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Paula McClain

Political science professor and public policy professor Paula D. McClain was born on January 3, 1950 in Louisville, Kentucky to Mabel T. Molock and Robert Landis McClain. After graduating from East Anchorage High School in Anchorage, Alaska in 1968, McClain enrolled at Howard University. In 1970, McClain served as a program coordinator for the National Coordinating Council on Drug Abuse Education and Information. She interned in 1971 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Office of Compliance where she briefed and researched violations of discrimination in the utility of industry. McClain received her B.A. degree in political science from Howard University in 1972. She went on to pursue graduate education at Howard University, finishing her M.A. degree in political science in 1974.

McClain then worked as a consultant for Adaptive Systems in Annapolis, Maryland and the Social Science Research Center at Howard University. By 1977, she had also completed her Ph.D. degree from Howard University, and began teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) in political science studies and African American Studies. McClain published her first book Alienation and Resistance: The Political Behavior of Afro-Canadians while at UWM. McClain received a postdoctoral fellowship and worked as a research associate in the Analysis Center at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1980-81 academic year. She then began teaching at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona in the School of Public Affairs. By 1990, McClain was serving as the acting director for the Doctorate of Public Administration Program. Also in 1990, McClain and Harold M. Rose released Race, Place, and Risk: Black Homicide in Urban America. The book was awarded the National Conference of Black Political Scientists' Best Book Award for a previously published book that has made a substantial and continuing contribution. In 1991, McClain joined the faculty at the University of Virginia as a professor of government and foreign affairs. She served as department chair from 1994-1997. In 1995, McClain released the first edition of Can We All Get Along? Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics, which won the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Subject of Intolerance.

In 2000 McClain joined the faculty at Duke University as a professor of political science and professor or public policy. In 2001, she began The Durham Pilot Project, examining racial attitudes among blacks, whites and Latinos in the South. While working on this project, she became the third woman and the first African American elected to serve as Chair of Academic Council at Duke University (2007-2009). Since 2004, she has served as co-director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences. She also is the director the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute, a program of the American Political Science Association that is hosted by Duke and funded by the National Science Foundation. McClain and her husband Paul Jacobson have two daughters, Kristina L. McClain-Jacobson Ragland and Jessica A. McClain-Jacobson.

Paula McClain was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 22, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.069

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/22/2012

Last Name

McClain

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

East Anchorage High School

Colonel Young Elementary School

Colonel Johnson Middle School

Buena High School

University of Michigan

Howard University

First Name

Paula

Birth City, State, Country

Louisville

HM ID

MCC13

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Kentucky

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Interview Description
Birth Date

1/3/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Durham

Country

USA

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Political science professor and public policy professor Paula McClain (1950 - ) was a professor at Duke University, where she founded the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences. Her publications included the popular textbook 'American Government in Black and White.'

Employment

Duke University

Arizona State University

University of Virginia

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Howard Pollock Congressional Office

Birch Bayh Senatorial Office

National Coordinating Council on Drug Abuse

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Wharton School Analysis Center

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paula McClain's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paula McClain lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paula McClain describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paula McClain describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paula McClain describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paula McClain describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paula McClain talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paula McClain talks about her paternal family's connection to Houston A. Baker, Jr.

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paula McClain recalls her father's service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paula McClain describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paula McClain talks about her time in Anchorage, Alaska

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paula McClain describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paula McClain remembers her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paula McClain remembers her early mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paula McClain describes the African American community in Anchorage, Alaska

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paula McClain talks about her decision to attend Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paula McClain talks about her decision to enroll at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paula McClain remembers the assassination of Revered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paula McClain talks about her family's religious affiliations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paula McClain recalls her internships on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paula McClain remembers her professors at Howard University, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paula McClain recalls her internships on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paula McClain remembers her internship at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paula McClain remembers the visiting speakers at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paula McClain describes her experiences at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paula McClain remembers her professors at Howard University, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paula McClain describes her decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paula McClain describes her master's thesis

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paula McClain talks about the black community in Canada

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paula McClain recalls the politics of the early 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paula McClain remembers the Watergate scandal

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Paula McClain talks about her graduation from Howard University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paula McClain recalls her position at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paula McClain talks about her studies at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paula McClain describes her associate professorship at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paula McClain talks about her book, 'Race, Place, and Risk,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paula McClain talks about her book, 'Race, Place, and Risk,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paula McClain talks about the prevention of black on black crime

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paula McClain describes her reasons for leaving Arizona State University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Paula McClain talks about her publications at the University of Virginia

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Paula McClain talks about her membership in the American Political Science Association

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Paula McClain describes her experiences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Paula McClain talks about the Durham Pilot Program

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Paula McClain talks about the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Paula McClain talks about her book, 'American Government in Black and White,' pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Paula McClain talks about her book, 'American Government in Black and White,' pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Paula McClain talks about the history of democracy in Native American cultures

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Paula McClain talks about her current research projects

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Paula McClain describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Paula McClain talks about the economic disparity within the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Paula McClain reflects upon the status of black women in academia

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Paula McClain reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Paula McClain reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Paula McClain talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Paula McClain shares her advice to women in academia

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Paula McClain describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

