Howard University: A Journey to the Mecca

This semester I primarily focused on the built environment of Howard University hospital. Soon I quickly learned that in order to understand the Hospital I have to understand the University as a whole, specifically the College of Medicine. I decided to focus on Howard as “The Mecca” because it is a term that has earned them international recognition. The term “Mecca” originally refers to the city in Saudi Arabia and is considered the holiest city to the religion of Islam. Similarly, Howard University has been described as the “Mecca” because it is considered the most prestigious Historically Black College in the United States.

For the first essay, I chose to do my rhetorical space at Howard University Hospital. Upon my research, I realized that in order to understand Howard University Hospital I needed to analyze Howard University and how they both correlate to being called the Mecca. Charted in 1862, this hospital was designed to cater to the medical needs of African Americans during the civil war, today this hospital is the largest hospital to cater to the needs of African Americans in the community.

As I journey through this space, I noticed that the hospital is old and has not been kept up to date. It does, however, care for the community it is serving and prides itself on serving the black community of DC for over 150 years. The hospital had an eery feel to it every time I entered. As I discovered my space more and more I noticed that business was not booming for the hospital. There seemed to be no one being catered too. I later looked at some yelp reviews and realized that most people did not have great experiences at the hospital. The hospital is, however, trying to repair its legacy and puts added focus into community-based care.

Dr. Alexader Agusta (pictured above) was the first African American to head the hospital and shaped it an elite teaching hospital. While still under federal control, the hospital later moved from 520 W. Street, NW to its current location on Georgia Ave. The hospital was eventually acquired by Howard University. Mudd hall now serves as a museum to educate the public on the history of medical education and health care among the black community.

Both Howard University and Howard hospital serve as a Mecca to the black community. The hospital is a mecca for African Americans in the medical field because it gives them a tangible location to gain training from someone who looks like them and shares their same experiences. Similarly, Howard University serves as the mecca for prestigious black universities. It also gives students who join the school, something tangible to look up to. So many successful black people have entered this school and most have come out praising the mecca for the way it has influenced their life and carriers.

Many black successful authors, entertainers, and judicial members have come from this institution. They have made their mark on the world and they all have something in common. They derive from the mecca. For these individuals, Howard stands as the beacon of what HBCUs and minorities are capable of when their needs are made a priority.  Also, with some of the notable graduates and placement in the capital of the United States, it adds notoriety to the name and serves as a reminder that they are the best.

In his book, “Between the World and Me” Writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about his experiences during his time at Howard University. He mentions that [his] only Mecca was, is, and shall always be Howard University.” It is important to note that Coates draws a distinction between the university as an academic institution and as a vibrant community made up of young black people from every background, social class, and cultural orientation. Although he never graduates from Howard, he uses events like their annual Homecoming, as a symbol of black power. Similar to the actual mecca in Saudi Arabia which is considered the holiest place in Islam, Howard university is a source of strength and guidance throughout his life.

Recently, both Howard university and Howard university hospital have fallen on hard times. The hospital is struggling financially and is in talks of selling the hospital, and as of 2016, it has had the highest rate of wrongful death lawsuits of any health facility in Washington, DC. The school has also fallen from grace. Students are complaining of scholarships being revoked without notice and students are leaving the school due to financial difficulties. There is still room for Howard to improve its school. As the first federally chartered University there is hope things will change for the better of the community.

In conclusion, this project allowed me to learn a lot about the Howard university Community. The mecca comes in all forms whether doctors students or entertainers. Everyone who walks through those gates has been touched by the mecca and have formed their own mecca communities within the school. As Ta-Nihisi Coates says, “The Mecca derives its power from the heritage of Howard University which in Jim Crow days enjoyed a near-monopoly on black talent.”

I hope that you enjoyed my presentation and learned more about the community of Howard University.

Here is a powerpoint Presentation on my research:
https://1drv.ms/p/s!AgAagQPSyNWeaUdFmAu0rxfYcnA

Other descriptions:

[EXCLUSIVE] Howard University President On Criticism, Challenges & Future Of the Fabled HBCU

Annotated Bibliography 9 and 10

Mughee, Umarah. “Conquering Cancer: Now He Needs Your Votes.” The Hilltop, issue 14 September.  2015,https://issuu.com/thehilltoponline.com/docs/the_hilltop__september_14__2015__vo

Sydney Satterwhite, a Howard University student was diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma, and as a result, he had to take a year off from school; now back at Howard, Sydney is applying for money via the Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway, to assist in paying tuition and past medical bills. Sydney could win up to $100,000. As a top student and scholar, Sydney is trying to complete his education despite huge obstacles.

