|As a former student of Dr.
Shaw, I often wonder why we never really talked about how being "both Black and
female" had circumscribed her behavior within the academy. I remember few
conversations about what it is like for her on the other side of the desk. Dr. Shaw was
recently featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the few tenured
African American women on the faculty at The Ohio State University (The Chronicle of
Higher Education, 1996, 13). Her research about Black professional women suggests
application to Black women in academe today: How do race, class, and gender interact in
This paper charts one assistant professors course. First, I will discuss what the history and legacy of African American teachers, primarily in elementary and secondary schools, tell us about the act of teaching, and how the ideology associated with academic excellence is transferred to the university. Second, I will explain how we Black women define ourselves within the context of the white academy, and how that definition is mediated by the structure of the institution. Finally, I will consider how one obstacle can be overcome in the tradition of our predecessors. I begin with the history of Black women educators.
A Legacy of Teaching
In the 1930s, Dr. Anna Julia Cooper wrote about the significance of teaching in the Black community.