The following is the original Preface of Baseline Essays, published in 1986…

The Portland Public School District has broken new ground with the publication of the African-American Baseline Essays. These essays represent one part of an arduous multicultural curriculum development effort initiated at the beginning of the decade.

Without a doubt, the key stimulus of the quest for fundamental equality was the Black United Front. The African-American Baseline Essays are one of several products that are a direct result of the interaction of the Black United Front and the Desegregation Monitoring Advisory Committee with the Portland School District. Following the community-based leadership of these two organization, a number of other agencies and individuals joined in what has become one of the most comprehensive development activities in the nation.

The concept of Baseline Essyas was introduced to Portland Public Schools in 1981 by Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III, who states: “The Baseline Essays is intended to be a short story of the experience of a particular geo-cultural group* within a particular academic area from earliest time to the present.The Baseline Essay, itself is primarily, though not exclusively, a resource document for the teacher. It provides a sense of coherence, continuity, and comprehensiveness to the experience of a particular group within a given academic area. Taken all together, the Baseline Essays are the story of the people.”

Baseline Essays provide a holistic background and view of a geo-cultural group’s history, culture, and contributions. It is through the use of such documents that an attempt is made to avoid presentations of isolated bits of information. The curriculum can be pluralized, thereby avoiding the treatment of information “as individual, incidental, and episodic rather than essential and integral to the regular curriculum” (Hilliard, 1986).

Six scholar were considered to write the African-American Baseline Essays:

Dr. John Henrick Clarke, Professor Emeritus of African World History, Hunter College, New York City, New York

Mr. Hunter Havelin Adams, III, Research Scientist of Argonne National Laboratories, Chicago, Illinois

Ms. Beatrice Lumpkin, Malcom X College, Chicago, Illinois

Ms. Joyce Braden-Harris, Director of Black Educational Center, Portland, Oregon

Mr. Michael Harris, Assistant Professor at Morehouse College of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia

Dr. Charsee Charlotte Larence-McIntyre, Associate Professor of Humanities, State University of New York, Old Westbury, New York

*The Portland School District has identified six geo-cultural groups: African-American, Asian-American, European-American, Hispanic-American, Indian-American, and Pacific Island-American.

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