, right, of course.
PC: Because at Rutgers College, everyone got fired who lived in that world, I mean, Tom Forstenzer.
AH: Right, yes, Forstenzer. Yes, we supported all those people. [laughter]
PC: Right. All these young faculty members who spent an enormous amount of time, not writing individual, hand-written reports on students, but in student life and in university activities, they all died.
PC: They all got fired.
PC: While there was politics involved in it, and their left-wing politics in particular, it was mostly because they couldn't meet the professional standards.
AH: Right. They didn't meet the professional standards, right.
PC: For my generation, that sent a message.
PC: Every one of us knew where we had to put our emphasis.
AH: Right. No, no, I understand fully, yes, right.
PC: That's a different world.
AH: Yes, yes, yes. So those people, some of whom I knew, others, I didn't know very well, but we sort of saw them more as allies and people who were thinking along the same line as we. I had basically published enough to get by [laughter], and then, eventually, I started publishing a lot, but in the early stages, it was balancing, you know, you could, I didn't do it strategically, it was only, I only had so much time, right.
AH: I'm still, you know, trying to catch up with stuff that I should've published like twenty years ago. [laughter]
PC: Allen, let me ask you another completely different question, that takes you back again to things about, because we've talked an awful lot about race at Livingston. The big thing that's going on at Rutgers-New Brunswick and Piscataway at this period of time is the anti-war campaign.
AH: The anti-war stuff, yes, sure.
PC: So other than your own individual involvement, though I'd like to hear about that too, to what extent did the campus embrace the anti-war movement?
PC: One of the striking things that I've seen this when reading through the papers, I've seen both the Young Americans for Freedom and the Students for [a] Democratic Society described as having Rutgers, meaning Rutgers College, and Douglass chapters here but never Rutgers- Livingston-Douglass. Livingston hardly gets mentioned and I was wondering, it can't have been quiet. Were students involved in the anti-war movement?
AH: Sure, students were very much involved in the anti-war movement, but you're right, there wasn't some of that, again, left, anti-war student movement institutionalized at Livingston probably as strongly as, I wasn't so aware of Douglass, but certainly at Rutgers College Campus. But there were plenty of students involved in anti-war movements, so I think on campus there were many speakers, many rallies and so on. There were all, as I said, all the buses we took to the protests everywhere at all levels. Yes, so the faculty and the students worked pretty much together, I think.
PC: Did black students get involved in the anti-war movement?
AH: Sure, they did.
PC: Okay. So, they saw that as part of their political project?
AH: Yes. I think it's, again, because there were a lot of students who had been in Vietnam.
AH: There were also these people, I mentioned, who were advisors, counselors, lived in the dorms and so on, but there were quite a number of students who had been in the war, African American students. Maybe more white students in the anti-war movement, yes, but it certainly, it cut across, yes, and men and women both, right, yes. People put it together in terms of, you know, Kent State, for example.
AH: Yes, that sort of, again, in part, I think in class terms, I think there was a lot of discussion about who was being drafted.
AH: What class position people being drafted came from. That was something that animated Livingston College, and so people looked to other places around the country where students were protesting about those kind[s] of issues, again, around questions of equity and inequity, privilege and so on. Yes, I think people, a lot of people combined. There was, I think, a strong analysis of the diversion of resources, right. The war was a terrible waste of life, but the war was also draining resources that should be put into cities, they should be putting into reconstructing America, instead of destroying somewhere else, that kind of analysis. So people found ways to tie it together with the other, sort of, core mission around class and race issues, so they were oftentimes intertwined. There were certainly a significant number of faculty and students who thought in those terms. I think if you read the Medium, you would probably see that. Now, what percentage of the students were involved? I don't know. At the early stages, there were quite a number of these students who came who were white, upper-middle class, or very solid middle class, who came to Livingston College because of its radicalism. I think over the years, that diminished, and as Rutgers College became more open, you know, in a sense, I think probably more people went to Rutgers College who might of at the very first days of Livingston gone to Livingston.
PC: Did you go yourself personally across the river to the anti-war stuff that was going on at Rutgers College?
PC: Were you in the moratorium in '69, when you first got there? Do you remember doing that?
AH: I remember going to some things, you know, like rallies, again, public speaking, then some of the stuff in the Barn, was it, was that what you called it?
PC: I think it was, yes.
SH: Yes, the old gym.
AH: The old gym, right.
PC: Were you there for the famous thing where Susman got there and banged his, broke his watch while he was answering some critic?
AH: I was not there.
AH: I wasn't there. [laughter]
PC: I've heard that story so many times. [laughter]
AH: Yes, yes, yes. I don't know why I wasn't there.
