Educating Harlem

A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community

Edited by Ansley T. Erickson and Ernest Morrell

Columbia University Press

Educating Harlem

Pub Date: November 2019

ISBN: 9780231182218

376 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: November 2019

ISBN: 9780231182201

376 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.00

Pub Date: November 2019

ISBN: 9780231544047

376 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Educating Harlem

A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community

Edited by Ansley T. Erickson and Ernest Morrell

Columbia University Press

Over the course of the twentieth century, education was a key site for envisioning opportunities for African Americans, but the very schools they attended sometimes acted as obstacles to black flourishing. Educating Harlem brings together a multidisciplinary group of scholars to provide a broad consideration of the history of schooling in perhaps the nation’s most iconic black community.

The volume traces the varied ways that Harlem residents defined and pursued educational justice for their children and community despite consistent neglect and structural oppression. Contributors investigate the individuals, organizations, and initiatives that fostered educational visions, underscoring their breadth, variety, and persistence. Their essays span the century, from the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance through the 1970s fiscal crisis and up to the present. They tell the stories of Harlem residents from a wide variety of social positions and life experiences, from young children to expert researchers to neighborhood mothers and ambitious institution builders who imagined a dynamic array of possibilities from modest improvements to radical reshaping of their schools. Representing many disciplinary perspectives, the chapters examine a range of topics including architecture, literature, film, youth and adult organizing, employment, and city politics. Challenging the conventional rise-and-fall narratives found in many urban histories, the book tells a story of persistent struggle in each phase of the twentieth century. Educating Harlem paints a nuanced portrait of education in a storied community and brings much-needed historical context to one of the most embattled educational spaces today.
An outstanding collection of cutting-edge essays, Educating Harlem rewrites the narrative of twentieth-century urban education. Eschewing a single thesis or grand narrative, this groundbreaking volume shows the creativity, debate, fierce love, and impassioned determination of a community to make education a human right amid the ever-changing but always inequitable landscape of New York City. Martha Biondi, author of To Stand and Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City
Read this book to understand how education has long been a source of pride and value in one of America’s most historic black communities. Read it to understand how systems of racial bias have been used to interrupt black life and threaten black lives. David Kirkland, executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University
These impressive essays provide a multifaceted look at the educational battles in Harlem. Not only was Harlem a cultural mecca, it was a place of hope and frustration, of opportunity and racism. At its core were residents who disagreed on aims and tactics but remained committed to educational excellence and black equality. Joy Ann Williamson-Lott, author of Jim Crow Campus: Higher Education and the Struggle for a New Southern Social Order
Educating Harlem epitomizes the power and potential of interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration. I could not imagine a more comprehensive and impressive assembly of scholars contained in one collection. Both experienced and emerging researchers will appreciate the varied sources and disciplinary approaches contributors utilize to recover and recount one urban community's struggle to secure educational opportunity in the twentieth century. Hilary Moss, Amherst College
Educating Harlem is a comprehensive treatment that reveals the continued role of hope in shaping the activism of a community. The assembled scholars demonstrate Harlem’s ongoing efforts to use education as a tool for citizenship and socioeconomic mobility. Hilary Green, University of Alabama
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction, by Ansley T. Erickson and Ernest Morrell
Part I. Debating What and How Harlem Students Learn in the Renaissance and Beyond
1. Schooling the New Negro: Progressive Education, Black Modernity, and the Long Harlem Renaissance, by Daniel Perlstein
2.“A Serious Pedagogical Situation”: Diverging School Reform Priorities in Depression Era Harlem, by Thomas Harbison
3. Wadleigh High School: The Price of Segregation, by Kimberley Johnson
Part II. Organizing, Writing, and Teaching for Reform in the 1930s Through 1950s
4. Cinema for Social Change: The Human Relations Film Series of the Harlem Committee of the Teachers Union, 1936–1950, by Lisa Rabin and Craig Kridel
5. Bringing Harlem to the Schools: Langston Hughes’s The First Book of Negroes and Crafting a Juvenile Readership, by Jonna Perrillo
6. Harlem Schools and the New York City Teachers Union, by Clarence Taylor
Part III. Divergent Educational Visions in the Activist 1960s and 1970s
7. HARYOU: An Apprenticeship for Young Leaders, by Ansley T. Erickson
8. Intermediate School 201: Race, Space, and Modern Architecture in Harlem, by Marta Gutman
9. Black Power as Educational Renaissance: The Harlem Landscape, by Russell Rickford
10. “Harlem Sophistication”: Community-based Paraprofessional Educators in Central Harlem and East Harlem, by Nick Juravich
Part IV. Post–Civil Rights Setbacks and Structural Alternatives to Public Schooling
11. Harlem Schools in the Fiscal Crisis, by Kim Phillips-Fein and Esther Cyna
12. Pursuing “Real Power to Parents”: Babette Edwards’s Activism from Community Control to Charter Schools, by Brittney Lewer
13. Teaching Harlem: Black Teachers and the Changing Educational Landscape of Twenty-First Century Central Harlem, by Bethany L. Rogers and Terrenda C. White
Conclusion, by Ernest Morrell and Ansley T. Erickson
Contributors
Index

About the Author

Ansley T. Erickson is associate professor of history and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is the author of Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits (2016).

Ernest Morrell is the Coyle Professor in Literacy Education, director of the Center for Literacy Education, and a faculty member in the English and Africana Studies departments at the University of Notre Dame. His many books include Critical Media Pedagogy: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools (2013).