Mar 05

The Long Struggle Against Educational Injustice


In the twentieth century, the black struggle for educational justice took many forms, including battles for desegregation, open admissions, and financial aid. Join this discussion with professors Rachel Devlin, Devin Fergus, and Elizabeth McRae about the black women and girls who often led these battles, the white women who stood in the way, and the roots of student debt peonage.


  • Rachel Devlin

    Rutgers University, New Brunswick

    Rachel Devlin's scholarly interests are in the cultural politics of girlhood, sexuality, and race in the Postwar United States. Her most recent book, A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women who Desegregated America's Schools considers the disproportionate number of girls who filed lawsuits prior to Brown v. Board of Education, and who were desegregation "Firsts" at historically white schools in the early nineteen sixties.

    A Girl Stands at the Door is the recipient of the Lillian Smith Book Award, Honorable Mention, the Darlene Clark Hine Award, given by the Organization of American Historians, The Equality in Justice Award from the New York Unified Court System, and was a Kansas Notable Book for 2019. Devlin has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post and Bitch Magazine.

  • Devin Fergus

    University of Missouri

    Devin Fergus is the Arvarh E. Strickland Distinguished Professor of History and Black Studies. His research focuses on political economy, policy, and inequality in modern America. Professor Fergus is the author of Land of the Fee which explores the hidden costs of rising financial fees at home, school, work, and transportation on wealth and mobility in modern America. A much-anticipated work, Land of the Fee has been called one of the five best books for understanding capitalism today. His current research project examines white-collar crime and the racial wealth gap.

    He has written widely on policy, political economy, and inequality for the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Guardian. Along with Louis Hyman, Bethany Moreton, and Julia Ott, Professor Fergus is also editor of the Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism book series published by Columbia University Press.

    Professor Fergus has worked closely with several national policy organizations (e.g., Demos, Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative, the Center for Global Policy Solutions, and Prosperity Now) and has presented research to a number of federal entities, including the US Treasury, US Department of Education, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Special Master (Kenneth Feinberg) for TARP Executive Compensation. Professor Fergus received his PhD in American history from Columbia University.

  • Elizabeth Gillespie McRae

    Western Carolina University

    Elizabeth Gillespie McRae is the Creighton Sossoman Professor of History at Western Carolina University. Her teaching and research interests center on the intersection of race, gender, and politics in America and in the modern South. She has published articles in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the BBC's World Histories. Her book, Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy published in 2018 examines white women's work in maintaining white supremacy in public education, social welfare policy, politics, and culture.



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