Jarvis R. Givens
Assistant Professor of Education
Faculty Affiliate, African and African-American Studies
Jarvis Givens is an assistant 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. 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 BLACK TEACHER ARCHIVES (1861-1970) Preserving the legacy of African American educators and their activism (2020-2022)
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Professor Jarvis R. Givens of Harvard University and Professor Imani Perry of Princeton University seek support to catalogue and digitize the complete collections of journals published by Â“Colored Teacher AssociationsÂ” between 1920 and 1970. The project also includes the building of an online portal or data-hub (hereafter referred to as The Black Teacher Archives), which will lay the groundwork for a dynamic digital archive to rejuvenate academic scholarship in the field of African American educational history. This project will result in the digitization of more than ten thousand pages of writings and images featured in these journals that has, by and large, been unknown and inaccessible for research. The Black Teacher Archives will make these materials digitally accessible and searchable. A small subset of the project also includes the urgent work of conducting oral histories with the last living educators who were members of these organizations prior to the dismantling of CTAs during desegregation. Collectively, this proposed work constitutes Phase One of a more expansive digital archive project to preserve the legacy of African American teachers as intellectuals and activists. Colored Teacher Associations were professional and Â“protest organizationsÂ”Â—to borrow the language of one CTA executive secretary. They supported the intellectual and political work of African American educators who were excluded from white teacher groups, and these institutions served as vehicles for professionalization and community organization. State CTAs began forming prior to the Civil War, and a national body of these organizations formed in 1903. These organizations began to publish journals at the national and state levels in the 1920s.. Inside the pages of these journals, we have found a rich body of primary sources that fill critical gaps in African American history, intellectual history, history of education, and educational philosophy. Thus far, the intellectual and political contributions of black teachers have been under-acknowledged and underappreciated in both public history and scholarly archives. By bringing together the collections, from across states and institutions, scholars will be capable of both synthesizing and distinguishing the history of African American education, nationally and locally. Scholars will be able to see educational trends across states in ways that were never before possible and tell a thicker history of the institutional structure of Jim Crow as well as the resistance against it. These journals and the stories they capture are foundational to the history of desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement. The implications of The Black Teacher Archives for the study of American and African American history is tremendous.