"A Mind Is . . ." not only a terrible thing to waste, but a locally produced documentary airing tonight at 7:30 on Channel 9, that takes a shortsighted glance at the status of higher education for blacks. It barely confronts the issue of less government funding for minority students, and ignores the political implications of segregated university systems.
In the course of the 30-minute show, produced by Dewart Inc. for WDVM, reporter Carol Randolph interviews educators and students in Atlanta -- where there is the largest concentration of black colleges -- and they discuss reasons for attending a black institution. Most of the comments made by administrators are superficial and say nothing new.
The best insights are offered by students. Jocelyn Bundrage, of rural Sparta, Ga., says that her parents never finished high school, but that she decided to attend Clark College when, as her high school's valedictorian, she met Dr. Elias Blake, Clark's president. "I don't think there's any stopping for me now," she says shyly.
Samuel Bacote Jr., a student at Moorehouse College, comes from an upper-middle-class, politically involved Atlanta family. He could have attended college almost anywhere, but felt "the opportunity was at Moorehouse so I grabbed it." And, "there's a spiritual thing at Moorehouse," he says. Bacote, seemingly the most socially aware person interviewed on the program, says black students will have to "resort back to black institutions" because student aid is being cut off, and speculates that increased competition will raise academic standards.
Though it is clear that everyone interviewed supports black institutions because of heritage or because they are less expensive, no one raises the question of a return to segregation. If indeed most young blacks seeking higher education turn to black colleges, then what happens to the idea of equal opportunity and racially mixed universities? "A Mind Is . . ." never addresses the political and racial ramifications of budget cuts in education. Instead, the "waste" is on banal observations.