2022 Annual Conference

Teaching Race & Slavery in the American Classroom 
24th Annual Conference 
Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale University 
Thursday—Saturday, November 3-5, 2022 

Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511 

Co-sponsored by: 
Yale Education Studies Program (YES) 
Connecticut Council for the Social Studies

Recordings of each session can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLz5Zqpy28ynEPAxW-IdyGLs0I401dbP7P or below

Once again, as at the turn of the twentieth century, in the 1960s and 70s, and in the 1990s “History Wars,” Americans are divided and debating the character and content of teaching history in our society. How did we get here and where do we go? 

The 24th Annual Conference hosted by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at the MacMillan Center at Yale will address the challenges of teaching slavery and race and other “tough histories” in the American classroom. This conference will engage multiple levels of the current crisis: the history of education and how we got here; the problem of teaching “difficult histories” of all kinds; the challenge of writing textbooks and deeper histories that capture the United States’ historical pluralism; and the everyday practice and political context US teachers grapple with in the classroom today. The panelists discussing these topics include academic scholars from the fields of history, sociology, and education studies; journalists who follow the US education system; and secondary school teachers and education specialists.

Email comments & questions regarding this conference  to gilder.lehrman.center@yale.edu


 ONLINE FILM SCREENING & DISCUSSION: “Civil War (or Who Do We Think We Are)” 

Sponsored by Connecticut Council for the Social Studies 
Film screening: 6:30pm—8:10pm 
Q&A: 8:15pm—8:45pm 

With film director Rachel Boynton and GLC Director David W. Blight , moderated by Stephen Armstrong


8:15am—9:00am  Registration & coffee 

9:00am—9:15am Welcome by David W. Blight 


  • Jamelle Bouie (columnist for the New York Times) and 
  • Danielle Allen (James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University)

In conversation with David W. Blight (Sterling Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale University) 

10:30am—10:45am Coffee Break 

10:45am—12:15pm History of U.S. Education: What’s Race Got To Do With It? 
This panel will examine the origins of public education in the United States as an instrument for shaping the nation’s citizenry, constructing social order, and ameliorating perceived urban ills. Panelists are asked to address the implicit racial and social hierarchies and ideological assumptions that underpinned waves of school reforms throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and into the present.

Moderator: David Blight


  •  Hasan Kwame Jeffries (Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University)
  • Gloria Ladson-Billings (Former Kellner Family Distinguished Chair of Urban Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Immediate Past-President of the National Academy of Education; and Fellow of the American Educational Research Association) 
  • Johann Neem (Professor of History, Western Washington University)
  •  Donald Yacovone (Lifetime Associate, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University) 

12:15pm-1:45pm LUNCH
12:45pm - 1:30pm Break-Out Session: Teachers’ Open Mic
Discussion led by Abby Leighton (YC ’24) and Sarah Street (YC ’25)

1:45pm-3:15pm Writing Textbooks: Is a Unified Narrative of Pluralistic America Possible? 
This panel will address the techniques for teaching inclusive US history. What do we mean? How do we do it? Why is America always claiming progress? What is the challenge of using a narrative of tragedy and challenge to tell US history? Why is it so hard to change the narrative of US history? 

Moderator: David Blight 


  • Mia Bay (Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Chair in American History, University of Pennsylvania) 
  • Ned Blackhawk (Howard R. Lamar Chair of History and American Studies, Yale University) 
  • Eric Foner (DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University) 
  • Erika Lee (Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies, and Director of the Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota; and President, Organization of American Historians)
  • Paul Ortiz (Professor of History, and Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, University of Florida) 

3:15pm—3:30pm Coffee Break 

3:30pm—5:00pm Teachers Roundtable: Teaching History in the Classroom Today 
This panel provides a platform for US/world public school history teachers from across the country who are doing innovative classroom practice around teaching racial history. Teachers will address questions such as: What would be your ideal way of teaching difficult histories? What are some techniques that you have found? How have you altered your teaching practice given the current climate? How are students responding? How much curricular freedom do you have in your school/district? 
Moderator: Mira Debs, Executive Director, Yale Education Studies Program, and Lecturer in Sociology, Yale University and
Edie Abraham-Macht, Teacher & Curriculum Developer, Kaleidoscope Education (YC ’22) 


  • Daisha Brahbam (HS teacher at Windsor High School, Windsor, CT; member of the Anti-Racist Teaching and Learning Collective) 
  • Anthony Crawford (Educator, artist, poet,  filmmaker, and public speaker) 
  • Chris Dier (History teacher, Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans; 2021 GLI Louisiana Teacher of the Year) 
  • Layla Treuhaft-Ali (YC ‘2017; 5th and 6th grade reading and writing teacher at Bronzeville Classical School in Chicago


8:30am—9:00am Registration & coffee  

9:00am—10:30am The Rise of the American Right 
This panel focuses on the rise of the far right political movements and their role in provoking “culture wars” controversies, in regard to the teaching of race and slavery and other social justice issues.
Moderator: David Blight 


  • Carol Anderson (Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies, Emory University) 
  • Jennifer Berkshire (Adjunct Faculty Member, Economic Policy Institute; Lecturer in Political Science, Yale University) 
  • Beverly Gage (Professor of History & American Studies, Yale University
  • Nancy MacLean (William H. Chafe Distinguished Professor of History and Public Policy, Duke University) 
  • Rick Perlstein (Author and journalist) 

10:30am—10:45am Coffee Break  

10:45am—12:15pm Teachers Roundtable: Dealing with Political Pushback 
This panel foregrounds teachers from different regions of the country who are facing organized opposition to teaching “difficult histories” from state legislatures, district school boards, and parent organizations. Topics they will address include: How do we fight this? Why is it such a fight? What is it about the American public school that makes teachers so vulnerable? How to galvanize community support for teachers on the face of reactionary resistance? What are strategies that we can use going forward? 
Moderator: Stephen Armstrong (Social Studies Consultant, Connecticut Department of Education) 


  • Misty Crompton (Middle School Social Studies teacher, leader in the New Hampshire Just Schools movement)
  • Ed Donnellan (Teacher, Gonzaga College High School, Washington DC) 
  • Shekema Dunlap (Founding Executive Director of IFE Academy of Teaching & Technology, Atlanta, GA) 
  • Kevin Staton (Library Media Specialist, Fairfield Public Schools, CT) 
  • Stefanie Wager (Senior Technical Assistance Consultant at the American Institutes for Research; Past President of the National Council for the Social Studies) 

12:15pm—2:00pm LUNCH
12:45pm - 1:45pm Break-Out Session: On the Ground in Florida
Featuring Michael Butler (Kenan Distinguished Professor of History, Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL) and  Kacie Nadeau (fifth-grade teacher of the gifted in language arts and social studies in Sarasota County, FL)

2:00pm—3:30pm Concluding Roundtable: Why Do We Teach US History? 
David Blight 


  • Kimberlé Crenshaw (Executive Director, African American Policy Forum) 
  • Mira Debs (Executive Director of the Yale Education Studies Program; lecturer in Sociology, Yale University) 
  • Dana Goldstein (New York Times journalist) 
  • Kimberly J. Robinson (Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law; Professor of Education, School of Education and Human Development, UVA) 
  • Daryl Scott (Professor of History and Chair of the Department of History, Geography, and Museum Studies, Morgan State University)