I Am a Black Scholar: A Digital Repository of Scholarship from within the Black Diaspora

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Leshell Hatley

    University of Maryland, College Park

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Introducing The Black Scholars Index™ (Green 2008; Booker 2007; Hall-Green, 2000; Scott
1995). Over the years, the desire to provide analytical
commentary, share knowledge, and provide advice as a
result of lived experiences has been prominent themes
within the Black intellectual community, especially
within the United States. Harold Cruz (1967) provided
a historical analysis of what he deemed the challenges
of black leadership in his book, The Crisis of the Negro
Intellectual. In it, he chronicled the major decisions and
actions of prominent Black literary, artistic, and political
leaders. This book provided an astounding glimpse into
Black life similarly to the renowned books of W. E. B.
DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and Carter G.
Woodson, The Mis-education of the Negro (1933). Nikki
Giovanni, a prominent Black literary scholar, dedicated
two chapters in her book, Racism 101 (1994), for advice
to African-American students enrolled in college (or
soon to be); and in 2003, Anna Green and LeKita Scott
published Journey to the PhD: How to Navigate the Process
as African Americans, a collection of seventeen essay
describing the challenges of twenty doctoral student
from institution around the United States.
These books are often recommended to members of the
Black community and beyond, especially those contemplating
higher education, as representations of past accomplishments
and challenges from which to gain invaluable
lessons. While they are valuable resources, they
are not as widely accessible as resources made available
on the internet and they do not contain information over
extended periods of time. The Black Scholars Index™
provides this and more. Not only will this historical website
serve as a repository of research and analytical accounts
of knowledge production, it will be an ongoing
spotlight of the lived experiences of Black Scholars and
offer invaluable advice throughout the life of the project.
With it, future scholars of all races will have access
to resourceful information, authentic experiences and
perspectives, visual representations of research trends,
and various other tools and features that will help understand
the educational and intellectual activities of Black
However, gains from The Black Scholar Index™ existence
stretch beyond these benefits. Aside from the
project’s goals and the above component descriptions,
the informative advantages and implications of BSI are
tremendous and research has been underway since its inception
in February 2008. Two months after launching
BSI with only word of mouth marketing, approximately
200 Black Scholars were indexed and initial demographic
statistics were measured. Measurements from this
snapshot are displayed below:
• Female -66%
• Male -34%.
• In a relationship -22%
• Married -27%
• Single -48%
• Parents – 33%
• iHnatevree sptsu b-4li3sh%e d papers about their work or similar
• Members of fraternities and sororities -21%
• Attended an HBCU for undergraduate degree -49%
• Top BS Degree obtained = BS Biology
• Attended an HBCU for Masters degree -19%
• Top Masters Degree obtained = MS Public Health
• Attended an HBCU for Doctoral degree -3%
• eTnocpe P hD Degree obtained = PhD in Computer Sci-
• Current faculty (tenured and non-tenured) -16%
• Currently doctoral students – 37%
• More than 1/2 work in a field related to their PhD
• 77% expressed interest in serving as BSI mentors
The results of this preliminary snapshot were extremely
revealing: the majority of Black scholars indexed studied
health and science, a small number were employed
in faculty positions, a large majority were interested in
mentoring students interested in pursuing advanced degrees,
and although approximately half attended Historically
Black Colleges and/or Universities (HBCUs) while
in undergraduate school, attendance at HBCUs diminishes
significantly as higher degrees were sought. Most
of the Black scholars indexed to date reside within the
United States and the BSI website displays a geospatial
map of their employment locations. Although these
measurements do not reflect the total number of African-
Americans with doctoral degrees, it provides a glimpse
of demographic information and illustrates the potential
for the amount of information that can be garnered
overtime. This information along with more qualitative
analysis of the experiences, perspectives, and motivations
of those indexed via future website polls, surveys,
and other forms of interaction will be beneficial to future
educational programs, mentoring organizations, and recruitment
efforts by a variety of organizations and institutions.
Conclusion and Future Work
Development of The Black Scholars Index™ is ongoing.
Design revisions, expansion of content, and the design
and implementation of the many tools including those
described above are all underway. One of the intended
analysis tools examines the collaboration and co-authorship
of research projects and papers. Another tool provides
an interface for data entry of well-known African
American scholars who have lived over the past century.
Further analysis of the all the data collected will help
fulfill the mission of the project and provide a concise
representation of the scholarly accomplishments of the
Black Diaspora.
Booker, K. C. (2007). Perception of classroom belongingness
among African American college students. College
Student Journal. 3 (41), 178-186
Du Bois, W. E. B (1903). The Souls of Black Folk, Republished
(1995) 100th Anniversary Edition, Penguin
Giovanni, N. (1994). Racism 101. Quill, NY
Green, A. (2008). A Dream Deferred: The experience of
an African American student in a doctoral program in
science. Education Spring 2008, Vol. 128 Issue 3, p339-
Green, A., Scott, L. (2003). Journey to the PhD: How to
Navigate the Process as African Americans, Stylus, VA
Hall-Greene, D. (2000). A Qualitative Study on African
American and Caribbean Black Males’ Experience in a
College of Aeronautical Science. Unpublished doctoral
dissertation, Virginia Tech.
Scott, D. W. (1995). Conditions related to the Academic
Performance of African American Students at Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University. Unpublished
doctoral dissertation, Virginia Tech.
Woodon, C. G. (1993) The Mis-education of the Negro,
Republished (1992), UBUS Communications Systems
‘I am a Black Scholar’ is the slogan for the digital humanities
project named The Black Scholars Index™ (BSI)
sponsored by Uplift, Inc. Uplift, Inc. is a 501c3 (tax exempt)
nonprofit organization, founded by Leshell Hatley,
a doctoral student in the College of Information Studies
at the University of Maryland. Its mission is to support
underrepresented groups and to research and develop
technology-based programs, products, and services to
encourage and produce lifelong learners, leaders, and resilient
communities. With this in mind, the organization
and its founder constructed The Black Scholars Index™
(BSI) as an online venue to highlight, record, analyze,
and illustrate the scholarly achievements and intellectual
movements within the Black Diaspora, descendents of
Africans who have settled throughout the world as a result
of the Atlantic slave trade. In keeping with current
uses of Internet technology, BSI will host features such
as: an extensive directory of Black Scholars; Talented
Tenth, BSI’s online Journal for Black Scholars; the BSI
Digital Repository, a database of dissertations, research
papers, and other work produced by Black scholars;
online collaboration tools; a network for mentoring potential
students of higher education; pod/webcasts, and
a host of Web 2.0 data visualization elements. These
tools and features will provide analytical measurements,
share insightful perspectives, and enhance the historical
account of the knowledge production and of the many
societal contributions by Black Scholars.
Investigating The Black Scholars Index™
While many researchers have previously attempted to
gather information about the perspectives, experiences,
motivations, and challenges of Black students in higher
education, few, if any, have done so on large scales, from
around the world, nor collected works and experiences
of these scholars after they have been working in their
fields. In the form of books and articles, some Black
students have given personal accounts of their stories at
Predominately White Institutions (PWIs) or within fields
of study where Black students are underrepresented
as attempts to share their experiences and offer advice

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2009

Hosted at University of Maryland, College Park

College Park, Maryland, United States

June 20, 2009 - June 25, 2009

176 works by 303 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (4)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None