Educating in a Burning House: Black Teachers and the Desegregation of Schools, Colleges, and Universities in the South, 1960-2001
Alexander Hyres

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Utah

Primary Discipline

History of Education
On the one hand, many Black teachers and administrators were fired, demoted, and displaced throughout the South in the aftermath of the Brown decisions. On the other hand, there were Black teachers who kept their jobs and desegregated K-12 public schools as teachers and predominantly white institutions as graduate students during the latter half of the twentieth century. This project draws upon more than a hundred oral history interviews from the Teachers in the Movement Oral History Project (TIM), curriculum and pedagogical materials, and archival sources, including the papers of teacher organizations, to examine the contours of Black teachers? desegregation of schools, colleges, and universities in the upper and lower South: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Not only does the project focus on the first decades of school desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s, but it also highlights the change over time as school desegregation reached its apex before the resegregation of schools took hold in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. This history will help illuminate how Black teachers navigated school desegregation, but also the multiple and nuanced factors, beyond Brown, leading to the disproportionate lack of Black teachers in the South now.
About Alexander Hyres
Alexander Hyres is an Assistant Professor in the History of US Education in the Education, Culture, and Society Department at the University of Utah. He is also a Research Affiliate of the Teachers in the Movement Oral History Project at the University of Virginia. He earned a BA in history and an MIT in secondary social studies education at the University of Washington. He taught English and social studies to middle and high school students in the San Francisco Bay Area, before earning a PhD in the Social Foundations of Education at the University of Virginia. At the University of Utah, he teaches courses on the history of education, activism and organizing, and race, space, and educational inequality. In 2022, he received the Early Career Teaching Award in the College of Education. His research focuses on the history of Black education, teacher and student activism, curriculum and pedagogy, and the American High School. His writing has appeared in Black Perspectives, The Journal of African American History, History of Education Journal, Teachers College Record, and The Washington Post. Currently, he is finishing a book, Protest and Pedagogy: Black Resistance and the American High School, 1890-1990, which examines how, and in what ways, high school teachers and students propelled and sustained the Black freedom struggle in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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