Focus on the FutureDecember 23, 1999 |
Focus on the Future
Recently, a colleague and I compared notes about what, as kids, we thought we’d be doing at the turn of the century. I don’t recall foreseeing specifically what I’d be doing New Year’s Eve, 1999, but I do recall fantasizing about what my life might be like in the 21st century.
Many of my notions were influenced by the work of science fiction writers George Orwell, Ray Bradbury and Aldus Huxley. Back then, I couldn’t wait to live in a world where computers and robots simplified daily living. I especially looked forward to jetting around in a personalized space craft like the one owned by George Jetson of the Jetsons cartoon series.
Well, I don’t have my jet mobile yet, but here we are at the threshold of the 21st century and many of my expectations of what life would be like have been met. One thing I didn’t expect, however, is that we’d still be struggling for social and economic equity along racial lines.
Of course, I now understand that this problem is nothing new in the history of human civilization. It is certainly not new in the history of the United States. Still, I wonder if the issues we’re dealing with now will continue to plague the generations that will follow us. And I wonder what people will say about how the race problem was managed by 20th century Americans when Y3K rolls around.
Like most magazine staffs, we at Black Issues have tried to make this — our last edition of the century — a keepsake item. One that you’ll include in your 20th century time capsule to be reviewed at some later date. Of course, it is impossible to review a century’s worth of events in a 112-page magazine without omitting more than can be included. Still, we have tried to amass a representative sampling of the people — heroes and the villains — and events that have had the greatest impact on the status of people of color in higher education in the 20th century.
As you thumb through, we hope you’ll be as inspired as we were when putting the edition together. Even with the setbacks, the educational achievement made by people of color in this century is unprecedented. The last time the century turned, most of our ancestors couldn’t even expect to finish high school. Today, roughly one in five college graduates is a person of color.
Of course, we’ve got to accelerate this momentum, if we are to keep up with the way the population is shifting. But as we move ahead, we must remember that the pioneers who blazed the 20th century trail didn’t have a map. They made a way out of no way.
May their triumphs and failures guide us as we venture forward.
Cheryl D. Fields
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