SH: The teach-ins.
PC: The teach-ins were earlier. The teach-ins were in '65.
PC: There were subsequent teach-ins, but the famous ones were in '65.
PC: But '69, there's this famous incident where Susman gets up and jumps up in the middle of some pro-war professor and he says, "I can't stop myself," and he starts screaming at him and bangs and his watch goes flying off and it's broken.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: I wasn't there. I didn't see this.
AH: Yes, I wasn't.
PC: But I heard about it from Gardner.
PC: Somebody else we interviewed talked about it as well.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: Sam Baily I think was there.
AH: Sam probably was there, sure, yes, right. So, yes, I wasn't there at that.
SH: When you were sending buses from Livingston to Washington and the different places to protest, were Rutgers College and Douglass women getting onboard and going, or was there a separate [arrangement].
AH: I think there was probably both. I mean, sometimes I think we would come over and get on buses in front of the Student Center, but there were buses that certainly left from the circle at Livingston as well. Yes, I think there were probably Rutgers students anyway. I don't know about Douglass students who participated in those. For one thing, I don't know now when the dorms began to be filled by students from other colleges. I don't know what year that happened. It might have been later.
PC: It could have happened even that very first year, because housing has been a problem at Rutgers forever, so there was always some college with a deficit and another one was, you know. Anything's possible.
AH: Yes. There were student networks. I mean, people, this is where Rob Snyder and others would, there were quite a few other students beside Rob, but he would be a very good person to start with, they had connections on the other campuses, although there was, you know, quite a life oriented around Livingston itself. They were part of larger networks.
PC: There was a bus system from the very beginning to get people.
AH: There was. It certainly wasn't what it was. People often felt isolated there at Livingston College.
PC: I'll bet.
AH: They did feel quite isolated.
PC: I know in the mid-'60s you actually had to pay to take the bus from Douglass to Rutgers College.
AH: Oh, really?
PC: There was a fare, and there was a big battle about whether the fare should be raised five cents to buy new buses. [laughter] I found that out.
AH: No, I never knew that.
PC: This was before Livingston, so somewhere between the mid-'60s and '69.
PC: If you had buses, there must have been a policy-level decision that we're going to put in a regular bus system.
PC: You literally had to pay for it. [laughter] That was because it was assumed that Douglass and Rutgers College kids didn't take classes [on the other campuses], unless they absolutely had to. It was not open enrollment for quite a while.
SH: Oh, okay.
PC: You could do it on a need-to basis.
AH: I think in our catalog, it says, again, you know, "You're free to take courses at the other campuses."
AH: It certainly wasn't strongly encouraged, and there was also a mismatch in the time, the hours, and so on, and also problems because of our four-credit [system], you know. We had the four-credit system.
AH: This was another thing we didn't talk about.
PC: You mentioned it to me last time.
AH: We believed in that too, because, you know, again, it goes back to these structural realities. Let's be honest, that faculty, for the most part, liked this centralized system with the three credits, because it allowed them to do all sorts of things like come to campus for two days a week, right.
AH: With the four-credit system, right, we probably were on campus four days a week always, right. We had fewer classes, but the classes were more intense, and I believed in it. I thought it was a better system, because it was less superficial. You really went into the subject matter more deeply. To go back to the main point, because of what we were doing at Livingston, our credit system, the length of the classes, the fact that many classes had three meetings, there was a mismatch, again, with what was going on at Douglass and Rutgers, yes. So, that made it more difficult, yes.
SH: If a student took a course at Rutgers College would he only get three credits?
AH: I think so.
SH: Could a student from Rutgers College take a course at Livingston and get four credits?
AH: I think so. I don't know.
PC: That, I don't know.
AH: We'd have to look that up.
PC: That, you'd run into Reg Bishop. [laughter]
AH: Yes. Reggie Bishop was quite a [laughter] He was [a] very powerful person.
PC: Yes, the man who controlled the numbers.
AH: Yes, yes. I remember I talked with him quite a lot.
AH: I liked him. He was an interesting man, Reggie Bishop. He was very influential. There were quite a few people who were in the administrative positions who were very behind-the-scenes able to shape a lot of things. He was certainly one. Wouldn't you say? [Editor's Note: G. Reginald Bishop, a French professor, became Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1960, a position that was elevated to Associate Dean in 1964. Bishop served as Dean of Instruction at Rutgers College from 1970 to 1982. Bishop also functioned as Acting Dean of Rutgers College in 1974.]
PC: Yes. Let's go back to what we were talking about before, about sort of governance of Livingston and the role students played.
PC: One of the things I know that happened during the '60s was that in many universities students protested that they didn't have a part in deciding curriculum.
