California Newsreel
Stanley Nelson

Shattering the Silences: The Case for Minority Faculty

Eight professors of color discuss the special pressures minority faculty face in majority white institutions.

Shattering the Silences: The Case for Minority Faculty takes a surprising and provocative look at the success and distress of minority scholars in the humanities and social sciences at universities from Seattle to New York. These scholars relate poignant stories about the obstacles and challenges on the journey to the ivory tower. There is both humor and pain as these minority voices in the academy tell a double-edged story.

Minority scholars are introducing new perspectives and fresh questions in university classrooms. While they have invigorated disciplines by contributing a wealth of new scholarship, the number of minority professors is still alarmingly small and the pipeline is fragile. Across all disciplines ninety percent of professors are white.

Opening up institutions doesn't happen easily. New scholarship is by definition challenging and minority scholars are constantly drawn into a debate over who defines truth and who decides what to teach. Answering to the needs of an overwhelmingly white institution, minority professors are also often overburdened by the demands put upon them.

The controversial issues of the Culture Wars and affirmative action are part of the atmosphere in which these scholars are trying to make a difference. Student voices are also heard in this passionate and fast-paced documentary.

The featured professors are African-American, Latino, Asian-American, and American Indian. They are superb teachers, riveting role models, and pathbreaking scholars in history, literature, sociology, ethnic studies, and political science.


January 1, 1997




California Newsreel



Stanley Nelson
Gail Pellett


Elizabeth Ackerman


Lynne Thigpen

Executive Producers

Stanley Nelson
Gail Pellett


Stanley Nelson
Gail Pellett


Michael Chin
Robert Shepard
Rick Butler