Kenneth Wilburn oral history interview, October 27, 2021

Kenneth Wilburn

Zachary Dale
East Carolina University

October 27, 2021
Greenville, North Carolina

ZD: All right, we're live. I am Zachary Dale. The time is 11:28am on October 27. We are in the rare book room in Joyner library. And I would like to turn it over to my interviewee today to introduce himself.

KW: Thank you, Zack. Thank you for inviting me here to share my mostly professional, but also some personal experiences and my relationship with East Carolina University in the year 2021. I am an Air Force brat and grew up attending proximately nine different public schools and a couple of private schools between 1952 and 1964. In Virginia, Alaska, Oklahoma, Germany, and South Carolina went on. After I graduated in 1964, from Socastee High School, which is near Myrtle Beach. It was the country school Myrtle Beach high school was a city school base kids went to the country school to attend Belmont Abbey College, just west of Charlotte, and Gaston County. It's a it's a Catholic, small Catholic college run by Benedictine monks that had been established shortly after the Civil War in the 19th century. That is where my interest in history began. Under the influences of several historians, and including Anselm Biggs, father, Anselm Biggs have introduced me to generally Western history, and mostly ancient, but I was there from 1964 until 1968, and those who know about that time period, are well aware that there was a war going on in Southeast Asia. College graduates who finish their education at that time, or open to the draft. That is the memoir. This is before the ping pong ball and birthday date began, everyone was open for the draft at that point, you weren't really ranked by by birth date through a lottery, you had a draft board you went to and I was had been determined by the draft board to be eligible for the draft. Even though even though I have a deaf ear. I've been deaf since childhood. Even though I cannot tell the direction of sound if someone were shooting at me, I wouldn't know what to do probably fall on the ground and do my best to hide that way. But I could also be running right into the the person who's trying to kill me. So it was it was a matter of which branch of service was going to accept me. I was deemed ineligible for both the Air Force which is what I had grown up with, as well as the Navy but the Marines and the Army were going to get me and I had to choose between them. So I chose the army at the time. I went to Fort Dix for basic and went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for advanced individual training, which trained me as a combat engineer landmines and ridges across rivers and things like that. And then I went to OCS in Fort Belvoir just outside of DC. But that didn't work out after 789 weeks. Because of my hearing. I didn't want to be put in charge of a platoon or a company in a combat situation I I was physically disabled and I could put them in danger. So I decided to withdraw and take my chances. And I I did do that. Got orders for Vietnam. And then when I reported in California to check out. Richard Nixon called back the Ninth Division called back about 50,50 to 75,000. Soldiers at the time were 550,000 American troops and support personnel in Vietnam. This is the first big pullback it happened on the Friday before the Sunday I arrived in Oakland, California. So my orders were changed. I didn't go to Vietnam. I didn't know for a week where I was going, but talk about luck and serendipity. When my name was finally called out, he said Hawaii. So I spent my Vietnam era days in Hawaii on Oahu Schofield Barracks mix with the Hawaiian National Guard, and wounded warriors who were coming back from Vietnam recovering from operations before as we used to say, left the rock and went to the world. When that tour, which was wonderful, in a popular sense, with music, saw Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young spirits, Santana, Grateful Dead and all these old classic rock bands live either at the University of Hawaii or or Downtown in Honolulu. When that was over, I wanted to go to law school. We turned to Columbia, South Carolina, and was in a freshman class of law. I, some of the professors weren't very engaging. I some of them more I was ambivalent, I was still adjusting to becoming a civilian again. And there was no fire lit under me to to succeed at the highest level. And then, although I did fairly well, I didn't break any records, the first semester, the second semester, there was a small group of progressive students who published or made it made known who Pettigrew was, he was a carpet bags Galloway warrior, who protected African Americans and and others who were the opposite of your red bumper types. So when the majority of class found that out, they had a letterhead with a confederate flag on each side. And petitioning to change the name from the Pettigrew to John C. Calhoun law school, that, to the universities credit that didn't go anywhere. But that ended my interest in going into a career where I would be surrounded by them. So the next next year, went to the History Department to graduate school. And with the war still raging, its only 1971 war goes on for four more years. I wrote about French involvement in Vietnam, that was my master's thesis. And as that was coming to a conclusion that we had a visiting professor, to whom I was assigned from the University of Oxford, he and I became friends, he put into my head, that it would be a good idea if I wanted to pursue a career in academia that I come to to, to New College where he was and pursue the history of South Africa. So that's that's the origins of me becoming an Africanist, which was what I did that 35 years, I was at ECU in 1976. I went to England where I spent three years there, and one year in South Africa. Working on my D, Phil, we would call them PhDs here, but I really have a D Phil I don't have a PhD and then in a formal, formal sense they're the same thing. This is the British call them, something else. 9778 was the year I spent in South Africa, when full apartheid was in force. And it was a very strange, racist experience. I had this this plan that wants to inform Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina who's Campaign assistant campaign director is a better name. Bubba mag had helped me with letters of recommendation and helped me with frets for Senator Hollings to begin in Oxford and to find a little bit of money to help pay for it. So I felt that I what I would do is I would write a summary after about seven or eight months in in South Africa and drop it in the mailbox. I had no in. I knew I was going to, to get to the United States figured that the Postal Service would pull that right out and give it to the government, which I'm sure they did. It never got to Senator Hollings, I sent it to him the same thing when when I got to the state, so he he was well informed. But I was hoping that that what I had to say from the outside would have a positive effect on on the government some in some way in Afrikaans the word is for Lifta. And for fuqra, the fuqra de Boers were the equivalent of our All right group, who believed in separation of races and white supremacy. The [unclear] were the Enlightened Afrikaners, who were willing to listen to create a more inclusive South Africa. And those are the types that Nelson Mandela made progress with. And ultimately, they pulled in their own country meant to move the country forward back in finally, by the 1990s, some 1210 10 years after I had spent a year all over the country in the provincial archives, working on my dissertation, which was about the high tech Boy Wonder of South Africa, changed civil rights, who was a Scot and who had gone out to South Africa in 1877 1878, to create the telegraph system for the entire country. And having done so who knew everyone, meaning all the leaders in the late 19th century, the Boers that I was talking about? Paul Kruger are clear as the Afrikaners calling. After the Kruger ran the golden coin and he he knew the the English administrators of the cape. Just as a side note, he wrote some wonderful letters to his friend John X. Merriman and his wife who Merriman was the intellectual of South Africa at the time, about the Zulus and the great battled and world history. All military people know about Islam wanna there have been a couple of movies Hollywood films made about that, that are quite interesting. Each having its own strengths and weaknesses, of course, but he writes in great detail, he was in Natal, when that took place, he wasn't in Islam Tawana will work script. But he was in Pietermaritzburg. And when, in the aftermath it before the battle took place, and then in the aftermath of the battle, after many of us falling, as fallen friends were killed. He writes about it. And much in my book that I wrote through the years on him a biography, I wrote a lot of that correspondences is in there. So I, I left, South Africa, went back to Oxford for a year, and then returned to the United States in 1980. Between 1980 and 1983, I finished writing was looking for a job. And in 1983, late 82, maybe 1983. I saw this advertisement teaching African history at East Carolina University and I never been to Greenville even though I had been to Charlotte, who spent four years on that side of the state, but I've never been in Greenville at-least I don't remember or think I had unless maybe I drove through by accident once. But it was intriguing. It was not far from my my wife's Carolyn Hudson, Wilburn, from her parents and Laquisha, South Carolina. You know, it's not far from where my parents still lived at the time in Newport News. It was a perfect location and it was close to the beach. We both loved the beach. And it was close to the mountains if we wanted to. We couldn't take a day trip to the mountains but we could take day trips to topsoil. And we often did that through through the years so I went to the to the I think it was the American Historical Association where Bill still was supposed to interview me and he wasn't there. I interviewed for a number of other jobs, but I wasn't a successful candidate for any of them. And I followed up with Bill still in the Department of History, and they agreed to interview me along with two other candidates and, and I, I got a call once one one day from Fred Reagan, the chair of the History Department at the time, who offered me the job, needless to say, and then I was elated. And in the fall of 1983, I arrived in Greenville, and began my career as an assistant professor in history at ECU. So that lasted to 83 1983 to 19. Sorry, 2018, approximately 35 35 years. I'll stop there, you know, and move on to to the next question. Kenneth Elwood Wilburn, Jr. is my full name. I should have stated that earlier. born October 10 1946. And fortunately and happily still alive.

