CUNY & The Feminist Press

“Without the Feminist Press, we might not have known that women have always been writing our hearts out. We would have gone on thinking we were inventing the wheel instead of understanding that our mothers and grandmothers had been speeding along on their own. And we definitely wouldn’t have been able to read our counterparts in Africa or Asia.” Gloria Steinem

Did you know that CUNY is home to longest-operating feminist publisher in the world? The Feminist Press (FP) is an independent literary publisher that promotes freedom of expression and social justice. Its mission is to publish “books that ignite movements and social transformation”  and it describes itself as “grounded in the knowledge that mainstream publishers seeking mass audiences often ignore important, pathbreaking works by women from the United States and throughout the world.”

The Feminist Press was founded in 1970 by Florence Howe. Florence was an educator, feminist, and writer. She became involved with the women’s movement after her participation in the civil rights and peace movements. Florence was teaching university literature courses in the late 60s, and her students would ask her for books written by women writers. But other than the classics by women like Louisa May Alcott and the Brontë sisters, there were very few books available. Florence became determined to change this status quo.

Under her leadership, the Feminist Press began to reprint feminist classics like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and Zora Neale Hurston’s I Love Myself When I Am Laughing, and Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive, and started publishing new texts in the field of women’s studies, including books by Barbara Ehrenreich and Grace Paley. During the 50+ years since its founding, the Feminist Press has published hundreds of books by, for, and about women.

The Feminist Press has a longtime partnership with the City University of New York. The Press moved to CUNY in 1985 and then to the Graduate Center in 1999.  FP teams up with CUNY programs and centers, such as the Center for LGBTQ Studies and the Center for the Study of Women and Society. FP also publishes WSQ, a scholarly journal edited by CUNY faculty and supported by CUNY students.

Today FP publishes diverse work including experimental fiction, activist nonfiction, memoirs, children’s books, and feminist literature from around the world. Their books on issues of gender, race, and class amplify important feminist perspectives and marginalized voices. The City Tech community can access many Feminist Press titles through the Proquest Ebook database. Check them out for Women’s History Month!

City Tech Writing Center Workshops

There are some terrific workshops for City Tech students coming up at the Writing Center!

Thursday, February 24th (2-3pm)
Citing Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism
Are you wondering how to cite your sources and why you have to do it? Do you need strategies for introducing quotes into your paragraphs? Do you have questions about how to paraphrase and summarize (and the rules for citing sources when you do so)? At this workshop, you’ll learn the basics of in-text citations as well as how to create various types of reference pages for your sources… it’s the most fun you’ll have all week!
Workshop Leader: Barbara Paulus

Tuesday, March 1st (2-3pm)
Using Your Professor’s Feedback
Getting feedback on your writing is part of the writing process! But sometimes it’s challenging to make changes when you get your draft back. This workshop will help you figure out how to understand your professor’s suggestions and give you tips on integrating that feedback into your revised draft.
Workshop Leader: Margo Goldstein

Thursday, March 10th (3-4pm)
Revision Strategies
At this point in the semester, you probably have a revision begging for your attention! In this workshop, you’ll learn how to create a reverse outline – a powerful tool to help you analyze and revise your work. You’ll take apart a short essay, see what the paragraphs are doing, learn how to re-organize them… and even figure out what you’re really saying.
Workshop Leader: Jacquelyn Blain

Thursday, March 17th (3-4pm)
Sentence Flow & Sentence Level Choices
This workshop will provide tips on how to make sentences flow! We’ll look at the composition of individual sentences as well as how they connect to form a paragraph and ultimately an essay. You’ll learn how choices when it comes to a word, a phrase, or even a single piece of punctuation can change the rhythm and meaning of a sentence.
Workshop Leaders: Benny Morduchowitz & Jack Freedman

You can sign up for these workshops online.

Open Educational Resources for Black History Month

Open Educational Resources (OER) are educational materials that are free and openly licensed, and that can be used for teaching, learning, and research. There are many OERs available online for African Studies and African American Studies. City Tech students, staff, and faculty who wish to honor and observe Black History Month could spend some time with one of the Open Educational Resources listed below.

From City Tech

Africana Folklore  This course is designed to help students prepare for further academic study in African, African-American and Caribbean studies. Students learn about the folklore of Africans and their descendants in the Americas and the Caribbean. Readings and films illustrate various ways West African folklore survived in the New World, and how Africans in the Americas created new traditions.

