Dr. Herman Kelly
Dr. Herman Kelly

By Chris Branch | LSU Student

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, among others, will be making "appearances" in a class this spring at LSU.

"Black Rhetorical Traditions," will debut in January under the teaching direction of adjunct professor Herman Kelly. The class will be offered in the African and African American Studies (AAAS) program, a subsection of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"The class is going to be black rhetorical traditions," says Kelly. " I'm going to deal with the power of speech from the sermon to the political speech."

Kelly, pastor at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge for the last 14 years, will highlight titans of African American history.

"We're going to look at personalities like Malcolm X, Martin King, Mandela, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth and people of that caliber. I've always wanted to do a class on the power of speech in the African American community."

That power, according to Kelly, is what sparked the progress African Americans made throughout slavery up until the civil rights movement.

"African Americans were powerless in this community. We were brought to this country enslaved. The way were empowered was through speech."

The class will run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:10 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Kelly said around 12 students signed up, and 15 are needed for the class to survive. The call number for the class is AAAS 3044.

Kelly wants to tell "African American stories" to students, and thinks the University is sorely lacking in classes focused on minorities. But, notes Kelly, the class will benefit students of all races.

"What I want students to learn is in the African American community what helped us get through the problems of society when we were mistreated is the power of the sermon. To say we are as important as everybody else. Political speech empowered us to go vote, to let our voice be heard. The class will tie in the history of both those things."

Kelly named King, Parks and Richard Allen, who started the African American Episcopal Church in 1794, as some of his favorite giants.

"Dr. King was the father of the modern movement. He helped open the door," Kelly said. "Allen started the first solely African American church. He started his own movement."

Kelly said Joyce Jackson, AAAS director and anthropology professor, approached him about teaching the class. He said they had similar sentiments about the topic and felt the class needed to be implemented.

Kelly has taught at LSU for nearly 10 years in the fields of African American studies, education and mass communication. Kelly will also teach an introductory education course in the spring semester.