Bianca Suarez

Educational Ideas in the Movement Era: A Narrative History of the Politics of Race, Class and Knowledge in the Detroit Public Schools, 1954-1976

This dissertation excavates the educational ideas of racial minorities which shaped the Detroit Public Schools in the transformative movement era of 1954-1976. I approach my research from the perspective that educational ideas are reflective of political, economic and socio-cultural relationships forged through historical processes. Through an oral history approach to educational research I prioritize narrators’ conceptualizations of education and highlight the social processes which informed core ideas and protest politics. This work situates narratives and educational visions within historical processes that include the Great Migration, the effects of chattel slavery and settler colonialism, and the practices of institutionalized racism in the auto industry, urbanization and public schools. Further, this dissertation considers the role of educational struggle as part of a larger liberation movement. The CRG grant supports travel to and from Detroit to conduct oral history interviews with narrators and to conduct archival research at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs and University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library.