Teaching Social Justice – Ep.20

Practicing Unity – Ep.19
February 26, 2021
Journey to Unconscious Competence – Ep.21
March 11, 2021

Chairing of the department of History and Social Justice Studies at San Joaquin Delta College, Evan Wade joins the podcast to share what it is like to teach social justice in a classroom during today’s social climate, discusses institutional racism and the student movements that followed in response, and explains the steps needed to take when striving to achieve inclusivity within education and business.

Melyssa Barrett: Welcome to The Jali Podcast, I’m your host Melyssa Barrett. This podcast is for those who are interested in the conversation around diversity, inclusion, and equity. Each week I’ll be interviewing a guest who has something special to share or is actively part of building solutions in this space. Let’s get started. 

Evan Wade is the Chair of the Department of History and Social Justice Studies at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California. His research explores African American social movements of the 20th century. He’s the editor of the African-American Primary Source Reader, and the newly released article, Claiming and Signifying: Iota Phi Theta, Sage Philosophy, and the Ownership of 1960s Soul Music, Fire!!!: The Multimedia Journal of Black Studies. He has a new study forthcoming this summer on the history of historically black colleges and universities or HBCUs, as we call them.

Professor Wade previously served as international historian of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated, the nation’s fifth largest African American fraternity. He’s a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and is the Political Action Chair of the Stockton branch of the NAACP. He is co-host of the award-winning radio show In-Lak’ech Radio Cosmico, a discussion on social justice and equity. It’s available on KWDC 93.5 FM in Stockton, California. Please welcome Professor Wade.

Thank you so much for being here, Professor Wade. We’re just going to dive right in. Maybe have you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are, and where did you get this background and drive to do social justice?

Evan Wade: Oh, cool. Yeah. Thanks for having me into the Jali broadcast, Melyssa. It’s a pleasure to be here and pleasure to be on the podcast. It’s as a wonderful podcast, and thank you for this outlet. Well, my name is Evan Wade, as you mentioned. I’m the chair of the History Department at San Joaquin Delta college. I also coordinate our Social Justice Studies, which is a brand new degree program we have, which I’ll be kind of going into a little bit on today. But I am not a local of Stockton, a native of Stockton. I live here now, but I came from Richmond, California.

Born in Oakland, raised in Richmond. Always give shout outs to Nystrom Elementary School right on Harbour Way. That’s where I went to school at, and I had a pleasure of having quite a few African American teachers. That was the majority of the teachers that I had at Nystrom. And in that place, that cultivated space, there was a lot of emphasis on black history. We didn’t have a lot of resources, but what we had were teachers who were veterans who had love for the community, and they instill love when it comes to black heritage. And so that really rubbed off a lot on me growing up as a young child.

And also going to the St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond, California. And in St. Luke, we also had Black History Months, and it was one of those Baptist churches, they always would bring up little kids to do speaking. And so you’d practice your public speaking within the church, and so was very much appreciative of that black space. And when I was growing up, that was like living black history within that space, and I didn’t know it.

But literally that church was my great grandma was there, my grandmother was there, and folks of that generation. And we had a lot of elders who were migrants coming from the South, and they came up to the Bay Area during World War II to work in the shipyards. And so the whole mothers’ boards were people from the shipyards who were welders. My great grandmother was a welder, welder to build ships right in the Kaiser Shipyards of Richmond. And so that was, it was just common knowledge. I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was. But it was fascinating just reflecting back on having such a nurturing environment that I had growing up.

And then I also had a strong family. My mom for quite a few years was a single mom of three children, and she went to college while she was a parent. And so being a single mom, three children going back to school, going to at that time, Cal State Hayward, now Cal State East Bay, and seeing that type of due diligence. And so we’ll have times in our family where everyone’s doing homework, because we all had homework to do.

Melyssa Barrett: Nice.

