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Dean Dr. Leslie Fenwick Discusses Her Book on American Education System

Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick speaks to an audience about her book in the Howard University bookstore. Photo by Hunter Nicole Stevens.

Dean of the School of Education Dr. Leslie T. Fenwick held a book talk and signing in the Howard University bookstore for her recently published book “Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principals and Teacher Leadership.”

The event was held on Sept. 21 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the second floor of the bookstore. Fenwick greeted each audience member personally and kindly shook their hand. Dr. Gregory Carr, who teaches African American studies at Howard university, moderated the event. The two have previously crossed paths at the University of Ohio where they both received graduate degrees from. 

Fenwick’s book, which was published on May 3, discusses the ways she believes the 1954 ruling of the Brown v. Board of Education case has negatively impacted the education system. This book takes time to reflect on what Fenwick considers to be injustices committed against Black educators in the effort to continue systematic racism through public education.

“Black educators of the time were concerned about the disparate funding of Black and white education and moved in the direction of wanting to see funding equalized, and I think that energized the support of Brown,” Fenwick said at the book talk.

Fenwick shared that her own parents went to segregated schools and believed that those schools were better than desegregated schools. She told stories of her parents’ friends all being college graduates and how, at a young age, she saw the importance of higher education. Over poker they would talk about education and the adversities they faced on a daily basis. This background, along with the fact that her father was also an educator, sparked Fenwick to fight to improve schools for black students, teachers and principals.

When an audience member asked Fenwick how people can get more Black students to become educators, she said, “I’m hoping that I’m teaching them about being a professor through the example of how I live. That is why we need to be there. I think that faculty can model.”

Fenwick spoke to how she persevered through writing her book while handling her profession as Dean, as well as her other scholarly engagements. “I’m looking at Dr. Reed who’s associate provost – he’s finished award winning books. It’s not ‘all or nothing.’ It’s, ‘you’re learning that learning is resistance.’ That learning is revolutionary, that the observation is revolutionary. It’s making a change in you and that’s going to have an effect.”

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Fenwick is also a nationally known education policy and leadership studies scholar and former urban K-12 school teacher and administrator. Fenwick’s articles about education have appeared in the Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Education Week, The Huffington Post and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. In 2020, she was also chosen as a finalist for the U.S Department of Education’s Secretary of Education for Joe Biden’s administration.

Dr. Fenwick is co-founder of the Howard University-American Association of School Administrators. Howard University-American Association of School Administrators is the collaboration of Howard University School of Education (HUSOE) partnered with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and is an organization of U.S. school district superintendents intended to curate the Urban Superintendents Academy, which offers current and aspiring school superintendents a different approach to ensure success in urban schools, as well as recruit a new generation of minority educators to the superintendent rank.

“Jim Crow’s Pink Slip” is available at the Howard University bookstore. On the second floor, there is a Howard University authors section which highlights books written by Howard alumni and professors. There, people can find Fenwick’s paperback book for $34.00. People can order her book online from Amazon which cost $34.00 and the kindle ebook is $25.99.

Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett

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