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Intersection - Diversity in Academia and the College Language Association

Claire Banderas

This week on Intersection, representatives from the College Language Association, or CLA, join us to discuss its yearly convention, which was held in Columbia late last week. The CLA was founded in 1937, when black professors and scholars were looking for research and publication opportunities, but weren't welcomed into other professional organizations. The panel discussed the importance of maintaining the organization’s history of diversity and inclusion. Dr. Clément Akassi is the president of the association, Dr. Donna Harper is the vice president. Dr. Mamadou Badiane is the chair of the host committee for this year’s convention.

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Harper says that the College Language Association has members from undergraduates to professors. She explains that this variety can facilitate the formation of mentor/mentee relationships between older and younger members. Here Harper discusses one such relationship that formed through the association.

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The CLA held panels on a variety of topics, from the work of Langston Hughes to examining hip-hop and the images it portrays of black men and women. Badiane talks about his favorite panel at this year’s convention.

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Main points from the representatives of the College Language Association:

  • Badiane explained why he pushed for the CLA to have its yearly conference in Columbia. “I decided to bring CLA here because, as you know, these past years we've been having lot of issues on campus. Having a big group like the CLA come to campus would give us a different publicity, and a positive one at a moment where we need to showcase Mizzou around the world.”
  • Harper discussed how the CLA has changed since she was inducted as a member in 1982. “I would say that the organization is growing, and frankly it seems to me younger these days. I think more of the younger scholars are involved and very active.”
  • Akassi remembers his favorite panel from this year’s convention. “It was a panel about Afro-Asian in Latin America. It was innovative. I immediately invited them to submit their paper to the CLA because it was exploring a new avenue… this panel was fantastic.”
  • Badiane emphasized the importance of student participation from the CLA “We brought our keynote speaker to the student center and she was able to interact with our undergraduate students. They were able to ask her questions. That was really, really good... This, I think, we need more things like that. That gets undergraduate students more engaged.”

Intersection's producers are Meg Vatterott and Trevor Hook. 

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