UGA Prof. Valerie Boyd on Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance, & Black History Month

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on
LinkedIn
+

This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard celebrate Black History Month with Professor Valerie Boyd, the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence and Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Georgia, and the definitive biographer of Zora Neale Hurston. Boyd discusses why Hurston is such an important novelist and cultural figure, and the influence of Hurston’s 1937 classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, on American literature. She describes Hurston’s early experiences as the daughter of a Baptist preacher and sharecropper, the granddaughter of ex-slaves in Eatonville, Florida, one of the first self-governing, all-Black municipalities in the U.S., and the profound influence that her upbringing had on her worldview. They also review the central role she played as the seminal female figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a flowering of Black art and culture in 1920s-era New York City. Boyd’s 2003 biography of Hurston, Wrapped in Rainbows, features the first published excerpts from Hurston’s book Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo,” drawn from an interview with a survivor of the last-known transatlantic slave ship. Professor Boyd concludes with thoughts on Hurston’s legacy, and lessons for young people today.

Stories of the Week: Exam and magnet schools across the country, including the prestigious Boston Latin School, are eliminating their admissions criteria – at first, the change was temporary in response to COVID-19, but some are pushing for it to become permanent, to achieve racial balance. On the campaign trail, candidate Joe Biden made his opposition to charter public schools clear, supporting a ban on certain types of charters, and an increase in regulations – but anti-charter-school policies are already brewing in the states.

Guest:

Valerie Boyd is a professor of journalism and the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where she founded and directs the MFA Program in Narrative Nonfiction. She is author of the critically acclaimed biography Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, winner of the Southern Book Award and the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award. Wrapped in Rainbows was hailed by Alice Walker as “magnificent” and “extraordinary” and by The Boston Globe as “elegant and exhilarating.” Formerly arts editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boyd has written articles, essays and reviews for such publications as The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Oxford American, Paste, Ms., Essence, and Atlanta Magazine. Boyd is currently curating and editing a collection of Alice Walker’s personal journals, which span more than 50 years. Simon & Schuster/37 Ink will publish Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker in 2022.

The next episode will air on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 at 12 pm ET with guest, Terry Teachout, the drama critic at The Wall Street Journal, and author of such books as Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington.

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

Izumi: Under Biden Administration, Charter Schools Face Threats at Multiple Levels

https://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2021/02/02/under-biden-administration-charter-schools-face-threats-at-multiple-levels/

Exam-School Admissions Come Under Pressure amid Pandemic

https://www.educationnext.org/exam-school-admimssions-come-under-pressure-amid-pandemic-policies-fuel-parent-activism/

Get Updates on Our Education Research

Related Content:

Linda Chavez on Hispanic Immigration, Assimilation, & Civic Education in America

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-host Cara Candal talks with Linda Chavez, a senior fellow at the National Immigration Forum and the author of Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation. 

ESPN Senior Writer Howard Bryant on Race in Boston & American Sports

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-host Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Kerry McDonald talk with Howard Bryant, a senior writer for ESPN and the author of nine books, including Full Dissidence: Notes From an Uneven Playing Field and The Heritage: Black Athletes, A Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism.

Emory Uni. Prof. Mark Bauerlein on “The Dumbest Generation” & the Digital Age

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-host Cara Candal and guest co-host Prof. Robert Maranto talk with Dr. Mark Bauerlein, Senior Editor at First Things, Professor of English Emeritus at Emory University, and the author of The Dumbest Generation Grows Up. Dr. Bauerlein shares his views about the kinds of content American K-12 students should be reading for preparation for college and meaningful lives.

New Study Shows What Works for Civics Education

Americans strongly disagree about how our K-12 schools should teach our system of self-government. Dozens of organizations offer rival civics education resources and many of them don't work. A new study published jointly by Pioneer Institute and the National Association of Scholars offers in-depth evaluations of 15 leading civics programs, grades them on their effectiveness, and offers recommendations for how Americans should build upon these programs.

Parent Advocate Virginia Walden Ford on Civil Rights, School Choice, & the D.C. Voucher Program

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-host Gerard Robinson and guest co-host Derrell Bradford talk with Virginia Walden Ford, education advocate and author of Voices, Choices, and Second Chances, and School Choice: A Legacy to Keep. She shares her experiences growing up and desegregating high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in the mid-1960s, and the lessons she carried forward in her school choice advocacy in Washington, D.C.

U of SC Prof. Jennifer Frey on National Catholic Schools Week & Flannery O’Connor’s Fiction

As we celebrate National Catholic Schools Week, “The Learning Curve" co-host Cara Candal talks with Dr. Jennifer Frey, an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. Dr. Frey shares why Catholic education is so vitally important in the lives of families, schoolchildren, and communities, with its commitment to nurturing an appreciation for “the true, the good, and the beautiful” among students from all faith backgrounds.

Andrew Campanella on National School Choice Week

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Andrew Campanella, the president of National School Choice Week. They discuss why 2021 was called the “Year of School Choice,” and the implications of more academic options for K-12 education reform across America.

Study Finds Massachusetts Would Benefit from Adopting Education Savings Accounts

Massachusetts provides fewer options for students to be educated outside their assigned school districts than most other states do, and educational savings accounts (ESAs) offer an effective tool for giving students additional opportunities, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

AEI’s Ian Rowe on School Leadership, Civic Education, & Upward Mobility

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Ian Rowe, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on education and upward mobility, family formation, and adoption.

Stanford’s Prof. Clayborne Carson on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Civil Rights Vision & Legacy

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University and the Founding Editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Virtual Learning Grows During COVID

Virtual learning in K-12 education continues to grow due to the health threat caused by coronavirus variants and the assistance this learning model can provide to at-risk students, according to two papers released today by Pioneer Institute.

Journalist Bari Weiss on Fighting Anti-Semitism & the Cancel Culture

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Bari Weiss, former New York Times op-ed editor and writer, and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism. Bari shares what motivated her to write this book, its reception, and key lessons for teachers and students alike. She also explains why we’re now seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, how educators can best combat it, and the connection she observes between the current upsurge in anti-Semitism and cancel culture.

Institute for Justice’s Michael Bindas on the SCOTUS Oral Arguments

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Michael Bindas, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, who represents the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin.

Dr. Marc Seifer on Nikola Tesla, Pioneer of the Modern Electrical Age

This week on “The Learning Curve," co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Dr. Marc Seifer, author of the acclaimed biography Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla. He reviews what teachers and students should know about the life of Nikola Tesla, the world-renowned engineer, physicist, and inventor who is more widely known nowadays for the electric car and clean energy companies named for him.