AAC&U Frederic W. Ness Book Award Winner—Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching

Posted by American Association of Colleges & Universities on October 25, 2022

he American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has announced the winner of the Frederic W. Ness Book Award, g, published by Harvard University Press. The Ness award is given annually to the book that best illuminates the goals and practices of a contemporary liberal education, and will be formally presented to the author, Jarvis R. Givens, at AAC&U’s annual meeting, on January 19, 2023, in San Francisco, California. 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.

Through clandestine means, often in defiance of law and custom, even under threat of violence, African Americans developed what Givens calls a tradition of “fugitive pedagogy”—a theory and practice of Black education in America. There is perhaps no better exemplar of this tradition than Carter G. Woodson—groundbreaking historian, founder of Black History Month, and legendary educator under Jim Crow. Fugitive Pedagogy chronicles Woodson’s efforts to fight against the “mis-education of the Negro” by helping teachers and students see themselves and their mission as set apart from an anti-Black world. Teachers, students, families, and communities worked together, using Woodson’s materials and methods as they fought for power in schools and continued the work of fugitive pedagogy. Forged in slavery and embodied by Woodson, this tradition of escape remains essential for teachers and students today.

Established in 1979 to honor AAC&U’s ninth president, the recognizes outstanding contributions to the understanding and improvement of liberal education. Recent award winners include The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom by Eddie R. Cole; Jim Crow Campus: Higher Education and the Struggle for a New Southern Social Order by Joy Ann Williamson-Lott; The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux by Cathy N. Davidson; Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work by Matthew T. Hora with Ross J. Benbow and Amanda K. Oleson; and The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice, edited by Harry Brighouse and Michael McPherson.

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