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Geraldine D. Brownlee

Geraldine Brownlee has spent most of her life as an educator. Born in East Chicago, Indiana, Brownlee’s father was a skilled worker for Inland Steel and both her mother and her stepmother were homemakers. Brownlee attended West Virginia State College, where she graduated cum laude in 1947 with degrees in biology and Spanish. Brownlee earned an M.S.T. in urban education from the University of Chicago in 1967, and completed her Ph.D. there in 1975. She also spent time at both the University of Illinois and the University of Michigan graduate schools of social work.

In 1947, Brownlee took a job with the Cook County Department of Public Welfare, where she worked as a caseworker from 1948 until 1955 when she began a career in teaching. She taught elementary school for eleven years in the Chicago public schools. From 1967 until 1970, Brownlee worked with the University of Chicago graduate school of education as a staff associate, becoming assistant director of teacher training in 1970. The following year, Brownlee was made an assistant professor and assistant dean of student services in the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) College of Education. During 1975-1976, Brownlee served as director of Title VII desegregation projects for Illinois School District 163. She continued as an assistant professor with UIC until her retirement in 1990, teaching curriculum and instruction within the school of education to both undergraduate and graduate students. During that time, she worked as a visiting professor to Indiana University Northwest and was active evaluating programs within the Chicago public school system. In 1995, Brownlee became a consultant to the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University in Chicago, where she remained for a year.

Brownlee has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout her career. She has also been active both in professional and civic organizations. Some of her honors include the 1990 YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Outstanding Achievement Award in the field of education; selection as a member of the Chicago Presbyterian Delegation to Cuba in 1998; and election as a commissioner to the 2000 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America. She has served on the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago Board of Directors, the Chicago Urban League Education Advisory Committee and Links, Inc. Brownlee and her husband Brady live in Chicago.

Accession Number

A2003.302

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/17/2003

Last Name

Brownlee

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Daniels

Occupation
Schools

Benjamin Franklin Elem School

East Chicago Central High Sch

West Virginia State University

University of Michigan

University of Chicago

First Name

Geraldine

Birth City, State, Country

East Chicago

HM ID

BRO17

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Will send VITAE to Crystal. She's an Elder in Presbyterian Church - lc; Charles Branham

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Georgia

Favorite Quote

The Truth Of The Matter Is.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/13/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Education professor Geraldine D. Brownlee (1925 - ) has taught for many years at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Employment

