Institute Schedule

Potential participants can view a draft schedule of the institute here.

During the first week of the institute, participants will study the varied educational movements of Black Detroiters from the city’s founding to Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Day 1 will begin with an artistic exploration of Detroit’s history and meaning before moving into an introduction to the institute, its goals, and essential questions. In the afternoon, participants will explore archival and primary source material to examine Black Detroiters’ longstanding struggle for educational justice. Day 2 will further examine histories of enslavement and resistance in Detroit and the city’s initial school desegregation case (Workman v. City of Detroit). Participants will have the opportunity to contextualize this history with a Ken Coleman led bus tour of the city’s lower east side and historic “Black Bottom” neighborhood. On day 3, participants will be in conversation with historian Tom Sugrue about the transformations in Detroit’s housing and labor markets during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s before exploring the Reuther’s archival material regarding how Detroiters imagined education programs and citizenship during this period. Historian Angela Dillard will discuss with participants the educational spaces created outside of schools that mobilized post-war social movements for access to and equity in education. Participants will start day 4 by exploring the diversity of movements within Detroit’s Black communities through the Reuther’s archival collections, including the NAACP Detroit Branch Records, the Detroit Commission on Community Relations, and the Kenneth V. and Sheila M. Cockrel papers. The afternoon will conclude with a conversation with movement veteran Dorothy Dewberry Aldridge. The first week will conclude with situating Detroit’s story in a national context by re-examining the broader social and legal histories of the Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education decision. Ken Coleman will lead another bus tour to contextualize Brown‘s impact within the city of Detroit.

The second week of the institute will explore the social, legal, political, and educational developments in Detroit and beyond from Brown to Milliken. Day 6 begins with a discussion on the roots and causes of Detroit’s 1967 uprising followed by a conversation with an invited movement veteran. In the afternoon, historian Dara Walker will engage in conversation with participants about the organizing tradition within Detroit Public Schools and the myriad ways Black high-school aged youth sought to shape the future of their city when unable to vote. At the start of day 7, participants will discuss the various frameworks Black Detroiters used to understand and respond to issues within education before exploring these frameworks in greater detail in the archive. Local lawyer and filmmaker Donovan McCarty will then screen his in-process documentary on Milliken and engage in a Q&A about the legal dimensions of the case. On day 8, participants will analyze U.S. District Judge Stephen Roth’s decision ordering a metropolitan desegregation plan of Detroit and its 53 contiguous suburbs and the contested 5-4 decision Supreme Court decision that overturned that plan. Participants will then explore what desegregation meant in Detroit by exploring the Reuther’s resources related to the case. Historian Matt Lassiter will join participants in the afternoon for a conversation about metropolitan segregation and desegregation as well as innovative ways to engage students in primary source analysis. Scholar Noliwe Rooks will join participants for a conversation about the educational changes that have taken place since Milliken and place them within a national context. In the afternoon, local Detroit advocates will discuss their current work in Detroit and across the state while conversing with participants about the democratic possibilities of school. The institute will conclude with participant presentations on their teaching and/or curricular ideas from the institute.