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Keeping up with Altmans: Sage Beleau's Research on Racial Integration

June 23, 2020 3:15 PM

Sage Beleau defends his senior thesis
Sage successfully defends his thesis in Spring 2020. Photo from Providence Classical Academy.

Sage Beleau of the 2024 cohort is joining the Altman Program from Providence Classical Academy in Bossier City, LA. For his high school senior capstone project, he researched the economic and academic shortcomings of the strategy of racial integration. Sage answered some questions about his research process and his findings.

Can you explain your thesis project a little more? 
Our thesis process began our junior year with the task of choosing a topic, researching more, and creating an outline. The following summer we went about researching more heavily. I scoured the internet, finding news articles which led to data sets, historical accounts, graphs, etc which not only supported my topic but also information which might be used to refute mine as well. Our summer research additionally required we read two books on our topic, mine being Integration or Separation by Roy L. Brooks and The Failures of Racial Integration by Shreyl Cashin. Once senior year started we finalized our researching and wrote our papers. The spring semester saw us producing our final drafts of our (minimum) 15-page paper and we prepared for the day we would present our condensed thesis as a presentation. Long story short: I spent countless hours (maybe even adding up to days) researching this topic, extracting the most pertinent info, and forming a cohesive argument.

Why did you choose this topic?
I chose this topic because issues of race and social justice are topics that I as a black man [am] forced to deal with on a daily basis. I cared deeply about such matters, but additionally felt that I did not quantitatively know enough. I utilized my school's senior capstone project as a learning experience and also as practice, as I plan to actively speak on these issues in the future.

Can you talk about any main takeaways you learned from your research?
Aside from the information I learned researching my topic, I learned how to research in general. This was not my first research project, but it was by far the most extensive. I made mistakes, I formed strategies, I had to adapt to different deadlines, writing requirements, logical pitfalls, and personal bias. The experience was truly valuable. Researching the topic of racial integration heavily fortified my understanding of such issues of social justice. When previously I knew only what was possible through personal experience, my research provided a stable, factual basis. Honestly, much of the data I found was surprising to me. I knew systemic racism and its consequences were deep rooted and immense, but seeing the statistics of say wealth disparities between the average black and average white family, or learning of our public schools' heavy reliance on their districts' property taxes troubling. The process of researching this topic has urged me to care more deeply about the achievement of equity in our country, and it has definitely shaped my perception of [our] country's current situation and influenced my future career goals.

What majors are you considering at Tulane (both business and liberal arts), and do you have plans to continue research in this area?
While I am currently planning to double major in Economics and Marketing, I definitely plan on personally educating myself further on a more diverse array of issues, not limited to purely economic and academic problems within the Black American Community but informing myself on the web of consequences that tie together many social justice issues. Additionally I plan to focus on mobilizing and utilizing info which I learn to start really being an activist and leader, on and off campus.

Watch Sage’s his full thesis presentation here: https://youtu.be/ohyYxrATB2E

Congratulations on your successful thesis defense, Sage!