ZD: Fantastic. Well, you sort of talked about how and when you came to ECU. So I think we will just sort of move into what was your teaching the what was the beginning of your teaching career like as as a new professor?

KW: Thank you. Before that questions. When I arrived, I was under the impression that new faculty would receive a reduced load to to our two courses one, semester three, the next full course load at the time was four. Because of all the pressure on us to publish, you know, I still have a long way to go. And before I was finished with the Sybarite book, I couldn't just turn my my dissertation into the book, it was much more complicated than that, because the dissertation technically wasn't about civil right, as a person wasn't a biography. It was about railway imperialism. And the part that railways played as a tool of empire by the British against both, not so much the Africans, they their level of connection to the Industrial Revolution, is still yet to develop, but used against the Boers, the Dutch in French and German Calvinists, descendants of the first settlers in the 1600s 1700s. And in still going on in the 1800s. The struggle between the British and the Boers is is often described, that led to two wars, the first Anglo Boer War, and now called the South African war, to be more inclusive with the applicants who participated, the black Africans and the second angle, or if you want to do the second South African war, so I had a lot of work to do on that. But when I arrived, they had me teach US history, American economic history. And I believe world history, they wanted me to Oh, and American business history, the two courses that I had never taught before, that I had to generate lectures, and assignments for and I was eager to do that, but to satisfy the needs of the department, but that really took a lot of time and left a little time for continuing research outside Greenville and for actually writing and working on on my book, and articles. So that they had me teaching five days a week, three courses on Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, and one on Tuesdays and Thursday, so there was no break either. But I negotiated with another professor, to switch courses with me. So I could teach eight 910 and 11 on Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, and that's fortunately, that's that's what I did, and leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays, to prepare for those four courses and to somehow move forward with my research, transferring the content, some of the content from my dissertation to to my book, and it took a long time to do that. It took maybe 20 years to finally wrap that up. And I'm so glad it did. Because during that time period, there was a whole archive I discovered that I didn't know about. in the northeast, out of Massachusetts I believe it was, Massachusetts that one of the [unclear] partners that toward the end of his life. They together they organize a railway venture in Ecuador. And it had some financial problems. And there were probably 80 or 90 letters that are dealing with that. And that gave me a great deal of insight with a part of civil rights life that I had known Extraordinarily little about, I knew that he had been there, because Ecuador has a series of stamps that have both these characters, triangle stamps, they celebrate the opening of the railway that they helped that they helped finance and construct. But I didn't know much more than that, and neither did the civil right clan, with whom I had interviewed in Scotland, when I had lived in England and visited a couple of times afterwards. So there was some delay there. So the the idea that the traditional idea of being hired as a, as an assistant professor, and then somehow producing the book, within before tenure, in my case, couldn't be done. And it caused me some problems along the way, which I was able to overcome. But not without great stress involved in that whole that whole process, but it all worked out. It all worked out well. So when I arrived, you know, I had been grounded in Commonwealth history at Oxford, with the imperialists not just not not promoting imperialism, per se, but understanding how it worked, how the British Empire worked and work. My supervisor was Ronald Robinson, a Baillio college and King's College, Cambridge, he had a joint appointment. And actually he came to ECU to be a booster lecturer to talk about the ending of apartheid in Zimbabwe, he had went out he had gone out to be an observer in the election process. We talked a little bit about that, that boost, your lectures online was published. It was wonderful to have him here at at that time. And he also came to the United States, and worked with Roger Lewis, from the University of Texas at Austin, known at any age summer seminar for teachers on imperialism. And I went to that that seven week Course, William Rob, Roger Lewis was, is one of the preeminent he's one of the presidents of the American Historical Association, and he and Ronald Robinson, were colleagues and friends. I that was one of my early events in my academic life at ECU to go go to Texas for the summer and come back, fully enthusiastic and enriched with not only how imperialism works, but how it doesn't work. And that is the problems that it created for the colonial subjects, the indigenous populations that the imperialist wanted to control for their own gain. So that that is my roots in African Studies. You know, I, it didn't take me long when I was already in my head to move more closely toward black Africa, and let go, the concentration of white Africa and quickly I began to do that with the African Studies committee at ECU, I must have joined that the year first year I was here maybe the second year I probably the first year there had been some work on. In the early 1970s, the African Studies committee was formed at ECU. So when I arrived, in 1983, I joined the committee and became the leader or as we called it, the coordinator. We sponsored a variety of events on campus speakers delivering papers, we get together to make the Africanists less lonely, there. let me Explain what that means. This is before the internet. There's no Google, there's no iPhone, there's no PC, there's no laptop, there's no windows. This is 1983 84 85. The Internet comes along, about 10 years later. That's, that's one of the interesting features of my career at ECU there is the pre computer, as I like to think of it and the post computer. I see this reflected in not only my students drawings, which I will get to shortly, but also in the work. We've gone from wideout erasing to the delete key and spellcheck. So lots of things like that. Anyway, the committee was made up of a group of interdisciplinary people and met for a number of years. And it, it evolved in part in terms of its influence on campus, it evolved, thats really not the best word, it became more connected to a regional group of Africanists. To stop the lonely Africanists, you know, most campuses or colleges only had one person who taught African, whatever. He named the discipline, and didn't have anyone to engage intellectually other than his or her students. So it's SERSAS, which was formed in 1971, with a grant from the government. And a couple of professors from Virginia, was formed to hold meetings once a year at any college or university that would provide a place for them to meet. They that this organization, SERSAS, the Southeast Regional seminar and African Studies that still exists, it was centered here at East Carolina University through me from 19 But what 2000 Year 2000, maybe 2004 321, something like that? No, no, before that, maybe 1998. Anyway, through the website that I created, I create ECU gave me the space and assistance. Thank you, tech folks to establish a web presence before SERSAS, and listserv, which existed until about a year ago. We held the meeting of SERSAS here at ECU three times, two or three times. Most recently, about seven, six or seven years ago, eight years ago, maybe where Africanists from all over the country and abroad came to to ECU to share their scholarship with other Africanists and graduate students and and some undergraduates during the conference. So about the same time, then that SERSAS is getting well known and having a web presence. There the interest to create an African American and African Studies program is moving forward. There's been a lot of talk and not very many people on campus
were enthusiastically behind it. in a formal sense, there's a lot of paperwork to create a program. But eventually, the critical mass formed maybe 10 15 years ago, maybe a little longer and got the support from the administration. We call it the African and African American Studies program. David Dennard my colleague and the Department of History became its coordinator. The African Studies committee kind of recedes into oblivion. It was always an ad- hoc committee. Well deserved rest, not Oblivion, a well deserved rest in honors, but it was succeeded by the African and African American Studies Program. That program was promoted too, in part by encouraging students to go abroad during the summer for six hours a credit in the program and first colleague to do that to carry out Summer Study Abroad program to Africa very early. And the development of the African and African American Studies program was Gable ence sorry, so sorry to say that passed away 10 15 years ago. I miss her. She was such a force in the English Department and in African Studies. She did her work on Amata adu who is a Ghanaian feminist, and writer. And through gay, we establish contact with her and some of those trips that we took, we were able to visit her have a seminar with her, and Manu herb Stein, who was one of her colleagues. He was a South African who had left South Africa during the apartheid era, who has supported the ANC and who had wanted to live in a more free society. So he moved to Ghana in a cry and became eventually became a writer. And the two of them were wonderful, and interacted with ECU students. The couple of times that that we went, that is David Dennard. And I put together the program with students from the African and African American Studies program and some who were not some were where we're history majors, and others. So those that's some of the origins of the AAAS program. We when, when the funding, generally the general funding from Raleigh began to decline, and ECU was caught with programs they could no longer fund and ECU they did the best it could. Being a professor, I'm far removed from the administrators. But I thought that they were doing the best that they could do when they were faced with losing millions of dollars of support. It's just kept coming year after year after year. And my colleague, David Dennard and I shared different concentrations of the program he he did the African American component and I was the the African component. And he became disgruntled a bit angry at the lack of support as he saw it, the broken promises that ECU had had been unable to fulfill because of Raleigh, not because they didn't want the program andThey began to require that all programs have certain this and certain that and then toward the end of my time at ECU, I participated in recruitment and got the level of students up to where we were no longer in danger of dying before we were largely even born. And since since my retirement, Jarvis Hargrove has been leading the effort to maintain the African and African American Studies program, and from all reports that I have, he's doing an outstanding job. So in a time, when there was no teaching of Africa in a time when there was no teaching of in the history department of Native Americans, and during my time period, we address both of those major gaps in the curriculum, not only with history courses, but also from an interdisciplinary perspective. And I wish we could have achieved more, we did achieve a lot. The measurement of success, of course, it's hard to gauge because it's in the minds of the students that we, we shared these important themes with a growing sense of what it means to be a Global African, and a growing sense of the history of the United States warts and all, including treatment of the Native Americans. So that's a bit about the African and African American Studies program. So any, any other?

