Inaugural Minority Postdoc Fellowship Talk

Inaugural Minority Postdoc Fellowship Talk

– Thank you everyone for coming and giving up a lovely spring afternoon to spend it with the historians. This is the Inaugural Address for the postdocs going into the future. However, the Minority Postdoc is celebrating its 23rd birthday this year. In 1996, TC unveiled the Minority Postdoc in two brand new PhDs, came to TC for a one year fellowship – one in higher education
and one in history – and 23 years later, we
find ourselves full circle with a postdoc in history whose mentor is the first postdoc at TC. That’s me, by the way. So, I want to talk a little bit about the history of the program and its establishment before
I introduce our speaker. Mike is going to tell
us about his research, and when he’s done, he and I are going to talk a little bit about the importance of the postdoc, a little
bit about history, a little bit about the inclusion of underrepresented voices in history. So, the minority postdoc was the result of about 10 years of thinking by TC senior administration
and it actually developed a little bit thinking
about both the Holmes Group and also the Ford Fellowship. So, the genesis was really about continuing the work of the Holmes Group, which was dedicated to
improving teacher education, and ensuring that teacher
education faculties were diverse. So, the idea was to
broaden the pool of people from historically underrepresented groups. Research was done looking at
other postdoc fellowships, as I said, in particular,
the Ford Fellowship. But this was really supposed to be a contribution to the field of education, not necessarily a contribution
to Teachers College. So, as a result, no TC student could apply for the postdoc, and they still can’t. It was not meant for
international students either, really focusing on this idea of underrepresented groups
from the United States. And it has always been
about broadening the pool of faculty for schools of education. But, it was never meant
to seed TC’s faculty. That happened anyway, but that
wasn’t its original intent. And candidates were to
go through the process similar to a job search. They had to interview, come to campus for an interview, so
they would get some sense of what life was like as a candidate and as a professor. At its inception, some
TC faculty we concerned about whether or not it was legal. How could you, in 1996, call
something a minority postdoc without having a ton of legal battles? Karen Zumwalt, who was then the Dean, led the charge by saying, and I talked to her the other day, quote “We shouldn’t be deterred
on the possibility that we may be challenged. We will deal with it
if it comes,” endquote. And the program continued for 10 years with no external changes. There was a move to change
this to working issues, to anyone who is working on issues of underrepresented groups, but the faculty actually pushed back, recognizing the importance
of preparing scholars of color for their careers
in schools of education. So, since its inception,
the program has changed from a one year postdoc for two people, to a two year postdoc for one person. And I’m sure the faculty were concerned when the first postdoc was hired at TC, and then came to work at TC because that was one of the first rules. But, other than that,
the postdoc has held true to its original purposes
for the most part. In the 20 plus years of this fellowship, the more than 30 fellows who’ve received, of the 30 fellows who’ve
received this postdoc, only four were hired at TC. Three still remain: Professor Erica Walker and Professor Laletha Vasudevan in the department of math,
science and technology, and as you’ve read, and as I’ve said, me. Greg Anderson, the other
postdoc hired at TC, is now Dean of the School of Education at Temple in Philadelphia. So, I guess we did okay. Other postdocs have gone on
to tenure-track positions at a slate of competitive institutions, and this tradition will continue because Michael Hines will be heading off to Stanford University School of Education in the summer to begin
his career in August as an Assistant Professor of Education. That’s the perfect segue for
introducing Michael Hines. As we’ve learned, he
earned his BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis, his MA and PhD in Education Policy Studies from Loyola University Chicago. And before pursuing graduate studies, he worked as a K-12
teacher in Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Maryland. And his research interests
include history of education, curriculum studies,
social studies education, the history of childhood. But, he’s really focusing on how African-Americans in the
early twentieth century created new curricular
discourses around Black History. His work has been published in History of Education Quarterly and the Journal of the History
of Childhood and Youth. And during his year at TC, Dr. Hines has been a
part of the TC community. He’s taught The History
of Education in the U.S., led a writing group of doctoral students, sorry about that, and made friendships around the college. And he has presented at
several academic conferences, including AERA and the
History of Education Society. His dissertation will
become a monograph entitled, “The Blackboard and the
Colorline Madeline Morgan and Black History in Chicago’s
Public Schools, 1942-1945”, which will be published by Beacon Press. Keep an eye out for it. This talk is a prelude to that. In addition, Dr. Hines
has opened a new area of inquiry in looking
at black participation in education in the
Civilian Conservation Corps. The postdoc has allowed
