Literacy called key to putting minorities in college
The way to increase minority enrollment in colleges and universities is to improve the literacy rates of students, a former director of the Washington Archdiocese's Office of Black Catholics said Monday at St. Vincent College's observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“It is literacy that is a path to education. It is sad that there are more (African-American) men in prison than in college,” said Monsignor Raymond East, a nationally known speaker and evangelist from Washington.
While the nation's school system has come under fire in some circles for failing to educate youngsters, East said that a successful school system must have the support of the parents and community as well as teachers and administrators.
As leader of the civil rights movement, King fought for equality in schools, but his dream has yet to be fully realized in the 21st century, said East, whose grandfather was a minister at Zion Baptist Church in Pittsburgh's Hill District. East said there still are places in the United States where “separate but unequal” school facilities exist, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Topeka, Kansas Board of Education that state-sanctioned segregation of schools was unconstitutional.
“You can drive to places where things are completely separate and very unequal. That's not what America is about,” said East, who declined to identify where the second-rate school facilities are located.
Speaking on the day of the second inauguration of President Obama, decades after King and other civil rights leaders fought just to get the right to vote, East said that it is a sign of hope that “we can strive for high ideals and we can reach them.”
East told more than 70 people who attended a prayer service in memory of the slain civil rights leader that King was chosen by civil rights leaders in Montgomery, Ala., to lead a bus boycott.
“I believe God chose the right man,” East said.
He urged the audience that “we should have a dream today.”
To keep the dream alive of a college education for minority students, schools need to show the students the benefits of a college education and how supportive the school can be, said Taleesha Johnson, 21, of Pittsburgh's North Side, who is studying communication-public relations and advertising.
Johnson, who is president of a student organization, Visionaries of H.O.P.E. (Helping One People Evolve), said making students aware of the diversity on campus and bringing people together creates an atmosphere that helps retain minority students.
Nationwide, the percentage of black students in colleges and universities increased to 14 percent in 2010, up from 9 percent in 1976, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
At St. Vincent, which has an enrollment of about 1,650, about 10 percent of the students are minorities, including international students, said Suzanne Wilcox English, St. Vincent's director of marketing and communications. That's up from about 2 percent a decade ago, English said.
“Increasing diversity is part of our strategic plan. We have a broad outreach,” English said.
That outreach has included South Florida, thanks to Spirit Airlines' flights connecting Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity to Ft. Lauderdale, English said.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Derry Township man killed when ATV flips
- Renovations a go on historic La Rose building in downtown Greensburg
- Record-holding female motorcyclist to speak at Lincoln Highway event
- Survey finds no clear fix to achieving racial diversity in Westmoreland County
- Westmoreland County Fair doubles as meet-and-greet for candidates
- Westmoreland County Animal Response Team seeks money for new space
- Prison becomes detox center for growing number of inmates with addictions
- Greensburg man charged with terroristic threats
- Children honor late Ligonier Township officer at Westmoreland Fair
- Man gets probation for sex with teen girl in New Kensington
- ‘Perfect’ skies draw big crowds to Westmoreland Fair