AH: Right, right, right.
PC: Hiring, retention, firing, all these things.
PC: There were protests at Rutgers in the '60s about this and various campuses, including Newark's, and in the various departments. There was a protest, as I recall, in the sociology department. You were in a system in which students had a big voice from the very beginning.
AH: Right, right. [laughter]
PC: Did they have a voice in the history department?
AH: I don't think it was very well institutionalized in the history department. I think in some other departments it was more so. We started out with a system that was the most, if you want to call it, radical, and within one year backed off that to some degree, right. We once had the assembly that were both students and faculty meeting together, and that was problematic, right, [laughter] and it was problematic for a number of reasons, but I think even among the most progressive faculty, there were doubts as to whether students were really, I mean, if you asked us honestly [if students were] really qualified to make judgments on some of these issues, no. So there was this kind of idea of reserving certain things for the faculty, and then, of course, obviously, personnel issues had to be sealed off. We did try to incorporate students in various ways in the department. So, we, for example, when [we] hired other people, after, you know, the first four of us, as we hired other people, I'm sure we had students involved in that hiring process. So we institutionalized that by having them sit in on the interviews, and then give us advice, that's what I remember, but not have a vote. I think in some departments, they may have actually given students some sort of vote or more say even in the selection of faculty. That, I'm not so sure of, whether and when some departments enabled students to participate actively in key decisions.
PC: It wouldn't surprise me.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: I mean, it was part of the '60s.
AH: Right, yes.
PC: There were places that did exactly that.
AH: Yes, exactly. How far different departments went, I don't know. Some were much more conservative, like comparative literature. At the college level itself, with, I think, by the second year, we then broke into two, a faculty assembly and a student assembly. There were two ways that they would be brought together. There'd be these general meetings, especially around a crisis or certain big issues, in which faculty and students would continue to meet, and that went on for years and years and years, and I mentioned to you one of those famous episodes.
AH: Involving Irving Horowitz, but there were plenty of other episodes like that in the later stages. The second thing was to create a kind of a liaison committee that took suggestions and actual votes on issues from the one and from the other and kind of reconciled them. It was something like, you know, the reconciliation between the Senate and the House. So there was an effort to maintain, you know, an entrenched student capacity to influence all sorts of decisions.
PC: Can you tell me how that played out? Let's say, there must have been a decision at some point that put the "F" grade back in the transcript.
PC: How did that play out? Did students have a role in deciding that?
AH: I think by that stage, they didn't.
AH: No, no. Then, the faculty was meeting only alone then. Although, again, there were these occasional, big gatherings to deal with issues, but we met only alone. The committee that I chaired and the previous one (same committee) I was on for several years had, at least in the later stages, I think, no students, and maybe earlier on, had students, but, yes, it did have students talk about policy issues, but then students were excluded from other things, because we voted on the, you know, students staying in the college. So that AESS Committee [Committee on Academic Evaluation and Scholastic Standing] that was central to the grading also was the committee that reviewed all the student files. That took us hours and hours and hours and hours, you know. Any student who was in any kind of jeopardy at all, or potential jeopardy, or who had not been making sufficient progress on this ladder system, we would review those files, and there were hundreds of files we would go through each semester, at the end of the semester. So like, you know, now, this time in May, we would be going through the files for the spring semester. So because of that function, students had no role in that aspect of the AESS Committee, but as far as advising about any of these grade changes, they still had a voice up until a certain point, and then, I think that fell away. I think at the last stages, like some of these articles that are here, '77, '78, '79, we were trying to hold on to as much of the grading system as possible. They weren't part of that really. They had no vote. They might have had an advisory role, but the vote was decided by the faculty, yes. So that changed over the time.
PC: We're back to the old system today, because as I pontificated about today, students have a vote in the which is what makes the decisions.
PC: To my horror. [laughter]
AH: Yes. [laughter] Right.
PC: Oh, well. [laughter]
AH: Yes, it's a tricky thing to sort out, right. How to listen to the students? How to have student input? Then where do they actually have a voice, and which students have a voice.
AH: In the actual final decision?
PC: In the Senate it's student leaders, all of whom want to go to law school and are definitely afraid of getting A-minus grades. [laughter]
AH: They don't want minuses, right.
PC: They don't want the grading system to changed.
AH: I'm sure that this, you know, there, again, but students themselves did debate these kind of things. They cared about the grading system, and there were plenty of students who felt that the system was hurting them, right, and who wanted it changed.
AH: I think one thing, even when we had the separate. Sorry to interrupt you.
AH: Just to finish up, I think even when we had the separate meetings, we would very frequently have one or more representatives of the student assembly who would come and speak to us and give us their view, and we would listen to that and take it under consideration.