ZD: Oh, sure. I think one question I wanted to ask was, Are there any big events or visitors that were sponsored by the AAAS program that stand out to you in memory?

KW: Well, there were some big visitors if you want to call them that who came to ECU not not so much. While the AAAS program was underway, you gotta remember, it's a new program. So but if you go back to the Africanists, who sponsored these kinds of things with the African Studies committee, SERSAS is a big deal, bringing the Africanists from around the world to to ECU. And shortly after my my arrival here, I organize an NEH seminar. Which was not so much a teaching seminar for faculty like the one that I had gone to in Texas, but rather one that educated the public on a fee. I called it apartheid, and the United States. And I brought through an NEH grant, seven or $8,000, whatever it was, at the time, it went much further than then it did now, I brought maybe nine speakers, to ECU, who carried out panels for the public over morning and afternoon and evening period. Those who don't know much about the history of apartheid would not know who Leon Sullivan was. But back in the day, when there was a divestment movement underway to force South Africa to pay attention by hitting them with a purse through their with their purse strings. Now, that is their imports and exports and investments in their companies. Sullivan created the so called Sullivan principles. He he believed in engagement with South Africa, more so than boycott, but only under certain conditions that promoted democracy in South Africa. So he created a code under which various corporations could exist in South Africa. And he helped create scholarships for South African blacks Zulus [unclear] saunas, and many of the others are to, to come to the stage and study at at ECU and we had two two of them a two Zulus, who came to to ECU, and one degree and the other one had to return on under unfortunate circumstances to to South Africa. But he couldn't come to the conference, but his assistant did. And gave the keynote speech. We also had a representative from the South African Embassy, we had a representative from the African National Congress, the the revolutionary group trying to overthrow the apartheid government. We had three academics from Chapel Hill, and a couple of other places, give papers. And, you know, we, we had good participation from from the community. We had public school teachers with their classes, high school, and we had a lot of students. We, it was a big deal. It's not every day you have an NEH seminar on ECUs campus, and we, we filmed it. Not sure the library has a copy of that. Unfortunately,the film that was in the history lab was destroyed. But I have another copy. And hopefully, the day will come when I can digitize that and deposit it in the university archives. So work in progress, as well as the papers of the African Studies committee, I'm still working on that one as well. So there's a couple of tasks left and left yet to do. So we have other speakers, but not necessarily directly related to the African and African American Studies. program, but but through Africanists with the support of the Arts and Science School of Arts and Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences now and in various departments, including the English department, the geography department. Anthropology Department, those are some of the Mainstays in promoting Africa, to students at ECU and faculty as well, staff as well, everybody.

