Mark Naison

Mark Naison

Mark Naison

Mark Naison is a Professor of African-American Studies and History at Fordham University and Director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program. He is the author of three books and over 100 articles on African-American History, urban history, and the history of sports. His most recent book White Boy: A Memoir, published in the Spring of 2002, was reviewed in the New York Times, the Nation and the Chronicle of Higher Education and was the subject of feature stories on Black Entertainment Television, New York One News and the Tavis Smiley show on National Public Radio. One of his most popular courses at Fordham, “From Rock and Roll to Hip Hop: Urban Youth Cultures in Post War America” has also received media attention, becoming the subject of stories on National Public Radio, Bronx Net, and WFUV. His most recent course, “Feeling the Funk: Research Seminar on Music of the African Diaspora” focuses on Latin and Caribbean traditions on American Popular Music.

The Bronx African-American History Project, Dr Naison’s most recent venture, was launched collaboratively with the Bronx Historical Society in the Fall of 2002 ( see Project website Since that time, Dr Naison has conducted over one hundred and fifty interviews with African-American professionals, community activists, business leaders and musicians who grew up in Bronx between the 1930’s and the 1980’s. The first product of this research ” It Takes a Village to Raise a Child: Growing Up in the Patterson Houses in the 1950’s- An Interview With Victoria Archibald Good” was published in the Spring 2003 issue of the Bronx County Historical Journal and a second article “From Doo Wop to Hip Hop: The Bittersweet Odyssey of African Americans in the South Bronx” was published in the Spring 2004 issue of that journal. Naison has also begun working on two books related to the BAAHP, a collection of oral histories entitled “Before the Fires: An Oral History of African American Life From the 1930’s to the 1960’s, ” and a memoir written by Allen Jones entitled “The Rat That Got Away.”

When not doing historical research, Naison likes to play tennis, golf and basketball, and make periodic forays into the media. He has appeared on the O’Reilly Factor, the Discovery Channel’s Greatest American Competition (as Dr King’s advocate), and on the Dave Chappell Show, where his “performance” has been preserved on that show’s Second Year DVD.

You can also see also Dr Naison’s blog, “With a Brooklyn Accent.”

Why is the Left Silent on the War Ripping Mexico Apart?

By Chuck Morse (August 31, 2017) I am mostly optimistic when I think about the American left these days. While Trump’s election signals the right’s ascendancy, it also indicates a broader crisis in the system and the intensification of a fight that we have to have—an inescapable, unavoidable battle that we might lose, but might win! When he singled out...
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Millennials Are Not Dictatorship Material

By Mark Naison (August 27, 2017) If Fordham is Any Example, Millennials are Not Dictatorship Material One of the reasons I am confident that Donald Trump will not take us on the path to dictatorship or authoritarian rule is the refusal of young people to be intimidated by authoritarian figures in their lives, be they parents, teachers, or school and...
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Why We Need Freedom Schools Now

(Photo of Bronx Freedom School meeting:  photo by Mark Naison) By Mark Naison (July 27, 2017) This summer, I decided to use the Freedom School model from the civil rights movement to promote solidarity among people looking for inspiration and direction, in part out of frustration with the many social media groups that I participated in and in some cases...
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Where the Evidence Leads on Trump's Election

By Mark Naison (July 6, 2017)   Historians are detectives. We follow the evidence to arrive at the best available explanation of why events take place. And to me, the trail of evidence to explain Donald Trump’s election doesn’t lead to Russia, it leads us into the inner workings of the Democratic Party- who leads it, who funds it, what...
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How the Democratic Party Fatally Damaged Itself by Attacking Public Education

By Mark Naison (June 27, 2017) Ever since the Clinton Presidency, the Democratic Party has been an advocate of top-down school reforms whose goal has been to make the nation more economically competitive and reduce inequality. Not only have these policies failed to achieve their stated objectives, they have destabilized communities where Democrats have traditionally found support, created widespread distress...
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Why the Trump Administration Scandals Should Be No Surprise to New Yorkers

By Mark Naison (May 10, 2017) No one familiar with the history of New York City should be surprised by the scandals that have beset the Trump Administration. No one, I repeat no one, could have had the success Donald Trump had in putting up building after building in New York City during the 1970’s and 1980’s without having ties...
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The Link Between Broken Windows Policing and Deportation

By Mark Naison (March 30, 2017) Of all the new information presented during last nights forum on Defending Bronx Communities at Fordham University, what I found most disturbing was the revelation of how the DeBlasio Administration’s imposition of “Broken Windows” policing- arrests for minor offenses such as jaywalking, drinking in public and jumping over turnstiles- has led to deportation of...
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The Little Department That Could: An Inspiring Story from Fordham

By Mark Naison (February 10, 2017) My department- the Department of African and African American Studies- was not supposed to last. it was created as an Institute in 1969 as a result of a student sit in at the Fordham administration building by a committee of Black graduate students and undergraduates who were given power to hire faculty and in...
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When There Really Was 'Carnage in Our Inner Cities', Trump Was Nowhere to Be Found

