Lessons from the “Pen Alongside the Sword”: School Reform through the Lens of Radical Black Press

  • Khuram Hussain Hobart and William Smith
  • Mark Stern Colgate University
Keywords: Social Justice, Democracy, Black Press, Community


This study considers the historical and contemporary significance of radical Black press in both challenging mainstream media discourse on school reform and posing an alternative vision rooted in grassroots Black political thought. Our proposition is that this history is educative in the contemporary neoliberal moment in terms of how it argued about education, what it argued for, and to what end. As neoliberalism attempts to divorce ideas of liberty from social justice, radical thinkers of the 1960s-70s offer creative insight on countering the material and discursive practices of the current corporate reform paradigm. Their journalistic practices are put forward in the spirit of Malcolm X’s call for a “broader interpretation” of social justice and democratic possibilities. Moreover, the enduring lessons of the radical Black press direct us to look for multiple modes of analysis and strategies of resistance against the frenetic expression of neoliberalism in the media and in schools.

Author Biographies

Khuram Hussain, Hobart and William Smith

Assistant Professor

Department of Education

Mark Stern, Colgate University

Assistant Professor

Department of Educational Studies