SH: Were any of these students who had voiced their own personal desire to go to an institution where they needed "A," "B," "C" or whatever.
SH: Was that ever accommodated for them or did you just maintain this huge file of personal information on each student?
AH: Well, they were accommodated by the gradual shift away from that system to a number and a graded system.
SH: That only takes place over time.
AH: It takes place over time, so there were several steps, maybe three or more steps, prior to centralization. What happened was this, I mean, the biology department was quite important in this, because of the medical school issue, and probably the poli-sci department had played a role with regard to law school, and then individual faculty in other departments played a role with regard to professional schools and graduate schools. I think biology took the lead in this, and what they did is they set up a committee. Exactly when this first happened, I don't know, but the committee then, and there's still, it lasted for a long period of time, and it may still in some rough form still exist, the committee then would take these reports and boil them down and translate them for the medical school. There were certain faculty who were putting in a lot of time to do this, and what they did to, I think, help students, was to rank students and to create a kind of a sometimes they would ask faculty to write up more, you know, in the way of recommendations, so I certainly wrote quite a lot of recommendation letters for students that went directly to the bio department. Now I can't remember exactly when this started, but [it] certainly continued on then in the '80s and thereafter. Bob Jenkins, who is, again, a really important figure, maybe, I don't know if you'll interview him, but you should, he was very important in this, and Frank, what's his name, I'll think about it in a second, I tried to think of his name a few minutes ago, I have to, was also important. I think Jenkins, he became later the dean of instruction, and then, he became the…
PC: The dean of the college.
AH: The dean of the college, right. People generally liked and trusted Jenkins; although, he was more moderate, but people believed he was committed to Livingston College. So while he was the dean of instruction, and then when he was the chair of the biology department, they found a number of devices for bridging the requirements of the medical school with this grading system, and it was, as I said, by writing up their own separate reports, digesting a lot of this stuff, and ranking students, yes, so that helped. I think there were comparable, but not as well established ways of doing this. I certainly wrote a lot of letters. I mean, we had really top-notch students at Livingston of all, black, white, Latino. I had plenty of African American students who went on to all sorts of graduate schools and professional schools and so on, and we would write letters, and I know that we would write letters that we incorporated the reports of other faculty, so I would get information from Ralph Carter or John Wilson or John Gillis or whatever and write something up that was more synthetic, not just my own. I know they did a lot of that in urban studies for people going into the professional fields, yes. In other words, it didn't just get buried and left in these thousands of reports, right.
AH: But that, again, required commitment by departments and commitment by faculty as individuals or as members of departments, yes. I don't know if that's, does that sort of answer your [question]?
AH: Yes. How successful that was overall, I don't know, but certainly we got a lot of students into graduate schools, and I think, in those days, a lot of graduate schools were committed to taking on students, what we could oftentimes say, and I remember this clearly in writing these letters that, again, it fit with our emphasis that we would say, by the time students were juniors and seniors, taking advanced-level courses, doing seminars, writing longer papers, and so on, they had proven their qualifications, so we would say, oftentimes we'd [rather have said?], "Please, don't," you know, "pay so much attention to this person's early grades or the overall grades. Look at what they can accomplish now." I think we believed that and plenty of students, you know, took advantage of this kind of system and built their skills. So, you kind of running out of time here and energy?
PC: No. You said eleven o'clock and we're over the time limit.
AH: Yes, well, I mean, I can stay here. [laughter]
PC: I wanted to ask you one internal, departmental history fact which I've heard other stories about. Your colleague Norman, who I'm going be talking to individually.
PC: Norman got tenure probably when you were already a tenured professor, right?
PC: So you had something to do with that, and there's this one very small question.
AH: Well, I might not have been tenured then. I don't know.
AH: Oh, I guess I had to have been, right?
PC: You must have been.
AH: Yes, I was. Sure, I was.
PC: I'm just curious if you have any memory of his extreme, if you we'll call it, left-leanings, the fact he was a Communist.
AH: Yes, a Communist, right.
PC: Did that come up at all? The reason I'm asking is as a historical question because Rutgers has a history of having taking that into consideration at least during the 1950s and early '60s.
PC: Now, we're up in the '70s. So does Norman's political, in your memory of it …
PC: Does Norman's politics, I'm going to ask him the same question, but his memory may be different.
PC: Did his politics figure in any way into the way he was considered, that you remember?
AH: I don't think so, actually.
AH: Because he is a good scholar, and his book on Henry Wallace was a very fine book. It would meet any standard, right.
PC: Yes, but this is a university that got rid of Finley.
