My teaching philosophy derives from my research agenda. As an interdisciplinary scholar who studies African American women's educational and intellectual history, I blend my personal experiences teaching in the college classroom (since I began in 2001) with insights from Black women educators like Fanny Jackson Coppin, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Septima Clark. These four women, who I studied for my dissertation, were educators between the 1860s and 1960s were effective, efficient, and dedicated. Reflecting on their pedagogical wisdom has been essential in translating and transforming my own teaching. I operate within the tradition of social justice education epitomized by generations of Black women teachers.
Dr. Anna Julia Cooper provided a road map for what I call EMPOWERMENT EDUCATION. I focus my efforts with students and communities on empowerment to increase efficacy in four areas: self, communication, tasks, and innovation. I replace the common definition of power (control over others) with a conception of power as self-definition, self-determination, self-possession, and self-control. As I argue in a forthcoming biography, Dr. Cooper was a paradigm for wellness, freedom, and human rights education. Her long life (105 years grown), is a model for longevity.
Social justice traditions center my work in and outside of the classroom. Of course, as a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies and faculty member at Clark Atlanta University, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois's tradition of scholar-activism has made an inedible mark on my teaching. Yet, my primary inspiration comes from the thousands of unsung historical Black women educators and my many colleagues in K-12 and higher education who are making a difference in the world...particularly those who teach through life writing.