I plan to use this article for my research to illustrate the ways in which Howard University rallies together to support their students. This is the “Mecca” Tanihasi Coates refers to in his book, Between the World and Me. This coming together of all students to support one of their own is seen time and time again at Howard University and it primarily stands because of the way the school was set up. It was set up as a support system for disadvantaged students who were primarily African American students.

Dunnavant, Justin. “Access Denied: African Americans and Access to End-of-Life Care in Nineteen-Century Washington, DC.” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s41636-017-0007-5

Researchers in this article found that African American women were especially vulnerable as they were often denied end-of-life care due to a requirement of the women to be employed; since fewer women had access to employment in the 19th Century and African American women, especially, end of life care was seen as something earned, and not a right.

Much has changed since the 19th Century, and while there are still racial injustices within the U.S., end of life care is not restricted to those who work. While the Howard Hospital situation remains complicated, as do the racial issues, Howard University, much has improved socially and culturally. I plan to use this in my research to demonstrate the effects of disadvantages have had on Howard and why their mini community seems to be the only type of support they can rely on.

Annotated bibliography 7 and 8

Exhibit and Background: Howard University

Milloy, Courtland. “Howard University’s Yardfest has become an embarrassment.” The Washington Post, 29 October. 2013, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/howard-universitys-yardfest-has-become-an-embarrassment/2013/10/29/bd31138a-40da-11e3-8b74-d89d714ca4dd_story.html?utm_term=.24f6a16c3ee4

Milloy Courtland’s article in the Washington Post, “Howard University’s YardFest has become an embarrassment,” makes the arguments that Howard University is known for its homecoming events even before the quality education. This highlights the behavior of the audience at the annual Yardfest hip hop show. The article goes on to discuss the behavior of the gate crashers to the backdrop of some of the titles of the rap songs being performed, in a sarcastic manner, contrasting it with the former abolitionist Frederick Douglas. To the author of this article, the students are going to Howard to a party, get high or drunk and misbehave, rather than run to a “Mecca of higher education” (Washington Post).

I plan to use this in my research to argue that this Homecoming ceremony, YardFest, is apart of the culture. It is important to recognize the demographics of those who attend this prestigious university. For my project, I plan on dismantling Courtland’s bias views in order to showcase the importance of these programs. Yes, the school has its own flaws related to finance and the upcoming of the university, but to argue that their school has become an embarrassment because of cultural events like YardFest is somewhat contradicting. These programs are a way for this community to express themselves and portraying it as something negative only damages the image of the University.

Suggs, Ernie. “Howard University: The Mecca.” Ajc.com, Cox Media Group,13 July. 2015, http://www.ajc.com/news/education/howard-university-the-mecca/52PGYs2F1aQIKllktrjG0K/

In this article, there is a general narrative about how Howard University is committed to helping disadvantaged persons succeed in higher education, and specifically, African Americans. The author goes on to describe some of Howard University’s history, like when it was founded in 1867, with humble beginnings, and how it has grown to serve its student body with 13 schools and colleges. This article is heavily opinionated and clearly, has a biased opinion.

This article will be used to compare/contrast Howard University related to its success, failures, socio-political structure, the educational environment of the students. This article reads more like an advertisement, and while it does highlight some facts that can be verified by outside sources. I will incorporate this into my research to illustrate methods Howard university is using to savor their image and restore the “Mecca” to its original glory. I will also anylze how this article supports the school in order to showcase it in a postive light. While conducting my reserch I noticed a tone in the way some articles approach the University and most were with a negative tone. It is interesting how these same articles discuss predominatly white Univeristies. There is a some level of unconfidence with predominatly black universities, as if to say they are incompitant to compete with white colleges. I plan on discussing these challenges and how it is clearly evident within the built enviroment of Howard University.

Annotated Bibliography 3 and 4

Hunter-Gault, Charlene. “Hard Times at Howard University.” The New York Times. 4 February 2014.

In this article, Charlene Hunter-Gault explains the challenges faced by Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, the acting president of Howard University, who struggles to compete with elite colleges. His challenges include new restrictions on federal loans, financial mismanagement and board infighting, and the nation’s diversifying landscape. The author also f some of the economic challenges that are faced by black colleges of the region through a number of cases that include Hampton University, Fisk University, and focuses the University of Georgia.

