Charis welcomes Dr. Cynthia B. Dillard in conversation with Dr. Bettina Love for a discussion of The Spirit of Our Work: Black Women Teachers (Re)Member. An exploration of how engaging identity and cultural heritage can transform teaching and learning for Black women educators in the name of justice and freedom in the classroom. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
In The Spirit of Our Work, Dr. Cynthia Dillard centers the spiritual lives of Black women educators and their students, arguing that spirituality has guided Black people throughout the diaspora. She demonstrates how Black women teachers and teacher educators can heal, resist and (re)member their identities in ways that are empowering for them and their students. Dillard emphasizes that any discussion of Black teachers' lives and work cannot be limited to truncated identities as enslaved persons in the Americas.
The Spirit of Our Work addresses questions that remain largely invisible in what is known about teaching and teacher education. According to Dillard, this invisibility renders the powerful approaches to Black education that are imbodied and marshaled by Black women teachers unknown and largely unavailable to inform policy, practice, and theory in education. The Spirit of Our Work highlights how the intersectional identities of Black women teachers matter in teaching and learning and how educational settings might more carefully and conscientiously curate structures of support that pay explicit and necessary attention to spirituality as a crucial consideration.
Dr. Cynthia B. Dillard (Nana Mansa II of Mpeasem, Ghana, West Africa) is the Mary Frances Early Professor of Teacher Education in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at The University of Georgia. Her research interests include critical teacher education, spirituality in education, and African/African American feminist studies. Aside from being a prolific scholar, teacher and sought after speaker, Dr. Dillard was recently appointed Dean of the College of Education at Seattle University, beginning February 2022.
Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. Her writing, research, teaching, and educational advocacy work meet at the intersection of education reform, anti-racism, carceral studies, abolition, and Black joy. The aim of her scholarship is twofold: firstly, to advance how the field of education understands and critiques the systemic and structural racism of public education within the U.S.; and secondly, to advocate for abolitionist approaches in the field of education that seek new possibilities for educational justice. In the pursuit of making her scholarship a reality, she works with activists, communities, youth, families, and school districts to build communal, civically-engaged schools rooted in the aspirations of abolitionist strategies that love and affirm Black and Brown children. In 2020, Dr. Love co-founded the Abolitionist Teaching Network (ATN). ATN’s mission is simple: develop and support teachers and parents to fight injustice within their schools and communities. In 2020, Dr. Love was also named a member of the Old 4th Ward Economic Security Task Force with the Atlanta City Council. The goal of the Task Force is to advance dialogue and form tangible solutions for guaranteed income.
She is the author of the books We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South. Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including Educational Researcher, Urban Education, The Urban Review, and the Journal of LGBT Youth.
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An exploration of how engaging identity and cultural heritage can transform teaching and learning for Black women educators in the name of justice and freedom in the classroom
Winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award
Drawing on personal stories, research, and historical events, an esteemed educator offers a vision of educational justice inspired by the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.