him to not only pursue, but also advance his research agenda. And those of us who have worked with him, hope he’s gotten as much from this postdoc as we have gained from having his presence in our community. So without further ado,
please help me welcome Dr. Michael Hines to the podium. – Alright, let’s get started. Good morning, Miss Markwell’s class. – (Audience) Good morning – Okay, I’m gonna try it again. Good morning, Miss Markwell’s class. – (Audience) Good morning – Ah, that is so much better. You see, it’s the morning
of December 16th, 1943, and we are in the classroom
of one Miss Grace Markwell, Room 214 of the Gross Elementary School in Brookfield, Illinois, a suburb just to the west of Chicago. Now the students, fifth graders, on the edge of winter break,
would usually be antsy. But, at the moment,
they’re sitting silently in what their teacher will later describe as “rapt attention”. The reason for all that focus is that they’ve just finished part
of their social studies unit on the Boston area, and their teacher has read them the story of Jan Matzeliger and the shoe lasting machine, a wonderful invention that revolutionized an entire industry. Now, while the students
love the invention, they’re a little bit curious
about the inventor because, well you see, Jan Matzeliger was a negro. And, in their estimation,
negroes don’t make inventions. So, the questions came at Miss Markwell in waves, and she
eventually told her students that not only were there negro inventors, plenty of other ones in fact,
but that more information could be found in the writings of one Mrs. Madeline
Morgan, a friend of hers, who happened to be a negro teacher, and thus, an expert on such matters. “In fact,” Markwell stated,
“This Miss Madeline Morgan had become quite famous for her efforts to popularize negro history.” At that revelation, the students became even more curious. “Did she write the stories you read?” “Are there really Negro teachers?” “Well, what are they like?” “Can she visit us?” And eventually, Miss Markwell had to let her students write a class letter, which they did, in their most dignified 5th grade prose. It read, in part, Miss Markwell read us the story you wrote about Jan Matzeliger. We enjoyed it very much. Then, she read a story about you, and we think your contribution is as important as those about which you have written
because you are helping children of your race to be proud of their color, and
helping us to want to help give them a chance to learn, to work, and to show what they can do. I’m going to skip to the last paragraph. We have school all next
week, except Friday. If you have vacation, and
could spare a little time, you will find a warm
welcome in Gross School. If you can visit us, let us know when you will arrive, and we will meet you at the station. Sincerely Yours, Grade 5, Room 214 So the scene in Markwell’s
room that morning, the curiosity, the
disbelief, the interest, would be played out again and again, in hundreds of classrooms,
both black and white, in Chicago and across the country. The curriculum that
those students read from was called “The Supplementary Units for the Course of Instruction
in Social Studies”, and they marked the first time that the achievements and contributions of African Americans were included in the curriculum of
Chicago’s public schools. That victory became an example for other schools and school districts, colleges and commissions,
principals, school leaders, city and district officials,
students and parents – all concerned with
extending democratic ideals and ending racial prejudice. The Blackboard and the Colorline, my current project, tells the full story of that curriculum and its
founder for the first time. Today, however, I’d
like to focus my remarks on two ideas that are at
the heart of this project. The first is the alternative
black curriculum, and the second is wartime tolerance. It’s the convergence of these two forces that laid the groundwork for Morgan’s unprecedented success. So, Madeline Morgan and her work in the Chicago Public Schools emerges as part of a
much broader tradition that challenged depictions of black life that were then found in social studies and history curriculum. As it emerged in the
early twentieth century, the discipline of social studies was steeped in the racism and nativism and Eurocentrism that largely defined the mass culture of that era. So, from the Smiling Pickaninnies used in popular advertisements to the triumph of
Tarzan, King of the Apes, over savage African cannibals
on the silver screen, to the reassuring myths of
Aunt Mammy and Uncle Ben, which allowed the nation to paper over its original sin of slavery, the early twentieth century was awash in anti-black images and ideas. In the schools, rather than confronting all of these problematic portrayals, often echoed the same prejudices. Even more dangerously, the schools lent these ideas the veneer
of scientific truth. Textbooks were particularly effective vehicles for these ideas, working, as the NAACP put it, as “the germ-carriers
of a vicious propaganda against the negro citizen”. Because they spoke with the weight of a state-sponsored civic truth, textbooks appeared to be objective, neutral and authoritative,
making the narratives they communicated all but unassailable for many students, and I would add, equally hard to assail for most teachers. So, the history taught in American schools was one in which blacks
played no significant part. They were school knowledge
typically silenced, omitted, truncated, or
in accurately rendered African American experiences. Textbooks depicted Africa