AH: Yes, got rid of Finley, right. [Editor's Note: In 1952, when called to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security regarding alleged ties to the Communist Party, Rutgers professors Moses I. Finley and Simon W. Heimlich invoked their Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify. The Rutgers Board of Trustees issued a resolution that called for the immediate dismissal of faculty members who invoked their rights against self-incrimination in front of an anti-Communist investigatory body, a position advocated by Rutgers University President Lewis Webster Jones.]
PC: We're capable of getting rid of very good scholars. [laughter]
AH: [laughter] Right. Certainly, it didn't matter to any of us at Livingston.
PC: No, I wouldn't think it would. But you would have been part of the section too.
AH: The section meeting, that's what I was trying to think about that, because I can remember these section meetings. Some of them were not that pleasant.
AH: I don't remember anyone saying anything, but I may be just totally forgetting it.
AH: Right. I can remember going into these--we mentioned that very briefly last time--with people that I didn't know at all.
AH: Or knew very vaguely and probably didn't trust totally to be, you know, judging people, you know, fairly, but I wouldn't necessarily distrust them, but I wasn't sure who they were. But I can't remember, like, in our section meetings, someone saying, you know, "This guy is a dangerous leftist," or anything like that. I don't think so. It'll be interesting if others…
PC: Norman himself wouldn't know, because he wasn't there.
AH: He wasn't there.
AH: I don't think it was an issue, right.
PC: I don't either, but I was just curious if there's a memory of any sort of issue coming up with Norman. It is such a completely different world than it was ten, fifteen years.
PC: It's a shadow of McCarthy and Hoover.
AH: Yes, yes, yes.
PC: You always look and see.
AH: Right. I had a couple of times when I spent a year in West Africa also. Some of the time, you know, I just was gone and missed some of this, and it's possible I wasn't [here]. That's why when you first asked me that, I wasn't sure if I was there for maybe the whole thing.
PC: Okay. You may not have been.
AH: We'd have to look at the dates and so on. Also, I had semesters off when I went either to West Africa or to England, and so on and so forth, so, you know, I had the regular leaves and I had grants and so on.
SH: And no email.
PC: [laughter] Yes.
AH: We could look it up, you know, we could match the dates.
PC: I was just curious. One of the things that was said to the young faculty members, close to the point I got tenure, which was later, we're talking about 1980, '81, somewhere like that, is just look back at who got fired at Rutgers. They were all radical Jews.
PC: I don't know whether that's true, but that was a view after it was over.
PC: I mean, Danny Walkowitz was a classic case.
AH: Yes, Danny, of course.
PC: Of that.
AH: Yes, Danny, right.
PC: Who was, in some ways, a radical Jew, that was what he was.
AH: Yes. He really, Danny got screwed, right?
PC: Yes. There were people who felt that that's why he got fired.
PC: Not because he was a good or bad historian.
PC: So I just wondered if you had any memory with Norman at all.
PC: I wouldn't think so.
PC: My hunch is no. He wrote a good book and…
AH: Right, he wrote a good book.
PC: He got through.
AH: Yes, again, I don't know what people said, you know, at the other campuses or whether some people opposed him on that basis or any other basis. I never actually had any sense of anything like if you would call it anti-Semitism or anything like that.
PC: I didn't either.
AH: No, I actually didn't.
PC: There were people who thought that that was a current in the department.
AH: Could have been.
PC: No idea. Nobody said anything to my face that ever suggested that.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: But I absolutely heard it.
PC: As a second-hand comment about the department's politics.
AH: Yes. If you look at the pattern, I suppose. I never actually thought about it, until you raised it up.
AH: I don't think I heard that, or at least if I did it didn't leave an impression.
PC: Certainly, among my conservative friends in the departments, there were some who were Jewish and some were not.
AH: Yes, sure. Right, yes, there were people like Herb Rowen that we all thought, you know, was a kind of Neanderthal.
PC: Yes, dinosaur.
AH: [laughter] Yes, dinosaur, right, in terms of his politics, right, gender politics. We didn't even talk about that kind of issue.
SH: I was just going to say that is another issue worth discussing.
AH: [laughter] Which is a very important issue at Livingston too, right, so.
PC: Well, I actually asked you briefly about gender the first time we started talking.
PC: If you want to say something more about it, I would be really interested to hear, because Livingston, obviously, had women before Rutgers College did.
AH: Yes, yes, yes.
PC: So, in a sense, they became the standard against which the coeducation controversy got played out.
PC: Between Douglass and Rutgers.
SH: You talked about the percentage of African American students, Latino. What was the percentage of women at Livingston College?
AH: Yes. It probably would have been about half.
SH: Was it?
