Dr. Keith Mayes, Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, will be the featured speaker at the annual A Feast of Words event on Jan. 31, 2024 at the Campus Club in Coffman Memorial Union.
Mayes will present “Pursuing Diagnosis: Academic Underachievement and the Racialization of Special Education in Public Schools,” which relates to his 2023 book, “The Unteachables: Disability Rights and the Invention of Black Special Education.”
What: A Feast of Words — Pursuing Diagnosis: Academic Underachievement and the Racialization of Special Education in Public Schools
When: Jan. 31, 2024 | 5 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Campus Club, Coffman Memorial Union
Note: This is a ticketed event that includes dinner at 5:30 p.m. followed by the lecture at 6:30 p.m. Registration opens on Dec. 1. This event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries and the Campus Club.
Dr. Mayes will discuss how the racial overrepresentation of black students in special education emerged as a grand challenge in the 1980s and 1990s, spawning debates in education circles and in the country about how to reduce it. His book, “The Unteachables,” examines this educational injustice and demonstrates how the phenomenon of disproportional placement of black students in classes for the educable mentally retarded (EMR) (now called intellectual disability), the learning disabled (LD), and the emotional behavior disordered (EBD) began when the system of special education was created in the early 20th century.
In connecting the present with the past, “The Unteachables” is a story about the intersection of race and disability, the way ableist psychologists and white educators purposely erected a racialized, gendered, and class-based system to keep white students and students of color in segregated learning environments. “The Unteachables” makes both the historical and contemporary case that ableism contributes mightily to special education placement, the over disciplining of black students, and their relocation into alternative schools and juvenile justice settings.
Dr. Keith Mayes is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota; former chair of the Department of African American & African Studies; and the Horace T. Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor. He is currently the Director for the Center of Race, Indigeneity, Disability, Gender & Sexuality (RIDGS) and the Associate Dean in the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE) for DEI Initiatives. Dr. Mayes earned his Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. His teaching and research interests include the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements; education policy and history; and the history of African Americans. Dr. Mayes published a new book entitled, “The Unteachables: Disability Rights and the Invention of Black Special Education” (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2023). He is currently working on a follow up entitled, “Clinical Badness: Diagnosing and Disciplining Black Behavior in Schools.”
Dr. Mayes provides consultant, professional development, and training services in the areas of DEI; curriculum development; ethnic studies and social studies. Some of his current and former clients include the Omaha Public Schools; Minneapolis Public Schools; St. Paul Public Schools; District 196-Apple Valley, Eagan, Rosemount Public Schools; Independent School; District 194 (Lakeville, MN); District 833-South Washington County Schools; Anoka-Hennepin Schools; Stillwater Area High School; Mankato Area Public Schools; National Geographic; the History Channel; the Minnesota Humanities Center; and the Minnesota Department of Education. Dr. Mayes has lectured widely throughout the Twin Cities Metro area in K-12 schools, churches, municipal governments and corporations. He has appeared on various media outlets, such as MSNBC, CBS, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Al-Jazeera, KMOJ, KARE-11 News, WCCO Channel 4, KSTP, Minnesota Public Radio, Radio Minnesota, KFAI, and National Public Radio