ZD:So the program was generally really well received and supported by other departments. Yes.

KW: We there are always bureaucratic issues. How is this going to work? It's not a standalone program. It's it relied on the support from individual departments. Wasn't a net. And the reason for this was that that was a model that succeeded best in other colleges and universities. It didn't have to rely directly on funding to maintain the program is to hire a whole staff hire separate professors. It wasn't necessary to do that. And it succeeded. Well enough, although some people let me put it this way. It was it was impactive as other programs were, we weren't the only ones we weren't singled out by Raleigh, known by the enormous cutbacks and funds that they sent to ECU to maintain, you know, programs. You know, some, some programs aren't going to be as wildly successful as others, but they're just as worthy in creating knowledge and creating wisdom, and creating truth in creating a global awareness. And, you know, if you're a regional institution like ECU, you need to remember that and how important that is to create help create critical thinking helps students have a knowledge base on which to make their own decisions intelligently. If all you have is white history, success stories, narrow a successful race, then you're your concept of reality is going to be quite limited. You may have lost a substance, but you won't be able to think outside the box very well. You won't be able to understand diversity, you won't be able to respect other cultures more fully. And you won't be aware of the scientific fact that we are all global Africans that were a synonym for human but when you take a look at where humans originated, They didn't they didn't come from Paris, or London. They didn't come from Washington. They didn't come from Greenville. They they certainly, our ancient ancestors, our cousins live all over the planet. They first came from Africa, according to the fossils, according to primitive tools, according to DNA, all of the scientific backed facts and resource resources, evidence that we have point to the African continent, from where we all came. What a family reunion, it'll be when all of us become aware of that. And of course, that will open up new channels of communication, which we are so desperately in need of now, especially in the United States.

ZD: Okay, well, were there any other professional roles that you served in while you were at ECU? Yes.

KW: I, early on, was involved in a new program called Writing across the curriculum. Which in the day, and still now, I'm sure many professors believe belongs to the English department. They're the ones who are supposed to grade grammar and teach students how to write their supposed to come to my class prepared to do that and and take in my particular perspective and whatever discipline I represent. Pat, bizarro Collet Dilworth. There are a number here Risa of bizarro as well. Gable as I mentioned before Bill Hallberg, Alex Albright. Marin Gaye, Jim Kirklin will banks Reggie Watson T Sparrow Ralph raves Betty Webb, they were either devolve involved with this program or they supported him through time. We're friends of mine, colleagues of mine as well who influenced me and thus indirectly influenced my students. But Pat bizarre was in particular my connection to the startup of the writing program at ECU. And he and I shared sports together we were both still young enough to play in the in the Greenvilles Recreational departments softball league, where we had softball teams who worked at various businesses. Burroughs welcome little awesome, there were about maybe 15 of us and there were two ECU teams. So he and I played for us for ECU one which was the best sorry, ECU two which were the would have sat on the bench for ECU one and then later for EC ECU one. And we we made lifelong friends and other disciplines. We played with the Vice Chancellor Angela Wolfe who used to smoke cigarettes in the dugout it was open air you know, wasn't that big of a deal but a imagining some, you know, someone who was involved in sports smoking on the bench while not playing. He was he was a lot of fun. But Pat and I, you know, there's we played together Bill Hall Burger with us at the time. He told me about this, this committee wanted me to be on it with him, we thought that I had something to offer. Because I was in Africa. So I had an outside perspective. And then I was a historian. So I joined him. And it was through that, that I discovered the journal that you know, all about the summary reaction journal, in which I had my students carry out a variety of assignments in which they summarize whatever was including course lectures and react to them. So they practice writing introductions, bodies and conclusions of academic content, the best they could, usually about four or five paragraphs in length, and then in the reaction, they would work hard to pull what they had written about into their own experiences shot in attempting to carry out a philosophy of History, which argues that history is best experienced when it is made personally relevant, it is far more than than memorizing a list of names, dates, and places, those all mean something. And you will remember it more fully if you associated with your own experiences, which serves as well to enrich your own experiences, and shows how you fit in the bigger scheme of things rather than existing there on your little bookworm island lost in some Carroll somewhere. Or, you know, it's it's supposed to help you communicate with others if you understand this more fully. So we practice that. And I got that that idea from Pat Bizarro and the writing across the curriculum committee. And that's the origins of writing intensive courses at ECU where you have to take a couple, one in one or two in your majors, I forget now, and one or two outside your major, I think its 12 hours the program has changed a little over time. Wendy Shar, is was instrumental recently in revising the program leading that movement. I served with her under her and her leadership to move forward. So yes, I was I was very actively involved with that from the beginning. And by the time I stopped id been in it for helping organize it, and its impact on campus, in a positive way for students from home for more than 30 years. Yeah. So that that was outside Africa, although it's also inclusive, because it's interdisciplinary, Africa belonged to it. It's a it's a bigger umbrella. I was very happy to, to serve on that.

ZD: I am kind of dispelled, fell upon a organization called SETA. Yes. Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Could you tell me a bit about your relationship with that organization? Yes.

KW: One day a student knocked on my door, very bright student and asked me to become the faculty advisor, he needed a faculty advisor for the equivalent of PETA People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Which under Which SETA of students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is related. And I, you know, I, I was kind of surprised. Although I was a vegetarian, and I did not eat meat. I'm not sure whether he knew that or not, he probably didn't know that. But I was surprised he was asking me because I, I wasn't particularly an activist, although I would share my ideas with anyone who was interested. And there was a philosopher too, that he thought he would be better suited for this and I, but he, he then argued that No, I want you. And the reason why I am not promoting vegetarianism so much is because there are people to protect them and talk about them. But there's no one to protect the animals. And there's some things around here that need to be done. And I want you to to help us do that. We get the work, you know, you can advise us. And we'll see what happens. And they went into the School of Medicine in the lab. I had nothing there's I didn't know they were going to do this, but they did this and filmed them dissecting a dog that they argued had not been sufficiently anesthetized. And did an expose on the school medicine on the laboratory teaching. And this this caused a minor sensation, of course. And led to the ending of the use of live frogs in the medical lab in terms of medical students, teaching them dissection and know and instead working with models, whatever they were made out of. So it had a positive impact there. They had a variety of meetings and some speakers through time, they had this wonderful poster handout that had a tyrannosaurus rex on it. And that listed the reasons why one should give up eating meat and becoming a vegetarian, which I already was and had great sympathy for it. And I would share that handout with all my friends that I wanted to try to, excuse me to help. But like many student organizations, the group SETA, once its enthusiastic leaders graduated, the organization just kind of slipped away. And I don't think exists anymore. I had, I still have some of their T shirts that they had at the time. And I have, they put together a sheet that promoted their ideas that I still have. And I still have some of those handouts with the Tyrannosaurus Rex on it. I had a special drawer in my file cabinet where I kept those things and they were in there for 25 years, 20 years maybe, and brought them home not long ago, a couple years ago, and I still have them I cherish them. It was a noble attempt to make humans more aware of animal lives and to expose the cruelty involved in factory farming of animals, which still exists. To a large extent, there's been some some effort to make that more humane. But theres still lots of work to do. Although, you know, there's the so called meatless burgers that have come on the market recently and and there are meatless, there's been Meatless plant based hamburgers, frozen burgers in the grocery stores for a long time. But my students at the time, my group, SETA, helped create the impetus and movement forward for all these good things. There's a lot of work to be done and still back I guess that answers. I hope that answers that question.

