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 
In-person for Yale students, faculty, and staff
Online webinar/livestreaming for all 

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

Register here: https://yalesurvey.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9slqYZRtrfAk7S6

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 

In-person viewing available for Yale-affiliated people; link for online viewing will be provided for other conference registrants. 


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? 
Moderator: Daniel HoSang 


  •  Hasan Kwame Jeffries (Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University)
  • Gloria Ladson-Billings (Professor Emerita, Fellows of the British Academy; Immediate Past President, National Academy of Education; Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences; Fellow, American Educational Research Association) 
  • Johann Neem (Professor of History, Western Washington University)
  •  Donald Yacovone (Associate, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University; author of Teaching White Supremacy: America’s Democratic Ordeal and the Forging of Our National Identity) 

12:15pm-1:45pm LUNCH
12:45pm - 1:30pm Break-Out Session: Teachers’ Open Mic

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 Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University) 
  • Eric Foner (DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University) 
  • Erika Lee (Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, University of Minnesota) 
  • Paul Ortiz (Professor of History; 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 


  • Daisha Brahbam (HS teacher at Windsor High School, Windsor, CT; member of the Anti-Racist Teaching and Learning Collective) 
  • Anthony Crawford (High School English teacher, Oklahoma) 
  • Chris Dier (History teacher, Benjamin Franklin High School, New Orleans; 2021 GLI Louisiana Teacher of the Year) 
  • Layla Treuhaft-Ali (YC ‘2017; 6th grade reading and social studies teacher, Claremont Academy Magnet School, 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) 
  • Jennifer Berkshire (Adjunct Faculty Member, Economic Policy Institute; Lecturer in Political Science, Yale University) 
  • Beverly Gage (Professor of History & American Studies; Brady-Johnson Professor of Grand Strategy, 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: Steve Armstrong (Social Studies Consultant, Connecticut Department of Education) 


  • Ed Donnellan (Teacher, Gonzaga College High School, Washington DC) 
  • Shekema Dunlap (Founding Executive Director of IFE Academy of Teaching & Technology, Atlanta) 
  • Kevin Staton (Library Media Specialist, Fairfield Public Schools, CT) 
  • Stefanie Wager (Past president, National Council for the Social Studies; works for American Institutes for Research) 

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 Florida teachers and school administrators 

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 (NY Times journalist, author of the Teacher Wars) 
  • 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, Morgan Stat