Domingo Morel presents: "Takeover: Race, Education, and American Democracy"

Saturday December 8, 7:00PM

@ Red Emma's

State takeovers of local governments have garnered national attention of late, particularly following the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In most U.S. cities, local governments are responsible for decisions concerning matters such as the local water supply and school affairs. However, once a state takes over, this decision-making capability is shuttled. Despite the widespread attention that takeovers in Flint and Detroit have gained, we know little about how such takeovers--a policy option that has been in use since the 1980s--affect political power in local communities. 

By focusing on takeovers of local school districts, this book offers the first systematic study of state takeovers of local governments. Although many major U.S. cities have experienced state takeovers of their local school districts, we know little about the political causes and consequences of takeovers. Complicating this phenomenon are the justifications for state takeokers; while they are assumedly based on concerns with poor academic performance, questions of race and political power play a critical role in the takeover of local school districts. However, Domingo Morel brings clarity to these questions and limitations--he examines the factors that contribute to state takeovers as well as the effects and political implications of takeovers on racialized communities, the communities most often affected by them. Morel both lays out the conditions under which the policy will disempower or empower racial and ethnic minority populations, and expands our understanding of urban politics. Morel argues that state interventions are a part of the new normal for cities and offers a novel theoretical framework for understanding the presence of the state in America's urban areas. The book is built around an original study of nearly 1000 school districts, including every school district that has been taken over by their respective state, and a powerful case study of Newark, New Jersey.

Domingo Morel is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University.

"States have become muscular agents in shaping urban education, but while most other accounts focus on the mechanics of accountability, Morel zeroes in on the politics of power, party, and race. In doing so, he simultaneously shows how the cards are stacked against local empowerment and that counter-mobilization is nonetheless possible." --Jeffrey R. Henig, co-author of The Color of School Reform

"As cities from New Orleans to Flint grapple with the long term impacts of state takeovers on local policy and politics, scholars and policymakers have much to learn from Morel's important contribution." --Sarah Reckhow, author of Follow the Money

"Domingo Morel exposes the hollowness of the claim that state-led reforms offer a color-free path to the improvement of urban schools. Instead, he brings citizenship into the picture and makes a case that for marginalized communities of color it is essential to integrate reform with local empowerment." --Clarence N. Stone, author of Regime Politics

"I will give this book to each and every graduate student that walks through my door-a stellar example of how to do theoretically-informed, problem-oriented, conceptually rich, and impactful research." --Vesla M. Weaver, author of Arresting Citizenship

More upcoming events

@ Red Emma's

Join us for our annual holiday card writing event plus the Certain Days 2019 Calendar launch party! We’ll be sending dozens of holiday cards and birthday cards to political prisoners in time for the end of the year – a time of year that can be particularly lonely for those on the inside. Please join us to send some love through the walls. 

The 2013 Lac-Mégantic crude oil train disaster killed 47 people and destroyed a entire Quebec town: this new book uncovers new details about what happened, how it happened, who was responsible, and why it can happen again.

Crude-by-rail traffic is an urgent issue at the intersection of climate change, workers rights, and public safety and it's been a big topic of debate in Baltimore for years. Earlier this year, the City Council passed a bill banning new crude oil terminals in the city, but crude oil trains continue to pose a danger to the city, particularly as we see the repeated failures of our infrastructure such as the most recent 26th St collapse

Co-sponsored by CCAN, Railroad Workers United, and Clean Water Action


Join us for a talk by Bernardo Vigil, worker-owner at Baltimore Bicycle Works, for a talk about his research into workplace democracy in Barcelona, exploring the strategies  small and mid-sized worker co-ops are using to build meaningful pathways toward self-management, participation, and cooperative leadership development.

Talk at 7pm, with a special co-op happy hour hosted by the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy—the nonextractive local loan fund run by worker co-ops, for worker co-ops—at 5PM.

The Amphitheater of the Dead is a lightly science-fictionalized memoir by the French thinker Guy Hocquenghem, written in the last months of his life with the intention of prolonging it. “Writing saves,” he writes. “Each time that I started work on a book, I knew I would get to the end. That’s the challenge that I launch with this one, one more time.” From May to the end of June 1988, Hocquenghem worked on this last book, writing in pen from his bed until complications from AIDS developed into paralysis and “his hand no longer responded to commands from his brain,” as his comrade Roland Surzur writes in the preface. He did not get to the end.


Set in 2018, the novel dramatizes the task of living with death, imagining a future of chronic deferral remarkable for depictions of AIDS at the time. The mild futurism (in thirty years, not much has visibly changed beyond bioluminescent houseplants) primarily functions as a way for Hocquenghem to reflect on his midcentury life, though reading it in the actual 2018 brings out surprising juxtapositions and resonances with the present. Hocquenghem’s personal trajectory was singular at the time: he forged a new way of relating to homosexuality in France through his thought, writing and political activity, but in retrospect he feels shockingly familiar. We can see now how the course of his life formed the template for many contemporary queer lives.


Guy Hocquenghem's first book Le Désir homosexuel appeared in 1972, and he produced journalism, films, magazines, and novels until his death in August of 1988. He is considered one of the forebears of queer theory.


Max Fox is a writer and translator, an editor of the New Inquiry, and a founding editor of Pinko Magazine. He lives in Philadelphia.

@ Red Emma's

A special event with contributors:

Co-sponsored by the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

From well-known intellectuals such as Frederick Douglass and Nella Larsen to often-obscured thinkers such as Amina Baraka and Bernardo Ruiz Suárez, black theorists across the globe have engaged in sustained efforts to create insurgent and resilient forms of thought. New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition is a collection of twelve essays that explores these and other theorists and their contributions to diverse strains of political, social, and cultural thought. 

The book examines four central themes within the black intellectual tradition: black internationalism, religion and spirituality, racial politics and struggles for social justice, and black radicalism. The essays identify the emergence of black thought within multiple communities internationally, analyze how black thinkers shaped and were shaped by the historical moment in which they lived, interrogate the ways in which activists and intellectuals connected their theoretical frameworks across time and space, and assess how these strains of thought bolstered black consciousness and resistance worldwide. 

Defying traditional temporal and geographical boundaries, New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition illuminates the origins of and conduits for black ideas, redefines the relationship between black thought and social action, and challenges long-held assumptions about black perspectives on religion, race, and radicalism. The intellectuals profiled in the volume reshape and redefine the contours and boundaries of black thought, further illuminating the depth and diversity of the black intellectual tradition.