Letters from the

Archives of Marcus Bruce Christian

From & To Friends, Colleagues, & Wife


Books by Marcus Bruce Christian

Song of the Black Valiants: Marching Tempo / High Ground: A Collection of Poems  / Negro soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans

I am New Orleans: A Poem / Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 /  The Liberty Monument

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Letter 24

A.W. Dent Outlines Christian’s Duties 

for Dillard-WPA  History Project


Office of the President

New Orleans, LA.

January 12, 1943


Mr. Marcus Christian

Dillard University

New Orleans, Louisiana


Dear Mr. Christian:

Confirming our conversation of today, I wish to advise that effective January 15, 1943, the University can offer you employment until May 31, 1943 at a monthly salary of $82.50. Your duties are to be as follows:

1.. Organize and supervise a War Information Center, under the direction of the Library Committee of the faculty of which Dr. Quarles is chairman.

2. Complete the manuscript covering the Dillard-WPA study of THE NEGRO IN LOUISIANA including all necessary footnotes under the direction of a Board of editors consisting of Dr. Quarles and Dean Moses.

3. Compile a catalog of the material collected in connection with THE NEGRO IN LOUISIANA study and place it in suitable filing condition. As per our agreement with the WPA, this material is now the property of the University and is to be placed in the custody of the University library for permanent keeping.

It is our understanding that the manuscript and the cataloging of the material are to be complete not later than May 31, 1943.

Upon your acceptance of these terms I shall ask the Library Committee to work out with you a plan for handling the War Information Center and Dr. Quarles and Dean Moses to work out a plan for completing the manuscript and cataloging of the materials.

Sincerely yours,

A.W. Dent, President

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Dr. Albert W. Dent (1904-1984), the university’s third president served from 1940 to 1969, under his leadership Dillard University became a charter member of the United Negro College Fund in 1944, and in 1958 was admitted to membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The university gymnasium named in his honor was rededicated on October 14, 1999. Built in 1969 at the end of his service, Dent Hall is the home of the Blue Devils and the Lady Blue Devils basketball teams.

A graduate of Morehouse College, Mr. Dent became superintendent of Flint-Goodridge Hospital after a brief business career in Georgia and Texas. For six years he served simultaneously as business manager of Dillard University and superintendent of Flint-Goodridge Hospital. In 1931 he married Ernestine Jessie Covington. From 1941 to 1969 Albert Dent was the president of Dillard University.

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Selected Letters  Selected Diary Notes

Memories of Marcus B. Christian (CainsChristian’s BioBibliographical Record    Introduction to I AM NEW ORLEANS 

A Theory of a Black Aesthetic   Magpies, Goddesses, & Black Male Identity

Activist Works on Next Level of Change   Intro to I Am New Orleans   Letter from Dillard University

A Labor of Genuine Love  Letter of Gift of Photos   Letters from LSU and Skip Gates

Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900

By Marcus Bruce Christian

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.


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Weep Not, Child

By Ngugi wa Thiong’o

This is a powerful, moving story that details the effects of the infamous Mau Mau war, the African nationalist revolt against colonial oppression in Kenya, on the lives of ordinary men and women, and on one family in particular. Two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, stand on a rubbish heap and look into their futures. Njoroge is excited; his family has decided that he will attend school, while Kamau will train to be a carpenter. Together they will serve their country—the teacher and the craftsman. But this is Kenya and the times are against them. In the forests, the Mau Mau is waging war against the white government, and the two brothers and their family need to decide where their loyalties lie. For the practical Kamau the choice is simple, but for Njoroge the scholar, the dream of progress through learning is a hard one to give up.—Penguin

update 17 April 2010