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Jarvis Givens is a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a faculty affiliate in the department of African & African American Studies at Harvard University. He studies the history of American education, African American history, and the relationship between race and power in schools. His first book, Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching, was published by Harvard University Press in 2021. This work traces African Americans’ traditions of challenging racial domination in schools and society by highlighting the various intellectual and political strategies they employed from the slavery era through Jim Crow.
Givens takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying history, employing conceptual and methodological interventions from the field of Black Studies. Such methodological interests led him, in partnership with Imani Perry of Princeton University, to an exciting new digital humanities project called The Black Teacher Archive (BTA). This is an online portal that houses the digitized records of national and state "Colored Teachers Associations" organized by black educators from the antebellum era through Jim Crow. The BTA is supported by a major grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Givens is completing a work of creative nonfiction on black student life in the American school. This book is based on first-person accounts found in archival documents, African American autobiographical literature, as well as insights from his own life. This book is forthcoming with Beacon Press. Givens is also preparing new editions of two African American Classics: Carter G. Woodson’s (1933) The Mis-education of the Negro, to be published with Penguin Classics, and Booker T. Washington’s (1901) Up From Slavery, for the Norton Library. In 2018, Givens co-edited a volume on black male student achievement, entitled We Dare Say Love: Supporting Achievement in the Educational Life of Black Boys, published by Columbia’s Teachers College Press.
His emerging projects include a book analyzing relationships between Indigenous, white, and black education in the United States through the nineteenth century; a biography of education leader and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune; and a project on black social life in Compton, California in the 1980s and '90s based on family and community archives.
Givens' work explores themes of education, power, and resistance contextually, beyond rigid frames that limit where we look for meaningful experiences of teaching and learning. His work is committed to clarifying how persecution has impacted the lives of black people (and other oppressed communities) in school and society, while also attending to how these communities have used education and culture, subversively, to seek out lives that transcend their suffering.
Click here to see a full list of Jarvis Givens' courses.
The groundbreaking new digital repository centralizes the experiences of Black educators during Jim Crow and creates new portals to understanding the history of African American education