Premiering at this year’s BlackStar Film Festival, which runs this August in Philadelphia, the documentary Living Thinkers: An Autobiography of Black Women in the Ivory Tower, examines racial, class and gender dynamics through the lives of African American female professors and administrators, who grew up in segregated academic environments.
Directed by Roxana Walker-Canton, Thinkers, highlights the lives of women such as Eva Beatrice Dykes – the first woman to complete the course requirements for a PHD – who opened the door for black women to excel in education by confronting overt racism, sexism and discrimination in the early 20th century.
Here’s more about the documentary:
This documentary examines the intersection of race, class, and gender in
the experiences of contemporary Black women professors and
administrators through their education narratives from girlhood to their
present status in academia. Early 20th century trailblazing Black
women like Eva Beatrice Dykes who withstood overt racism, sexism and
discrimination, to open the doors to higher education for Black women.
During the last part of the 20th century, America still witnessed
“firsts” with Black women breaking down walls of “segregated”
professions in academe.More Black women entered the university,
secured higher-ranking administrative positions, and achieved tenure and
promotion. But the progress continues to be slow and the numbers of
Black women in these positions continues to be low. As outsiders
within, many 21st century Black women intellectuals find academia to
have a “chilly climate,” where they are usually few in number as faculty
and top administrators, but in greater numbers as lower ranking staff
in housekeeping and in food services.In spite of the continued
struggles facing this community, African American women in the academy
have used the university as a space to find personal identity, give
voice to global and community issues facing the black community at large
and black women more specifically, and make significant contributions
to American intellectual history. Their presence and contributions are
rarely acknowledged and valued and the image of African American women
as intellectuals, for many, deemed incomprehensible. Living Thinkers
reveals the travails, the disappointments and the triumphs of becoming
Black women professors in the US.