as a wild continent filled with savage and backwards people, justified or downplayed the enslavement of African Americans in the New World, portrayed African Americans as a scourge during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and a social problem, at
best, in the current era. Henry William Elson, whose
History of the United States, was approved for use in Chicago Schools in 1934, put it this way. Blacks constituted, quote,
“a listless, aimless class, who aspire to nothing and are content to live in squalor and ignorance”. As a result, Elson
reasoned, the best place that blacks could have in America was a subservient spot in a white society, as the benevolent paternalism of whites would make sure that, quote, “the negro is quite safe
and his happiness secured under the white man’s government”. So, obviously the virulent racism of early social studies
texts were a major concern for African American
educators and activists, and blacks realized that
the material presented in the classroom provided the
intellectual justification for political and social inequality. In order to challenge those depictions, they worked to create counter-narratives that emphasized black humanity, agency, and asserted the centrality
of the black experience within American history and
the history of the world. And those efforts took several forms, from Carter G. Woodson’s Association for the Study of Negro Life in History, which printed The Journal of Negro History and the Negro History Bulletin, and founded Negro History Week (now Black History Month) in 1926, to the work of W.E.B. Dubois and Jesse Redmon Fauset of the NAACP, and their short-lived publication, The Brownies Book, which
was the first magazine targeted towards black
youth and sought to make quote, “Colored youth realize that being Colored is a normal
and a beautiful thing”, to public history efforts like the 1940 American Negro Exposition, an example of what architectural historian Mabel Wilson has termed, “a
black counterpublic sphere”, a place in which blacks
could articulate new ideas about who they were and
who they wanted to become. Those efforts also
extended into the classroom where scholars authored new textbooks with titles like, “The
Story of the Negro Retold”, “A School History of the
Negro Race in America”, and “The Negro, Too, in American History”. And taken all together,
these efforts represent what scholar Alana Murray has referred to as “an alternative black curriculum, a pedagogical counter-narrative
meant to provide a more accurate rendering
of U.S. and world history”. Those efforts went beyond
simply identifying stereotypes, instead working to fundamentally
alter the discourse associated with black
identity, physicality, beauty, intelligence and capacity. So, it was usually the male scholars, like Woodson and Dubois, that
are most often recognized as the proponents of the
alternative black curriculum. But, in fact, it was
the work done by women, like the members of Chicago
chapter of Phi Delta Kappa Teaching Sorority, pictured
here with Madeline Morgan in their center, that
brought black history out of the academy and into
classrooms and communities. Black women worked as teachers, as organizers, librarians and archivists, club women and community leaders. They formed the rank and
file of organizations, they spearheaded the celebrations like Negro History Week, and
they planned and executed local efforts at preserving and presenting the negro past. Many times they also created new materials for the classroom. They were intent, as Alain Locke put it, “to place before the negro the true story of race vicissitude,
struggle, and accomplishment”. Black women were then, the co-creators of the alternative black curriculum, shaping its narratives and interpreting its themes for a younger audience, and Madeline Morgan was part and parcel of this effort. She’s born in 1906 and raised in the black metropolis
of Chicago’s southside, and she dedicates herself to the uplift of the race at an early age. She finds the classroom affords her the best opportunity to do this work. She attends Chicago Normal College, then Northwestern
University where she earns both a Bachelors and a
Masters Degree in education, and she’s deeply versed in
pedagogical progressivism, but equally steeped in the early movement for black history. Convinced that the most
permanent and lasting social aim would be to build
our race up intellectually, she recognized that the social studies offered one avenue to that end. As she put it, “Through the medium of history and biography,
much can be revealed concerning the negro’s contribution to the development of America. The study of the negro, if
accorded its rightful place in American history, will teach both sides to respect and appreciate
racial diversity. In particular, negro youth will read with pride that they had a part to play in the great
drama of American life.” So, by the late 1930s,
there’s an alternative black curriculum existent
in the social studies crafted by these educators and activists who are intent on challenging the misrepresentations they
see in school curriculum. These efforts, however, are largely contained within the
black community itself. Whether shared in black homes, or within the walls of segregated schools, at historically black
colleges and universities, or in the pages of black
journals and magazines, black history is something
that doesn’t often penetrate into the
mainstream of American life. But in the late 1930s, events on the other side of the world offered an opportunity
to change that reality. So the rise of fascism in Europe, in the lead up to World War II, offered an ideological as well as a military challenge to Western democracy. And in order to win the
