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If you live anywhere near Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, I hope you will join me to hear Eve Ewing speak on October 17 at Jewett Arts Center at 7:30 pm.
She is speaking in an annual lecture series that I established a few years ago to bring some of the most important voices in education today to the campus.
Eve Ewing is one of them.
Ewing is an amazing woman who wrote a fabulous book called Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side.
She was teaching in one of the 49 schools that Rahm Emanuel closed on a single day, an incredibly cruel, arrogant, and heartless act.
She then went on to earn her doctorate and is now a college professor.
The media writes about “failing schools” in Chicago, but Ewing understands that schools are part of a community’s historic identity. Her writing captures the pain that people feel when their identity is torn away from them by politicians and faceless bureaucrats.
If you can read The New York Times online, you will enjoy this article about Ewing.
Dr. Ewing, 32, can be a hard woman to slow down, keep track of, or sum up. To keep it simple, you could just say she’s a sociologist at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration…
But that would leave out the seemingly million other things she is doing.
In the past year, she has also published an acclaimed book of poetry; collaborated on a play about the poet Gwendolyn Brooks; and co-hosted the Chicago Poetry Block Party, a community festival she helped create. She also sold a middle-grade novel, coming in 2020; signed up as a consulting producer on W. Kamau Bell’s CNN series, “United Shades of America”; and began hosting a new podcast, “Bughouse Square,” inspired by the archives of another Chicago gadfly, Studs Terkel.
And then there’s her gig with Marvel Comics. In August, Dr. Ewing caused minor pandemonium on the internet when she announced that she had been hired to write “Ironheart,” the first solo title featuring its character Riri Williams, black girl genius from Chicago.
It’s tempting to see Dr. Ewing, who holds a doctorate from Harvard, as a real-life, grown-up version of Riri, a prodigy who builds her own Iron Man suit in her M.I.T. dorm room, without the benefit of Tony Stark’s millions….
Her poetry collection, “Electric Arches,” an Afro-futurist exploration of black girlhood, unfolds against the real and fantastical geography of Chicago, and includes plenty of homespun superpower technology. There are flying bikes, freedom-fighting space invaders, and,“The Device,” a machine created by “a hive mind of black nerds” that allows communication with the ancestors. (Publishers Weekly called it “a stunning debut.”)
In “Ghosts in the Schoolyard,” published by the University of Chicago Press, Dr. Ewing uses the more staid tools of social science to dive deep into one of the most contentious episodes in the city’s recent history: the 2013 school closure plan that ultimately resulted in the shuttering of 49 public schools, most of them in African-American neighborhoods.
It’s a scholarly book, and also an unabashedly personal one. It focuses on Bronzeville, the storied African-American neighborhood on the South Side, where Dr. Ewing, as she notes in an impassioned introduction, taught middle school for three years after graduating from the University of Chicago.
She looks at the history of discriminatory housing and education policies that gave rise to intensely segregated, unequal, often overcrowded schools, which then suffered steeply declining enrollments after the public housing towers that once dominated the neighborhood were demolished.
I am excited to meet Eve Ewing. She is one of the heroes of the Resistance in my new book Slaying Goliath. Because of her book, Rahm Emanuel will be remembered not as a “reformer” but as a disrupter who cruelly destroyed schools, communities, and the lives of children and families. Eve Ewing gets the last word.
Come to Wellesley on October 17 to hear her speak.
You will be glad you did.