From CUNY 

Africa and the Atlantic Slave Trade  This course offers an overview of the political, economic, social, and demographic challenges confronting Africa during the era of the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Yoruba Tradition and Culture  This course examines African civilizations from early antiquity to the decline of the West African Empire of Songhay. It explores a range of social, cultural, technological, and economic changes in Africa. It also discusses African agricultural, social, political, cultural, technological, and economic history.

Other Resources

1619 Project  The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative that aims to reframe American history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at its center.

African American History  This open textbook covers African American history spanning from the Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Black Lives Matter movement.

African American History (Yale)  This course examines the African American experience in the United States from 1863 to the present with a focus on the Civil War and Reconstruction; the  Civil Rights movement and its aftermath; and the leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology   “From 1936 to 1938, over 2,300 former slaves from across the American South were interviewed by writers and journalists under the aegis of the Works Progress Administration. These former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provided first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms.”

Slavery to Liberation: The African American Experience  This site provides “a comprehensive and up-to-date account of African Americans’ political history, economic development, artistic expressiveness, and religious and philosophical worldviews in a critical framework.”

Slave Voyages  The Slave Voyages website is a collaborative digital initiative that compiles and makes publicly accessible records of the largest slave trades in history. It makes available records about the more than 12 million African people who were sent across the Atlantic in slave ships, and hundreds of thousands more who were trafficked within the Americas.

Umbra Search – African American History  Umbra Search is a portal to hundreds of thousands of pieces of African American history and culture. It is named after the Umbra Society of the early 1960s, a group of Black writers and poets who helped create the Black Arts Movement.

For more information about Open Education Resources at City Tech, visit the library’s OER program.

The 1619 Project and the Battle over Black American History

Portrait of Omar Ibn Said, enslaved person
Portrait of Omar Ibn Said, enslaved person

“The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie. Our Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, proclaims that ‘all men are created equal’ and ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights’. But the white men who drafted those words did not believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of black people in their midst. ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ did not apply to fully one-fifth of the country. Yet despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed. Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals.” Nikole Hannah Jones, creator of the 1619 Project

“Critical race theory, the 1619 Project and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together. “ Donald Trump

“The #1619Project is a powerful and necessary reckoning of our history. We cannot understand and address the problems of today without speaking truth about how we got here.” Kamala Harris

In August 2019, the New York Times Magazine published The 1619 Project issue to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the British colonies in North America. 

The 1619 Project, created and organized by Professor Nikole Hannah-Jones, asserts that if we want to understand American history, we must begin with slavery and its consequences because slavery is at the center of our history, not on the margins. Ms. Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for her opening essay. The project includes other essays, as well as photographs, poems, and podcasts on a wide range of topics, including: 

Since its publication, The 1619 Project has been widely read and discussed; reactions to it have included high praise, sharp criticism, and passionate debates, especially about how to best teach American history. Coming up on three years after its publication, The 1619 Project continues to play a major role in reshaping public conversations about the consequences of slavery and racism in America.  

Many conservatives have pushed back at The 1619 Project, particularly its use in classrooms. Newt Gingrich called it “brainwashing” and “left-wing propaganda masquerading as the truth”.  Senator Tom Cotton proposed the “Saving American History Act of 2020” to ban using federal funds to teach anything related to the 1619 Project because (according to him) it “is a racially divisive and revisionist account of history that threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded.” Not one to be outdone, President Trump established the 1776 Commission, appointing 18 conservative critics to craft an opposing response to the 1619 Project. The 1776 Report has been widely criticized for factual errors and overall lack of academic rigor.

The 1619 Project and its portrayal of Black American History continues to provoke us to think in new, deeper ways. This provocation can be uncomfortable for white Americans, who have been shielded from the realities of Black Americans. But it is critical that Americans of all colors be able to talk openly, honestly, and peacefully, about our painful shared past. 


Listen to the 1619  podcast

Read The 1619 Project

Watch an interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones

Study with Teaching Hard History: A Framework for Teaching American Slavery


Winter Holiday Cookbooks

Picture of festive holiday drinks
Happy Holidays!

Traditionally, holidays are times when families, friends, and communities come together, with food playing an essential role in celebrations. In New York City, people from many different cultures celebrate the winter holidays with unique foods. It is impossible in a short blog post to even “give a taste” of the diverse dishes being served this season. Here are just a few holiday highlights, as well as a selection of e-cookbooks available through the library.


