There Are Children Here: Examining Black Childhood in Rosenwald Schools of Pickens County Alabama (1940-1969)
Kimberly Ransom

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Michigan

Primary Discipline

Research examining education for Blacks across eras of slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow have captured whites and Blacks competing interpretations of the warrant for and function of black education; or the conditions of schools and value of Black educators. Within these interpretations, Black children have either been implicitly present through whites and Blacks opposing versions of whether or not and for what purpose Blacks should be educated; or Black children have been present inasmuch as their presence provides a window into the conditions of schools or care of Black teachers. Yet, how Black children experienced childhood or articulated agency in schools is not apparent. Rather, whites and Blacks discussions have revealed an imagined Black child whose presence only becomes apparent insofar as whites and Blacks could conceive of Black education. Drawing from scholarship that asserts Black childhood has been unimagined due to their devalued position and disregard within the social conception of childhood, my dissertation examines what might be learned about the agency of Black children and the character of Black childhood in and around pre-Brown segregated schools if we foreground the vantage and perspectives of black children. Through ethnohistory, I examine archival sources, oral histories and material objects of once-children who attended Rosenwald Schools in Pickens County, Alabama (1940-1969). Foregrounding the perspectives and products of Black children, this study restores and expands understandings of the experiences and agency of Black children in and around Rosenwald Schools; and by implication, expands understandings of Black childhood in this space and time.
About Kimberly Ransom
Kimberly C. Ransom is a Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan. Her scholarly interests are concerned with the social construction of Black childhood within education, overtime?which includes how Black childhood has been imagined or unimagined, historically, in and around schools. Kimberly is also interested in using art and research to create public spaces that inspire dialog among communities and the academy. Currently, Kimberly and Rosenwald School alumni (who are participants of her dissertation study) are using art and research to co-create a community museum within the sole remaining Rosenwald Schoolhouse in Pickens County, Alabama. Before joining Michigan, Kimberly was the founding director of the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program (UCSP) from 2003-2014. During her time at UCSP, Kimberly designed and led CSP's programs which helped over 500 Chicago Public School students gain admission to elite universities nationwide. She owes this success to foundational youth development positions held at Columbia College Chicago, and Elliott Donnelley Chicago Youth Center. Kimberly has received several awards and fellowships for her creativity and leadership related to youth development which have included the New York University Women of Color Policy Fellowship (2010), the Chicago Community Trust Fellowship (2011), the University of Chicago Diversity Leadership Award (2013), UCEA Jackson Scholar (2015-2017), and the University of Michigan Public Scholarship Award (2018). Kimberly holds degrees from Bradley University (B.S. Management), and DePaul University (M.A. English Literature). She's a daughter of Chicago's Southside, poet, spoken word artist, and mother of 13-year-old Ella the Great.

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