The author also explains that the students at Howard demand “Transparency, Accountability, and Responsibility” and push for a change in the financial leadership of their school. They are concerned about the fiscal direction of the school and some public relations blunders, such as bonuses granted to high-level administrators in the amount of $1.1 million, that occurred in the past years at Howard. On the other hand, Hunter-Gault includes testimonies of students who consider Howard an outstanding educational institution. This source is going to support my point about the challenges faced by Howard University,  the efforts they make to overcome them as they move toward the future, and the reclamation of their Mecca, which has been tampered.

 

Tressel, Ashley. “Howard Hospital Rises in the ranks.” Willits News, 22 December. 2016,

http://www.willitsnews.com/article/NR/20161222/NEWS/161229976

After large renovations, Howard hospital has risen in the rankings and demonstrated the quality of care after receiving millions of dollars in grants from Advent Health. The article does not indicate specifically who did the assessment for the new ranking, but only discussed some of the new equipment purchased and where the money came from. All that is mentioned is Howard Hospital is a level IV trauma center and stakeholders hope to maintain its 4-star patient rating.

 

While the information in this article seems credible and interviews were conducted with medical staff at Howard Hospital, more information is needed, so this article will serve as a starting point into understanding Howard Hospital’s financial situation. Howard Hospital, had until recently been strapping Howard University of much needed capital, so it remains to be seen if this situation is faring better, I will use this in my research to demonstrate the ever changing adaptations Howard Hospital has had to face, and the effects it has had on the school and community.

Office Hours Visit

On April 20, I went in for an office hours visit with Professor Hoskins to discuss my first Essay. The meeting was very insightful and I received a lot of information on how to further enhance my paper and different ways to incorporate multimodal components into the paper. We also discussed my final project and how Howard University is preferred to as the Mecca. This meeting was very informative and cause a sparked interest in the writer, Ta-Nihasi Coates. Professor Hoskins gave me multiple ideas on how I can incorporate his book into my essay and use his discretion of the Mecca (Howard University) and compare it to my project as a whole. This meeting helped me get a clearer understanding of the direction I should go with my paper and was a step forward in a positive direction.

His, Her, They- Reading Analysis 6

In Suzanne Tick’s article “His Her? Designing for a Post- Gender Society” she discusses how masculine and feminine roles are being challenged. She goes into more detail by describing how design ties in with Modernism. This concept of “Modernism” is deeply rooted within a male perspective. “Historically, men have occupied power roles in offices, so male necessities dictated the design of prime spaces, while the female secretaries occupied ancillary areas.” Tick notes that men typically generate the conversation and are the subject of most occupied spaces. This article dismantles this idea of what society calls “gender” and instead raises questions pertaining to how we identify ourselves. Multiple examples are brought up especially from students at universities who refuse to conform to either male or female.

Tick does bring up the argument that it can also be somewhat confusing, especially now that girls look like boys and boys look like girls. In order to support her claims though, Tick mentions androgyny and how this has served as a commonplace. It is different for us now especially in this new generation because labels are slowly diminishing. As a society, we have realized that it is okay to be other. Being transgender or non-binary is no longer seen as being an outcast instead they are now being accepted, the problem is that social spaces are needed for these individuals to feel like they are being accepted.

This flag is unique compared to the LGBTQ flag. It does not showcase the primary colors of the rainbow, instead, it features lighter colors that can be mixed in with the primary colors.

Gender, Urban Development and the Politics of Space

  • This article relates really well to the above analyisis.

Final Chapter of City of Rhetoric- Reading Analysis 5

In his last chapter of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming concludes his analysis of the built American environment. He accurately describes the flaws that still are ever present within these various communities. Continuously and throughout the book, the majority population illustrated a lack of care for the minority and continuously finds different methods to keep them in the same systems. Fleming makes a point of noting that we throw around the word “community” carelessly but in reality, “We continue, that is, to be afraid of our diversity and to imagine that the most progressive response to social alienation is its opposite— a melding of disparate experiences into unity.” We fail to actually include those who look different than us into our built environments which leave room for disparities between each other. This also causes us to view each other as different even though we have no actual knowledge of the way we live our lives.

Fleming emphasizes that we should not be looking at this book from a global perspective, but instead, look within our own built spaces and figure out how we can improve it. He uses the example of Hurricane Katrina and the poor response from our own former President, George Bush Jr. There seems to be a stigma that if a catastrophic event occurs only the elite are of concern and those who are the urban poor minority are left out of the conversation. This is reminiscent of Kanye West’s rant: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Although this seems comedic there is a sense of truth to this statement. As a community, we fail one another if we do not pick up the minority from their oppressive state. It is wrongful to blame them for their living conditions if they have always remained in these conditions and never given the opportunity or a ladder to climb out of these environments.