By Mark Naison (February 4, 2017)   One of the many reasons I am appalled by Donald Trump’s world view are his comments about subjects I know first hand. A prime example of this is his apocalyptic promise to end “carnage in our inner inner cities.” Not only do these pronouncement ignore gentrification and the suburbanization of poverty, they come...
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Trump is Setting the Stage for a Much Worse Regime

By Chuck Morse (January 28, 2017) It’s tempting to see Trump’s attacks on the media and the democratic system (voting) as an expression of his self-sabotaging vanity, but I think we’re seeing something much more malevolent. I think he’s setting the stage for his re-election in four years and the assertion of a much more violent, racist regime. That is,...
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Message to My Students and Former Students About Trump's Election

By Mark Naison (November 20, 2017) I don’t know where this election is taking us. There is a wave of hatred and fear sweeping through the nation. People assaulting one another, threatening one another, pulling up provocative symbols in public places that send a chill through their fellow citizens. The current administration has appointed white supremacists and white nationalists to...
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Women Are Not the Only Ones Offended by Trump

By Mark Naison (October 9, 2016) As some apologists for Donald Trump have suggested, the type of language Mr. Trump used in the “Access Hollywood” video just uncovered is hardly unique to him. Unfortunately, they are right about this. Not only did Bill Clinton use it through most of his political life-something I know from first hand testimony as well...
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Why I Avoid Using the Term "White Privilege"

By Mark Naison (September 26, 2016) In challenging racism, even in ways that get in people’s faces, I usually avoid the use of the term “white privilege”. Here is why: Addressing “whites” as privileged not only erases vast differences in their economic status, including the downward mobility and hardship many have been experiencing in the last 20 years, it fails...
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On Orlando: A Letter from a Gay Friend

By Mark Naison (June 14, 2016) I just received this letter from a former student living in Brazil who came out shortly after he graduated.. I needed to share it here because of its powerful message: Hey Doc, I wanted to reach out to you about what happened in Orlando. I’ve been shaken by this in a way that I’m...
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Why Elites Have to Destroy Public Education

By Mark Naison (March 11, 2016) I just had an epiphany. I’ve been thinking about why our economic and political elites are devoting so much energy to destroying public education. What’s in it for them, other than the profits to be made from investments in technology, software, real estate and other direct benefit to corporations from testing and school privatization?Read More »

We are All "Illegals"

By Mark Naison (March 9, 2016) One of the things that drives me craziest in the current political landscape is the use of the term “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants. If there is ever an example of the pot calling the kettle black, this is it.Read More »

Me and Mr. Trump (And a Presidential Prediction)

  By Mark Naison (February 29, 2016) Right now, I am really torn up in side. I have a visceral hatred of racism which goes back to my college days when I was kicked out of my family for falling in love with a Black woman. My entire professional life as a scholar and teacher has been devoted to thinking...
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Why the Coming Supreme Court Decision Might Not Be The End of the World for Teachers' Unions and Labor

  By Mark Naison (February 2, 2016) The coming Supreme Court decision elminating mandatory dues check off by public employees unions will create a crisis in the labor movement- especially for the big national teachers’ unions- but it need not destroy them.Read More »

The Hidden Costs of Gentrification

How Gentrification and Rising Rents Affect Educational Opportunity By Mark Naison (December 16, 2015)Read More »

Responding to Hateful Times: Our Tasks Ahead

December 9, 2015 Two Anarres Project contributors reflect on what needs to be done today to respond to a fearful social environment.Read More »

What It Means to be "White" in a Rapidly Changing Nation

By Mark Naison (November 25, 2015) Being “white” was once a central feature of being American. Those who were able to become “white” had the fullest range of political rights and economic opportunities the rapidly expanding nation had to offer.Read More »

Which Way Will Campus Protests Go?

By Mark Naison (November 23, 2015) One of my great fears with the current wave of campus protests is that Universities will respond to student protests by trying to reshape student and faculty attitudes rather than having universities change who they recruit and admit and hire.Read More »

What Sorts of Places Should Our Universities Be? Structural Questions for Today's Campus Protests

By Mark Naison (November 16, 2015)Read More »

The Drug War: A Brilliant Strategy to Divide People Along Racial Lines When All Boats are Sinking

  By Mark Naison (October 29, 2015) During the last thirty years, working class incomes in the US have fallen sharply. The vast majority of income gains in the US during those years have accrued to people in the top 20 percent of earners and in the last ten years to people in the top 1 percent. The once proud...
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Measuring Our Failure By the Lives of Our Children

  By Mark Naison (October 21, 2015) When you erase caring, supportive relationships from people’s work and school experiences, you endanger the precious balance that allows them to live fulfilling lives.Read More »

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