ZD:Oh, yeah. Okay. Were there any other student groups that you were involved with? As the advisor?

KW: Well, I was always the advisor for history students in history majors. It first we all shared that responsibility in the history department. Most of us did. We take 20 30 students, general college and, and history major advisors. And then for about eight or nine years, when that finished I became the history advisor, Tim Jake's has succeeded me, me succeeded me in that maybe seven, eight years before I retired. But I did that for about 10 10 15 years is a long time and enjoyed interacting with the undergrads tried to guide them best I could. And I did the same for the African and African American Studies majors. Bias now as well. Maybe in the end 30 of them, as far as history is concerned. 500 Somewhere between 500 and 1000, maybe not 1000. We had maybe 70 majors a year. So counting all the years, maybe maybe 500 600, something like that in the neighborhood. So as a an academic advisor assisting Sita as a faculty advisor and in the AAAS program I was pretty busy to engage with the students who I love very much. Always thinking it was a two way street. I would get something from them. They'd get something from me it was never me telling them what to do. That was not the way to teach and that was not the way to be a director or an advisor I thought I would help them. Show them the options. Make an argument for what I thought might be the best course forward and but didn't decision was always theres to make. Always there's

ZD: That was wonderful. So I guess we'll certainly talk about retirement.

KW: Yeah. Well, I, I have always respected the genealogy. And I had neglected doing anything with it formally. In writing. I mean, I had interviewed my great aunt on film. And I had the genealogical work that my relations had done. But there was a whole lot of work, anyone who's dealt into one's family history knows, thanks to the Mormons, and that all the censuses usmca, church records and a lot of other stuff, which is free on the Mormon site is available. So I since I've retired, I've done a good bit of work there, I've gathered what I had already added that to it. And I've written some stories about family history, my own experiences, I have some film, I put maybe, so far, maybe 10 10 films online, that date back to the 1950s that were done by my parents on YouTube, just for the family that public couldn't search and find. And recently, I wrote maybe five, five short stories. My idea was to write short stories, Park fiction. And that's some things that we're could've happen or could not have happened, maybe might have happened. And as well as facts, mixing them together to make them interesting. I wrote maybe four of them, and shared them with with all my cousins and my, well, we're older now. So I couldn't say my parents, but my cousins and my brothers and sisters, then my daughter decided to give me as a present something called a subscription to story worth. That is a webs a group has a website that encourages you to answer questions that are generated partly by them, if you want to answer there's but whoever gave you this, this gift can create questions that they know you'll be interested in answering. Then you write three or four paragraphs, and then upload it, you can put pictures to it. And then after a year, it's published in a book. And you can share the hard copies with whomever you want. Excuse me. I've written I've had fun writing. I don't know I probably have fifth, maybe 20 of those questions now now answered. For example, how did your parents influenced? Where have you lived? What is history was one of the questions there are a number of them that that are very interesting. And he is as long as you are asked interesting questions is the same as going to class. As long as you have an interesting course you want to learn about, then your enthusiasm is not always going to be at the top. But it will always be there and you can regenerate it as you go along. And that's how I've looked at these these questions. These are fun because they're like, you Jack writing that that summary in reaction, it's about a page of work, and you need to reflect on it a bit during during the reaction process. And in this case, it's this is similar writing, it's not that different. So I do one a week and I get a new one every week. I do that. In terms of academics. I continued for a while to be active in SERSAS, but you can't be retired and be in the middle of the academic river that is going back and forth. Related to Africa, you got to be participating. You got to be teaching. You got to be seriously doing scholarship. And so about about a year ago The three of us to one had been already retired, who was the treasurer of sort of SERSAS Jack Parsons from the College of Charleston. He was he was still taking students to Morocco. He'd been doing that for many years, even though he had been retired. They may be doing that this summer. Or maybe next year, the pandemic is put on real spoken real wrench in a lot of spokes, but he was the treasurer Aaron McKinnon of the State College in Georgia, Georgia State and MacLellan Ville a long time, SERSAS hand. African hand was also a coordinator. I was a coordinator I created there SERSAS website. And ECU gave me the list, SERSAS L in which we had everyone's email addresses eventually. And that's where conference announcements went out. I've given that up. And ECU now the library here Joyner is now archived. The SERSAS website is quite deep. It's not just conference announcements, papers, their academic papers, it's here. And the archives SERSAS. Also here, the new SERSAS listserv, called SERSAS 2 it was created by a colleague, and at the College of Charleston, who now has a new website and the listserv and who is the coordinator and who's brought in a whole new group of coordinators, young faculty with a lot of enthusiasm and energy to move. SERSAS forward, the archives, the formal archives for SERSAS at the University of Virginia, where one of the founders created the proposal to the government at the time to create regional studies programs with government funding. And they did that for several years, then the funding ran out. And the SERSAS was on its own that that's its epicenter now as a College of Charleston. And I don't know if you'd heard of the United States Academic Decathlon it, is a high school organization that had as it's impetus bringing the students of various abilities, honor students and the average student together at a central location during the summer, to work as a team. He groups we come as a group, as a team, and you compete against other teams. On a topic of the summer. There's a resource guide in history, it's called Social Studies, not History, Social Studies. English art is another one. Anyway, I've, before I retired, maybe 2015 2014. They contacted me to write the resource, the social studies guide on Africa. Now, I couldn't dare to keep it secret, not allowed to publish it, or talk about it, because it was going to be used for testing. Right. And it will always belong to them. That was something that I had to do let go of. But I can also influence high school students with not only creating questions, well, at first, I wasn't going to create the questions. At first, I was just writing the resource guide. And so I could influence with that content. The teaching, knowledge that would be shared with these students. And I did. I was excited about that, because that would go ever on onward. When they talk about Africa, again, it will certainly be used as maybe an older source if not the new source. It's not out of date Not yet anyway. So I wrote it. They they put in the the pictures, they edited it and copy edited, and it turned out quite well. So about I don't know 100 pages, it's got bibliographies then they asked me to write the questions. You know, all these these aren't refereed but they hire people, other specialists in the field to read what you've written, whether it's the resource guide or One of the questions that that you asked they did it, check, double check everything to make sure that this is a first rate stuff. And so I got good feedback from Africanists. Colleagues, I don't know who they were, it was it was they were all blind referees. And I added this took out that one of the disappointments was the head editor refused to allow me to use the word homo centrism as a as an intellectual concept, which I had been teaching about for 10 15 years. And we argued back and forth on that, but they said they couldn't find this used anywhere else. It wasn't widespread enough, maybe would be in the future, but it's not now. And then you got to take it out. Of course, it what I would it represents less than taken out. And that is we were all global Africans, and the arguments for all of that. But I couldn't use the term so that that was sort of was somewhat of a disappointment. Anyway, I wrote it, and, and then I thought that was the end of it. But it wasn't. The following year, they did one on medicine anymore. They asked me to write the questions for the social science guide resource guide. I couldn't write that on medicine. Somebody did. And I wrote the questions in might as well written with the guide in the sense because I had to read it word for word. You know, one of the interesting features of this is that these are questions that have five possible answers. Yeah, I didn't write tests like that. I always had essay exams at ECU so this was, this was interesting in the sense that I wanted to provoke critical thinking with these questions. But I couldn't ask, I couldn't ask an essay question. So however, in the wrong answers, I could have fun. Now, I don't mean with humor. But I could insert with a smarter students reading this and interesting teaching point, that the right answer, but it might provoke further research. So in terms of writing these questions, that that was, that took a couple months, I had to write on both occasions, maybe 600 of these questions. Wow. They wrote they had it broken down into how many they wanted from each section. And, and it it did take a while. So then they asked, they did another one on the 60s. And I helped with that project, but not not very, not very, not very much, but they did it. I did that one. And then most recently, I just finished writing the questions for this, the one that's coming up next year on water, the history of water, and how I place I've been reading things in the news about desalinization. Because I have a really good background on all the issues related to water these days that I wouldn't have had otherwise say with Madison.
I worked the questions for that. And then they I didn't even know this existed. Apparently this is new. There might not be I just maybe I wasn't asked in the past. I try not to ask too many questions on this. And he wanted me to write the essay questions as well. And so that that was really quite easy. Do that. And then they in terms of those who are grading, they want to know what you think should be in the answer. So you have to pull content from the resource guide that provides the answer to the question that that was fine to do that. So I'm a while it's not at the university level. I look at this as influencing the younger generations across the country through these resource guides. I'm involved with that. Finally, one other effort. I guess some people call it a hobby. It is a hobby to most people, but it's also a resource for me and I used it in my classroom on occasion. I don't know if I use it yours. And that's bringing stamps into the classroom. Stamp stamp collecting is primarily a celebration of a country's culture and the country's Victors who might become villains no later in time, but who when the stamps are issued. They're definitely Victor's. As an Africanist, There were a very interesting transition in Philately stamp collecting with independence, before that, stamps reflected colonial themes. Usually it was England was concerned the queen of the kings royalty at the time of the Queen's Birthday. Toward the end, there were colonial officials. But it was very, very much dominated by Imperial themes. It wasn't very much in terms of African culture toward the 19 in the 1940s and early 1950. Some of that was the beginning, but only from an imperial perspective. In 1957, Ghana, there is this enormous explosion of African culture, depictions of African culture colors, you name it, people, Africans, that that goes on, I brought that into my classrooms. In my Africa content classroom, South Africa, unfortunately, was left out because they really didn't gain their their democratic institutions until the freeing, then the election of Nelson Mandela and that's 1991. We're talking about 1957, roughly the 1975 very, that I'm using in my classrooms Kwame Nkrumah psycho Touray again, a those two were were absolutely amazing. Especially Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana. So since then, during my my retirement, I have been paying a lot more attention to the stamp collecting part and less to the teaching part of mine, my stamp collection that I had started from the fourth grade, the seeing an advertisement on the back of a Wheaties box. Really funny quite funny was he Harris company in Boston 75 cents you could have an album and about 150 200 stamps and some hinges stamp hinges and that's where it started. Later High School. I wrote several history papers using stamps on history topics in those papers, and I actually wrote a letter to he Harris looking for a job in Boston, seeing if there's any employment for his history graduate from high school and still have that letter. That's it was quite quite interesting. But yeah, Philately USA D family history. And as far as athletics. I mentioned the history softball team. Two of those players. Greg Wilson and Greg Barris, were on that team with me. They worked at ECU they were general. They were physician's assistants throughout their lives. We we play golf. Occasionally. Golf for me was not a country club thing. It wasn't for them either.[unclear] has its own issues with that that concept and white white supremacy and white someone we know that I was never involved in that. I play golf on military bases, Air Force bases with my father, who wasn't involved in that either. Country Club scene. So through time, it's always been a family sport. He was an outstanding golfer, scratch golfer in his heyday and had lots of trophies and I play golf for my golf team and Belmont Abbey. And in my high school, so soccer, it was fun going out there being out with nature. We've seen deer out there and Canadian Geese hanging out and eagles and it's being fun. It's out there being being with nature, as well as the working class of Greenville and surrounding communities. So that's, that's pretty much a summary of what will keep me quite occupied. Yeah.

