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College of Arts and Sciences

MIT prof. visits to talk about slavery, education

By: Amaris Janel Henderson,  A&S Communications
October 17, 2019

Craig Steven Wilder, professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Columbia University Medal of Excellence recipient, will be the keynote speaker for the annual Reuben A. and Cheryl Casselberry Munday Distinguished lecture on Oct. 22.

The annual lectureship was established in 2014 and hosts groundbreaking scholars of African and African American studies through the Africana Studies and Research Center every fall.

Wilder’s address, “Renaissance Flatbush: Slavery and Education in Early-National New York,” will be held in the Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium in Klarman Hall at 5 p.m. Oct. 22.

Wilder’s research focuses on America’s urban, intellectual and cultural history. His expertise has informed his latest book, “Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities” (2013), which reveals how deeply embedded slavery was across American institutions.

“Wilder is a scholar who has examined slavery in the history of higher education and has helped to shatter a lot of the myths about the ivory tower,” said Riché Richardson, associate professor of African American literature. “His research is especially important to revisit in a year during which we are reflecting on what slavery means 400 years after 1619, when the first Africans were brought to what became the U.S. His project on slavery and education in early New York also makes an important contribution to national dialogues on slavery and adds to research on the state's history.”

In addition to his work as an educator, Wilder has been active in public history projects. He has been an advisor for historical documentaries, as well as for museum exhibits. Wilder is also heavily involved in the Bard Prison Initiative as a senior fellow. This program seeks to provide incarcerated men and women with opportunities for higher education.

Wilder’s talk will be the fifth guest lecture made possible by the endowment of alumni Reuben A. Munday ’69, MPS ’74, and Cheryl Casselberry Munday ’72. Reuben Munday is chairman of the law firm Lewis & Munday P.C. in Detroit, where he has practiced law since 1977. He is a life member of the Cornell University Council and a member of its administrative board. Cheryl Casselberry Munday is associate professor of psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy, director of the University of Detroit Mercy Psychology Clinic and maintains a private practice in Birmingham, Michigan.