war, America would need the full support of all its citizens, including its racial, and
ethnic, and religious minorities. That support, however, especially at the beginning of the war, was anything but assured. For African Americans especially, the call to defend the country brought to mind the indignities that black soldiers had
faced in the first World War, where they had been forced to serve in segregated units,
harassed by white officers, largely kept out of combat, and assigned to menial duties like
cooking and cleaning. It also brought to mind the dashed hopes of African Americans who thought that their service and sacrifice would mean greater inclusion
when they came back home. Many agreed with the sentiment expressed by the Chicago Defender when it said that blacks
were being asked to quote, “sacrifice and die for democracy abroad, while still being denied
democracy at home”. So this is a problem. America on the eve of
its greatest conflict is a nation divided. And as L.D. Reddick, an
educator at New York University put it, “The Axis Powers boast. Their radio says to the world that America can’t fight,
that she’s incapable of victory because she is disunited, and every incident of racial conflict is refined and magnified as it’s flashed over the ether wires to
our friends and allies, showing them the insincerity in the very principles for which we are fighting. Now the government stands crying about national unity, but little is being done about it.” In order to rally support for the war, something had to be done. And in response, the government began to call on the
press, civic organizations, religious groups, and most importantly, the schools, to promote national unity, by adopting a new language of tolerance, meant to prove the American
commitment to democracy. As President Roosevelt stated in 1942, if the U.S. were to win the
war, it would take quote, “a national unity that
can know no limitations of race, or creed, or selfish politics”. So the second World War,
being this total war, its ramifications affected
every aspect of society, and America’s youth were no different. Once America’s movement towards wartime tolerance began, it was clear that children would also need to learn to respect racial and
religious difference, and the responsibility of all Americans to preserve democratic ideals. As Secretary of Education,
J.W. Studebaker put it, “Teaching tolerance is
now a major problem, and school boards, school
officials, and teachers of the United States
should give full attention to the problem of adapting
school curricula and schedules to ensure meaningful
and adequate treatment of the ideas, aims, and
spirit of democracy.” On the ground, that meant that students in many cities started to
study the unique cultural gifts that various ethnicities had contributed to the American way of life through readings, skits,
assemblies, and group projects. They read new books like
“The Races of Mankind”, by anthropologist Ruth Benedict, right here at Colombia, which ensured them that biology had disproven the myth that some races were better than others. They listened to radio programs like “Americans All, Immigrants All”, produced by the U.S. Education Office in conjunction with CBS Radio, which cataloged the accomplishments of Americans of divergent backgrounds with episode titles like “The Slavs, Near Eastern
People, and the Jews”. They watched new films
like “The House I Live In”, starring a young teen idol
named Francis Albert Sinatra, who explained that his Italian heritage didn’t make him any less patriotic when it came to defending the country. Now, while the majority of
these educational efforts were crafted by white educators, black educators also found the opportunity to introduce ideas and topics that would have otherwise stood a slight chance of acceptance. For black teachers, the
war offered the chance to make the claim that race prejudice posed an imminent threat
to American democracy, to national unity, and
to social stability. So that argument that racial antipathy was a threat to the solidarity needed to win the war effort,
allowed black teachers to take their fight for
inclusion into the mainstream. And in Chicago, Madeline Morgan made use of that convergence of interest to put forward her own
groundbreaking plan. Already a veteran educator and an activist by the time the war began, she lobbied city and school leaders
suggesting a series of units for the social studies that would emphasize the part
played by African Americans. Now Chicago Public Schools,
under the leadership of Superintendent William Johnson, recognized Morgan’s request as an opportunity to
first stoke the patriotism of Chicago’s black community,
and at the same time bolster the tolerance of whites. As Johnson put it, “The
Chicago Public Schools needed to become a training ground for the development of
understanding and tolerance.” And as he put the matter even more boldly at a Board of Education report in 1941, “The current struggle
demands that America use all of its human and natural resources. This, in turn, requires a total unity, never before perpetrated
in this free country, be perpetuated. The social studies are teaching that there is no place for
