Dr. Joseph White, a noted author and psychologist, is coming home on Wednesday, Feb. 25 to speak at Hennepin County's Black History Month lecture series. White, who spent his childhood in Minneapolis, an expert on the African-American psyche, is often referred to as "The Godfather of Black Psychology." In advance of his speech at the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., noon on floor 24A, he spent a few moments with Skyway News to share his feelings on Black America.
Why was it important for you to come to speak in Minneapolis?
I grew up in the old Seven Corners area in the 1930's when there were only a few blacks living there. I'm a homeboy, y'know, and it's only appropriate to come back from whence I came; and from the time I was 1 through 17, I spent my time in Minneapolis.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
To me, it's about the African American people and how it all started in Africa, and the struggles that we went through in America and the strength that evolved during that struggle. It's also about looking to the future at what have we learned from this long experience that began in ancient Africa and brought us through the slavery and 100 years of de facto, du jour segregation. It's about what have we earned from all that and what is the message for the future.
How is society doing on the subject of race relations?
I feel that we have a long ways to go. There's a scar on the Black psyche. I think that now, while we've made some progress, we've got to begin to move forward once again in terms of education, jobs, and healthcare and housing.
What do you feel has improved?
Civil rights, that did improve. When I was a boy in Minneapolis, we couldn't stay in the major hotels or eat in certain restaurants. I worked at the Curtis Hotel as a busboy in the 1940s, but Icouldn't stay there.
What is your hope for the future?
My hope for the future is that we will become fully a part of the American
fabric, I mean that we will be represented at all decision-making levels: in the
university, in the government and in the corporations. My hope is that everywhere you look, you'll be able to see a black face.