ZD:Well, I'm glad you're staying busy and enjoying every minute. Oh,

KW: Yeah. I don't know what happens with the time I mean although every day is the same in the sense that you know, when you're working Friday is not the same as Saturday or Sunday. I mean, it's leaning into it Mondays are definitely not the same as Friday. But it's a much the same to me. I'm very grateful for my, my career at ECU of engaging so many intelligent students, and faculty who taught me as well as the students who taught me in many different ways. like any vocation has, its downsides. And if you are unhappy, you need to do something else to find that, that happiness in work. And but I was never, I never felt that way at ECU with the students and in scholarship and in service, there were some things that I preferred more. But they were all needed, and at times more interesting than others. faculty meetings could be fine. But there's a lot of bureaucratic stuff that has to be done, and no one really wants to do and you just have to carry out that task service that is serving on the AAAS program, and me and the history advisor, I, I thoroughly enjoyed that, that really didn't have any downsides unless the program was under threat. But he could, I helped rescue at the time. And in teaching, there was a downside with that. And that there is a there's a major division between before computers and after computers, and related to computers, our communications devices, computers are a wonderful tool, if they're used in the classroom for academic purposes, but they're not wonderful tools If you're so addicted to your communications device, that you're not listening, or engaging your fellow students or your professor and surfing the internet some students have looked at pornography, I know that in class, whatever they're doing, the students behind them can see and they're distracted. They're sending text messages, or doing this or doing that the majority of students are fine. But it only takes a handful in the classroom to change the atmosphere, the teaching, constructive teaching atmosphere, that they've invested so much time and money. And that part of the teaching experience, I tried over and over again to somehow overcome. But I can only say with limited success, you know, then the more advanced classroom and the less you're going to see that I taught freshmen courses a lot, and really enjoyed teaching freshmen courses. I engaged them and I look forward to their enthusiasm. But they also came toward the end with an addiction to their iPhones, they get communications devices, it didn't matter. It could hide behind their their laptop screen as well and do the same thing. It was a nuisance. We call them out sometimes. But it also interrupted class. And this. I don't know what the answer is. Maybe there is one now? I don't think so. I doubt it. But I hope so. The answer is probably more fully in high school before they get here. But their newfound freedom, they need some discipline. You know, gaining an education is not easy. It's difficult. As the old cliche goes, you can't sleep on your books, you can't put them underneath your pillow and absorb the knowledge. You can't absorb the knowledge either. When you're talking to your friends, you know, you have to devote critical thinking, develop that, that ability, that technique of analysis, and, and interact with whatever you want, whatever course you're taking, whatever you have chosen to take, you did not sign up to look at your computer in class, you signed up to engage your fellow students and and your professor working toward the vocation you want to pursue when you leave ECU. And I hope you do that. That is those of you out there listening to this you students. Maybe this is all history. Maybe this problem is long gone by the time you hear this. But at the moment, it's not. It's somewhat of nuisance .

ZD:Well, is there any, anything you want to add anything you didn't get to talk about? Want to?

