At 2017 Convocation, TC Will Honor Jacqueline Woodson, Melissa Fleming, Madhav Chavan and Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Teachers College will award its Medal for Distinguished Service – the highest honor it bestows – to a National Book Award-winning author; a global advocate for refugee rights and services; one of India’s leading education entrepreneurs; and a world-renowned authority on African-American history.
The four medalists, each of whom will address TC’s graduating students, are Jacqueline Woodson, author of the memoir Brown Girl Dreaming and the young adult novel Feathers, about the only white student at an otherwise all-black school; Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees and author of the non-fiction book A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea; Madhav Chavan, Co-Founder and President of Pratham, India’s largest non-governmental provider of basic literacy and numeracy for underprivileged children; and Khalil Gibran Muhammad, former Director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and author of the landmark book, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America.
Woodson, who will be honored at TC’s first master’s degree ceremony on Monday, May 15th, is a writer of extraordinary range, with works that have included fiction, poetry and memoir children and adults. While often drawing on her own experience as the child of a single mother who fled the Jim Crow South , she also pursues “something deeper than the story of self” in works such as Trev,” in which the six-year-old narrator is biologically female but already knows he is “wrong down there.” She wrote Brown Girl Dreaming in verse because “memories don’t come in straight up narratives” but rather in “these small moments with all this white space around it.”
Fleming, the honoree at the second master’s degree ceremony on Tuesday morning, May 16th, has helped educate nations around the world on how to help the displaced heal and rebuild. In particular, she has called on universities to play a leading role developing education opportunities for refugees and providing psychological and emotional support. Her book describes the odyssey of a Syrian refugee who survives the deaths at sea of her fiancé and 500 other fellow-passengers.
Chavan, who will be honored at the third master’s degree ceremony (on the afternoon of May 16th), has combined government infrastructure, corporate resources and citizen volunteerism in an ongoing crusade to transform India into an educated nation. In recent years he has articulated a vision for an “age-stage” school system in which India’s youngsters would start out in small neighborhood-based centers that combine daycare and schooling; move on to “Children’s Clubs” in which they would focus on studies in a particular subject or skill, supplemented by sports and the arts; and finally, as older teens, learn through online courses, assisted by licensed tutors.
Muhammad, who is now Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, will be honored at TC’s doctoral hooding ceremony on Wednesday, May 17th. Muhammad has focused his scholarship on revealing how injustice against African Americans has been subtly woven into the fabric of U.S. society. In The Condemnation of Blackness – a work that is both muckraking journalism and an indictment of social science research – he traces how the white, urban North has used data on crime, migration and immigration to fashion a myth of black Americans as a violent and dangerous “other.”
Published Monday, Mar 6, 2017