Dr. Ricky L. Jones, Professor in the Pan-African Studies Department at the University of Kentucky, was this year’s featured speaker on March 19, 2013 for the annual Clark Lecture Series hosted by NC State’s African American Cultural Center. The Clark Lecture is named for Dr. Lawrence M. Clark (1934-2012), Professor of Mathematics Education, Associate Provost, Executive Director of the Africa Project, and one of the founding fathers of the African American Cultural Center at NC State during a career spanning from 1974-2000.
The author of numerous books and writings on comparative politics and political thought, Dr. Jones came to NC State to speak on the topic of “How Greek-Letter Organizations Will Kill Themselves: Necessary Responses to Hazing in the 21st Century.” In his 2004 book, Black Haze: Violence, Sacrifice, and Manhood in Black Greek-letter Fraternities, Jones examined the subject of black fraternity hazing, rituals that are often violent and dangerous but deeply ingrained and meaningful in the culture. Jones decries the notion that the ability to withstand physical abuse is the definition of manhood and acknowledges that, while the development of this phenomenon is complex and intertwined with the Black American male identity, it must not be allowed to continue.
Once hopeful that when brought to light these activities would naturally cease, Jones is much less optimistic ten years later. Noting that suspensions of fraternity chapters for up to ten years have only temporarily removed hazing incidents from college campuses and watching incidents resulting in serious injury and death allowed to happen over and over again across the country, Jones sees a protective stance among those who wish to preserve a legacy at all costs. An attendee asked how the problem could be resolved. Jones believes that college administrators have no moral choice but to permanently remove organizations that engage in hazing practices from our college campuses.