Evan Wade: And so my mom will be one to push me to do more homework. And so it was spring break, or if it was summertime, she’ll make me go to the Richmond Public Library, get books. And it couldn’t be comic books, I always wanted to get to the comic books. But I had to find books and read them and write extra book reports on those. And so then I remember going to Marcus Bookstore, which is a black bookstore in the Bay Area, to get a lot of curriculum and materials.

And so all this kind of really was formative to my upbringing. And from that, I was able to ultimately fast forward, I went to college at Morehouse, Morehouse HBCU, Atlanta, Georgia. And I was very much a fan of HBCU, willing to go to a HBCU. My older sister who graduated first couldn’t go because of finances. She got into Xavier, but just her financial package wasn’t… She went to Davis as her backup. And so she had a good time there.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah.

Evan Wade: But it was I had this opportunity through a program called Making Waves. It was an after-school program, an experiment at Richmond at the time. But what they did was gather together fifth graders, first at Nystrom Elementary, then they went to broader other schools in the area. And they promised these fifth graders, “We’ll give you a full ride scholarship to college if you are a part of our after-school program, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from fifth grade all the way up until you graduate high school.” And so I was part of this-

Melyssa Barrett: Wow.

Evan Wade: After-school program that said, “Finance is no issue. You want to go to college, you can go to college, and go to any college that you get into as a matter of what college do you want to go.” And from Making Waves-

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. They were really ahead of their time back then.

Evan Wade: It was assumed to be a social experiment, and I was a part of the second wave, the second class of students to do it. And so now Making Waves has its own charter school in Richmond. They still are offering high school scholarships, I mean, college scholarships, it’s just not as much as it used to be. But because college, the prices have went up a lot nowadays. But I had a chance to go to this formative space of Atlanta, Georgia, to Morehouse College, and that was fascinating for me just to be on a campus with all black men, mainly all black men, and seeing folks from everywhere, from Alaska, from Nebraska, from Georgia, South Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, all these black folks, smart, intelligent.

And when I was at Morehouse, as students, we pushed each other in the class, and so if a classmate came late, it was students that called out, “Hey, why are you late?” And we used to always be dressed up oftentimes for class. And so you wore your traditional African wear, or you wore the suit. So I imagine the class of like Nation of Islam, and that’s where I learned bow ties at when I was at Morehouse. And so it was a pleasure going there, and while there, I majored in African American Studies. 

So I was able to take advisement from… I had some of the brightest professors in African American Studies in the nation at that time. Marcellus Barksdale, who wrote this fascinating history about blacks in Georgia was the chair of the African American Studies Department. But also there was Alton Hornsby, who was the editor of at that time, the Journal of Negro History, which is now the Journal of African American History, longtime editor for tons of years. And so I was able to be around this place of this intellectual discourse and success, and it was a place that really challenged you. 

And so I wanted to bring that challenge in, that approach to curriculum that I got from Nystrom elementary, that I got from being at Morehouse, that I got from Making Waves, and bring him back to California. And that’s what I do now. I’m in Stockton, I teach courses in African American history, part one and part two. I also teach US history courses and courses in Social Justice Studies. And so I enjoy interacting with the students. 

And one good thing about community college is that it’s open access, so anyone can come to a community college. It doesn’t matter, your age, your background, the finance, nothing matters. Anyone can come. And so I enjoy just having this wide breadth of students in the classroom, and this wide breadth space, being able to talk about black history.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Wow, really interesting. You almost kind of have been provided this very interesting path that I don’t think a lot of people have access to. So really interesting how you got there. So then in terms of social justice, because we all know that’s a big topic of discussion these days. 

Evan Wade: Definitely. 

Melyssa Barrett: And I can only imagine teaching social justice at this time has to be really interesting because of all the things that are going on not only here but around the world. 

Evan Wade: Definitely, yes.

Melyssa Barrett: There are so many things that I think as I have interacted with you, even your focus on what’s happening here in the United States, and how it truly has expanded, not only today on a global scale, but it has really always been on a global scale. So can you talk a little bit about that? And because I think a lot of people think that, “Yeah, the United States where we really need to focus,” but there’s been a much broader focus for hundreds of years at least.

