It’s your faithful narrator here, saying I’m gonna get the heck out of the way and let you enjoy this fantastical post submitted by our newest faculty member here in #humsoc and #PHR, Marnie Brady. As you’ll soon know, she’s an all star. Get on the #engagingwiththepastpresently train and enjoy this delightful romp!)
This week, Polly Holladay (aka PHR Assistant Prof. Marnie Brady) posed this question while hosting an exuberant salon in her East Village café (aka Introduction to Social Work) involving some of the most eccentric, reform-minded, if not revolutionary, path-blazers of social welfare during the so-called Progressive Era: was the Progressive Era actually progressive?
W.E.B. Dubois made an appearance, alongside Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, Jane Addams, and Ida B. Wells, among other notables (aka student presenters). Margaret Sanger donned her ubiquitous pearls and, despite the threat of exile, forcefully argued for women’s right to birth control. Some café visitors were not entirely convinced that her reproductive choice agenda was truly for the liberation and autonomy of the poor. Everyone, however, fell silent when Ms. Barnett Wells described the white terror of lynching, including her investigative journalism into the murder of three Black shopkeepers in Memphis. When café patrons appeared, to Polly’s astonishment, from the 21st century they asked questions of lessons and strategy. For example, how would this group of intellectuals and social welfare change agents address the problem of mass incarceration in 2019? Florence Kelley and Jane Addams reminded everyone of their work at Hull House in Chicago to create a court system for juvenile reform. Perhaps more than anyone else, however, Ida B. Wells spoke to the need for radical change led by strategies of Black women to address the relationship of race and criminalization from long before the early 20th century and into the 21st.
Students taking on the voice and perspectives of influential social welfare figures in this class will participate in two additional salons, one to be held in 1962 at the headquarters of Mobilization for Youth during the Harlem rent strikes, and another in 2019 at Make the Road New York in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
(How cool was that?! Thanks for reading, and remember to be nice to yourself today)