Free Public Lecture

Prest Theatre, FBE 111 Barry Street Carlton


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Department of Management and Marketing

"20th and 21st Century Pathways into Black Educational Philanthropy" with Associate Professor Melissa Wooten, University of Massachusetts (Amherst)

About the Lecture
Those familiar with American educational history know that philanthropists have routinely shaped the trajectory of millions of students. On the surface, these philanthropists look remarkably similar across the 20th and 21st centuries – rich, white men who’ve made their fortune in business. This pattern of white involvement in educational philanthropy is especially prevalent when it comes to black education.

Historians have written extensively about the small group of white men exerting enormous control over black education following the Civil War.

To the extent that contemporary philanthropists like Bill Gates have their greatest impact in major city centers, the influence of such men over black communities continues to this day. But how was this pattern established? That is, how did being rich, white, male, and insanely wealthy become synonymous with black educational philanthropy? A sociological approach to this question situates these men as field members. Investigating how this pattern got established then requires an analysis of the pathways and processes that allowed these men to anchor themselves in the field of black educational philanthropy. Studying these patterns and processes across the 20th and 21st centuries illuminates how fields evolve.

About the Speaker
Melissa E. Wooten is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She studies how the structure of race and racism influences the organizing process. Her book In the Face of Inequality: How Black Colleges Adapt (SUNY Press 2015) empirically investigates how racism disadvantages organizational actors preventing them from gaining critical material and political resources. Public commentaries on her research appear in The Conversation, The Academic Minute, and the African American Intellectual History Society.