Evan Wade: Oh, definitely. And it’s interesting looking at social justice from an academic standpoint. And I’m a historian by way of training, and did my grad work in history. But literally, when you look at past movements, like the Civil Rights Movement, and the United States of America, a lot of it was organized by students, as soon as they were in college. And so famously you had SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, you had the Black Panther Party here in Northern California, established in Oakland by two community college students, Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. 

And so you have this whole history of students, especially in the 1950s and ’60s, who are recognizing that, “I can’t just go to school just for me, but I have to go to school to help my community.” And they began to protest and become advocates for change outside of the college space. And also, they began to advocate for change within the college space itself. And so looking at the curriculum of college, what are you learning in a history class? What are you learning in an English class, philosophy class, in a psychology class, in a chemistry or biology class?

For a lot of the African American students and other students of color, they noticed on their campuses, they were learning nothing but the history of those who were white, and the white contribution to this country in the fields of history and science and math. And so they only learned about white mathematicians, they only learned about white biologists and white historians and white historical figures, and great white writers. And so folks began to say, “Hey, we have a history of writing, too. We have a history of Africa, this great place of civilization. And we made contributions in this country to civilization as well. And so why isn’t this being taught?”

And so students would begin to argue and debate, and engage in sit-ins on campus, and protests on campus, where they began to call out the college system as a place of institutional racism. “We can’t go fight Jim Crow off campus when we’re being Jim Crowed in the curriculum.” And so you began to have students advocating and making change. And it’s very interesting looking at this, the student movement of the 1950s and ’60s and many campuses early ’70s. What happens from that is that you get the first African American Studies departments and majors on college campuses, and also arriving with that is Latino Studies, is Native American Studies, is Asian American Studies. And shortly afterwards, you have Women’s Studies. And so you begin to see some degree of inclusivity, at least in some departmental spaces, and some programs and majors on campuses because of students standing up and rising.

Melyssa Barrett: Wow. 

Evan Wade: Yeah. And when you look at these students, they have a lot of money, they didn’t have a lot of resources, but what they had was their bodies and their mind. And so they said, “I want to use my body even if that means putting my body in harm’s way, even if that means my body’s going to be arrested, detained by the police, I’m going to use my body to help make change, and I’m going to use my mind to help make change.” And so we see this whole breadth of a movement in our country, 1950s and ’60s of students standing up off campus and on campus and making change. 

And here in California, you got high school students who are involved as well, too, and the City of La, as also in the Bay Area, saying, “Hey, we’re joining in with these college folks that are cool people.” And so if they can put their bodies and their minds on the line, why can’t we do the same thing as well? This student movement is really as it took place in the United States, it also place in other locations as well. 

And so looking at Africa, for instance, one thing that’s not talked about is that when we have a civil rights movement in the United States of America 1950s, ’60s and ending into early 1970s, there’s a parallel movement in Africa for independence, getting independence from European powers that came to Africa, raped, pillaged, and colonized. And so you have this movement of activists standing up and fighting. And a lot of those activists who were a part of these different African movements, many of them had ties and connections to colleges in the United States, in particular, black colleges in the United States.

And so the first president of Nigeria, the first president of Ghana, for instance, and Ghana was the first country to become free of European rule. These early individuals, many of them were from Africa, born AND raised, but they came across to HBCUs, black colleges, and from these college spaces began to take the idea of movement back to Africa itself. And so there’s always this student solidarity that goes beyond just the United States, it goes to around the world.

Melyssa Barrett: Yeah, and I think, I know I’ve heard you talk a lot about just Pan-Africanism, and Marcus Garvey and his-

Evan Wade: Oh, yes.

Melyssa Barrett: His impact on the world. So it’s really interesting to see when you take the parallels of what was happening there, what was happening in the United States and in other parts of the world, and then you fast forward to today, where you have challenges with the police. And it feels like we’re still doing the same thing even though in some cases, we could say we’ve come I won’t say a long way, but we’ve come somewhere, and we still have a ways to go but it feels like we are kind of in the throes of yet another movement, if you will. That is it looks different than it looked back in the ’50s and ’60s.

