Walking 'The Way of the New World:' an interview with Nathaniel Norment, Jr., Ph.D.

Author:Glocke, Aimee

AG: Aimee Glocke

JJ: Jessica James

NN: Nathaniel Norment, Jr

AG/JJ: Please describe your academic background. What discipline or disciplines are you formally trained in, and where/when were you trained?

NN: I earned my B.S. in English and history at Ball State University (1965), a M.S. in Secondary Education (English) and Curriculum at Saint Francis University-Indiana (1969), and my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with concentrations in Curriculum Theory/Design, Applied Linguistics (TESOL) and Rhetoric and Composition at Fordham University (1984). I have a New York State permanent certification for English 7-12 and a New York State permanent certification as a School District Administrator and Superintendent.

AG/JJ: How long have you been teaching in Black Studies? What courses have you taught? Have you ever taught in a discipline outside of Black Studies?

NN: I taught my first class in African American Studies at Temple University in 1992. Throughout my tenure as a faculty member at Temple University (1989-2012), I taught a variety of courses: Undergraduate Courses -AAS-1296: Introduction to African American Studies, AAS-1268: African American History since 1900, AAS-2248: Public Policy and the Black Community, AAS-2142: The African American Novel, AAS-2151: Blacks in Cinema, AAS2934: Literature of American Slavery, and AAS-4248: Dimensions of Racism; Graduate Courses -AAS-8001: Graduate Prose Seminar, AAS- 8006: African American Literature, AAS8432: African American Family, AAS-9462: African American Literature, AAS-9662: The African American Novel Seminar, and AAS-9001: Teaching African American Studies. I began teaching in the English Department at The City College of New York in 1969. I taught Basic Writing, Composition, ESL, and Black Literature (i.e. novel, poetry, short story).

AG/JJ: What made you choose to dedicate your personal life and your academic career to Black Studies?

NN: Interest in learning and teaching about the extensive contributions of African people to world civilization; the contributions of Blacks to the making of the United States; and the intellectual and artistic contributions Blacks have made to ALL the bodies of knowledge [literature, history, art, education, music, dance, anthropology, religion, political science, economics, philosophy, sociology, psychology, science and technology, film and sports].

AG/JJ: How has the climate changed for African American students on predominantly white campuses over the past several decades?

NN: Incidents of discrimination and racism still occur on many campuses. A majority of them are never made public. It all depends on the region of the country where the college or university is located, the political and social environment, and the percentage of Black students. Black students are still harassed, mocked, and threatened by white students and by white fraternities and sororities.

AG/JJ: You've taught at both Predominantly White Institutions (PWI's) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's). What differences have you observed between HBCU's and PWI's, particularly in terms of climate?

NN: I have forty plus years of experience at PWI's (CCNY and Temple University). At CCNY, Black administrators, faculty, and students were not welcomed or treated well. There was tension -always. White faculty openly expressed their beliefs that Black faculty and students were not as qualified and were there because of special considerations. At Temple, administrators, faculty and students were not as blatant with their racism, but there was a similar covert climate. Note that both institutions are in the center of Black communities in Harlem and North Philadelphia. I have only taught at an HBCU (Morehouse College) for three semesters. The climate on this all-male campus is friendly, embracing, empowering, and supportive. Faculty and students embrace the traditions of academic excellence, brotherhood, community responsibility, and cultural awareness. However, at both HBCU's and PWI's, Black students still have similar complaints about financial aid, housing, the bookstore, food in the cafeteria, and advisement.

AG/JJ: What are the key factors in African American student success at PWI's?

NN: Probably, the most important factors for African American students' success at PWI's is that (1) the school was their first choice, (2) they embrace the campus culture, (3) they become involved in campus activities and organizations, (4) can establish relationships with faculty and students in their major, and (5) achieve and maintain a high academic GPA. Other factors include Black students' relationships with other students, faculty, and administrators, a diverse and supportive campus environment that provides...

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