pettiness and intolerance of race, religion, or politics. Self-preservation exacts a oneness in motive and deed. Illustrative of this point are The Supplementary Units for the Course of Instruction in Social Studies, which are devoted to the contributions of the American negro to the cultural life of the nation.” Johnson hoped that through knowing and understanding the past, young people would come to realize that, in his words, “the negro is serving his country, and will be ready to serve it in the future”. In order to make that message a reality, Madeline Morgan is released from her teaching duties as of March 1941, reassigned to the Bureau of Curriculum, given resources and a research assistant, and set to work on a project that she ends within the year with a scope and sequence
for K8 social studies, but with a background provided on African American achievements that until that time, had
been ignored or overlooked. The supplementary units included material on ancient African civilizations, including the Kingdoms of Dahomey, Timbuktu, and Benin, showed the historical and cultural linkages connecting Africa to the New World, more
accurately described slavery, and the violence and
exploitation at its heart, and recognized the efforts of blacks to secure their own liberation, and then celebrated the military, political, social, and
artistic contributions of blacks in the modern era. Where Superintendent Johnson had wanted a simple primer on patriotism, Morgan gave him the full breadth of American history, written
from a new perspective. When these units are
adopted in May of 1942, they cause in an immediate sensation. They’re put to use in
353 K through 8 schools, and were, per the orders
of Superintendent Johnson, mandatory for quote, “all
of the public schools of Chicago, not simply for those whose membership is predominantly negro”. Reactions to the units
come from all corners. Within the black community, she’s honored by the Association for the
Study of Negro Life and History, featured in the Negro History Bulletin, the Journal of Negro History, and the Wilberforce Quarterly. Each of which emphasized the reactions of black students who
feel proud and uplifted by the history that the units represent. The broader world of
education also takes notice, and Morgan’s published in The
Elementary English Review, The American Teacher, The
Virginia Teachers Bulletin, and other publications. White teachers often found that, as one reported, “the children know so little about negroes,
that they’re inspired to do their own research. They wanted to talk about negroes all day, everyday, and
I just couldn’t do that. So I organized a Negro History Club.” Morgan even graced the
pages of popular outlets such as PM Magazine, Common
Sense, and Time Magazine in an article entitled “Brown Studies”. All of that notoriety also translated to requests for more copies of the units, and for Morgan’s presence as an expert on race relations in education. In 1943 alone, she recorded that, quote, “40 states have been
reached, and over a thousand sets of units mailed since September”. In this way, Morgan spread her activism far beyond Chicago to school districts, civic bodies, religious organizations, even soldiers on the
front lines of the war. Now there are a lot of reactions to the Supplementary Units, but this one is one of my favorites. It comes from a soldier named Edward, who’s writing to her from North Africa, where he’s stationed in
the Second World War. And it reads, it’s a little hard to read, but it reads, “I just read an article about you and your work. I’m writing to you to find out if I can get a copy of the negroes history which was mentioned in Newsreel Magazine. It is something I didn’t learn in school, but would like to learn it now. I’ll be glad when we are
called ‘brown soldier’ instead of ‘negro soldier’. We are fighting and
working for the same cause as everyone else from the States. Yours until, Edward” While in some ways the
impact of Morgan’s work can be measured in the wider influence that she is able to exert as a figure in the movement for
intercultural understanding, for the students of
Gross Elementary School back in Brookfield, her
impact was far more personal. Morgan received the letter
from the fifth graders of Room 214, and the next
month on January 24th, 1944, she took them up on the invitation. Now the students, for their part, rolled out the red carpet. They met her at the train, and
in true fifth grade fashion, they told everyone about
their very important guest. So much so, that by 2:30 in the afternoon, what began as a small class visit, turned into a 400 person assembly. Morgan spoke to the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades at Brookfield. After learning about Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver,
James Weldon Johnson, and other famous negro Americans, the students had some reactions. Nancy Kramer remarked to her teacher that, “I like Mrs. Morgan more that ever. When she was listening,
or when she was talking, I listened so hard that I
forgot she was a negro.” Ralph Crowell wrote,
“I never liked a negro so much in all my life. To Mrs. Morgan it doesn’t matter whether she’s a negro or not, and it doesn’t matter to me either.” And Nancy Marcel, of the
school’s color guard no less, remarked, “She has
shown me and many others that negroes are just as
good as white people.” Now those reactions, as their teacher Grace Markwell observed
in her class notes, amounted to an opportunity
to erase the colorline from the blackboards of America. Thanks – So Mike, first of all,
thank you so much for that. We decided to do this a
little bit differently. Or, to have a little bit
of a question and answer session about a bunch of things. One, if you were
