Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
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DR. MAX YERGAN had also spoken out. Max Yergan, scholar, enemy of oppression, leader of the Negro people.

For the 90 years of the existence of the city colleges, in this city where 300,000 Negroes live, there had been no Negro instructor on the faculties. In 1937, after a long campaign by the student Frederick Douglass Society, endorsed by the Teachers Union, the first class in Negro History and Culture was opened and the first Negro instructor appointed, Dr. Yergan.

The aim of the course which Dr. Yergan gave is described in the college bulletin:

“To disclose the culture of the Negro people and its place in world culture; to study those forces which account for the present status of the Negro population in America; to expose and correct the misrepresentation of the past of the Negro population in America; and to discuss how Negroes may continue their contributions to cultural progress and strengthening of democracy in America.”

A witness at the Rapp-Coudert Committee gave testimony, said that the course in Negro History was liberal and progressive. To the Rapp-Coudert Committee that could mean only one thing—the course was subversive. Dr. Yergan was thereupon informed by the college authorities that he would not be asked to return to lecture because it was “the policy of the department to change the personnel of these special lectureships from time to time, in order that the students may get the benefit of different personalities.”

Hugo Gellert