February 19, 2018

The True Meaning of Kwanzaa

This is the keynote address I gave at the 12/27/17 Kwanzaa event held at the Goodman Community Center in Madison, WI. This speech was supplemented with 45 PowerPoint slides

Kwanzaa africa mapKwanzaa Yeh-Noo ee-weh nah her-ree! May your Kwanzaa be happy! Please join me in thanking Sister Edith Hilliard for making the Madison celebration of the 51st anniversary of Kwanzaa possible.

KWANZAA is a celebration of African American’s historical journey. It emerged out of the great social upheaval that was occurring in the U.S. during the 1960s that led to outbursts in many of our urban cities. After the Watts unrest, Dr. Maulana Karenga, an African-American scholar and activist, conceived Kwanzaa in 1966 as a specifically African-American cultural holiday, although like other ethic holidays, everyone is welcome to celebrate it.

Dr. Karenga felt something was needed to reconnect Black Americans with each other and with their African roots. But he also wanted Kwanzaa to be a celebration to honor our history and to remind us that there still must be singing in the dark times. kwanzaa banjo playing And it is precisely when it seems there is little hope that we are to remember our history and the sacrifices that our forebears made to enable us to gather here tonight. Fannie Lou Hamer who said I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, told us to always praise the bridges that carried us over. Praise the great bridges like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and MLK but also to praise the smaller bridges like our parents and grandparents who taught us that when we combine faith with action that great things are still possible. By honoring them, we honor the best in ourselves.

Dr. Karenga implores us to revisit our history during Kwanzaa and integrate it into the celebration so that we understand our connections to that history and our responsibility to unearth the truth about that history. He reminds us that contrary to popular opinion that Black history did not begin with slavery but in Africa. When we celebrate African culture, we’re celebrating the oldest and richest culture on earth. Dr. Karenga says: We are to know our past and to honor it!

African Kings and PharoahsWe are to tell the stories of African Kings, and Pharaohs and their many contributions to humankind. We must share the glory of our African queens and restore the missing pages of history-when Africans led the planet for thousands of years. Marcus Garvey said: If we as a people realized the greatness from which we came we would be less likely to disrespect ourselves. [Read more...]


I was invited to give the keynote address on 7/23/16 at the reunion of blacks and whites who grew up in Smelterville, the poorest section in my hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I don’t know of any other poverty stricken place in America that has produced a greater success rate of African American men and women than Smelterville. Although we grew up dirt poor we had a support network that got us through. We have some very powerful stories to tell about race relations, persistence and accomplishments. I want my hometown’s image to be much more inclusive than just being about Rush Limbaugh and his hate-filled right wing agenda. I hope you’re inspired by this speech!


Pecan Street-the street I grew up on-in Smelterville, the “slum” section of Cape Girardeau, Mo. We used to joke if the bathroom burned down, it wouldn’t even make it up to the back porch. My house is the shack with the car in front across the street from New Bethel Baptist Church-photo © Ken Steinhoff All Rights Reserved

If you ever lived in Smelterville make some noise. Well alright-my people!  It’s good to be home and to see so many familiar faces. You see we know each other in ways that no one else ever will….that’s why we have lifelong friendships. As Buster was introducing me I was just thinking that most of my true friends in life are from Smelterville and Buster tops the list. Thank you for that wonderful introduction and generous embellishments Cuz.

It is an honor for me to speak to you tonight. Let me also thank the Vine Street Connection Planning team for their vision in sponsoring tonight’s event. For making it possible for us to fellowship together; to renew old acquaintances and to reflect on days gone by.

When I first learned that I was being asked to deliver the keynote address I didn’t believe it. In fact they called me three times to accept this invitation. I finally relented and told the operator I would accept the charges. You gotta pay that phone bill man. In all seriousness I’m absolutely honored to be home among friends and family. It’s good to see all the folks from Smelterville in the house.

You see Smelterville (where many of us grew up) was the poorest side of town-the slums. If you lived there, you were supposed to feel ashamed. Well I’m not ashamed-in fact I’m proud to be from Smelterville because we have some powerful stories to tell Cape and America about race relations, about our many successful Black residents who beat the odds and about the importance of nurturing young people.