KW:Yeah, let me I wrote a couple things down. I do. I recognize my colleagues in English, a couple of whom gave me an honorary English doctorate. You know, along the way for my involvement, running across the curriculum and our deep friendships that we had in the history department. There were others as well, colleagues and friends that influence me and I haven't really Talk about them. Let me do that quickly. Don Parker son was Carl Swanson. David Dennard. Bob gallon. Phil Adler Bodoni. Sean Mike Palmer, Mary Jo Bratton. My South African friends Lynn and Pat Harris, Chris Oakley, Karen Ziff,[unclear]. There's bill still who, who began the Maritime Studies program there was Joe and Leila Steelman. They brought Jack Kennedy to the ECU way back when it was Jonathan mechanic. There are others but there's also Lawrence Brewster and Dick Todd, who were both still alive when I first came here. And I'm grateful to the support both of them gave me especially Lawrence Brewster who helped finance conference here on the contributors to the book that I edited with Clarence Davis called Rolling imperialism. You know, Ronald Robinson gave the keynote for that. And we brought scholars from all over there about 10 15 of us who were here who contributed chapters to the book, Lawrence, financed for us, Dick Todd. He was such an engaging and student loving person, I suppose you could say, he left. Both of them left. A good bit of- Lawrence. Brewster left a good bit of money to the History Department. Lawrence Brewster left funds for graduate students and to to the hip to the faculty and Dick Todd concentrated his benefaction to the undergraduates I've been, I helped distribute the funds to the undergraduates on those committees and, and I've been a beneficiary of some of the funds that Lawrence Brewster left for faculty I'm very grateful and important to to, to mention now. Summer Study Abroad. Just one more plug on that I mentioned going to Ghana, with David Dennard. We went to South Africa, maybe five times with ECU students. The person who was very much involved in that from both an undergraduate and graduate perspective and leader and director was Lynn Harris, who was from Cape Town. She, she was one of my students. And when I first came here, learning her Maritime Studies, Ma, I was on her her graduate committee. That was maybe 87 86. They is this romantic story of her husband, Pat, who's been working in the Department of Biology for a long time. When they were they sail, they were going to sail around the world, or sail at least in North America, from South Africa. And they were washed ashore and northeaster. That's, that's a nice way to put it. But it's somewhat of an exaggeration. They did have theirs to dock Newbern, or wherever it was take personal ship repairs, there was another couple on that's that sailboat with them. They made it across the Atlantic, and they were here. So while they were here, she became involved with ECU and became a grad student and eventually got her degree. And then years later, you know, he was hired here as a faculty in the Department of History and in Maritime Studies. It was nice circle for, for her. My daughter who went to you know, UNC Wilmington went out to South Africa to visit on a global teach are associated with that, which is a Harvard sponsored group that teaches in different parts of the world to help help schools, indigenous schools become help them in any way they feel like they needed help. So she worked with a state with a cape colored mixed ethnicity group in Cape Town came back and then went back to the University of Cape Town where she earned her master's and her her doctorate. She was gone for seven years and recently came back here and is working as an adjunct professor with the UNCW and the University Chicago group or others, it's got some research partnership with Sesame Street, helping the Ghanians improve teaching grade and middle school, working with them with great with grade school, middle school teachers as well as teacher colleges. Ghana there in the middle of all that. She, she lives out of South Charlotte. She's married to a South African. And they're they were in Huntersville. Now they're in Mooresville. Yeah, the one that so working with history working with AAAS. And being the Africanist going to South Africa and meeting meeting Lin, and having Lins sister in South Africa take care of Shelley for a while, my daughter, that was instrumental in her success early on, going abroad, on these programs, for students, so expands their, their understanding of what it means to be human. So expands their respect for cultures different from the ones that that they know, in the United States, whether it's African American or euro, American, or Hispanic or Native American, or whatever it might be. as-well as, gender perspectives, you know, we had that conversation of your work recently. You know, oneself identity, and how that fits into to wider cultures, local and national, or and what, how people look at you, both of us look like Euro Americans, white Americans, man, what that might mean, all of this is, you know, becomes part of the study of summer abroad experience in South Africa, where you have the Freedom Charter, which has given rise to this constitution, and all these things are written into it. Gender Issues and sexual identity issues and, and the bedrock of what democracy is supposed to be, you know, whether or not they fulfilled it is they say the same thing about the United States, we fulfilled our own noble ideals embedded in the Constitution, we're all work in progress. Yeah, on the South Africa had a major heyday when Nelson Mandela became president, but actually fulfilling the Freedom Charter and this constitution requires a lot of work, you don't have institutionalized racism for 300 years and expect one person to solve all the problems with the future that requires a collective effort of the entire country, just as we have we need today, people of all ethnic groups in the United States of all political persuasions, you know, you just can't throw in a hand grenade and blow up the Congress and expect everything to go your way. That's not how it works, whatever some short sighted people might might believe. So that this is what the history department, that perspective has given to me. Am I my global African identity? My, my experience, when we first touched down in Ghana, David Dennard and I, he had never been to Africa before my African American colleague and we both go up and down over the on the on the runway, kiss the ground. Partly a mistake, we did that because all the jet was and stuff we could taste, taste gasoline, you know, and all of after doing that, but we should have waited till at least got out of the airport. We were still alive. So it didn't hurt. Oh, yeah. One more thing, I suppose to bring this to do a conclusion? Who are my heroes? And, you know, I thought that I might identify them. Those that had led me to be the person I am now this is outside of family. Of course. People I look to I was once asked, do we have to have heroes by another historian? And I thought an interesting question, do we really have to have heroes? In that I think we do. We have to have role models. Someone who has paved the way.For example, Charles Darwin didn't invent evolution. He came up the concept of natural selection. He gave it a mechanism but these are the people who come before came before him and people who came before me. It helped guide me toward what I consider the pursuit of The Global African the concept behind that. The noble ideals, human identity in all of us together Whatever or their narrowly perceived differences might be this far more than that unifies us. In that sense. Those who led me to that Kwame Nkrumah, who