Many New Yorkers from different cultural backgrounds will soon celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas with big, multi-course feasts. One of the most elaborate is The Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration. It may include seven or more specific fish dishes, such as whiting in lemon, clams in spaghetti, or baccalà (dried, salted cod). If you ever want to try to create your own feast, there are several pesci recipes in Canal House Cooking: Pronto! for you to try.

Filipinos celebrate Christmas from December 16 until the first Sunday of January and the Feast of the Three Kings. After Christmas Eve midnight mass, preparation begins for Noche Buena, when family, friends, and neighbors drop by for an open house celebration. Food is often served in buffet style. Among the typical foods prepared are lechon (roasted pig), queso de bola, ham, spaghetti, and fruit salad. Filipino Family Cookbook : A Treasury of Heirloom Recipes and Heartfelt Stories is a great resource if you’d like to learn more.

For many Latinos in the United States, the holiday season is synonymous with tamales. Mexican Americans often opt for corn-husk-wrapped tamales, while those from Central America typically wrap theirs in banana leaves. And while most Mexican and Central American tamales contain corn-based masa, Puerto Rican pasteles don’t use any, instead using a combination of ground yautía (yuca) and green plátanos (plantains). Tamales, Comadres, and the Meaning of Civilization is filled with family recipes and stories. It also celebrates tamaladas, large family gatherings to prepare the Christmas tamales.

There are many special desserts traditionally made at Christmas, such as German Stollen, Spanish Turrón, French Bûche de Noël, and Italian Panettone and Struffoli. The United States is best known for its varied Christmas cookies that reflect America’s immigrant heritages. City Tech Professor Michael Krondl is a culinary historian and the author of Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert. You can listen to his interview on The Takeaway about the history of Christmas cookies. For your own holiday cookie baking, take a look at The Great Minnesota Cookie Book : Award-Winning Recipes from the Star Tribune’s Holiday Cookie Contest.


Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday nor a substitute for Christmas, and many people celebrate both across North America and the Caribbean. Maulana Karenga founded the weeklong festival in 1966 as a way for African-Americans to celebrate their families and communities, while honoring ancestors. The holiday is based on seven guiding principles, one for each day of the observance: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Celebrations begin by lighting candles, giving gifts, and decorating with the African colors of red, green, and black. Throughout the week, favorite African-American dishes, as well as traditional African and Caribbean favorites, are served.

The largest meal—Karamu Ya Imani—is held on December 31. The main dish served tends to be a stew, such as Ghanaian groundnut stew, Cajun jambalaya, Creole gumbo, or West Indian curry. Other classics include Hoppin’ John, Nigerian jollof rice, fritters, catfish, collard greens, fried okra, spoonbread, plantains, and (are you hungry yet?) sweet potato pie. Celebrate Vegan: 200 Life-Affirming Recipes for Occasions Big and Small offers delicious vegan versions of traditional soul food dishes. The Real Jerk : New Caribbean Cuisine provides recipes for Caribbean classics like jerk chicken, sorrel punch, and rum cake. Desserts might include soul food favorites like sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, or caramel cake. Global Bakery has recipes for delicious cakes from Africa and the Caribbean perfect for Kwanzaa, including Ginger Cake, Rum Cake, and Semolina Cake.

Michael Twitty is a wonderful food historian and writer who identifies as “an African American who happens to be Jewish, or a Jew who happens to be African American.” He writes a little about Christmas but he writes much more about Hannukah and Kwanzaa. His blog is a rich resource for both recipes and food histories.


Hannukah occurred in late November in 2021 due to the Jewish calendar’s use of a leap month, which is needed since it is a lunar calendar. Although Hannukah has passed, it’s not too late to enjoy the delicious traditional dishes served in Jewish communities.

Hannukah is an eight-day festival of lights commemorating the miracle when—after the Second Temple was desecrated then rededicated—one day’s worth of sacred oil for the altar’s eternal lamp lasted eight days. The eight-night celebration of Hanukkah is therefore supposed to include fried foods at the festive meal that is preceded by lighting the menorah, a eight- or nine-branched candelabrum. In Central and Eastern Europe, latkes (potato pancakes) were fried in schmaltz (poultry fat) because potatoes were plentiful while December was the season for slaughtering goose and ducks. Today, many people choose to make their latkes with vegetable oil.