interested in Mike’s talk, this is keep an eye out for his book. I also am just an advertisement. This is the commercial for his book coming out by Beacon Press. It expands this story. But, I think one of the things that’s so interesting and people are unfamiliar in a lot of ways with historians and the work they do, I wanted to talk or ask a few questions about the project and then sort of talk about this postdoc. So, both the content and process piece here. And the thing I really,
I think is important is what brought you to this topic. Cause that’s something people
are always interested in, how do historians choose what
it is they want to talk about. So, what brought you to this topic? How did you find Madeline Morgan? – Well, I was looking for a local story. I was looking for a Chicago story. And I was looking for something, particularly because I was
feeling that representation and that voice really, really matter, and that the stories of
African American educators are so underrepresented in
the history of education, and especially in the field
of curriculum studies. So, I feel like if you grab a standard curriculum studies reader, and you open to sort of the first section, which is on, usually on
the history of the field, nine times out of ten,
you’re gonna see the same five or six names. It’s gonna be Dewey. It’s gonna be Counts. It might be Harold Rugg. And if it’s particularly progressive, you might get Jane Addams
and Maria Montessori, right? And those are all
wonderful, wonderful names, but that’s not it, right? That’s not the full extent of the story and there’s so much more that’s there. I think, really, it sort of goes back
to something my mother used to say when we were at museums or at doing anything historical, she would say, “Oh, that’s really awesome. That’s really great. Now, where were we during all that, right? Where were we when all that was going on?” And what she meant, right, was where were African Americans
in this story, right? So, find that, and I found that really annoying when I was a kid. But as a historian, that’s
really served me well, just looking for the holes,
looking for the spots where I can go, oh that’s nice. What were we doing then, right? – So, following up on that a little bit, how did you find this story? – Yeah, it was in talking to another historian, a much
more senior historian, named Christopher Robert Reed, who is in Chicago right now, sort of an elder statesmen,
along with Timuel Black of Chicago Black History, and he’s still at Roosevelt
University in Chicago, and just sort of, listening to the stories
that he would tell, and writing down details that I thought were really interesting, and then following up on them. That’s really how I came across the first little bits of the story, and then decided that I
wanted to tease out further. – Then to just push that
a little bit further, and picking up on something that you said, you said representation and those voices are really important. Do you think that that is equally as important now as it was then? And then, what do you plan on doing with this work? How does this work inform
what we talk about now? – Well, I think it’s definitely just as important then as now. A couple of weeks ago,
maybe a week and a half ago, there was a story actually in Ed Week, and I don’t know if anybody saw it, but the title of the story was “Are Simulations Still Okay
in Teaching About Slavery?” I was like, that’s a
really curious question cause I thought we had
solved that already, right? Like, auctioning your black students off to your white students
in unacceptable, right? Going on slavery field trips
is unacceptable, right? But, apparently we’re still
having this debate, right? So, apparently these conversations are still going on, so I think it’s just as relevant today as it was back then. As far as how to use
this historical research in the present, I think that just the fact of bringing in new voices,
of bringing in new stories, opens up more possibilities for action in the present, right? So, if you’re a student
of curriculum studies, or if you’re an educator, or if you’re an education leader,
right, your toolbox, right, of strategies that you know
to use and to implement come from what you know, right? So, if all you know is
Dewey and Montessori, right, then you have a fairly
small toolbox, right? And getting more voices out there, getting a broader conversation going, allows educators today to say, you know, “Oh, I can pull ideas from
this stream of thought. I can pull ideas from all over the place, from Latinx Scholars, from
African American scholars, from Asian American scholars, and I think that that’s just really important – giving educators more ideas to work with, more tools to work with. – And before we switch gears a little bit, I’m curious to know, so
what eventually happened to her curriculum? – Yeah, so as I think you probably got from the presentation,
a lot of the reason why her curriculum was
successful and was taken on by the Chicago Public Schools when it was, was as a result of the Second World War and the sort of interest
convergence around getting everybody to sort of
rally around the flag, right? Unfortunately, those interests start to go in separate ways at the end of the war. So, by the end of the 1940s, early 1950s, the priorities for Chicago Public Schools, the priorities of the new mayoral
administration in Chicago, the new Board of Education in Chicago are going in a different direction, and we’re headed into the Cold War. And so, that really spells the end of Madeline’s curriculum, but not the end of her career as an educator. She is actually in the
Chicago Public Schools for several more decades. She’s writing books on her own. She’s speaking, she’s teaching courses at colleges around the area. So, even though this
particular project ends, you know, it’s not the end for her. – Okay, great.