Many of you know that we might have been born dirt poor but we were spiritually rich. Smelterville taught us that we could overcome our circumstances. We learned leadership skills at the Civic Center and in our youth clubs; were given lessons in credit and responsibility from John Dietiker at his grocery store; taught to work hard by our parents and were spiritually grounded in our church. I’m here to tell you tonight that we turned out alright. We weathered the storm. And we have a story to tell.

What we learned transformed our lives and prepared us for the life we’ve been living. We knew diversity before it became popular because we lived side by side with, worked with, played with, and sometimes gently fought with our white brothers and sisters in Smelterville who are in the house tonight.

Blacks and whites got along just fine in Smelterville-thank you. As Madeline said it wasn’t until we went on the other side of Tollgate Hill that we faced racial animosity. I won’t go into all of the history around Smelterville and why poor blacks and whites were forced to live in the conditions that we grew up in but I can tell you that there is a deeper history that reflects the unfinished business of race relations — and the persistence of racism that has never been fully discussed in Cape but I’ll save that talk for another time.

Tonight we’re here to celebrate each other so I will be spending the next 15 minutes talking about three things:

  • First I want to reminisce a little more about Smelterville.
  • Secondly I don’t want the memory that some of you have of Bobby Williams (former community leader) from his remarks last year to be the final thing that you remember about him. As a result I want to share what Bobby Williams meant to those of us who knew him at the civic center.
  • The last topic is intended for our young people because I believe  education is your ticket out
  • I’ll end each topic by saying Word!


Speaking of reminiscing, do any of you all remember when?

  • Kool-Aid was the drink of the summer  and real candy bars were only a nickel
  • Any parent could discipline any kid, or feed him or her, or have him carry in the wood and nobody, not even the kid, thought anything of it
  • Yawl don’t remember when parents stood on the porch and yelled for you to come home
  • Waking John Dietiker up to open his store on a Sunday morning cause you needed something to get ready for church.

[Read more...]


Bookclub photo 5-15-16

Dr. Taylor & Sisters with Books

According to Marilyn Ruffin-the President and founder of this 22 year-old African American Black Women’s Book club: Sisters with Books, I will be the first male author they’ve ever invited to discuss his book. As long as I don’t screw it up, this could open up the doors for the next male, in about 15 years-just saying.

Seriously I’m honored to be selected as the first and am looking forward to having an engaging and thoughtful discussion about my novel, Lakeside University Cover Up. I love dialoguing with our sisters because they are so insightful, enthusiastic and always teach me new lessons about my novel and its characters. I’m so grateful they selected my novel as their monthly read and extended this invitation for me to meet with their members. I understand a good meal is always served to allow members and guests to fellowship before the discussion. I just don’t see a downside here and can’t wait to join them in May. [Read more...]



christI have been blessed to help a large religious organization with churches throughout the U.S. and overseas answer that question and embrace diversity, inclusion and equity as a core value. My team and I are challenging them to use it as a guiding question and rationale as they travel down the diversity assessment road. Every Christian that I’ve met who believes in social justice also believes that diversity does matter to God and that it’s anchored in scriptures throughout the holy bible. They tell me that Jesus could not have been clearer when issuing his commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. If that is true, then my question is this: Is it time for churches to reclaim their leadership role?

The scripture compels churches to be inclusive. In almost every chapter of the New Testament you’ll find God telling his people that they are one and to love one another. The gospel is intended to bring people together, not separate them apart. What could make this organization’s diversity initiative so profound and so special from all others that I’ve been involved with is their ability to link their diversity efforts to God’s commandments. Business leaders can’t make that connection-for them diversity has to increase the bottom line; Educators can’t make that connection-for them diversity enhances the learning environment; but Christians have a tremendous opportunity to show how the gospel can be used to build bridges between people and nations. What will churches do with this great opportunity? [Read more...]


Next May, 2017 I will officially step down as a professor in the School of Education’s doctoral program. While it has been a great ride, I’m looking forward to working on projects that I’ve put on hold and slowing my pace from this hectic schedule I’ve been maintaining over the years.

