MORNINGSIDE—On a warm Sunday afternoon at Riverside Church, a congregation of interested minds joined a panel of scholars for a discussion of Dr. Craig Steven Wilder’s (’89, ’93, ‘94 GSAS) new book Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities. The text explores the historical relationship between American institutions of higher learning and the expropriation of Native Americas and the slave economy.
Dr. Wilder, Professor of History and Head of History Faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology was accompanied by an impressive group of distinguished academics moderated by journalist and New York Times editorial board member Brent Staples. The group included, Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, Professor, English, Comparative Literature, & African American Studies, Columbia University, Dr. Elvin Montgomery (‘79TC), Professor, Researcher/Appraiser African American Material Culture; Dr. Emily Anderson, Professor and Chairperson, Dept. of Social Sciences & Human Sciences, BMCC and Dr. Frederick Newsome, MD, Physician, Harlem Hospital and African/African American History Researcher/Author.
The conversation on Dr. Wilder’s research covered a wide range of topics including how slavery impacted academic research and donation appeals. Universities developed “race science,” and led fundraising efforts built on “civilizing heathen” Native Americans.
When asked by Mr. Staples whether he feared his research would negatively impact his position as an academic, Dr. Wilder shared some wise words from his mother, “If you are not at risk of getting fired, you are not doing your job.”
Dr. Wilder was awarded the University Medal of Excellence during Columbia’s 250th Anniversary Commencement in 2004. He is also prominently featured in “The Central Park Five,” the Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon documentary.
From left to right: Dr. Celia Naylor, Associate Professor of History, Barnard College; Dr. Judith A. Byfield, ’93 GSAS Associate Professor of History, Cornell University, Dr. Craig Steven Wilder and Luvon Roberson, ’85 GSAS
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