Leonard Moore

Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

A contentious debate on the difference between protected and unprotected speech brought over 100 students and faculty to discuss and hear arguments from all sides of an ongoing national conversation.

The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and the Opportunity Forum hosted a panel on Wednesday evening featuring UT alumni, professors and Ross Ramsey, executive editor of the Texas Tribune. Moderated by Leonard Moore, interim vice president for Diversity and Community and Engagement, the panel was the second event in the “Free Speech on College Campuses: Where to Draw the Line?” series.

“Universities are still a place where people go for ideas to fight,” Ramsey said. “It’s where people go to talk about uncomfortable things and hear points of view they don’t otherwise hear. When institutions get into the business of saying ‘We’re going to allow these kinds of speech or this kind of conversation,’ there’s a fine line between stopping ideas they don’t like and stopping behaviors they don’t like.”

College campuses are too concerned with creating safe spaces rather than brave spaces, social work professor Lori Holleran Steiker said.

“A lot of the masking tape that we put across our own mouths and across student’s mouths are because they’re afraid of offending, and I think we need a space to have difficult dialogues,” Steiker said. “The goal is to be strong in your conviction and still keep open ears and honest dialogue, because I think that’s the challenge.”

Moore posed the question of whether controversial speakers, such as Richard Spencer, should be allowed to speak at the University and whether the University should have jurisdiction regarding the decision.

“I don’t want to give that power to the president of the United States, or the governor of Texas or the president of the University of Texas,” law professor David Rabban said. “There ought to be equal rights of student groups to hear the speakers they want. That doesn’t equate the value or the humanity of the speakers, but it has to do with the right of freedom of speech.”

Marie Girishejah, health and society freshman, said she found the discussion eye-opening to the issue of harmful versus harmless speech.

“Just because someone says something doesn’t mean that I have to feel bad about it, but I also don’t have to be quiet about it,” Girishejah said. “If it doesn’t affect me, it can affect someone else.”

Historians, curators and political leaders discussed the current status of the African-American population within the U.S. 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 during a panel on Wednesday. 

The panel, titled “The Civil Rights Act at Fifty” and hosted by the Department of History at Garrison Hall, included Gonzalo Barrientos, Jr., former Texas state senator, Alison Beck, director for special projects at the Briscoe Center for American History, and UT history professors Laurie Green, Leonard Moore and
Juliet Walker.

Each panelist agreed that the U.S. is not at an ideal state in terms of African-Americans’ development.

Walker, the founder and director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship, and Technology, said the business model in the U.S. is one key example where evidence demonstrates that African-Americans are not as well off as it was foreseen when the civil rights legislation was signed. According to Walker, there are very few black businesses in the U.S., and the white population continues to be the leading force in businesses.

“In 2007, it was determined that there were only 1.9 million black businesses in America, of which only five had business receipts over a billion dollars,” Walker said.

Moore said the existing model of athletic departments demonstrates how African-Americans remain “under” the white population, as many university athletic departments rely on the talent of African-American players to elevate their teams and, in turn, generate larger profits. 

“It is the plantation complex all over again,” Moore said. “We have black labor and white wealth.”

Both Moore and Walker said they did not see any correlation between economic and business development in the U.S. with the improvement of civil rights.

“We don’t want to confuse a change in the business model for the advancement of black rights,” Moore said.

Beck spoke on the importance of photojournalism in maintaining the memory of the civil rights era. 

“These powerful photographs can provide evidence, context and further details of the civil rights movement,” Beck said.

Dr. Leonard Moore presents his lecture, “Football as Intellectual Enterprise,” during Blackademics Television in the KRLU studio Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Public television studio KLRU hosted Blackademics, a community event showcasing a range of topics pertinent to African-American culture, Wednesday night. Sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Blackademics featured black studies scholars who presented and discussed research centralized around education, performance and youth empowerment.

During a two-hour presentation, a total of 11 speakers lectured UT students and faculty. Host and founder Kevin Foster assembled an array of scholars that explore a variety of race topics.

“I think there is great work within the academy, but sometimes that work doesn’t get outside our campus,” Foster said. “This is how we can share it with the outside world.”

Blackademics is streamed live on KLRU and available to a national audience.

Foster’s lecture focused on the decisions parents have to make when choosing a school for their children and how race complicates this matter.

“I want to find what great schooling and great critical thinking looks like to open doors for children so to ensure that all kids can explore their possibilities,” Foster said.

The lack of critical thinking and excess of what Foster referred to as drone schools — ones that limit thinking and measure intelligence through report cards and multiple choice tests — dominated the discussion throughout the night. Another topic covered closing the gap in academic performance between racial groups through empowerment.

In another segment, Leonard Moore, associate vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, discussed the forms of intelligence required in football and focused on how the perception of African-Americans who play football affects their performance in the classroom.

“Football is a thinking person’s game,” Moore said. “There is no course on this campus that can compare to the language that is found in a football playbook. There are these intense college football environments designed to make you the best you can be, but then [these athletes] walk into the classroom and feel disengaged academically.”

According to Moore, an inferiority complex and a lack of acknowledging the connection between football and intelligence contribute to demoralization among African-American athletes. 

“When you have that son or daughter, remind them just how smart they have to be to play in that sport of football,” Moore said.

Aimee Cox, a cultural anthropologist at Fordham University, incorporated movement and audience participation in her lecture titled “Black Girls and the Choreography of Empowerment.”

“Until we can say, 'I am love, I radiate love, I am beautiful, I am strong,' nothing in this world can be done," said Cox while leading the audience in a life-affirming chant.