AH: From the beginning, right, I would say so, yes. There were a lot of African American students who were both men and women. One of the tragedies of Rutgers, as far as I can see, but it also reflects, you know, all sorts of other things going on in the society, is the significant decline of African American men. There used to be, you know, roughly equal men and women, and I think there are just fewer and fewer African American men coming into university generally, and that reflects all sorts of other things going on in the society. Yes, probably half the students were women, and I think in the very beginning, we weren't as sensitive to gender issues as we became, right, to be frank. Class and race issues were more paramount. But I think it's before, say, Dee and Phyllis joined. I don't think Gwen was any kind of a feminist really at all, but Dee certainly was, strongly, and Phyllis too. Before that, though, there were quite a number of other women who were very strong at Livingston College, who were pushing, if you want, gender issues. In some cases there were issues of sexuality, sort of truly gender issues, or empowering of women as women, and some of these people were very good friends of mine, Sherry Gorlick, for example. Sherry'd be a great person to interview, again, too, who comes out of a really left, working-class, Jewish background and strong feminist, and she was there at Livingston from very early on, and there were quite a few other people like this. You know, Sherry and I are really close friends, have been for a long period of time. I just wrote her an email a couple days ago actually, and she now is somewhat disabled because of disease that she's had and retired some years ago. There were others at Livingston College who were feminists and strongly committed to gender equality, and gradually the larger gender issues, say, the sexuality issues, you know, queer politics, took hold, but that was late. That was not there at the beginning, I would say. Feminist issues were there early on with some people. So beside Sherry, there were people in the literature department. So, if you look at some of the African American artists, for example, they were struggling with issues of the relationship of black men and women within the Black Power Movement, within the Black Liberation Movement, and so on, so these things were brought up on campus, right, and certainly Nikki Giovanni and Toni Cade and so on, they brought these issues up front, yes, but it wasn't so institutionalized. In other words, we'd have to look and see when, I don't know how they dealt with, you know, women's studies at the beginning, but it wasn't there.
PC: Oh, you're not going to find it there, not in 1969.
AH: Yes. I don't know when it comes in. It's not in the [unclear].
SH: Some of these terms were created much later.
AH: Right, right, right. I don't know when it comes in, but I don't know that we have the later ones here. I have them somewhere in another box. It was an intellectual issue. It certainly was an issue when it came to like recruiting students, but it wasn't institutionalized. There were courses from the beginning that were women-oriented courses, yes. So, I think pretty early on, there were [courses] like "Women in Literature," generic courses like that. I don't think we had women's history until Dee came, but, actually, you know, a lot of us taught.
PC: Was Dee hired as a women's historian or as a labor historian?
AH: Yes, I think more as, well, really probably as both, yes. Yes, because, her, you know, her book on librarians. [Editor's Note: Rutgers Professor of History Lora Dee Garrison wrote Apostles of Culture: The Public Librarian and American Society, 1876-1920.]
PC: Yes, I mean, I know her work.
AH: Yes, so.
PC: I know [unclear] call her both today.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: I just wondered at the time when they said, "Dee Garrison," was it sort of an afterthought that she happened to be working on women or was that central to why she was hired.
AH: No, I think it was important. I think people realized it was important to have people working on women.
AH: Yes, yes. Actually, John Gillis is a strong feminist really, from early on, and he was very much involved in social history and, you know, very influenced by currents in Britain and elsewhere. I probably came at it more from looking at women in like revolutionary struggles and so on. So, I always taught, I always had a strong component of women in my courses, I think, as far back as I can remember, but that didn't mean that I was part of, you know, any institutionalization of women's studies. Again, a lot of it's the interdisciplinary teaching, so I taught several courses with women. They raised these issues too, right.
PC: Your department had three women in it, so that's right there.
PC: That makes it unusual in the larger scheme of history departments at least.
AH: Yes, and then, Victoria de Grazia came in at the end, right.
PC: Oh, okay.
PC: I had forgotten she was hired at Livingston.
AH: Yes, yes.
PC: Oh, okay, all right.
AH: In fact, you know, I was the chair of Livingston for one year, as it phased out, and, in fact, I handled some promotion of Vicki, or retention I can't remember what it was exactly. Yes, she was hired, it must have been '78, or something like that.
AH: Yes, right. Was there anyone who came and left? I can't remember.
PC: Not that I remember, but I don't know overlap completely with you.