Evan Wade: It’s interesting. It’s a new generation of younger people, right? That we see taking the streets. But we still see this idea of youth activism that’s there. And you mentioned, Marcus Garvey at some point. We’re kind of bringing Garvey to this whole convo, will bring Garvey up to the present, because I did my graduate research on Marcus Garvey, the Garvey Movement in the United States.

Melyssa Barrett: Of course you did.

Evan Wade: But also, I like to look at Garvey around the world. And it’s interesting, because when you study a lot of the civil rights activists in this country, and you study the activists who are involved in African independence movements, many them reference Marcus Garvey as influential. Marcus Garvey was a very famous activist from Jamaica who established in 1917, the Universal Negro Improvement Association. He brought that organization headquarters to the United States to Harlem around 1919. And he from Harlem, which was his cosmopolitan place of… A whole bunch of black folks in the Caribbean were in Harlem, a whole bunch of black folks from the South, they left the South and went to Harlem. And then you have black folks from the North, who also went from Harlem.

And so this became a very diverse cosmopolitan black space where Garvey and his preaching helped to organize this international movement, the UNIA. It was the largest movement of black people in the world, claimed the membership of over four million people, and had the largest black newspaper in the world, had a worldwide circulation, the Negro World Newspaper. Came out every week, and every week on that newspaper was a message from Marcus Garvey. 

And as one newspaper will reach a place like Kenya, for instance, it will be multiple people in secrecy reading that paper. And as many folks were illiterate, it’ll be folks allowed, who had the reading skills who will facilitate the hearing of that paper. And so there was power with then the black voice historically, the black written voice, and you see that in Marcus Garvey. And Garvey preached during that time period that Africa must be an independent place. This was an anti-colonial movement. He said, black folks in the United States need to consider going back to Africa. “Leave this Jim Crow United States, go back to Africa.”

And one thing he taught alongside that because he recognized not every single black person will leave, is take pride in being black. Take pride in your black history, take pride in your black heritage, take pride in your black community. And you have a lot of resource to give within your black community space. And so the UNIA, they created businesses to put black folks to work, black-operated, spend the black dollar. And the Negro Newspaper was the largest of that black business enterprise. 

But literally, when you look at activists in the civil rights movement, many of them cite the Garvey Movement. Famously, Malcolm X, his father was a member of the UNIA. Elijah Muhammad of W.D. Fard, a lot of Nation of Islam members had ties to the UNIA. And when we look at other civil rights individuals you see these direct ties to this 1920s movement. But it also is interesting, because you look at the African Independence Movement, many of them cite Marcus Garvey because their parents and grandparents were part of the UNIA. They heard these messages of anti-colonial, they heard these messages of independence, of black self-pride and resilience and collective conscious action. 

And so this Pan-Africanism really developed during… It was before the Garvey movement, but he helped to add a lot of fire to the Pan-African solidarity movements all around the world. So it was very interesting kind of looking at that. And Garvey created something of a flag, he created a flag for black folks. He said, “All black folks need to be united by a flag,” and that flag was the colors red, black and green. A red bar at the very top, a black bar in the middle, and a green bar at the bottom.

Red symbolizes the bloodshed of black folks with slavery and colonialism in the Middle Passage and Jim Crow. Black symbolizes pride, take pride of who you are. And green symbolizes growth, fertility, if we come together we can grow. 

Melyssa Barrett: For sure.

Evan Wade: And it’s very interesting… And he took those colors, by the way from Ethiopia, because Ethiopia was one of two locations in Africa that was never colonized. I’m sorry, it was the only place that wasn’t colonized. Liberia was independent, but it was under a protectorate. But Ethiopia, they defeated the Italians twice as they tried to invade Ethiopia in 1890s.

