Beacon Press: A Worthy Piece of Work
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A Worthy Piece of Work

The Untold Story of Madeline Morgan and the Fight for Black History in Schools

Author: Michael Hines

The story of Madeline Morgan, the activist educator who brought Black history to one of the nation’s largest and most segregated school systems

A Worthy Piece of Work tells the story of Madeline Morgan (later Madeline Stratton Morris), a teacher and an activist in WWII–era Chicago, who fought her own battle on the home front, authoring curricula that bolstered Black claims for recognition and equal citizenship.

During the Second World War, as Black Americans both fought to save democracy abroad and demanded full citizenship at home, Morgan’s work gained national attention and widespread praise, and became a model for teachers, schools, districts, and cities across the country. Scholar Michael Hines unveils this history for the first time, providing a rich understanding of the ways in which Black educators have created counternarratives to challenge the anti-Black racism found in school textbooks and curricula.

At a moment when Black history is under attack in school districts and state legislatures across the country, A Worthy Piece of Work reminds us that struggles over history, representation, and race are far from a new phenomenon.
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A Worthy Piece of Work eloquently centers women and recovers the crucial role Madeline Morgan played in writing and advancing Black history curriculum. This timely and critical study reminds us that progress and regress are unfortunately a common occurrence in the implementation of Black history curriculum.”
—Dionne Danns, author of Crossing Segregated Boundaries

A Worthy Piece of Work is a must-read and poignantly illustrates the transformative power of teaching. It is a remarkably compelling study that appropriately situates the struggles and contributions of African American educators within the broader movement to educate youth about African American life, culture, and history at the height of the Jim Crow era. Hines’s exploration and biography of the particular efforts of Madeline Morgan to advance African American history is poetically written, evidentiary rich, and timely. It is a book every educator and concerned citizen should read if they want to better understand the long struggle to teach and learn untold histories in America and how to speak truth to power despite the opposition.”
—Christopher M. Span, author of From Cotton Field to Schoolhouse: African American Education in Mississippi, 1862–1875

“Every so often a book appears that speaks profoundly to the very moment within which we live. Historian Michael Hines’s A Worthy Piece of Work is such a book. In the midst of the current culture wars in education, Hines illuminates the fascinating and unknown story of Madeline Morgan’s quest to bring Black history into Chicago schools. Beautifully written and masterfully researched, A Worthy Piece of Work is a must-read for educators, activists, scholars, and individuals committed to understanding the importance of Black history for all children. This book is destined to be a classic.”
—Derrick P. Alridge, author of The Educational Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History

“During the era of World War II, schoolteacher and public intellectual Madeline Morgan was unquestionably a pivotal figure in Chicago’s expansive Black history movement. In A Worthy Piece of Work, a creatively written and accessible intellectual and educational biography, Michael Hines reveals this by detailing Morgan’s multifaceted life and work, pedagogical innovations, and social activism. This engaging book enhances our understanding of the early Black history movement launched by Carter G. Woodson, ‘The Father of Black History.’”
—Pero G. Dagbovie, author of Reclaiming the Black Past: The Use and Misuse of African American History in the 21st Century


“Knowledge Is Power Only If It Is Put into Action”: The Making of Madeline Morgan

“Self-Preservation Exacts a Oneness in Motive and in Deed”: Wartime Interculturalism and the Supplementary Units

“A Worthy Piece of Work”: The Supplementary Units as Alternative Black Curriculum

“And Quite the Pride of the Middle West”: The Supplementary Units, Influence, and Impact, 1942–1944

“Erase the Color Line from the Blackboards of America”: The Supplementary Units in the Classroom

“This Crucial War for Democracy”: Madeline Morgan and Intercultural Education in the Postwar World, 1945–1950


A Worthy Piece of Work

ISBN: 978-080700824-9
Publication Date: 5/23/2023
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $16.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.
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