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Howard L. Fuller

Maker interview details

Profile image of Howard L. Fuller


  • January 28, 2022



  • Born: January 14, 1941
  • Birth Location: Shreveport, Louisiana


  • Favorite Color: Blue
  • Favorite Food: Fried Chicken, Greens, Cornbread, and Yams
  • Favorite Time of Year: Summer
  • Favorite Vacation Spot: Jamaica and New Orleans

Favorite Quote

"If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress."
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Educator and civil rights activist Howard Fuller was born on January 14, 1941, in Shreveport, Louisiana, to Juanita and Tom Fuller. He received his B.S. degree in sociology in 1962 from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, his M.S.A. degree in social work in 1964 from Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio, and his Ph.D. degree in the sociological foundations of education in 1985 from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In 1964, Fuller moved to Chicago to work as a community development specialist for the Urban League. In 1965, he became the director of community development at Operation Breakthrough in Durham, North Carolina. Fuller became the director of community organization at the North Carolina Fund and at the Foundation for Community Development, in Durham, in 1967. In 1969, he founded Malcolm X Liberation University, in Durham, serving as its president until its closure, in 1973. From 1972 to 1975, he served as a consultant for the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, in New York City, and from 1974 to 1976, he served as a business agent of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO Local 77, in Durham. Fuller returned to Milwaukee in 1976 and served as a general agent for the Equitable Life Insurance Society until 1977, when he became associate director of the Educational Opportunity Program at Marquette University.

In 1983, Fuller became the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employment Relations. From 1986 to 1988, he served as dean of the general education division at Milwaukee Area Technical College, after which he became director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services. From 1991 to 1995, he served as superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. From 1995 to 1997, Fuller was a senior fellow at the Annenberg Institute for Social Reform, at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. Also in 1995, he became a distinguished professor of education and founded the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, which he directed until his retirement in 2020. He co-founded the Black Alliance for Educational Options in 2000 and the CEO Leadership Academy (later the Milwaukee Collegiate Academy, then the Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy) in 2004. Fuller also has taught at the University of North Carolina, Shaw University, Carroll College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Fuller’s memoir, No Struggle, No Progress: A Warrior’s Life from Black Power to Education Reform, was published in 2014.

Fuller has served on numerous boards, including as chair of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Alliance for Choices in Education in Milwaukee, the CEO Leadership Academy, Quest-Milwaukee, the Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy, and the Wisconsin Municipalities Private School Finance Commission. He has received honorary degrees from Carroll College, Marian College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and Edgewood College.

Fuller and his wife, Deborah McGriff, live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has four children: Kelli Fuller, Darwin Mills, Malcolm Fuller, and Miata Fuller.

Fuller was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 28, 2022.