Nelson, H. Viscount 1939- (H.V. Nelson, H. Viscount "Berky" Nelson, Horatio Viscount Nelson, Jr., Viscount Nelson)

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Nelson, H. Viscount 1939- (H.V. Nelson, H. Viscount "Berky" Nelson, Horatio Viscount Nelson, Jr., Viscount Nelson)

PERSONAL:

Born July 10, 1939, in Oxford, PA; son of Horatio Viscount, Sr. (a police officer) and Leanna (a university administrator; later surname, Johnson) Nelson; married August 1, 1964; wife's name Joan K. (a university dean); children: Christopher V., Berk W. Ethnicity: "African American." Education: West Chester University, B.S., 1961; University of Pennsylvania, M.A., 1962, Ph.D., 1969. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Presbyterian. Hobbies and other interests: Listening to jazz music, attending athletic events, travel.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Los Angeles, CA. Office—University of California, 105 Kerckhoff Hall, 308 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1607. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of California, Los Angeles, assistant professor and dean, 1969-72; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, associate professor, 1972-80; University of California, Los Angeles, professor and director of student activities, 1980—. Board member for "sister cities" program with St. Petersburg, Russia; Museum of Tolerance, consultant.

MEMBER:

Alpha Phi Alpha.

WRITINGS:

(Under name H. Viscount "Berky" Nelson) The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership: Chronicle of a Twentieth Century Tragedy, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 2003.

Black Leadership's Response to the Great Depression in Philadelphia, Edwin Mellen Press (Lewiston, NY), 2006.

Contributor to reference books, including America, Changing Times, edited by Charles M. Dollar, Wiley (New York, NY), 1979. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Journal of Black Studies, Negro History Bulletin, and Pennsylvania Heritage.

SIDELIGHTS:

H. Viscount Nelson told CA: "During my formative years I lived in a small town, Oxford, Pennsylvania, a farm community located near Lincoln University, the first established black college in the United States. Few black people lived in Oxford, and most might be classified among the lower middle class—people with strong social values but devoid of conspicuous wealth. I perceived myself as a member of this class, having strong middle-class values but instilled with an intellectual curiosity and profound interest in reading. My father was employed as a police officer, and my mother worked as a secretary and administrator at Lincoln, a job that enabled me to garner an interest in the class differences within African American society.

"When I matriculated to college my primary interest centered upon my performances in track and field, where I became a national finalist in the 440-yard hurdles in my senior year. Although academic success never became my priority during my undergraduate years, I retained an interest in class and race in the United States. During my first year of graduate study, I read several books that helped direct my academic focus—Black Bourgeoisie by E. Franklin Frazier, The Philadelphia Negro by W.E.B. Du Bois, and a trilogy by Arthur Meier Schlesinger titled The Age of Roosevelt. After completing my course work and my preliminary examinations, I embarked upon a dissertation topic that pertained to prominent blacks active in leadership roles in Philadelphia during the Great Depression. By encompassing Frazier's critique on middle-class blacks, Du Bois's groundbreaking tome on Philadelphia, and Schlesinger's spellbinding discussion about Roosevelt's leadership, a study of blacks in Philadelphia seemed most apropos.

"After working as a full-time professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Dartmouth, I decided to forego academics and work as a full-time administrator while writing articles and teaching occasionally to maintain my interest in history. In 1995 a dramatic decision occurred, which aroused my passion for writing: the University of California regents, led by a man of African ancestry named Ward Connerly, decided to end Affirmative Action. Connerly's role as the primary advocate for terminating a practice designed to help black people, in my estimation, exemplified a profound sense of self-hatred, but more importantly, my curiosity was raised because so few black leaders responded to thwart Connerly's actions. I responded to these events of 1995 by writing what was intended to be an article titled ‘Gatekeepers at the Door.’ But since the twentieth century was nearing an end, I decided to look at black leadership throughout the entire twentieth century to ascertain why Ward Connerly could act with impunity against African Americans. The answers appear in my book The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership: Chronicle of a Twentieth Century Tragedy.

"The favorable reviews of that book encouraged me to rewrite the old dissertation as Black Leadership's Response to the Great Depression in Philadelphia. Although the similarity of leadership as a topic appears in both books, the process used in writing the books differs significantly. The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership was written without note cards and evolved from my knowledge of African American history. Because of my administrative responsibilities, I found time to write only on weekends and evenings. Nevertheless, my passion for writing to explain the increasing lethargy of blacks in leadership positions became an obsession and resulted in a book. Because of all the extensive primary research required to write my dissertation, an enormous number of note cards, computer compilations, and pages of photocopied manuscripts had been used to produce Black Leadership's Response to the Great Depression in Philadelphia.

"Now that my interest in writing about the more fortunate, privileged African Americans has been satiated, my next project will pertain to a discussion of the black underclass. Hopefully I shall acquire the insight and maintain the objectivity to do the topic justice."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Choice, February, 2004, J.H. Smith, review of The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership: Chronicle of a Twentieth Century Tragedy, p. 1143.

Journal of Negro Education, fall, 2004, Wilbur C. Rich, review of The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership, pp. 463-464.

New Politics, summer, 2004, Michael Wreszin, review of The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership, pp. 147-151.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2003, review of The Rise and Fall of Modern Black Leadership, p. 61.

About this article

Nelson, H. Viscount 1939- (H.V. Nelson, H. Viscount "Berky" Nelson, Horatio Viscount Nelson, Jr., Viscount Nelson)

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