Other Hanukkah foods reflect the ethnic diversity of Judaism. For example, Sephardic Jews (Mediterranean Jews) prepare elaborate vegetarian dishes with cheese while many Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews eat roasted brisket as a main dish.

Jelly donuts, or sufganiyot, another food deep-fried in oil, are a Hanukkah tradition from Israel popular with Americans. Jalebi, a treat enjoyed by Iraqi Jews, is basically a funnel cake, made out of a flour-based dough then deep fried and soaked in a sugar syrup. One exception to fried desserts is rugelach, an Eastern European pastry, which are crescent-shaped dough cookies filled with fruit preserves, poppy seeds, or chocolate and nuts. Hanukkah Sweets and Treats is a kid-friendly introduction to making these and more. The Kosher Baker is an excellent resource for dairy-free desserts.

Happy Winter Holidays!

This post was co-authored by Monica Berger.


Native American History Month in Lenapehoking

November is Native American History Month, and a good time for New Yorkers to acknowledge and honor the indigenous peoples who lived here before us. The Lenape thrived for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. They called their homeland Lenapehoking, and their territory included portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In Brooklyn, the Lenape had settlements in what are now the neighborhoods of Bushwick, Canarsie, Flatlands, Fort Hamilton, Gowanus, and Sheepshead Bay. 

Indian Villages, Paths, Ponds, and Places in Kings County 1946 Map
Center for Brooklyn History, Brooklyn Public Library 1946

The concept of shared land use was fundamental to Lenape society. Lenape peoples lived in fixed settlements, and their lives revolved around communal hunting and planting. Planting was managed by women, who cultivated corn, squash, beans, and tobacco. The men cleared the field and broke the soil. During the rest of the year, they would fish and hunt.  

The arrival of Europeans was devastating to the Lenape. By the 17th century, Europeans were setting up colonies to extract resources from Lenapehoking. They pushed the Lenape out of the East Coast and pressed them to move west. In 1626, the Lenape “sold” the island of Manahatta to the Dutch. The Dutch were of course deceptive in their dealings, as the concept of private land-ownership was not recognized by the Lenape. 

The loss of land led to a scarcity of essential resources, as the Lenape peoples could not farm and were forced to over-hunt. Their population fell sharply, due to infectious diseases brought by Europeans, such as measles and smallpox. Between 1600 and 1700, the Lenape were decimated by diseases and war. By 1750, they had lost an estimated 90% of their people.

The Treaty of Easton, signed in 1758 between the Lenape and the English, forced the Lenape to move westward into Pennsylvania and Ohio. Other deceptive land treaties and forced migrations followed, and the Lenape were pushed further and further west. In the 1860s, the federal government sent Lenape remaining in the eastern United States to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) under the Indian removal policy. Today, Lenape communities are found in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ontario, and New Jersey.

Land acknowledgements, or statements serving as offerings of honor and respect, are one way to pay respect to the Lenape and other tribes who were killed and displaced by European settlers.  Land acknowledgements are not a substitute for substantial reparative justice but they can raise awareness about histories that are often suppressed or forgotten.

The acknowledgement process involves asking: “Who lived here before us?” “What happened to them?” “Who should be accountable for their displacement?” “What can be done to repair the harm done to them?”

The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (not a real government agency but a “people-powered department”) offers a resource called Honor Native Land: A Guide and Call to Acknowledgement.

Here are their answers to the question: “Why practice Land Acknowledgement?”:

  •     Offer recognition and respect
  •     Share the true story of the people who were already here
  •     Create a broader public awareness of history  
  •     Begin to repair relationships with Native communities  
  •     Support larger truth-telling and reconciliation efforts
  •     Remind people that colonization is an ongoing process
  •     Opening up space with reverence and respect
  •     Inspire ongoing action and relationships

And here is their step-by-step guide to acknowledgment:

  1. Identify: “The first step is identifying the traditional inhabitants of the lands you’re on. . . it is important to proceed with care, doing good research before making statements of acknowledgement.”
  2. Articulate: “Once you’ve identified the group(s) who should be recognized, formulate the statement.. . . Beginning with just a simple sentence would be a meaningful intervention in most spaces.”
  3. Deliver. “Offer your acknowledgement as the first element of a welcome to the next public gathering or event that you host . . . Consider your own place in the story of colonization and of undoing its legacy.”

How can we do reparative work with Native communities who still live in New York? What role can an educational space like City Tech, on occupied Lenape land, play in reparative justice?

