Think of some famous works of art. Chances are you’ll name a few that are on everyone’s list – if not coffee mug – like Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa,” Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” John B. Nici, who teaches art at Queens College, looks at how those and other works reached rock-star status in his book, “Famous Works of Art — and How They Got that Way.” Hint: It doesn’t always have to do with artistic quality.
The Underground Railroad was part of a struggle for freedom that goes back at least to the Revolutionary War period, when the British offered black people their freedom in return for fighting for the Crown, historian Graham Hodges tells a Black Studies lecture at his alma mater, City College. The Railroad was really its “conductors,” who enabled “self-emancipated people and their striving for freedom” and fought kidnappers who trolled places like New York and grabbed black people off the street. One unsung freedom fighter is the subject of Hodges’ book, David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and The Underground Railroad in New York City. In 1838, Ruggles brought home a man from the docks of New York who had escaped from slavery in Maryland. He sheltered the man and eventually sent him on his way to a new life. That man was Frederick Douglass.
Public meeting of the Board of Trustees, November 23, 2015.
Racism remains troubling, but it is important for the black community to acknowledge that it still exists, says Ta-Nehisi Coates, acclaimed author of “Between the World and Me,” winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. In a frank discussion at Medgar Evers College on the legacy of racial violence in the U.S., Coates said: “It is a beautiful thing when you are firm, when you can stand and say, ‘You can’t lie to me. I know what happened.’…There’s a kind of freedom in that.”
What makes us special? “Being a public university in New York with a majority population of students of color gives CUNY a very, very special mission in the context of American life, something that most other universities do not share,” says Zujaja Tauqeer, who started at Brooklyn College and Macaulay Honors College, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, England, and is now at Harvard Medical School. “In the grand scheme of American life, it is very unique…What a privileged experience it is to be a New Yorker and go to a university with the kind of student population we have.”
Pulitzer-Prize winning critic Margo Jefferson talks about her memoir on growing up in an upper middle class black family in Chicago, a place she calls “Negroland.” “I wanted to record a particular way of living as a person of color…that sense that we were bordered on one side by the larger world of blacks, on the other side by white people,” Jefferson said. In conversation with Hunter College professor Karen Hunter, Jefferson delves into pressures on the black elite to look, speak, and act in a way that would be acceptable to whites.
Standing committee meeting of the Board of Trustees, Committee on Academic Policy, Program and Research, November 2, 2015.
Standing committee meeting of the Board of Trustees, Committee on Faculty, Staff and Administration, November 2, 2015.
Standing committee meeting of the Board of Trustees, Committee on Fiscal Affairs, November 2, 2015.
Standing committee meeting of the Board of Trustees, Committee on Student Affairs and Special Programs, November 2, 2015.