I’m already committed to helping three people publish their book. I also intend to write another book myself-probably on some aspect of African American history. I want to see my play staged again and continue to produce documentaries from time to time. I know this sounds like my pace is not really slowing but I’m not going to place a timeline on these things and will get to them when I’m able and not based on a deadline.

When my wife retires we will decide if we spend the winters out of Wisconsin by moving elsewhere (Northwest) or just moving out during the winter season and still call Madison our home. It’s a lot to think about but we have time to do so intentionally and thoughtfully.

I also need to give thought if I should revise my monthly free e-newsletter in which I try to provide useful and informative information that people can use to increase their skills and knowledge. Here is a sample of the free information that I’ve provided monthly in the past. This sample would be content for just one of my monthly e-newsletters.

outdoorsThe Best Places to Find Free Stock Images for Your WordPress Site. Here’s the site to help you find the right images for your website? http://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/best-free-stock-images-wordpress/


        www.WheretoWatch.org. WhereToWatch.org is a website featuring a comprehensive, up-to-date list of safe and legal online entertainment viewing outlets. Each site listed has been thoroughly vetted by the MPAA to ensure that your favorite film and TV content is easy to access, safe from viruses and malware, and most importantly of all, ceaselessly committed to honoring artist royalties and copyright laws. [Read more...]

Celebrate Kwanzaa on Your Campus

The purpose of this article is to encourage colleges to integrate this cultural holiday into their student activity calendars, thus allowing all students to experience this unique celebration. The celebration works well in residence halls and with student organizations taking the lead.

 What is Kwanzaa?

KinaraKwanzaa (KWAHN-zah) is a seven day African American cultural holiday, observed by peoples of Afrikan descent worldwide. It is a joyous celebration to reaffirm traditional Afrikan social values. It is therefore non-religious and non-heroic. The word “Kwanzaa” is derived from a Kiswahili phrase, “MATUNDA YA KWANZA” (mah-TOON-dah yah KWAHN-zah), meaning “first fruits.”

In Afrika, harvesting the first fruits or crops of the season was cause for celebration. The African American version of Kwanzaa was inspired by the traditional Afrikan ritual celebrating the harvest of the first fruits. An extra ‘a’ was added to the ending of the word Kwanzaa to distinguish the African American celebration.

Before proceeding with the principles of Kwanzaa, I should explain why Afrika is spelled with a K. Dr. Nantambu presents a concise analysis of the reasons for spelling Afrika with a K, based on the work of poet and writer Haki Madhubuti in Haki’s book From Plan to Planet (1973). Nantambu (2002) suggests four main reasons for the alternative spelling: [Read more...]

Dr. Taylor Honored with Faculty Award

Flanagan and Taylor (2)

(Dr.  Taylor (r.) with College President Scott Flanagan)

Madison, Wis. (May 12, 2015) – Dr. Charles “Chuck” Taylor was recently honored with the Edgewood College Faculty Award for Excellence in Multicultural Education.

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to students, faculty and to Edgewood College across multiple aspects of multicultural education.

Dr. Taylor’s work in multicultural awareness, inclusion and honoring of diversity in the workplace and the world was noted in the citation.

“Dr. Taylor’s efforts to provide a laboratory for engagement in an intersectional analysis of race, ethnicity, class and gender, represents a distinguished record of excellence in multicultural education at Edgewood College and in the greater Madison community,” said Dr. Dean Pribbenow, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“He has developed innovative, academically rigorous coursework in critical studies of race, ethnicity and multiculturalism in the United States, which is now a required element in our doctoral program in Educational Leadership, while using culturally responsive pedagogies in all of the courses he teaches,” Pribbenow said.

The plaque they gave me read: “For your invaluable contributions and commitment to multicultural education and scholarship, as well as your energetic and imaginative diversity initiatives both in and outside the classroom. Edgewood College honors you for the profound impact your teaching has had on your students.

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commencement-my three grad students

Dr. Taylor with doctoral graduates Dr. “Tay” Allen, Dr. Douglas Jensen, and Dr. Ramon Figueroa

Indeed I was humbled by this award but an equally fulfilling honor came when I was able to walk across the stage with three of my students who earned their doctorate degrees this year. I am so proud of each of these students and I know each will continue to make great contributions to our society. That’s what we as educators hope for and expect of our graduates. I want my students to use education to challenge social inequities. We need researchers who will arm themselves with liberating knowledge to help us reclaim our true history and accurately tell our stories. I want all of my students to leave my classroom more empathetic, engaged and willing to stand up for social justice.