AH: Yes, yes. Well, I think it was Dee who was. There were quite a few other people in this, as I said, particularly in English, but in other fields as well. Some fields, though, were notoriously unfriendly to women right. Poli-sci was, although if Barbara was teaching there, it was one or two other women, but that was like an old boy's club in certain ways, even at Livingston. I mean, there were a couple times I got invited to drink with like Carey McWilliams and Dennis Bathory and there were a couple others, and, you know, they had, in the late afternoon, especially like a Thursday or a Friday afternoon, they would pull open the drawer and bring out the whiskey and people would put their feet up [laughter], you know, and guys were, you know, they'd be drinking, right, and so on, right. That said something to me.
PC: Yes. [laughter] Hard-drinking department.
AH: [laughter] Guys drinking, right, drinking hard liquor, right.
PC: Yes, guys drinking.
SH: [laughter] Oh, my.
AH: There were a few people like this, advanced grad students, untenured faculty who were like instructors, and then, senior faculty. I'm not saying they were anti-woman, but they, you know.
SH: Were there any women in administration?
AH: Sure. Women were very important in administration. If you look at the line-up, right, yes, and, again, I don't know which of these people you would say were feminists, I don't know that they were, but they definitely put an emphasis on hiring more women, right. So bringing women into positions of authority and decision-making, yes, I mean, really important people, at least for a period of time, Jan Scott she was an assistant dean. She was really important. Jan Scott, yes.
AH: I don't know what happened to Janet Scott, but she, for a few years, was quite an important person, yes.
PC: I mean, Livingston and Douglass both, obviously, had a significant number of women administrators.
PC: Rutgers College had none.
PC: Until after the admission of women. One of the things they had agreed to do was to hire people in positions authority, if not power.
AH: Yes, right. Yes, if you went into the dean's office and then into the student services one and so on, there were quite a few women who were influential, yes.
PC: I don't remember seeing any at Rutgers College.
PC: Even in '74.
AH: Several chairs of departments were, or major spokespeople of four departments, were women also, like Maria [J.] Canino was really, and Hilda Hidalgo that I mentioned before, people like that, but there were others as well too. Some were older women who didn't necessarily, you know, come up in a feminist perspective, but certainly had experienced, you know, inequities in hiring and promotion and so on, so you wouldn't necessarily call them feminists, but they wanted, you know, equality. They looked, I think, for opportunities to hire more women, yes, and because it was expanding, right. That's one of the things about Livingston that kept, you know, we were able to do a lot of things because we were expanding, so we could hire more diversely.
PC: So, how do you put those two parts of the story together? If there was some hostility towards Livingston in the larger university, and at the same time, Livingston is actually expanding quite a bit during the 1970s, how do those two stories [reconcile with one another]. Were they purposefully trying to bring in people that would change the culture at Livingston? They couldn't have been doing that, because you were controlling your own hiring, to a certain extent, so, I mean, there must have been also some people who wanted to see Livingston grow.
PC: Your history department grew enormously.
AH: Right, right. Well, I think that's where Ernest Lynton was really important, because Ernest would, he set a tone that he wanted to hire African Americans. He wanted to hire women, Latinos. He wanted, I think, he wanted to try, when possible, to hire people who were sympathetic to the general thrust of Livingston, without, you know, homogenizing or having one type of person, and he also wanted to hire people who were good scholars, because, I think, he realized from early on that you had to have some, you know, strong people of scholarly credentials. So, I think his ability to influence departments like, you know, allocating lines among departments, and then helping to create a certain tone about hiring. I think that was actually quite important.
PC: One of the things I picked up in the catalog there, or in the annual reports or somewhere, when I was looking at it, was that, and for no reason that was explained, was that computer science.
AH: Yes, computer, right.
PC: Had a major role ...
AH: It did, it did.
PC: Or why not? Whatever. Why?
SH: It was so new.
PC: It surprised me.
AH: So, new, right. I think there, again, maybe two or three things going on. First of all, at Rutgers, you know, at the university level, there was a realization that you had to move into this new field of computer science and since Livingston was hiring, that was a good place to add on people. Then, secondly, I think it fit with this idea of empowering, because beside literacy skills, you know, reading and writing skills, there was a lot of talk about numeracy skills and computing skills, and that, you know, all students should have, I heard this a lot in faculty meetings and so on, all students should be, like, what we now would say, computer literate. So they hired some people who were already, and I think a couple of them were maybe involved in the planning of Livingston, they had big names already. They were pioneers in the field, like Saul Amarel. Saul Amarel, Saul was a really important figure. There were several others who came along and they would speak in meetings, you know, about the importance of this. So we, you know, who weren't in such a field, were quite sympathetic to this, because we felt it was, you know, it was good for our students, it gave them an edge. It gave them the kind of training that would help them in jobs and so on and so forth, and so, I think there was a lot of effort to have a series of computer courses that would be for non-majors, and they did do that, and there were two or three faculty that put a huge amount of time in on this. They were really good people, and then, others who were, you know, just, who were concerned with like higher-level professional training, yes, people that I spent quite a lot of time talking with. The ones who were influential, like Herb Rabinowitz, he was quite a big name already. I think Stanley Baxandall. But when Saul Amarel came along he was really important. There were people like Marvin Paull. Marv Paull is still around and he's been here at Rutgers for forty years. Marv Paull was really committed to the students. Again, they had their own issues, just like we did, about how do you bridge all these kinds of things, but here he's listed as a lecturer with a BS from Clarkson, but he went on, Marv went on and got a PhD and published a lot of stuff, and so, these people, they also did quite a lot of research. You know, they were writing programs and doing cutting-edge stuff. I would say he is a very good person to interview, Marvin Paull, yes.
