Youth advocate and Oklahoma Board of Education member Carlisha Williams Bradley and University of Oklahoma history professor Anne Hyde join PEN America for a discussion of currents threats to honest teaching of history and racism in Oklahoma schools and universities, in the context of social and political backlash against anti-racism education, and in the wake of the passage of HB 1775 in May. This event is a chance to support the writers, readers, scholars, and free expression supporters in Oklahoma and the rest of the country who are being targeted by wrongheaded legislation.
This event is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association and Magic City Books.
Carlisha Williams Bradley is a passionate educator and youth advocate who serves as the executive director of ImpactTulsa. Most recently, Bradley served as the executive director of Tulsa Legacy Charter School (TLCS). Under her leadership, TLCS became the first charter school in the state of Oklahoma to join the prestigious portfolios of Charter School Growth Fund and NewSchools Venture Fund. Bradley was also a 2017 School Systems Leader Fellow who supported Tulsa Public Schools as a senior consultant to the superintendent’s cabinet for strategy and talent development. Prior to these roles, Bradley served on the National Leadership team of Lighthouse Academies, which served over 7,000 students and 825 teachers, principals, and staff members nationwide. In this role, she managed the highest performing school in the network and Oklahoma school expansion. Bradley was a former middle school teacher and administrator who worked abroad in nonprofit development before entering the classroom. Prior to teaching, Bradley founded Women Empowering Nations, an organization devoted to the self-esteem and leadership development of girls of color in Africa and the United States. Bradley holds an MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, a BBA in entrepreneurship and venture management, and a BA in African and African-American studies from The University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Anne Hyde is professor of history at the University of Oklahoma (OU). An expert on the American West and Indigenous histories, she is editor-in-chief of The Western Historical Quarterly. She serves as the faculty coordinator for OU’s required U.S. history survey course, enrolling 3,600 students each year. She has also served as faculty director of the American Historical Association’s “Tuning the History Discipline in the United States” project. Her latest book is Born of Lakes and Plains: Mixed Descent Families and the Making of the American West (W. W. Norton & Company, 2022).
James Tager is the research director at PEN America. Tager previously worked with the Asia & the Pacific Programme at the International Commission of Jurists, first as a Satter Human Rights Fellow and subsequently as an international associate legal advisor. Before that, he was a 2013-2014 Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellow, researching civil society responses to the developing human rights framework within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). He has lived and worked in Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Tager holds a BA from Duke University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Writer and editor Chris Tomlinson (coeditor of Forget the Alamo) and young adult author Ashley Hope Pérez (author of Out of Darkness) come together for this special conversation to discuss recent threats to free expression in Texas. The discussion will unpack controversies including the recently canceled Forget the Alamo book event at the Bullock Texas State History Museum as well as the recent and expansive book ban in Texas’s Leander Independent School District, which includes Pérez’s Out of Darkness.
Chris Tomlinson is the author of two New York Times bestsellers and a columnist for the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. His latest book, Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth, was co-written with Bryan Burrough and Jason Stanford and deconstructs the Texas origin myth to reveal the truth behind the state’s legends. His previous bestseller, Tomlinson Hill: The Remarkable Story of Two Families who Share the Tomlinson Name-One White, One Black, examines the history of race in America from the family’s 1850s Texas slave plantation to the present day. Tomlinson writes commentary about energy, business, and policy three times a week, drawing on his 25 years of reporting experience.
Previously, Tomlinson was the supervisory correspondent for The Associated Press in Austin, responsible for Texas government and politics reporting. From 2001 to 2009, he was a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press and served as the East Africa bureau chief in Nairobi, Kenya. Tomlinson has reported from more than 30 countries, including Rwanda, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Congo. Before becoming a journalist, he spent seven years in the U.S. Army. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1992 with special honors in humanities. Tomlinson currently serves on the board of advisers of the Texas Book Festival and two contemporary art organizations in Austin, Co-Lab Projects and The Museum of Human Achievement.
Ashley Hope Pérez is the author of the young adult novels Out of Darkness (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), The Knife and the Butterfly (Carolrhoda Lab, 2012) and What Can’t Wait (Carolrhoda Lab, 2011). Her debut novel, What Can’t Wait, won a spot on the 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adult list, and The Knife and the Butterfly was included in the 2015 YALSA Popular Paperbacks list. Pérez grew up in Texas and taught high school in Houston before pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature. She is now a visiting assistant professor of comparative studies at The Ohio State University and spends most of her time reading, writing, and teaching on topics from global youth narratives to Latin American and Latina/o fiction. She lives in Ohio with her husband, Arnulfo, and their son, Liam Miguel.
Jonathan Friedman is the director of free expression and education at PEN America, where he oversees advocacy, analysis, and outreach to educational communities and academic institutions. In this role, he drives forward PEN America’s efforts to catalyze a more informed, civic culture through free expression education for the rising generation and the general public. Friedman served as lead author on PEN America’s 2019 report, Chasm in the Classroom: Campus Free Speech in a Divided America, and on the production of its digital Campus Free Speech Guide. He regularly provides commentary on campus free speech issues for national news media, has facilitated workshops, and has conducted advisory meetings with students, faculty, and administrators at dozens of colleges and universities across the United States.