Commencement with chuck hooding Taysheedra

Dr. Taylor “hooding” Dr. Taysheedra Allen and welcoming her to the ranks of the doctorate.

Taysheedra wrote her dissertation on: Nursing students’ perceptions of two program outcomes modeled by nursing faculty at a mid-west technical college. Her goal is to set up a health clinic for women. I have no doubt in my mind that she will achieve her goal. I’m thrilled to have contributed to the educational part of her journey.

Diversity Benefits Everyone Interview: Angela P. McGlynn

DBE interviews prominent scholars and leaders from around the country and features them on its website. This interview features Ms.  Angela Provitera McGlynn Professor Emeritus, Mercer County Community College.

Angela McGlynn photo

Angela McGlynn

DBE: We understand you’ve written a book to help campuses educate and graduate low income, first generation and students of color. What motivated you to write this book and how will it help campuses do just that?

Angela Provitera McGlynn: Yes, the book is entitled, Envisioning equity: Educating and Graduating Low-income, First-generation, and Minority College Students.  It was published by Atwood Publishing in 2011.  I taught psychology at a community college for 35 years and as most people know, the community college population is very heterogeneous and diverse.  I taught students who were well prepared for college and very bright.  They chose to attend a community college for the first two years primarily because of the lower cost as compared with a four-year institution and because it was close to home.  Many other students were adult learners returning to school to change careers or simply to pursue life-long learning.  And then there were many students who were the first in their families to attend college.  Many were from low-income families and many belonged to minority groups that have been traditionally under-represented in higher education.  I saw in my teaching that this last group – first-generation, low-income, and minority students, populations that often overlap, were at risk for completing their degrees.  I wanted to change their trajectories not only by my teaching but also by pursuing research about institutional factors that would make a difference in terms of their academic success.

My book explains pedagogical strategies for college teachers that promote student success for all students but seem to have an even bigger impact on at-risk students. Additionally, the final third section of the book entitled, “Improving Graduation Rates through Institutional Commitment,” depicts practices, policies, and strategies that can enhance academic success for this population in particular. In fact, I provide a checklist created by Shulock et al. 2010) for how governors, legislatures, P-12 School Boards, Postsecondary Boards and Postsecondary Coordinating Boards could all play a role in promoting student success.   The chapter mentioned above emphasizes the role college administrators can play not only at their own institutions but also in partnering with high schools so as to ensure better preparedness of students to do college-level work. [Read more...]

9-Tips for Working with Culturally Different Students on your Campus by Dr. Charles Taylor

This article contains practical advice for working with students of color on your campus. Faculty, Staff and especially student services personnel should find these tips helpful.


Working with culturally different students can be extremely rewarding and transformative. On the other hand for those who have had limited contact with students of color, it can be a challenge that requires sensitivity and vulnerability. Because of the potential for mixed signals, suspicion and misunderstanding, it’s important that care be given to how this interaction is to be structured. While do’s and don’ts are unnecessary, it is important to acknowledge some broad generalizations that may prove helpful when working with students of color. If these guidelines are followed you stand a better chance of creating positive interactions.

Remember that racial minorities are not all the same

Avoid the tendency to lump all minorities together or view them as the same. Much has been written about the recent trend of adopting a ‘color-blind’ approach towards people of different ethnicities. Bonilla-Silva and Forman (2000) analyzed interviews and surveys conducted with white college students to highlight a form of colorblind racism where students continued to hold on to prejudiced views but considered themselves to have moved beyond prejudices by not noticing the color of the person they were talking to.

Color blindness as a long-term societal goal may be a good idea, but as it is presently practiced, is a form of prejudice since it denies people their identity and history. Diverse racial and ethnic groups have a different history in the United States, and therefore traveled very different paths to becoming part of the American Society. Lumping all minorities together is tantamount to stripping them of their collective histories, rich cultural heritage and unique experiences in the contemporary society. Helping students accept differences is more than just teaching tolerance. Practicing diversity is key to our survival as a nation and as a member of the world community. Sensitive college personnel who understand this create practices and cultural programming that respects each group’s unique cultural differences.