SH: He would have been on the faculty without the PhD.
AH: Right. From the beginning, he was there, and he, you know, survived then [laughter] and met the various professional requirements, but kept committed to [the students]. For example, they had these "Computer and Society," courses. There were a number of these.
PC: Close to a course we just re-introduced to the curriculum in the last couple years.
PC: I'm trying to get students.
AH: Yes, and there were others that were, you know, programming, but basic kind of programming, not the advanced programming, and I think it was considered good to be able to do that. You can see this in an early catalog here (the department with its courses), again, it is like, in history, very generic.
AH: Then they sharpened it up and they added a lot of courses. So it became then a way in which Rutgers was able to move into this whole computer age, I think, through the Livingston department.
PC: Another thing that I noticed about the curriculum was the prevalence of languages other than traditional romance languages.
AH: Right, right, right.
PC: Did that work?
AH: Well, it did work and then it didn't work. Of course, African languages were important, right and African languages, like other things connected with Africa, tend to follow these curves that [have] to do with the larger currents in society. So for a period of time, for example, Swahili was very popular and there would be a lot of students taking Swahili, partly as a commitment to, you know, blackness or wanting to learn something about their roots, even though there's probably no students who go back to the Swahili coast in their ancestry, very, very few anyway in the United States. Swahili still continues on, right, and we get good enrollments. Hausa was a different question. Dunn taught Hausa and tried to sustain it. It was hard to find enough students, yes, even though Hausa's a very important language. It has, you know, tens of millions of speakers and cuts across most of West Africa; although, you know, it's focused in northern Nigeria and Niger. But, yes, that was a scramble. So, most of those people who taught language courses also taught literature courses, other cultural courses and so on. Outside the African languages, of course, Chinese was big.
AH: They hired several people who were really quite prominent scholars or became prominent scholars in Chinese, you know, and some are still around, like Ching-I Tu and others.
AH: So, Chinese did quite well. Of course, Spanish did well, but traditional European languages, I don't think were that strong. But a lot of students did take comparative literature, right, and they were encouraged to do language work. In history, we always tried to push people to know a foreign language, although we couldn't require it. I don't know if that's answering your question.
PC: It sort of is.
PC: I'm just trying to remember my own college experience. I actually thought about taking Swahili for all the trendy reasons.
AH: Yes, the trendy reasons, right.
PC: My advisor, who was a mathematician, because I was in math said, "Absolutely not. You're going to take German ." [laughter]
AH: German, right.
PC: "You've got to learn," so I took German. [laughter]
AH: Yes, you took German.
PC: I didn't have a lot of choice.
PC: He was a very authoritative figure in my life, and he told me I needed German, which I didn't but that's okay. So, I didn't take it. [laughter] It was trendy, and by the time I left Wisconsin [and] went back to Maryland to see some people, it had almost disappeared, because it was a trend.
AH: Yes, it was a trend. Right, exactly, it was a trend.
PC: It was something that was popular for a very short period of time, mostly, at Maryland, with white radicals, which is what I probably described myself as.
PC: Just gone.
AH: Gone, yes.
PC: Maybe back there today. Who knows? [laughter]
AH: Yes. I think that Swahili had its up and downs, but has always been sustained.
AH: Then, other African languages came on, like Yoruba became very popular for a variety of reasons, yes, but it wasn't there at the beginning.
PC: Yes, okay.
PC: I said to myself we would try to round this off at 11:30, if we could (unclear).
AH: It is 11:30.
PC: Get him to stay a half-hour more than he said he was going to and we're past that, in fact, so.
PC: Maybe we should conclude at this point today.
AH: Okay, yes, all right.
SH: We can conclude at this juncture. Thank you so much.
AH: I hope I was of value.
---------------------------------------------END OF INTERVIEW-------------------------------------------
Transcribed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 8/18/10
Reviewed by William Buie 12/15/16
Reviewed by Allen M. Howard 5/24/2019