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Albert Black

Taught Inside And Outside The Classroom

Black had learned from his own experience how difficult it could be for poor students and students of color to learn and succeed in school. When he did achieve success in the form of a teaching job at a respected university, he did not stop his efforts, but continued to devote a large part of his time to helping and encouraging students and their parents, in the Seattle area and throughout the country. Among his many contributions have been organizing a mentor program in which university students work in high schools assisting younger students, starting a Father's Group at Seattle's Franklin High School to involve fathers in their children's education, and developing programs to help student athletes deal with the special pressures they face in college.

Black has also left his home state to spread his message in other areas of the country. During the mid-1990s, he was contracted to lecture on minority issues for the Detroit Public School System and the Detroit Juvenile Justice System. In 1994, he worked as a consultant for foster care providers in Wayne County, Michigan. He conducted workshops and classes for at-risk youth in Yonkers, New York, Gilroy, California, and Santa Clara County, California. In addition to these, he found time to host a weekly talk show on a Seattle African-American radio station, titled, Community Potpourri: A Conversation with Dr. Al Black, where he discusses a wider range of topics.

Success in academic institutions is often measured in terms of granting an employee "tenure." Tenure is a promise of lifetime employment, granted to a professor by the university where he or she works. When a professor is given tenure, it is not only the guarantee of a job, but also an acknowledgement of excellence in that professor's work. Most colleges and universities grant tenure based not only on a teacher's performance in class, but also on outside work, such as writing and publishing books and articles in his/her field. Because Alfred Black devoted his energies to working directly with students and the community, he did not do the sorts of theoretical research or publish the kind of works that would allow the university to grant him tenure. Black and his supporters argued that educators who dedicate themselves to teaching should be regarded as highly as those who commit their time and energies to research and writing. Though many university officials were sympathetic to Black and admired his work, they could not grant him tenure in the usual way. Instead they gave him the title of "principal lecturer" with the guarantee of employment at the university for the rest of his career.



Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA), July 12, 2003.


"Albert Black," Columns: The University of Washington Alumni Magazine, http://www.washington.edu/alumni/columns/june99/black.html (March 23, 2005).

"Black's Goal: Better Life for All Children" University Week, http://depts.washington.edu/uweek/archives/1999.06.JUN_03/article15.html (February 25, 2005).

"Black Named Principal Lecturer," University Week, http://admin.urel.washington.edu/uweek/archives/issue/uweek_story_small.asp?id=1220 (March 23, 2005).

"Black Named UW's First Principal Lecturer," A&S Perspectives, http://www.artsci.washington.edu/newsletter/Autumn03/Awards.htm#Black (March 23, 2005).

"Black Parents' Fragile Link to Schools," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/disciplinegap/61941_parents12.shtml (March 23, 2005).


Information for this profile was obtained through an interview with Albert W. Black, Jr., on February 25, 2005.

—Tina Gianoulis

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Shennen Bersani (1961-) Biography - Personal to Mark Burgess Biography - PersonalAlbert Black Biography - Encouraged Early To Get An Education, Success In High School Led To College, Became Interested In Sociology