The Editor’s Corner
Gloria Swindler Boutte, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Distinguished Professor
University of South Carolina, Columbia
Hakim M. Rashid, Ph.D.
Professor of Human Development and Psycho-Educational Studies
Welcome to this inaugural issue of African American Learners (AAL)! The editors would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Janice Hale who conceived the journal and made it a reality. Through the publication of this issue, her vision of having a scholarly platform dedicated to African American children, families, and communities is realized. It is our hope that the journal will provide an avenue for discussing important issues relating to African American children. AAL puts forth its belief in the wisdom and possibilities of Black children and seeks manuscripts which address issues from a strengths-based and affirming stance. AAL intends to capture voices, worldviews, epistemologies, and research that are often not centered in the academic literature.
AAL will publish a wide variety of genres including practical, research, and conceptual manuscripts. Because we want the journal to be accessible to a wide variety of audiences, research articles should include classroom implications and applications. We encourage novice and veteran scholars alike (from all ethnic groups) to contribute pieces which will advance the understanding and knowledge base on African American students. When possible, we will provide feedback and guidance to help authors’ achieve success in having their manuscripts published.
This inaugural issue is divided into two parts: 1) five short commentaries/articles honoring the life and scholarship of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III, and 2) two additional articles. Dr. Hilliard was/is an educator, psychologist and historian whose influence spanned over five decades. He has been recognized nationally and internationally as one of the leading advocates for providing an education for those in the African diaspora that is rooted in African culture. His legacy has influenced countless educators, including Managing Editor, Janice Hale, and Co-Editors, Hakim Rashid and Gloria Boutte.
The 1st article features Janice Hale, as she describes a specific example of Dr. Hilliard’s role in mentoring her. In the second article, Hakim Rashid briefly reflects on Dr. Hilliard’s influence on what he has taught his students over the years. In the third article dedicated to Asa, James Young and Ernest Washington describe Dr. Hilliard’s significant influence on the practice of early childhood education in the 70s, a history that has gone largely undocumented. This article is followed by a brief interview with James Young on Dr. Hilliard’s appointment to an endowed professorship at Georgia State University. The final tribute article is Itihari Toure’s articulation, in a very forceful piece, of where Dr. Hilliard was in terms of his philosophical direction and scholarly priorities at the time of his transition.
Together, these articles constitute a powerful perspective on the range of Dr. Hilliard’s influence on African American education and educators. We hope these articles will inspire the readership of African American Learners to learn more about the work of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III and incorporate his worldview, his scholarship, and his commitment to children of African descent into their own.
The last two articles critical service learning and reducing gang violence. Nicole Webster, Heather Coffey, and Robert W. Simmons’ III article, “Becoming ‘agents of change’: The possibilities of Using Service-Learning and Critical Pedagogy to Prepare Pre-service Teachers to be Critically Conscious Educators of Urban African American Learners,” invites readers to think about moving pre-service teachers’ service learning experiences beyond superficial and missionary approaches and engage them “in the culture and politics of their local communities in order to foster critical thought and a sense of citizenship.”
In the second article, “Reducing Gang Violence, Improving School Security and Creating A Culture Of Learning In Schools,” Ivory Toldson and Eder L. Lemus discuss the importance of ensuring that students are learning even in schools with high incidences of violence.
We welcome feedback on the journal and also ask that you circulate it widely to university faculty, teachers, teacher education students, and others who have an interest in the topic. Ideas for themed issues are also welcomed. It is our hope that the inaugural and future issues of AAL will capture the voices, hopes, and possibilities for African American learners and prompt reflective action on their behalf. Happy Reading!