My teaching philosophy is an extension of my research agenda. As an interdisciplinary scholar who studies Black women's educational and intellectual history, I blend my personal experiences teaching in the college classroom (since I began in 2001) with insights from educators like Fanny Jackson Coppin, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Septima Clark. These four women, who I studied for my dissertation on educators between the 1860s and 1960s, were effective, efficient, and dedicated. 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 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 practical model for longevity and sustainable peace building work.
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. My primary inspiration comes from unsung Black women educators...particularly those who teach through life writing.