Printed on Thursday, February 14, 2013 as: Black culture emphasized 

College of Education Professor Dr. Richard J. Reddick addresses the issue of education inequality and how it relates to incarceration Tuesday evening at the UTC. 

Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

Minority students in low income communities are more likely to end up in a prison cell than in a college dorm, according to a panel hosted by Longhorn Teach for America Tuesday evening.

Panelists sought to identify factors contributing to educational inequality and rates of incarceration in America, specifically with respect to low-income minority students.

Leonard Moore, associate vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, said any effort seeking to alleviate the problem of education and incarceration of minorities must include the importance of family structure in the development of low-income youth.

“No matter what we do with a young man, at some point he’s got to go home,” Moore said. “And what we’ve found is if there’s not a positive male role model there, daddy’s not there, much of what you put into the child gets out of him by 9:00 that night.”

The panel also included Chris Evoy, Austin ISD police captain, and Richard Reddick, assistant professor of education. Evoy spoke of AISD’s attempts at decriminalization in schools where police seek to educate first rather than write a citation or make an arrest. Evoy emphasized the importance of taking a holistic approach when considering discipline problems with students.

“What is the root of the problem? Have we talked to this student? Part of decriminalization is finding out what the problem is,” Evoy said. “This isn’t a student that’s going to go away. He’s still in the classroom. If we take him to jail, he’s coming back. So we have to figure out what’s going on.”

The event was hosted by Longhorn Teach for America, an organization that supports Teach for America, a program in which recent college graduates teach for two years at schools in low-income communities. In 2012, 61 UT college graduates were admitted to the program, tying with Georgetown University as the 10th highest contributor among all universities.

Melissa Dunn, government and supply chain management senior and campus campaign coordinator for Longhorn Teach for America, said she hoped the panel would shed light on the pervasive nature of education inequality in America.

“We want people to understand that the education gaps don’t end at the classroom,” Dunn said. “The effects permeate the education, economic and justice systems in this country.”

Reddick reflected on his own experiences as a teacher and offered advice to students pursuing a teaching profession.

“I feel, as a teacher, it’s my job to control my classroom,” Reddick said. “And I did that in some ways that I don’t think you can learn in a pedagogical classroom. You have to learn on the ground. You have to learn some swagger.”

Printed on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 as: Panel discusses school-to-prison issue 

James Moore, associate provost in the Office of Diversity at the Ohio State University spoke at the Herman Sweatt Symposium Wednesday night. He discussed the possible solutions to the steady number of under performing African American males in today’s society.

Photo Credit: Raveena Bhalara | Daily Texan Staff

Ever since his childhood, James Moore said he has dealt with the stigma of inferiority associated with being an African-American male. As a result, his lifelong passion has become attempting to rise above this inequality, a burning passion which permeates his entire being, he said.

The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement hosted The 2012 Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights at John Hargis Hall to continue Sweatt’s legacy of education and excellence in African-American males. Sweatt was the first African-American male admitted to the UT School of Law, following the ruling of the landmark Supreme Court case of 1950, Sweatt v. Painter.

James Moore, associate provost in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Ohio State University, spoke at the 26th annual symposium yesterday, and discussed numerous solutions to the social issues currently facing African-American males. He said people are unwilling to identify underlying issues as problems because that requires taking action and fixing it.

“We know there’s a problem facing African-American males,” he said. “Turn on the news and it’s apparent there’s issues facing the African-American male population.”

He said adults are giving up on African-American children entirely too early. Data analysis was done on the demographics of third graders in order to see how many prisons should be built in certain areas of the country depending on the amount of African-Americans present, he said.

A big misconception inherent in our society remains that nothing is wrong within the African-American male community, Leonard Moore, associate vice president for academic diversity initiatives in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, said.

“Many people have already accepted the fact that black males have a harder time succeeding in higher education,” Moore said. ”By encouraging and fostering initiatives for African-American males, it’s amazing what young men can do when they have someone behind them who actually supports and stands up for them.”

Leonard Moore said in order to execute change at UT, the most influential African-American male groups across campus must be targeted, which he said were student athletes, black Greeks and successful students and leaders.

Moore said these men are not products of their environment, but products of expectations placed upon them often by people who love them. For example, once a young man skilled in football is repeatedly told he must attend college, play football and buy his family a house, he begins to associate his identity with this notion of what he does and not who he truly is, he said. Laughter filled the room when Moore said party fliers for a certain African-American fraternity repeatedly contained images of scantily clad women.

“Popularity is a double-edged sword, where one must learn how to use it in order to elevate the people, not bring them down,” he said. “Party attendance won’t be affected if those images are not used on fliers.”

Moore said if the alpha males are not dealt with, the root of the problem is ignored and nothing will change. When you deal with the most influential males, everyone else will eventually fall in line, he said.

Petroleum engineering sophomore Samantha Fuller said she attended the symposium for extra credit in her sociology class, Gender, Race and Class in America.

“I hoped to gain a deeper understanding of how males in America are affected by racism and how they differ according to their race,” she said. “We are learning about the same types of things in our sociology class.”

In order to improve the retention rates of African-American males in educational institutions, black males must be engaged in learning through things that interest them in real life and things they can relate to, Leonard Moore said.

Raising his voice, Moore said, “How can UT-Austin have one of the highest ranked education colleges in the country and yet the public schools in the same district simultaneously fall apart?”

“If Frederick Douglass can teach himself how to read, we can for sure teach our young people how to read,” he said.