African American Teaching Force
Revisionist History, “Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment,” by Malcolm Gladwell
Podcast, July 1, 2016
Entitled “Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment,” this compelling episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast revisits the 1954 landmark civil rights court case, Brown vs. Board of Education. Gladwell’s retelling of the story, a stunning victory that allowed for the desegregation of American Public Schools, ties together two important items: the strong data that reveals that students of color benefit dramatically from having teachers of color and the story of what happened to black teachers as a result of the Brown decision. As with women and other minority groups, African-American adults were barred from many career paths during the 20th century, and therefore, education, which was more open, was attractive to talented people of color. After Brown vs. Board of Education, black students moved to white schools, acting as the bodies that would force this crucial civil rights issue. Their teachers in the schools that they left were not hired by any of the white schools because white parents could not tolerate the idea of their children learning from black adults any more than they could tolerate their children being in the same classroom as black children. The African-American teaching force was decimated, and we are still suffering the loss of those dedicated educators. Any teacher of American history will find this podcast important, and it serves as a vital reminder to educational institutions that we must strongly encourage students of color to go into education and continue to prioritize the hiring of teachers of color in our schools.