As that was only place not to be colonized, and so he took these colors and made it the global colors of black people. And it’s very interesting today, because when you look at the flags of most African nations, they have the colors red, black, green, and some are also adding gold to symbolize wealth, prosperity. But you see one of those colors, two of those colors, three or four of those colors. 

And we look at the Caribbean, which was also colonized. Jamaica didn’t get independent till the 1960s. It was the birthplace of Garvey. It was under British colonialism. Most Caribbean nations, these black countries in the Caribbean, they also have the colors on their flag of red, black, green, or gold. You’ll see one of those colors, two, three, or all four. 

And then one thing that’s oftentimes forgotten about is that there is something in the United States called an African American flag, it kind of lost a little bit of popularity, but also has the colors of red, black and green. And one thing that’s cool, going up to present day times, is that in some of the city protests, urban protests, we have some young people out, and they’re carrying a flag. And so you see some black folks carrying this flag of red, black, and green. And so if you ever see that flag, that flag is power, that flag is anti-racist, that flag is anti-colonial. That flag is about black unity, that flag is about blacks coming together to make fundamental change. And that flag has led to a lot of change around the world.

This civil rights movement today what is very interesting, it does have some interesting, newer and different twists. Black Lives Matter is a hashtag as a concept, but it’s also an organization. And so you have some folks who may tweet the hashtag who may not be a part of the organization. And you have some folks who may preach the concept and stand on the concept, who may not be a part of the organization. And you have folks in the organization who may not do as much of the other two things we mentioned. And so it’s very interesting.

And one of the things with the movement today for the organization, Black Lives Matter which was in part founded in the college space. And so you have college professors who are behind the beginnings of this organization, Black Lives Matter, and they created it shortly after the George Zimmerman trial, that murderer of Trayvon Martin, when he was found as not guilty. They created this hashtag and from that developed this organization.

And when they created, it was very interesting, they wanted it to be kind of a grassroots organization. So each city will have its own local leadership. It mirrored a lot of SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, as was founded with a meeting from Ella Baker. And if you don’t know Ella Baker, look up Ella Baker. This famous black civil rights activist who does not get due justice. She got all the students in the ’50s, ’60s together and said, “Hey, create your own space, your own organization.”

And Ella Baker, who was a part of the NAACP at that time, when she told students to create your own organization, she emphasized the idea of everyone being important, everyone in the space being included. And so it was a space for young men, and a space for young women, all to be there and to have a rotating kind of decentralized leadership. And so when you look at SNCC in some towns, some cities like Nashville, it’s under a lady named Diane Nash, she’s the leader of the Nashville SNCC. [inaudible] Students sit-ins there. It was Fisk students, HBCU in Nashville, under Diane Nash. And so you see female leadership, you see male leadership, all interacting together. 

And so fast forward to present day, the organization Black Lives Matter, they took the same concept. Each city is able to look as local policing policies, and what were the best approaches in those areas. There are some areas where there’s body cameras that police officers have, and policies around that. There’s other places they have no body cameras. And so you may have one movement agitating for body cameras, maybe another movement for the policy to change around body cameras. There are some cities where most of the police officers are responding to health calls, and is responding to mental health crisis, or officers are responding to homeless calls, “A homeless person on my front porch.”

And so in those locations, you’ll see individuals who are asking for a change of the funding model for their city. They said police officers are not qualified to deal with mental health initiatives issues, they’re not qualified to deal with homeless issues. And so you need to have in those areas mental health specialists, folks who have a license in mental health to be there to intervene. They need to have folks who have a special license in social work to interact with those who are homeless.

And so in those spaces, you may hear, “Defund the police.” And defund the police does not mean anarchy. There are some folks who want that, don’t get me wrong. But all [inaudible] in those convos doesn’t mean anarchy. But what it means is looking at the volume of calls in some locations, if the volume of calls deals with social services, you need to have more social services. You cannot put a military individual within that space, and expect that military individual with no training, because a workshop does not count as a training. A person with no training to come in and to and to make some massive changes there. 