Spotlight: Open Education Resources

For many City Tech students, the high cost of textbooks may be an insurmountable obstacle. Students may not register–or may end up withdrawing or failing classes–because they cannot afford required materials. City Tech Faculty can reduce financial strain on students by designing their courses around Open Educational Resources (OERs).

Open Educational Resources are freely accessible teaching, learning, and research materials. Traditionally, textbooks are published under copyright, with strict limitations. But the OER model is more flexible; it uses Creative Commons licenses that allows educators to retain, reuse, revise, remix, or redistribe (the 5Rs) educational resources.

The 5 Rs:

  • Retain – make, own, and control a copy of the resource
  • Reuse – use original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource  
  • Revise – edit, adapt, and modify copy of the resource
  • Remix – combine original or revised copy of the resource with other existing material to create something new
  • Redistribute – share copies of original, revised, or remixed copy of the resource with others.

City Tech’s OER program is a CUNY success story. Since its launch in 2015, City Tech librarians have collaborated with professors to create course materials through the City Tech OpenLab, leading to the development of free and open resources for classes across the curriculum. City Tech professors, with library support, have created outstanding low-cost, high-quality OERs for students. 

Here are a few examples of OER materials created by faculty in our Social Science departments through the OER program. 

For US History Since 1865, Dr. Ryan McMillen uses The American Yawp, augmented with other materials. Instructions for the class on Reconstruction asks students to: “Read Chapter 15, Reconstruction…the text of the Mississippi Black CodesJourdon Anderson Writes His Former Master, 1865…Pick out one part of the Codes that strikes you as problematic, in that its main justification would be to criminalize the activities of former slaves in defending their freedom, and analyze it.”

Professor Diana Mincyte’s Environmental Sociology OER “examines the complex interactions between societies and the natural environments on which they depend. Special emphasis is placed on the link between the deepening ecological crisis and the operation of the capitalist socio-economic system.” For the first class, to introduce the subject, she assigns: The environment and society. The perfect conditions for coronavirus to emerge, Pangolins and pandemics: The real source of this crisis is human, not animal and What is Deep Ecology.

Dr. Jinwon Kim’s Urban Sociology is a course that encourages students to explore issues in Downtown Brooklyn, from gentrification to the new economy, and to use the neighborhood as a laboratory. Dr. Kim created her OER with links to open access readings, videos, and photo collections. For Class 4, Modernity and Modern Cities, he asks students to, “First, read The era of industrialization…in order to learn more about the historical background of modern cities. Second, read Industrial Manchester, 1844 in The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844. Third, learn more about New York City context by reading Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York…Watch The Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side. See Photos provided by Museum of the City of New York.”

More information about the OER program at City Tech

Questions/comments? Contact Cailean Cooney, Assistant Professor, Library at:

NYC Public Libraries: A Resource for City Tech Students

As you may know, the City Tech Library has re-opened, and on-site services are available for students, faculty, and staff. However, many students are still studying or attending classes at home at least some of the time. Coming to campus may not be convenient for community members for a variety of reasons. If you need an alternative space for study, research, wifi, and computer access, consider locating your closest public library branch, and signing up for a card. Our public library systems have amazing (and free!) resources for City Tech Students to tap into. City Tech librarians consider public librarians to be our partners, and encourage students to view them as part of their academic support team.

The New York Public Library is one of three separate and independent public library systems in New York City. The other two library systems are the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library. You just need one card to use all three systems. 

The New York Public Library has more than six million items in its circulating collections; the Brooklyn Public Library holds almost three million items; the Queens Public Library’s collection includes more than five million items. The three systems also collectively offer around 15 million items, as well as housands of free educational, cultural, and civic programs every month.

Signing up for a card

Do you live in Brooklyn? Brooklyn Public Library’s cards are free for people who live, work, pay property taxes or go to school in New York state. 

First step: apply online for a library card

Next step: Find your closest branch library here.Once you apply for a library card, you must visit a branch within 30 days and validate your card by showing a government-issued ID with your name and present address.

Acceptable government issued IDs include:

  • Current New York State Driver’s License
  • Current New York State Driver’s Permit
  • Current New York State Identification Card
  • Current IDNYC Municipal Card

The other systems have the same policies and similar procedures. Are you in Queens? Apply for a card here. Find your closest branch library here. Locations of NYPL branches are here. You can apply for a card online here

Maybe you stop using your public library because of fines? Guess what! All three local public library systems have eliminated all late fines going forward—and all existing fines and fees in patron accounts have been cleared. This is great news!

