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JazzToons

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lehman

Lehman holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Oklahoma State University and graduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst – a master’s in history and a doctorate in African-American studies. St. Cloud State is his first posting.

With one book on the shelves, one reaching bookstores this month and a manuscript in his publisher’s hands, the St. Cloud State associate professor of ethnic studies is making a name for himself in scholarly circles. He advises the Council of African-American Students (CAAS). And, he is famed for his smooth moves in the classroom.

Lehman’s 2006 book, "American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era," chronicles the wartime evolution of U.S. animation from militaristic and violent to liberal and pacifist, a development that reflected changing societal attitudes toward the fighting in Southeast Asia.

The "Colored Cartoon: Black Representation in American Animated Short Films," published in December by University of Massachusetts Press, argues that African-American images and music were central to the development of America’s animated film industry. Early, hand-drawn animation cells required the simplest of black-and-white drawings, so animators drew crude caricatures of rural African-Americans and black minstrels. Minstrel songs and jazz music provided the sound track. Walt Disney and other animators used music by African-American composers, including W.C. Handy, Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong, Lehman said.

Lehman’s next book analyzes the "Soul Train" television phenomenon, from its start as a local show in Chicago, to its long run as a nationally syndicated program, to spin-offs such as the "Soul Train Music Awards." Like his first book, the "Soul Train" book will be published by North Carolina-based McFarland & Company.

In addition to his service as adviser to the CAAS, Lehman mentors students in the African-American studies minor program he founded in 2005. Terri Johnson, a senior mass communications major, met Lehman
at council meetings. Lehman’s enthusiasm for African American studies classes inspired her.

"I took all his classes," Johnson said. "I’m the first student to complete
the whole minor."

The Rochester native is especially impressed with Lehman’s conscientiousness in the classroom. "If there is anything that students ask,
he will go the extra mile to get the answer," Johnson said. "I always appreciated that if he didn’t have the answer, he would find it."

- Jeff Wood

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