And so you see this student movement of a lot of younger folks are involved in… And smaller older folks taking the streets, claiming the news nights cameras, right? “We want to get on the nightly news and keep on the nightly news, even in the midst of COVID,” and out there doing… Calling for some reform. And so it’s a very interesting movement to see, and there are some parallels with prior movements. Any time you see that red, black, green flag out there, or anytime you hear of this idea of a decentralized movement, it comes from past African American activism and social formation.

Melyssa Barrett: Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back. Well, and I think what’s so interesting also is because we have… Well, I won’t say because. We have a lot of young people now seemingly very engaged in the political process. When you have young people involved in that political process, we start to understand how many decisions actually get made at the local level, rather than kind of the national level where I think a lot of what used to be done was really directed there, and now the decentralization actually allows for much more participation in local politics, as well as national politics.

Evan Wade: Yeah, definitely, definitely. And a lot of police reform is going to be taking place at the state level with state laws, as well as on the local level when it comes to your local, what’s your local policies like? So that conversation is vital to happen. And there still is a need for a national conversation. One thing that’s typically not talked about, you got to bring me back for another show on Supreme Court rulings.

Melyssa Barrett: You got it.

Evan Wade: But the way the courts have ruled, and the way Congress has passed some laws on a federal level makes it very difficult to prosecute police officers. And the way that state laws are typically written for murder, for instance, makes it difficult to prosecute police officers. A lot of states have laws, for instance, that for murder, or different degrees of murder, you may need to in that particular state show intent. And so was there intent to kill? Not did the act occur, but was their intent? And typically with intent, was there a motive there? And those things are typically difficult to prove, especially when you don’t have both parties involved. The officer is there, but not the victim. And so there’s some federal changes that need to happen too when it comes to some court cases and some laws. But on top of the local change at the state level, and local.

Melyssa Barrett: This has been really interesting, because it’s like, I think a lot of times we skip over the past, and a lot of people didn’t get the actual history. And so we have even a lot of people today that are just trying to learn and understand whether they’re black or otherwise. So I think the information is so valuable. Today, when you think about diversity and inclusion even in the schools, because I think part of the challenge at least for a lot of companies are they’re trying to embrace diversity and inclusion. In many cases, we have kids that already have come through elementary, middle school, high school, college, then they get to work, and we’re trying to make the change. But one of my previous guests, she was like, “If we did more in the schools, maybe we wouldn’t have to do so much at the company.”

Evan Wade: Yeah. Yeah, so there’s a lot we need in terms of diversity and inclusion. So on a business level, first, we need to have more black folks and other people of color go into entrepreneurship. And so we have to stop relying upon these Fortune 500 companies and 1,000 top companies kind of dictate things. Most of those are founded predominantly by those who are white, and headed by mainly those who are white. And so we’re trying to get into and agitate and change what is whites paces.

Now, these companies and the predominant whiteness of corporate America isn’t accidental. Part of the deal’s with the school system, and preparation, right? Do you have access nowadays to a coding class, right? Or a coding academy in your area? And if you do have a coding academy, can you afford it? Can your parents afford it? And so part of it is education, the educational system, and it’s not necessarily preparing students for our present day time. 

Another part of it though, deals with who’s able to get financing when it comes to you have an idea, you have a thought. Can you get funded for that thought. And when we think about tech companies now, most of the tech companies, they were an idea, but a whole bunch of people put millions of dollars behind this person, they’re young as heck, their idea. And unfortunately, there’s been studies looking at people of color, in particular African Americans, and they don’t get the same funding or the same ear from those who are financiers. And so we need more black folks to create black spaces and black companies to be on a massive level. But it’s going to also take many of us who are black to finance as venture capitalists those different ideas, so we can kind of get some type of degree of parity there.