Our NYC public library systems combined have millions of print and digital resources in their collections, all accessible with one card. They also have librarians on staff who provide reference support in person or by chat or phone. They offer free wifi, as well as computer and printing equipment for library patron use. This November, take a tip from Library Buzz and visit your local library branch to look around, say hello to the staff, and get that library card!

The Extraordinary Educators of the SEEK Program

Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics and Pedagogy of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich in the Era of Open Admissions is a wonderful dissertation, soon to be book, written by CUNY grad Danica B. Savonick. This post is based on her work.

In 1965, CUNY established the Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge Program (SEEK) to recruit and prepare “economically and educationally disadvantaged” students to matriculate at City College. SEEK provided students not only with free tuition and free books, but also a stipend that addressed the material conditions of students’ lives beyond the classroom.

By 1968, four extraordinary women were teaching basic writing classes for SEEK down the hall from one another. Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Cade Bambara, and Adrienne Rich all taught for SEEK in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These writers/activists/teachers shared a belief in the teaching of writing as a transformative, political, and creative process.

Lorde, Jordan, Bambara, and Rich observed how students who entered the university through SEEK at first distrusted them, and how many had been mistreated by previous educators. All of them saw the oppressive dynamics inherent in traditional classroom set-ups. They shared a fundamental respect for their students, and they understood that many of them had been disempowered in previous classrooms. They listened to students and changed their approaches to teaching based on what they heard. They sought to be allies for their SEEK students, not saviors there to liberate oppressed students.

Together, they experimented with how the classroom might be a space of collective social change. Together, they explored how education can contribute to building a more just and equitable world. They believed in the transformative power of education and saw how their teaching could contribute to the Women’s Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and the movement for Black Power.

Lorde, Jordan, Bambara, and Rich created a collaborative environment for teaching and writing. They exchanged syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments and sat in on each other’s classes. They deliberately researched and invented teaching strategies that would help working class students, first-generation students, and students of color. Their groundbreaking collaborative work at SEEK has had a profound impact on the teaching of writing, and is now considered of great theoretical importance.

“I teach myself in outline,” Notes, Journals, Syllabi, & an Excerpt from Deotha, is a collection of Audre Lorde’s teaching materials from her time at CUNY.

June Jordan: “Life Studies,” 1966-1976 includes texts from her time at SEEK.

June Jordan

A photograph of June Jordan

June Jordan was a powerhouse poet, activist, journalist, and educator. One of the most widely-published and highly-acclaimed writers of her time, Jordan was active in the civil rights, feminist, antiwar, and gay and lesbian rights movements. Through her poetry, essays, plays, and children’s literature, she spoke passionately about race, class, sexuality, and political struggles around the world.

Jordan was born in Harlem in 1936, the child of Jamaican immigrants who raised her in Bedford-Stuyvesant. A gifted student, she began writing poetry in elementary school. She attended boarding school in New England, where her teachers encouraged her writing but never shared the work of any Black writers with her. After earning a BA from Barnard College, Jordan began teaching at the City College of New York in 1966. She published her first book of poetry, Who Look at Me, in 1969. She went on to teach at Yale University, Sarah Lawrence College, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook, before becoming Professor of African-American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she founded Poetry For the People.

Jordan’s essays were published in magazines and newspapers around the world. She also published more than twenty-five major works of poetry, fiction, and children’s books before her death in 2002. In an interview shortly before her death, Jordan said that “the task of a poet of color, a black poet, as a people hated and despised, is to rally the spirit of your folks…I have to get myself together and figure out an angle, a perspective, that is an offering, that other folks can use to pick themselves up, to rally and to continue or, even better, to jump higher, to reach more extensively in solidarity with even more varieties of people to accomplish something. I feel that it’s a spirit task.”

Jordan’s books of poetry include the collections Kissing God Goodbye: Poems, 1991-1997, Haruko/Love Poems, Naming Our Destiny, Living Room: New Poems 1980-1984, and Things That I Do in the Dark. Her essay collections include Affirmative Acts: Political Essays, June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint, Technical Difficulties, and Civil Wars: Selected Essays 1963-1980.

You can access several online, full text works by Jordan in the City Tech Collection, including:

Life as Activism: June Jordan’s Writings from the Progressive

Some of Us Did Not Die: New and Selected Essays of June Jordan.