Celebrate diversity

Stress cultural pluralism and celebrate diversity while downplaying the notion of the U.S. as a melting pot. When one is expressing the sentiment of ignoring differences, one is generally supporting the melting pot theory. Although European immigrants were encouraged to “melt,” generally racial minorities were not permitted to. It is not surprising that the melting pot concept is rejected by many people of color today. Cultural pluralism or multiculturalism is the concept being embraced by such groups. Gold (1977) offers a reason for this when he writes:

“…multiculturalism equates with the respect shown the varied cultures and ethnic groups which have built the United States and which continue today to contribute to its richness and diversity.”

Multiculturalism recognizes that as Americans we share many things in common, but as hyphenated Americans our lifestyles and values need not be the same. The way we dance, speak, party, dress, etc., can reflect our cultural heritage and need not be considered anti-American. Multiculturalism attempts to make the point that differences are not deficiencies.

Despite the many things we have in common, we also share diverse experiences that may only be common to our “racial group.” Integration in the United States for people of color has been qualitatively different than that of the Anglo immigrants. Johnson (1997) discusses the experiences of Mexican immigrants and coins the term ‘ring of fire’ rather than melting pot to describe the difficulties that Mexican immigrants face in becoming citizens of the United States. Therefore, the U.S. has not been a melting pot for people of all ethnicities and to use that term can be construed as showing a lack of historical knowledge and/or cultural insensitivity.

Avoid stereotyping ALANA groups

Watch for stereotyping in language, in media, and in institutional practices. The way in which ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) groups are portrayed in the media, whether it be the news or popular films can have a significant impact on how people view that group (Bjornstorm, 2010). In general there is a tendency in the news media to report crime or other negative news due to its newsworthiness (Bjornstorm, 2010). When minorities are over represented in such news stories, the public can be influenced into projecting stereotypical negative attitudes towards the entire group.

It is therefore imperative to step back and help college students develop a more informed and critical perspective on how ALANA groups are portrayed in mass media. One should for instance consider the fact that minorities are generally underrepresented among those who are newsmakers, or hold positions of power and influence in the business of news making, and therefore there is a much greater chance for them to be portrayed negatively (Ungerleider, 1991).

We need to take this notion of stereotyping seriously because it affects the quality of life that students of color experience on predominantly white campuses. Solorzano et al’s (2000) study found that minority students were constantly exposed to subtle indicators of prejudice, in the classroom or with their peers. In social situations students reported that African American functions or gatherings were under greater scrutiny and they were held to a higher standard of following rules and regulations as opposed to white gatherings. Students in the study also reported having to spend more effort not only to perform well, but also to do so while navigating a host of racial stereotypes in almost all settings. Many students admitted to changing or dropping courses because of their inability to cope with the racial micro-aggressions in one form or another. [Read more...]

How to overcome Systemic Resistance to Diversity is greatest need of respondents in a national survey


 The survey was sent to nearly 300 people across the U.S. The intent was to gather input from a national sample about the key diversity issues that campuses were most interested in addressing. Respondents were asked to reply to three questions listed below. Although demographic information of respondents is provided, there was only one answer that produced any significant variance between respondents. That answer is: “How can I overcome my personal challenges” in response to the first question. This was overwhelmingly submitted by white respondents.

All answers were grouped and organized under broad headings. If an answer was repeated multiple times it became a heading so you can assume that all headings were created based on many respondents answering in similar ways. Examples of submitted individual answers that led to these headings is included. The answers are numbered in order of importance based on the number of responses; meaning answer #1 received the most responses, #2 the next highest and so on.


Male             48%     Female                   52%

Black            45%     White                     42%

Asian            7%       Multiple Races    6%

If you had 20 minutes of a top-notch diversity consultant’s time to help you with anything you want, what would you ask this consultant?


  • How to overcome systemic resistance on topics of diversity and equity?
  • How do I generate belief and trust in the system?
  • How do you get administrators to invest real money into diversity programs and initiatives?
  • Why isn’t there a curriculum requirement to teach African American Studies in all schools and universities in the U.S? [Read more...]