Thanks so much. I’m hoping that everyone is
resonating with this talk. I think it’s really
important, not just because it’s an untold story,
but because it’s a story that is still so relevant, right? People say that, you know, those who don’t study history are
doomed to repeat it. But it really is that
those who don’t study history just frustrate history professors. I read that somewhere. I didn’t come up with that one myself. But, one of the things that I wanted to talk about is when I was a postdoc in the twentieth century, I had the opportunity to
give a college-wide talk. It was a great experience,
and this is also a professional development piece. So it’s not just about
Mike as a historian, and having this chance
to advance his research, it’s also about the professoriate. How does one enter, and especially, how does a scholar of color
enter the professoriate during this particular point in time? So part of this was about
giving him the opportunity to speak to a wider
audience, not just about his research and his work, but also the importance of the postdoc. I mean, it’s very easy for the postdoc to be challenged, as this minority postdoc focused on diversifying the professoriate in the schools of eduation. It would be very easy for people to say, “Well the problem is solved
It’s unnecessary.” And so I asked Mike to think
about a couple of questions. And they sort of all
fit together, and it’s, you know, sort of why did
you apply for the post doc, and what seemed appealing about it? And then, what were you expecting versus what the actual
experience was like? – So I applied to the postdoc really just to strengthen myself as a writer, as a researcher, and
then as an instructor. You know, I had had some
experience teaching K12, and some experience teaching
at the college level. But, I knew the reputation
of Teachers College. I knew the type of scholarship that come out of Teachers College, and I really thought
that coming here would really bolster my skills as a researcher and a writer, which I think it has. As far as what I expected
versus what happened when I got here, I think what I expected coming out of grad school was to be more a part of someone
else’s research agenda. I think when you’re in grad school, even at the dissertation stage, even at the later stages,
you’re still sort of being guided through by
someone else’s expectations, by someone else’s suggestions, and so when I got here, I think that one of the things that I really enjoyed about the experience over the
last couple of years is has been the amount of freedom to just pursue my own research agenda, which also demands that you come up with your own research agenda, which is, I think, a big part of transitioning from sort of
a graduate student mentality to sort of an active, early
career scholar mentality, right? So just being able to set up and pursue your own projects. – And what was, it seems like, almost the the benefit is the freedom, and then you know, sort of the detriment is the freedom as well. – Yes.
Yeah, yeah. You could spend, you
could conceivably spend a great deal of your postdoc simply, like walking around New York and enjoying how nice everything is
and how pretty things are. So it’s really, you know, no one’s really holding your hand to make sure that you’re there everyday. No one’s saying, you
know “Well, you just need to get that next chapter written, or that book proposal done, or that revise and
resubmit on that article really needs to be done.” So it’s more about just
structuring your own time and learning, you know,
the sort of patterns and the sort of flow that
works for you as a scholar. – And I think you bring up something that’s very important,
and I want to kind of talk about this professionalization piece, or the preparation piece
that in graduate school, for the most part you’re a
consumer of knowledge, right? And you’re learning your
craft, and even though people think anyone can write history, you actually can’t. There is a methodology to it. It’s quite difficult,
and one of the things that’s so funny about this talk is that in asking Mike to talk
so much about himself, and I’m avoiding this,
is because historians don’t pretend to be objective, but we sure want to be anonymous. In every other discipline, you get to say who you are, what your beliefs are, what your preconceived notions are. We just like to tell the story. Although, that creates its own bias, in terms of the questions that we ask, the way that we may tell the story, even in the topic that you pick. So, let me say that, as I appreciate is that as I dig into your business and into your experience, what that what that situation is
like for a historian. But, I also think that a postdoc can be a very important developmental piece, and I say this for doctoral students, or for folks who are here wondering about the whole notion of a postdoc, is because it provides
this great transition from when you become a
consumer of knowledge to a producer of knowledge,
because as a professor, that’s part of your job. It’s not just teaching.