appeared on Time Magazine during the heyday in 1957, of Ghana, wrote many books. He lived in the United States for 10 years during the Depression. Gain, earned several degrees here in American institutions. So he was well aware of the United States, though he was overthrown by the CIA, in cahoots with a conservative element in Ghana. The 1967 I use my stamps to an academic article that I published with in Florida, the African Studies journal there with the University of Florida, discussing all of that it was a very interesting article, Nelson Mandela. Another one of my heroes back in the day when I was in South Africa during the heyday of apartheid, those who don't know about Table Mountain shaped like an anvil. Cape Town sits at the foot of it, you can climb up the mountain and look out into the Atlantic Ocean in about three miles in the bay, like Alcatraz and San Francisco. There's Robin Island. And then I used to go up there and look out there, think about him. It was many years before he's freed and wonder hope that he was doing okay. And, you know, we, in my South Africa, course, we read his autobiography. And, you know, we would talk about these kinds of things when he recalled his time on Robben Island, far as academics are concerned. WD Dubois, who great, the Harlem Renaissance historian, a Harvard graduate, first African American graduate with a doctorate in history from Harvard. He was very influential on civil rights movement, Yan, Van Sina, who was from originally from Belgium, and who has written the best summary of the development of African Studies in the world. And living with Africa. I use that in my my classes, my Africa class, as well. And Howard Zinn who was a socialist who wrote People's History of the United States. He wrote the history of our country from a democratic perspective, the workers perspective. And so there are a lot of people in his books that are omitted, in the more traditional books, even if they are politically neutral. A lot of them I want to [unclear] our students, when I taught American history to be introduced to socialism. So they would understand it wasn't a pornographic word. It actually did mean social and political, ideological meanings that were to serve, hopefully, the common man and woman, [unclear] Zin does that. So they had to summarize and react yet just like they did any any book that we had in class, then they could have an intelligent conversation about socialism on the other side, with as with someone, they may not agree with it, that's okay. That's what education is about. You make up your own mind, but you cannot make up your own mind. If you don't understand what you're talking about. Ours then Mother Teresa, and Hans call. By the way, I have great respect for the work that she did with the poor, and the sick. Her calling her her leadership. The suffering that she witnessed every day, you know, every day was a COVID pandemic in the emergency room for her.She chose to be there to to help others. That requires an enormous sacrifice. And be because she she gave so selflessly to others. It's so that they could survive some way giving them hope. She had an enormous impact on so many people, whether she met him or not whether people read about him like guy or not, he was amazing. And related to her is Hans calm You may recall, the pope who retired Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger was a very conservative and traditional Catholic Cardinal advisor to the Pope before him. Catholic doctrine, I'm a Catholic. I'm a people would call me a cafeteria Catholic where I don't necessarily agree with with all the traditional teachings of the Church. I went to Catholic College, and I went to a Catholic High School in Columbia, Cardinal Newman high school for two years before I graduated did the public school sacristy in the beach. So I was under the influence of the Benedictines. For four years, I was most people would think of a devout Catholic, as someone went to Mass every week, maybe more than once went to communion every week. And while I respect that, I'm not a devout Catholic in that sense. But I believe this strongly in most things that they believe in. And so some the right wing conservative group would probably call me a heretic, and that's okay. They can call me a heretic all day long. They call Martin Luther heretic too. Heretic is just someone who is who who believes strongly in a matter of faith that is similar to what is considered Orthodoxy is not something completely different, and then made differ very, very slightly. You know, I'm somewhere in that group. Okay. Well, let's call was the theologian who was a liberal theologian, a progressive theologian, who taught Catholic theology at a major institution in Europe. And he was a classmate of Ratzinger who was on the other side, and when they read it when Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict, he fired from that position. All that happened after I had read Cohen's book on world religions, which largely centered on what they all have in common. He was a way to engage Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity altogether. And that, that helped me in World Civ. Not from a faith perspective. But you know, all of these religions have secular consequences. And how to understand why people did what they did from was faith based perspective. So I had great respect for Hans Cohn. And he was fired. It did surprise me. And I did not have such great respect for Pope Benedict. But it's interesting that the first thing that Pope Benedict did when he retired, was to call Hans Cohn to a little interview with him so they could kiss and make up I guess, after all this time, whether they did or not, I don't know. But they did meet. And they had a conversation. And evidently, they parted friends could continue to teach. I mean, he still had a position of authority. And he's continued to write and publish, he wrote, I don't know 15 books. He's very well published and known in Europe and Catholic circles of progressive Catholics like myself.He died recently. And sorry, to like Nelson Mandela, their deaths. Those Those two were with me for so long. And they're now gone. And it's, it's sad. But like all the others who've come before us, we keep them alive in our minds. And we certainly try to fulfill their noble goals as we move forward in our own small ways, with those we interact with through time. So I'm hoping that whoever listening to this in the future will take a look at some of these important figures in my life and who genuinely deserve to be involved in theirs, whether they accept their teachings or not. They at least need to know about them so they can think critically about them and become more wise in their own lives. That's it, Zach. Thank you for the opportunity to share this to share my My teaching experiences at ECU and how they have impacted me and others through time and letting me share with the foundation of my life before I got here and what I've been doing since my, my GLOBAL AFRICAN homo centric perspective.

ZD: Well thank you so much for sharing your story with the record, so that we can make this part of ECUs history forever and ever. And that we will

Kenneth Wilburn oral history interview, October 27, 2021
Audio recording of Dr. Kenneth Wilburn being interviewed by Zachary Dale on October 27, 2021. Dr. Wilburn speaks about his childhood, teaching career at East Carolina University, including work with the African Studies committee and program, Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and his retirement.
October 27, 2021
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oral histories
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University Archives
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