Marcia Chatelain’s writing.
I have published my research and insights in an array of publications. From academic journals to newspapers to popular websites, I relish the opportunity to write for diverse audiences. Most of my writing focuses on race, African-American studies, food history, and higher education.
My book explores the lives of girls and young women who made the harrowing journey from the cotton fields of the Deep South to the dizzying streets of Chicago’s Loop. I chronicle their ups and down in the midst of a momentous period in African American history.
A biographical essay on Amanda Berry Smith, an African Methodist Episcopal Church missionary, who founded the first orphanage for African-American children in Illinois. The orphanage became the Amanda Smith Industrial School for Girls.
Published in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “I ask that we no longer blame ignorance for where we are, and instead we depend on the impulse that brought us to teaching and research — the belief in inquiry, revision, and tenacity to come closer to enduring solutions. The stakes are far too high, and the lives of our students far too precious, to avoid a moral accounting of who we are in the classroom.”
I’ve never been into children’s books.
Even when I fell squarely in that all-important 8-to-11-year-old demographic, I didn’t care too much for enterprising babysitters, dystopian futures, or strange happenings in the old schoolhouse. For my beloved sustained silent reading time at school, I brought unauthorized biographies of Elizabeth Taylor and Hillary Clinton from home. I don’t know if my early reading habits were particularly wholesome, but I realize now that I was attracted to more grown-up books because I didn’t like that so-called girls’ books always had a standard exposition and pat conclusion. Even the somewhat edgier Nancy Drew series delivered the same ending every time: Nancy never failed to decipher the mystery by winding an antique clock or tapping a fake bookshelf. The cynicism that serves me well as a historian today was nursed on the stuff I believed that adults read. I enjoyed reading about real-life challenges—dramatic accidents, lost fortunes, and divorces from Richard Burton.
Continue reading: http://tinyurl.com/hpydjvp
A reflective essay on being an undergraduate at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
The women of Black Lives Matter are not bending to the demands of respectability politics. They are carving out space for black women to fight for justice. Read my discussion with Kaayya Asoka on women and the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Dissent Magazine.
The girls of the Great Migration shaped regions, cities and even the White House
"After poring through Chicago Defender newspaper articles about Oececa patriotic revues, mimeographed reports on the cabin funds, and brief news features lauding Camp Fire standouts like Ruth Reese and Lenora Grady, I realized just how radical black participation in children’s organizations was for the time…”
A crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing.
"As a historian of girls and girlhood in America, I am never surprised by the bizarre and sexist lies that circulate around any group or movement devoted to elevating the status of girls and young women. Unlike the Camp Fire Girls and some areas of the the YWCA, who have since changed their focus from serving only girls, Girl Scouts remains a powerful organization devoted to highlighting and celebrating what girls can do in their communities and the world….”
In a time when academic activists like Kimbele Crenshaw are challenging the invisibility of girls of color in conversations about police brutality and educational disparities through the #SayHerName campaign, new work on the history of black girlhood demonstrates creative ways of disrupting these inaccurate, dominant narratives.
Monique W. Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, has spent years listening to the black girls behind the statistics and concludes that the arrests and detentions often worsen the social, educational and economic struggles of an already vulnerable group. Read my review of her book “Pushout.”
When does a moment become a movement? Is it in when the wails of grief over a person gunned down by police or a neighborhood vigilante become a rallying cry for change?