It is producing knowledge. And that’s sort of an
incredible and awesome thing because first you look at this dissertation as, this is my exercise to prove that I can do this work, in a sense, and go forward. But now I have a book contract, so how does a book differ
from the dissertation, and how do I develop that? And then once it’s between its covers, I’m the author, right? This is the knowledge that I produced, and so that’s why I was asking, you know, where do you think this
is going to contribute to other fields, and what fields will it contribute to? And it also serves as an example as sort of the ability to do this work. And so, I think the question
that I want to ask is, what were you most surprised
about in this experience? – That’s a tough one. I think, again, the freedom to pursue your own research agenda, and to not be constrained was really, really surprising. I think it took me a
couple of months probably to get used to it. But, then after I set up my sort of my own schedule and things, that sort of worked itself out. I think the other thing that was really surprising to me was just how open faculty have been, and
how many mentors I’ve had, and not just within
the history department, even though, you know,
you’ve been a great mentor, and Ansley as well has
been a great mentor, but outside of the department. I mean, Mark is right here. Erica Walker was here as well. David Hansen in philosophy. Janice Robinson, of course. So, you know, I think one of the things that surprised me is just how open and inviting people have been with their time and with their expertise
and with their knowledge. And that, really that’s where I’ve learned the most about how people pursue
this academic career thing. – And so I’m gonna ask you,
as you’re talking about that, I love that you bring up the fact that people don’t have just
one mentor in their lives. They have several who do different things, and who operate in different ways, and push or push in some
ways, comfort in other ways, so it’s important to
develop a group of mentors. But, the other thing
that I want to point out and bring attention to is this is the minority postdoc, and the reality is that
if we look at the survey of earned doctrates, about one percent of the American population earns a PhD. Of that one percent, 25
percent are scholars of color. 13 percent are Asian American. It goes back and forth between six and six and a half for Latinx scholars and African American scholars, and one quarter of one percent, of that larger one percent,
are Native American. So this is really sort
of an incredible piece and since we were talking about this idea of an alternative black curriculum, and you’ve talked about the importance of African American voices, how do you feel about the whole notion of a minority postdoc and its importance, or was it not important at all? – No, I think it’s very important. I think that it’s really critical to have spaces like this and positions like this. I feel like I wouldn’t be
being completely honest if I didn’t say that
applying to something called a Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship, or saying that you’re a
Minority Postdoctoral Fellow, doesn’t feel a little bit
sometimes like you’re, like you’re hedging, or
like there’s you know, like there’s a different
agenda going on, right? – You can feel some kind of way about it, if you we could say that. – Yeah absolutely, absolutely. But I think at the end of the day it’s important to signal what this postdoc is for, what the purpose is, what
the history of it is. And so, I think that
I wouldn’t change that about it at all. So I do think it’s important. – So, you can start one at Stanford. That will be your charge,
amongst many other things I’ve told you to do while
you’re there, sorry. So we decided to do this to just allow this opportunity to just kind of talk about Mike’s research, but also to talk about this larger this larger issue of people of color and scholars of color within the academy, and why this postdoc has been around for as long as it has, and why it is particularly important. And I think one of the things
that I want to point out is the postdoc was never about it just turns out that
Mike’s work is about this alternative black curriculum. The postdocs in the past have come from all different American ethnic groups, and have studied things
that have nothing to do with race or difference, and have been in all departments. My original work that got me here was about the changing
moral life of colleges at the end of the nineteenth century, which, you know, is totally
fascinating for some of us. Anyway, my point is that I
think it’s a great opportunity, and I think that it’s a
great opportunity for TC, and it sort of speaks to a very important tenet of trying to prepare faculty, and especially faculty of color. This was never about,
as I said, seeding TC. It was about giving people this experience and being a faculty member here. No matter where you
go, you will work less. So, it’s about learning this experience and taking it other places. I wanted to end this with probably the most important question of all. And that is, what will you miss most about New Your City? What have you loved about New York City, and what will you miss? – Let’s see, what will I
miss the most about New York? – I mean, other me, you know.
I’m just saying. – It’s gotta be you and then bagels. It’s bagels. My family is from Louisville,
Kentucky originally. So, we’re not like a bagel-eating people. But, there is a place
called Absolute Bagels on the upper westside, that has completely changed my life. Yeah, and I didn’t know
how important it was, and how much of a convert I was until I took a trip, and I had a bagel in the airport in Atlanta, and it was like a crime against humanity. So, I think bagels. I’ll miss the culture of New York. I’ll miss the diversity of New York. I’ll miss some of the conversations that I get to have with people living in the faculty housing here at TC, and being only a block away from work. Sometimes, you know, you
just run into coworkers and spark up a conversation
in the laundry room, or while you’re walking
the dog or wherever. So, that sort of community,
I’ll definitely miss that. – Thanks, Mike.
I really appreciate it. And to all of you who came this afternoon, I want to thank you again. When you hear about the Minority Postdoc, this is going to be a new piece. I don’t know if it’s always going to be at the Academic Festival,
but it’s a great opportunity to learn about the faculty who are here, and our postdoc who’s here. So, thank you all very much for coming, and when you see Mike around,
now you know who he is. Say hello. Email him with questions
about his research, whatever it may be. But also, I want to
wish you tremendous luck because you’ve already got skill. So you’re gonna be fine at Stanford. Thanks so much, everyone. (Applause)

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