 

A picture of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is important to not that the response to this crises was extremely poor. Questions arise as to was this because the majority of the population was people of color? Do they not matter?
I found this picture especially captivating because as an American it should have been expected that these individuals would be taken care of after their homes were destroyed, but they were not looked at as a priority. But at the same time, black Americans are expected to serve this country with respect and dignity when clearly they are not even thought about.
While it might seem funny now, there are levels of truth to Kanye’s statement. There seems to be a lack of empathy related to the black community and it was clearly illustrated in Hurricane Katrina and also throughout Fleming’s book with his descriptions of the ever-changing Chicago.

 

A closer look of Fleming’s description of the Ghetto-Reading Analysis 4

In David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, part four discusses the Ghetto, primarily Chicago’s ghetto. He analyzes the effects of the ghetto, like gentrification,  and how this particular social space as condensed a group of people into one area in order to keep them in these low socioeconomic neighborhoods that leave little to no room for escape. Fleming quotes 1968 Kerner Commission who describes the ghetto as “an area within a city characterized by poverty and acute social disorganization and inhabited by members of a racial or ethnic group under conditions of involuntary segregation” (Fleming 150). It is clear that the ghetto has been used to keep a specific group of people excluded from the majority population. If these people do not have their own opportunities for entrepreneurship and a chance to grow their communities, there is no way they are able to compete with the majority population.

Fleming notes that the ghetto is a modernization of racial residential segregation. He explains that this has been evident with both of the great migrations. It is clear that within these cities, black people, who are already at a disadvantage due to historical background, are moved out of the cities that they have already occupied. Once the majority white population take over these cities, the black population are left to depend on those who moved them out. Those residing in these ghettos tend to rely on public housing and public assistance to continue with their lives. Since they become dependent there is no room to move up the socioeconomic ladder and leaves them in the same place they found themselves, which becomes generational.

A mural painted on logan square and Pilsen in the city of Chicago
This picture is from a protest at a metro stop for the Chicago Transit Authority. They want to stop the moving out of those who originally lived in these areas.

 

An Analysis of Fleming’s Chapter “Suburbia”- Reading analysis 3

 

In part five of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, Fleming discusses the rhetorical space of the modern day Suburbia. He focuses primarily on Schaumburg, Illinois and notes how these new suburban towns have been primarily occupied by the white middle class, leaving little to no room for black or people of color residents. This causes these residents to reside in oppressive conditions in the city and leaves little to no room for expansion. Fleming goes on to discuss “Chicagoland” and how this metropolitan area is reconstructed by decentralization, fragmentation, and polarization. Focusing primarily on decentralization, it tracks the way that “middle and upper-class whites moved first their homes and then their stores… out of central cities into the outlying regions around the city.” This illustrates that white people take the initiative in order to protect their lifestyle. Fleming tries to illustrate the different methods white people do this, but overall he makes us question how we have seen this illustrated within our own rhetorical communities. Once they feel like that lifestyle is threatened, we see an influx of them moving outward.

Fleming captures the rhetorical space of Suburbia in a very specific way and makes it understandable because as a society we can see it happening before our eyes. He gives multiple statistics to support his claims and offers a wide range of historical examples to bring substance to his argument. It is clear that the moving out of white individuals into these suburbias is continuing at a rapid pace. But as more and more people of color are making more money and moving into these spaces, we see a divide within the Suburbia. Fleming gives the reader background into what has happened prior with white people moving from these urban areas. Since there is such an influx of individuals moving into Suburbia, it is hopeful that this divide will no longer stand and the socioeconomic status of these suburbians will become equivalent. It is worthy to not that this may never happen due to historical background and the way the system is set up. Those who are continuously oppressed will not become the oppressor, instead, they become a catalyst to the system.

This is a picture of a primarily Chicago suburb. It is compared to a primarily black suburb in the same city (shown below).

Common Place 14

“I really started dreaming… and broke out of my shyness when I got to Howard University. My first acting class was an Intro to Acting class with Professor Bay, who really broke me out of my shell, encouraged me to follow my dreams and make them a reality.”
– Lance Gross

As described with this quote from a Howard University Alumni, this school helped shape Lance Gross into the person that he is today. The Mecca, in particular, are individuals who shape the way students view their rhetorical space, and it helps them navigate their way throughout college. For Gross, his Mecca was Professor Bay. These gifted professors influence the way that students see the world. This community also helps students discover their true passions and give them the resources to flourish.