And so we need diversity and inclusion. It is interesting now and don’t get too duped by the headlines, there’s a lot of companies, pretty much every weekend there’s a new company coming out, saying, “We’re woke now,” because it’s good business to be woke. They don’t want to have a strike against them, right? And so they’re saying, “We’re woke. And as we’re woke, we’re going to have this internship program for more black people, or we’re going to give 30 black colleges this pot of money of $20 million.” Well, $20 million spread across 35 different black colleges, you look at it, that’s not a lot of money. And he’s saying corporations have given 20 million, 30, 40 million, 50 million, all to one white college. But folks want to kind of grab the headline.

And so there is an opportunity right now to make these white spaces more inclusive while working on black institution building. And as we make these spaces more inclusive, we have to really control our buying power, right? And our social media power. All right, we can all say, “Hey, Google, I really don’t like your particular program that you have for Howard University in tech. And it’s how many Howard students did you actually get that you offered jobs to? Apple, how are you doing?” And so we can kind of through our buying power and our social media power kind of control a lot there when it comes to making those companies more inclusive. But while we do that, it’s also important that we build our own institutions, and we support our own institutions.

Melyssa Barrett: So yeah, definitely. So and I mean, I think companies are trying to figure out how do we retain, promote? So I think you’re absolutely right. I think in terms of creating that inclusion, it’s a challenge for sure. Are there other things that you think we could be doing? I love the entrepreneurship component of it, because I think that’s always a place where you own what you’re doing, and you’re authentic in your space because you’re running the show. And I think as we see more people of color, underrepresented minorities, getting into other positions of power, I think that we’ll start to see some of those things shift. But there’s so many things we can do. Are there other things that you think we should be thinking about?

Evan Wade: One, I encourage folks to read, take time to learn history, right? Study history. And studying history gives you an example of the past, right? And so we’ve discussed some present day social movements, but the way to organize these movements were not new, folks studied movements of the past. And so studying history allows you to see good examples of what to do, it gives a good template of what to do, to learn from the mistakes of the past, but also to learn from some good positive lessons of the past as well, too. And so I do encourage, and always will encourage that, to study.

And for those who are interested in activism 101, at the college level, we have in many college campuses across our nation, we have African American Studies departments, which always emphasize intellectual learning, but also grassroots organizing. And at Delta, where I teach, we’re developing an African American Studies Department, but one thing we have now as a new major is something called Social Justice Studies. And that particular program is activist training 101. 

And so we take students from everywhere. And they have different causes, some people want to save the world from an environmental standpoint, others want to save the world in terms of a gender justice standpoint. There’s other folks who are looking at the moral ideas of technology, technology and ethics. And there’s other folks looking at race, right? And so, from that program I kind of mentor, we have a whole bunch of faculty who mentor these students and put them in intellectual spaces, and internships at the same time too, all related to helping to train when it comes to activism.

But a lot of activists, when you study their bios, they had some very specific type of training that was attached to it. Yes, people decided, I want to wake up one morning and become an activist, but they spent the time to train. And so that training component is going to be, it is important. So the time period to study, the time period to develop that particular craft is key. 

Melyssa Barrett: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here. So many nuggets in all of the things you’re talking about. And I know history, it’s amazing how much history can not only provide you the benefit of the wisdom of the past, but also connect people together. Because I know you knew my husband, he was a history buff as well-

Evan Wade: Oh, definitely. Yeah.

Melyssa Barrett: And the ability to connect with others of all ethnicities, races, whatever you… I mean, it’s amazing to me the just the sheer connection for diversity that you have when you know your history. Just thank you so much for being here and shedding some light for us. 

Evan Wade: Oh, it’s a pleasure, thanks for having me. And thank you for this podcast. It’s very important that we have spaces like this to have our own voice, our own narrative. It’s very important that we have black media spaces to put forth our own ideas, our own thoughts, that’s in an unfiltered way, so thank you.

Melyssa Barrett: Thank you. Look forward to our next conversation, Professor Wade.

Evan Wade: All right, awesome.

Melyssa Barrett: All right. Thanks so much. Thanks for joining me on The Jali Podcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.