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Pedagogy of Survival

The Narratives of Millicent E. Brown and Josephine Boyd Bradley


Karen Meadows

With particular focus on the first-hand narratives of two desegregation pioneers—their stories, sufferings, and pedagogy of survival—this book gives voice to unsung heroes and the often overlooked view of the adolescent perspective to address the question of how one can endure and thrive in the midst of hardship and tragedy. While enduring her own personal trauma, the author wrestled with the question, “How will I survive?” The answer, she discovered, was in the actual act of surviving and in the navigational strategies she employed and witnessed in the lives of others. In Pedagogy of Survival, the author uses the narratives of ordinary people to highlight extraordinary lessons of perseverance. The integration of historical and present-day change agents challenges readers to examine their own lives and see that they, too, have the ability to not merely withstand trials, but to become agents of change. Everyone has a story that matters and can serve as a lesson for someone else. So what is your story? How will you use it to help others? Ultimately, what is your pedagogy of survival?
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It was a brisk autumn day and I’d made my usual “good morning” phone call to my mother. She did not answer, so I knew she would call me back as soon as my message was received. As I went about my morning routines, drinking a cup of coffee and preparing for work, my call still had not been returned. So I adjusted my preparation time; I thought, I’ll just stop by on my way to the office. Exercising my courtesy knock as I always did before using my key, I waited but there was no answer. I thought, perhaps she’s taking a walk. I’ll leave her a note and call back later (cell phones were not a household staple at this time, so there was no calling while en route to work). Opening the door, I called out, “Ma, Ma,” but there was no answer. I saw her glasses on the arm of the chair. That meant she must be at home. In utter confusion, I made my way through the house. My heart was racing. What is going on? What is happening? Still confused, I found her.

The loss of my mother was a traumatic and defining moment in my life. I was not yet 30 years old and in the midst of determining my life’s course. Even before this happened, just the thought of losing my mother would evoke an immense wave of emotion, sometimes to the point of tears. Now, her loss...

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