Vice provost calls for revolution


Jack Daniel – the outgoing vice provost for public affairs – delivered a rally cry to hundreds… Jack Daniel – the outgoing vice provost for public affairs – delivered a rally cry to hundreds of students and faculty members at the Black Action Society’s 2005 Indaba Ceremony.

Daniel asked the black community, especially black students, to finish the revolution that BAS members began that day more than 36 years ago.

On Jan. 16, 1969, a group of students took over the computer room in the Cathedral of Learning. They called themselves the Black Action Society and demanded that Pitt take steps to represent the black community on campus.

They asked for more black professors, faculty members and course material.

“I’ve decided to ask you to finish the revolution that we started in the 1960s,” Daniel said.

BAS used its annual Indaba Ceremony Friday, in the William Pitt Union, to swear in a new steering committee for the organization.

Daniel, the keynote speaker, said that children are taught not to talk back to their parents and elders, but it is good for those seeking social and academic equality to voice their opposition.

He said talking back is the liberated voice. He blamed group silence for the treatment of Muslims after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“So you shut up when you see racism against Muslim people,” Daniel said. “You can’t be silent because next time it could be you.”

He also questioned the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

“What is it when they can send thousands of soldiers and guns and tanks thousands of miles away in a desert across the ocean, but they can’t get water and medicine and food to New Orleans?” Daniel asked.

He also listed areas where Pitt could have a more international, and less Eurocentric, curriculum.

“Finishing the revolution means changing those intellectual deficiencies,” Daniel said.

He urged black students to continue their studies in graduate school.

“If you don’t get Ph.D.s, then there won’t be any more black faculty members,” he said.

Daniel also highlighted Pitt’s recent climb to the 19th spot in the U.S News ‘ World Report rankings of public universities. But he warned that with continued increases in tuition, it will be harder for many students to study here.

“It doesn’t matter to me who’s doing it. If we become No. 10 in the country but my children can’t come, then what good is it?” Daniel asked.

Daniel also urged cooperation between Pitt’s many groups, including service organizations, BAS and the Greek community. He warned that without continuous efforts, students could lose what they have gained over the years.

“It’s got to be sustained. Otherwise it’ll be like reconstruction, first we’re in Congress and then we’re not in Congress anymore,” Daniel said.

Daniel, whose resignation is effective Dec. 31, thanked James Maher, provost and senior vice-chancellor at Pitt, and Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, for their support of his efforts throughout his tenure.

He said that black students need to support these and other faculty members, as well as reach out into Pittsburgh in order to “continue the revolution.”

“You in this campus must connect with the people in the community [so] that we leave no child left behind because of race, gender, class or sexual orientation.”

The event also included performances by choir group Some of God’s Children and the Black Dance Workshop.

Incoming BAS President Derrick Cephas also addressed the audience and Linda Wharton Boyd, president of the African American Alumni Council, helped perform the swearing-in ceremony.