Matthew W. Prophet
Portland Public Schools
501 N. Dixon Street
Portland, Oregon 97227
PPS Geocultural Baseline Essay Series
Copyright © 1987 byPortland,
Multnomah School District 1J
The Portland Public School District has broken new ground with the publication of the
African-American Baseline Essays. These essays represent one part of a huge multicultural curriculum-development effort initiated at the beginning of this decade of the eighties.
Without a doubt, the key stimulus for the quest for fundamental equity was the Black
Community advocates. The African-American Baseline Essays are one of several products that are a direct result of the interaction of the Black United Front and the Desegregation Monitoring Advisory Committee with the Portland School District. Following the communitybased leadership of these two organizations, a number of other agencies and individuals joined in what has become one of the most comprehensive development activities in the nation.
The concept of Baseline Essays was introduced to Portland Public Schools in 1981 by Dr.
Asa G. Hillard, lll, who states: “The Baseline Essay is intended to be a short story of the
experience of a particular geo-cultural group
* within a particular academic area from earliest times to the present. The Baseline Essay itself is primarily, though not exclusively, a resource document for the teacher. It provides a sense of coherence, continuity, and
comprehensiveness to the experience of a particular group within a given academic area.
Taken all together, the Baseline Essays are the story of a people.”
Six scholars were commissioned to write the African-American Baseline Essays:
Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Professor Emeritus of African World History,
Hunter College, New York City
Mr. Hunter Havelin Adams, lll, Research Scientist of Argonne National
Ms. Beatrice Lumpkin, Malcolm X College, Chicago
Ms. Joyce Braden-Harris, Director of Black Education Center,
Mr. Michael Harris, Assistant Professor at Morehouse College of Atlanta
Dr. Charsee Charlotte Lawrence-McIntyre, Associate Professor of
Humanities, State University of New York – Old Westbury
The authors worked closely with the African-American Curriculum Consultants: Joyce Harris (Social Science), Kamau Anderson (Science), McKinley Burt (Mathematics), Clyde Taylor (Language Arts), and Janice Ingersoll-Williamson (Art) to produce the published version of each essay.
Dr. Hilliard states: “While lesson plans and curriculum guides may have direct links to day-today planning, the Baseline Essays should provide the professional teacher a general
perspective and references that will help to clarify the isolated information that appears in the curriculum guides or standardized tests.”
Organization of the African-American Baseline Essays’ Notebook
The Essays are preceded by a definition of Multicultural/Multiethnic Education and a
statement regarding the Implementation of Multicultural/Multiethnic Education in Portland
Public Schools. Each of the Baseline Essays is a complete work in and of itself with its own introduction, illustrations, and numbering system.
Use of the African-American Baseline Essays
These essays are one part of a staff in-service package designed to give basic information about the history, culture, and contributions of African and African-American people. Video tapes of the authors of the essays and lesson plans are to be used to introduce, discuss, and implement instruction that presents a more comprehensive picture of this geo-cultural group. While the District has sponsored the development of the Essays, the authors are responsible for the content of their respective essays.
The scholars who authored the Baseline Essays worked closely with the African-AmericanCoordinator of Multicultural/Multiethnic Education
Curriculum Consultants in the review and editing of the essays. District support services
such as Word Processing, Publication Services, and the District artist supported the
development of the final product. As coordinator of Multicultural/Multiethnic Education, I
supervised the developmental process, developed the page format, and completed the final review. The packaging, which included the selection of notebooks and the logo (on the front of the notebooks) and work with the publisher, was supervised by Herman A. Washington, Curriculum Administrator. The design on the notebook cover was drawn by Judy Madden, artist and teacher on special assignment on the District social studies cadre.
The process of writing, editing, and publishing the African-American Baseline Essays could not have been completed without Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, lll, national consultants (i.e., Dr. Ivan Van Sertima; Oscar Brown, Jr.; Julian Euell; and Harold Courlander); the scholars who
willingly spent time editing and re-editing their final drafts; Dr. Darrell Millner of Portland State University; Joyce Harris; Dr. William A. Little; Dr. Erasmus Chuks Ogbuobiri; Dr. Carolyn L. Moilanen; Dr. Ernest E. Hartzog and numerous other individuals who read and reread prepublication copies of the essays. They are the collective work of individuals dedicated to assisting Portland Public Schools in its movement toward “education that is multicultural.”
Carolyn M. Leonard