4$5

DATitle
Paula McClain talks about her book, 'Race, Place, and Risk,' pt. 1
Paula McClain talks about the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences
Transcript
All right so, '89 [1989], let's see, okay with, with Harold Rose you released 'Race, Place, and Risk' (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, 'And Risk: Black Homicide in Urban America' ['Race, Place, and Risk: Black Homicide in Urban America,' Paula D. McClain and Harold Rose].$$Okay$$It was the first, well what--among the first in depth studies of black on black homicide, and we used five or six different cities; it was Detroit [Michigan], St. Louis [Missouri], Houston [Texas], L.A. [Los Angeles, California], but there were six cities, I'm blanking on, St. Louis, did I say St. Louis? But the causes and the factors that contributed to what we were seeing at that point was an increase on black on black violence and we had a lot of different--Harold as a res- Harold is just a creative researcher. We started with a, with a sample of victims which we got by ordering data from public health departments in the cities, the study ran from 1960 through '85 [1985], I believe, so we had about twenty-five years' worth of data and we ordered death certificates based on the health departments names and numbers of who died, I mean there's a difference, we didn't use the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] statistics because if, if you look at 'em you have, you come up with two different numbers because the FBI has statistics on everybody who died within the city, and we were only interested in residents and county health departments only keep the stats of resident deaths I mean in terms of the ones that they report. So by starting with the city or county health department, then ordering death certificates for all of the people and then identifying the black victims, I mean it was just a real lot of detective work to kind of get to, once we got the victims sample, then we were able to find out whether anyone was ever arrested for the homicide and if they were what the dep- disposition of the case was. And so we had victim data, we got, if we could identify the offender and if they were incarcerated we got interviews, there, I actually did a series of interviews in, it's coming back to me, Jackson, which is the women's prison up in Michigan. Then once we, you know, then got data on the offenders, we got school data on the victims, I mean it was, it was just a massive effort and, an incr- an incredible study that really kind of talked about the various factors of why some cities looked like they were high homicide cities in the aggregate like Atlanta [Georgia]. But basically in Atlanta most of the homicides were domestic, so unless you were in that particular household, your risk of being a homicide victim was a lot lower than in a place like St. Louis where it was mostly unknown and on the street. So we identified all of these differences in the rate of black homicide and the factors that contributed to it.$$Is there a generalization that, that can be extrapolated from that research that could characterize black on black crime in--?$$I don't think, given the fact that we found differences among cities that there's one generalization that one can identify. But, what our work it was it spawned a lot of other work, you know? And there's lots of people now, lots of scholars who have done more work on black homicide and I no longer do that, I think the last piece Harold and I wrote was an update in '95 [1995], I believe on the cities--$$Okay.$$--that we had looked at.$Well tell us about the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Sciences. My colleague, Kerry Haynie [Kerry L. Haynie], and I are the founding directors of the center, it's part of the Social Science Research Institute. And the focus is race and then ethnicity, because Latinos are not considered a race they can be of any race, but the [U.S.] Census Bureau considers them an ethnic group as opposed to a race, but even within the Asian American population, we use that broad term but there are various ethnic groups, various different groupings within the Latino population and even increasingly among the black population in the United States. With immigration it's still primarily like 94 percent slave descendent, but there's this increasing proportion of the black population of the United States that are Caribbean or of various African origins. And so that's the race and ethnicity in terms of the research, the gender is the intersection of race and gender, in literature, sociology is a little bit better, but in political science or whatever, when you talk about women in politics, all the research is on white women, when we talk about race, ethnicity and politics and we're talking about elected officials who are black or Latino, it's mostly male, research on black women in politics in, in organization, Latino women just get dropped out. So the gender in our center is about this interaction for women of color within these groups. So that the, the issues related to white women are not central to our study of gender but it's the gender of women of color, women of color interacting because that's where there's just a paucity of research.$$Okay.$$And we have a number of graduate students that are fellows in the center, we have a post doc [postdoctoral fellowship], we just had our distinguished lecture which was Ed Ayers [Edward L. Ayers], who's a civil, who's a historian, he's president of the University of Richmond [Richmond, Virginia], but he gave us, his lecture was on February 10th because this is, this is like the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and running up to the Emancipation Proclamation, and one of the things that that Ed was saying is that we really shouldn't separate the beginning of the Civil War from this emancipation because from the very beginning blacks were emancipating themselves whenever they knew that federal troops or anything were close that they would, they would take off. So we think about the Emancipation Proclamation as being some beginning point when in reality--$$Um-hm.$$--it was all part of the Civil War, you know. So, and we've got a number of visiting scholars that, that come to spend time. We've had a graduate student from France who spent a year with us, 'cause France doesn't identify issues of race. They've got a lot of racial issues, but they don't collect racial data, they don't wanna talk about it, there's no courses. So she came over here for a year and took some courses and wrote her master's [degree] thesis when she was with us so.$$Okay so, so does the future seem bright for the center?$$I hope so, I mean, you know, you're always--we go through three year budget cycles and so my hope is that in 2013 we'll get another three year budget cycle, you know, but right now things are good.$$Now there is, there has been some talk in academia and some action about rolling back such centers and African American studies departments and women's studies even and that sort of thing, especially with the tightening of budgets and--$$Um-hm.$$--you know, so that's, that's not a problem at, at Duke [Duke University, Durham, North Carolina] I don't think at this time?$$I don't think right now.$$Yeah.$$I think our centers are strong, the Department of African and African American Studies here is quite strong, it's got some very, very important and very solid scholars. So I think that national trend has not affected Duke, you know, but there's always issues, you're always concerned about protecting and making sure that commitment to these things doesn't fall through, you know, the cracks at Duke. And we've got a very active black faculty organization, the Black Faculty Caucus that tries to stay on top of these issues.