Every day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org and the Education Post, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer. But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month…February is just the Blackest.
Today, our featured Black Educator Hall of Fame Member is Dr. John Wesley Blassingame.
Dr. John W. Blassingame was born on March 23, 1940 in Oxford, GA. Dr. Blassingame received his B.A. from Fort Valley State University in 1960, earned his M.A. from Howard University in 1961, and his M.Phil and Ph.D. from Yale University in 1968 and 1971, respectively.
Dr. Blassingame began teaching at Yale in 1970 and became professor of African-American Studies, American Studies, and History in 1974. Before coming to Yale, he taught history at Howard University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Maryland.
Dr. Blassingame was one of the preeminent scholars in the study of enslaved African Americans. His groundbreaking scholarship has had a profound impact on the understanding both of enslavement in the United States and the African American experience—with such influential works as The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the Antebellum South, Black New Orleans: 1860-1880, and Frederick Douglass: The Clarion Voice.
Those works specifically shattered racist and stereotypical portrayals of African American life by using testimony and evidence left by Blacks themselves, evidence which had been largely ignored or dismissed by earlier historians.
By concentrating on the experience of captors of African people, historians had presented a distorted view of plantation life that, in Dr. Blassingame’s words, “stripped the [enslaved] of any meaningful and distinctive culture, family life, religion, or manhood.”
By analyzing narratives of the fugitive enslaved published during the nineteenth century, Dr. Blassingame overturned prevailing stereotypes about the character and behavior of the enslaved and provided insight into the complexity of the cultural and social lives of African American enslaved persons.
Dr. Blassingame also served as a contributing editor to the journal Black Scholar and as a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Negro History, the American Historical Review, and Southern Studies. In addition to that work, he continued the work of Black scholars before him; mentoring a generation of African American scholars at Yale and elsewhere. Dr. Blassingame was dedicated to the work of nurturing African American Studies and students of the discipline.
Over the last twenty years of his life, Dr. Blassingame dedicated himself to editing the papers of Frederick Douglass; he had co-edited six volumes of Douglass’s manuscripts before his death. He transitioned on February 13, 2000.
John W. Blassingame; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.
For more information on John W. Blassingame, visit the following site.