Cook County Department of Public Welfare

Chicago Public Schools

University of Chicago

University of Illinois, Chicago

Illinois School District 163

Indiana University Northwest

Center for Urban Education at DePaul University

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188410">Tape: 1 Slating of Geraldine D. Brownlee's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188411">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188412">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her mother's side of the family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188413">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her stepmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188414">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188415">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her father's personality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188416">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee recalls her birth mother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188417">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes the culture of reading in her household as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188418">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee remembers her neighborhood growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188419">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in East Chicago, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188420">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes herself as a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188421">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188422">Tape: 1 Geraldine D. Brownlee remembers Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in East Chicago, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188255">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about a racist experience at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in East Chicago, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188256">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee recalls her favorite subjects at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School in East Chicago, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188257">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about encountering racism at George Washington High School in East Chicago, Indiana</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188258">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee explains how discrimination kept her from entering the National Honor Society</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188259">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee explains how she decided to attend West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188260">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her experience at West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188261">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her extracurricular activities at West Virginia State College, Institute, West Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188262">Tape: 2 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her studies at West Virginia State College, Institute, West Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188423">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee recalls President John W. Davis at West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188424">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her interest in the Quakers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188425">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes the speaker series at West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188426">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee remembers learning about black history in her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188427">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about the impact of World War II on West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188428">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee explains how she entered the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for special training in administering to the blind</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188429">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about encountering racism in Ann Arbor, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188430">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee remembers declining a job with the W.C. Handy Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188431">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee recalls her experience as a social worker in Chicago, Illinois</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188432">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her early teaching experience</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188433">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee explains her motivation for pursuing graduate studies in education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188434">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her philosophy of curriculum development</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188435">Tape: 3 Geraldine D. Brownlee discusses the challenges facing contemporary education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188276">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about the work of HistoryMaker Dr. James Comer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188277">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee philosophizes about leadership</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188278">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her dissertation research on teacher leadership</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188279">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee details her work with various community and social organizations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188280">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her work as a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188281">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about black studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188282">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her work as principal evaluator for the Chicago Public School system</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188283">Tape: 4 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about her work as a director of a desegregation program</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188436">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about the importance of setting expectations in education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188437">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee explains the lack of pro-union sentiment in her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188438">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188439">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188440">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee considers what she would do differently</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188441">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee remembers her mentors</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188442">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee talks about the challenges of implementing affirmative action effectively</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188443">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188444">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee narrates her photographs pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/188445">Tape: 5 Geraldine D. Brownlee narrates her photographs pt. 2</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her experience at West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia
Geraldine D. Brownlee describes her work as a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago
Transcript
Okay. What was West Virginia State like? I mean, who were some of the teachers and personalities that you met there?$$Well, West Virginia State College [West Virginia State University, Institute, West Virginia] is a--on its sign it says, a liberal education, and I always knew from my mother that that was the best kind of education one could get. And when I went there, the dean of the college was Dr. Harrison Ferrell, who was from Chicago [Illinois] and had finished his doctorate at Northwestern [University, Evanston, Illinois]. And he greeted me right away, because you had to send in your picture with your application. And when I walked into the administration building, he said, "Hi, Gerri [HM Geraldine D. Brownlee]," the first day when I registered. And my psychology teacher was Dr. Herman Canady, who had received his doctorate at Northwestern. And I really have never regretted that decision. My whole life changed. I just felt as if I were just liberated from all of the racism, whether it was subtle or not, that I could go--belong to any organization I wanted to belong to. I wasn't afraid of failing, because I knew I had the ability to learn. And then it would put me in contact with my own people, because I was very limited in East Chicago [Indiana] in knowing people, black people--we were colored then--except for church and the limited number who went to school with me, 'cause there were only twenty-six in my graduation class out of over three hundred blacks. And so it was--I was very impressed with the faculty. I was impressed with the students. I didn't like the dorm. I thought the dorms were crummy. But it just made a different person out of me in my life.$$Were there a lot of restrictions on students at West Virginia, West Virginia State at that point (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh, yeah. Yes. In those days you couldn't get in a car. One could not leave campus without written permission from your parents. We had to be in the dorm at certain hours of night. You know, yes. There were a lot of restrictions. But I didn't mind that because I had restrictions at home. And then we--as we learned, we could do everything we wanted to do within a certain--anyway, within a certain time.$$(Laughter) Once you figured out the system.$$That's right.$$That's right.$$But then, I also didn't know, until I got to West Virginia State, and Dr. Canady gave everyone--now that I look back on it, it may have been the Stanford Binet test [Stanford Binet Intelligence Scales]; it was an I.Q. test, and then told us, you know, who did well and who did this. And I was the highest one in the class, and it was a very high I.Q. And he said--told them that. And I was so pleased, because I knew I had a good I.Q., but I didn't know how high it was or how good it was, because they never told me in high school. So with Dean--Dr. Canady and Dr. Ferrell, I could take as many--you know, how a load could be, like, sixteen hours? I was permitted to take twenty, twenty-two, twenty-four. You know, I could--they gave me a lot of privileges, because they said I could do it. And that's how I got the double major, 'cause with a double major, one has to have a double minor, which means you have to have certain courses in two dif- four areas. I had to do it.$Okay. Well, speaking of professing, you've been a professor at University of Illinois of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois] for a number of years. Right? And you're now professor emeritus. Right, or--?$$From the University of Illinois.$$Yeah.$$Um-hm.$$University of Illinois at Chicago.$$At Chicago.$$Yeah. Right.$$Um-hm.$$Right. Okay.$$That was an experience.$$Okay.$$That was truly an experience (laughter).$$Well, I can, you know, I see a balloon above your head, but you got to fill in the blanks. Now, what happened at the University of Illinois at Chicago?$$Well, because it is a large institution. And to leave a college like West Virginia State [College; West Virginia University, Institute, West Virginia] and to go to a university like the University of Chicago, where there are small populations and to go into a public urban university, where there are thousands and thousands of faculty and student is quite a challenge--students. It's quite a challenge. And it was an eyeopener because I went there because I've always been committed to urban education. And I got there and found that they were still searching for their urban mission. And it was very difficult because there's such a mix there of Hispanics, blacks, Indians, and whites of different origins. And there are very relatively speaking, very few tenured black faculty, which puts the burden on those of us who are tenured to meet the needs of the black students, and I--which even though there may not be more than 15 percent, to meet their needs. Because if one is there, one is likely to come to a person who is of, you know, of the same origin. And it was very, very difficult for white faculty to understand the demands made on black faculty in terms of publications and research and funding, when we have these other issues that have to do with race and our students. That was one eyeopener for, you know, for me. The fact that it's a revolving door for black professors was another issue. As a matter of fact, the chancellor asked me to serve as a--to chair his committee on the status of blacks at UIC, which I did for a couple of years before I left, and it was most challenging. I don't--but, I did get in to know a couple of other black faculties from what we call the other campus, the west campus, the medical science campus, who were most supportive, for example, [HM] Dr. [Maurice F.] Rabb, I don't know whether you know him.$$Maurice Rabb?$$Maur- that's how I got to know him. When I was president he was very, very supportive. There were other faculties I would not have gotten to know if I had not had that post. But it was--it also was at the expense of getting my own work done. I was not given off--you know, time off to do this. But that's, that's what happens to us when we are in certain positions. We have to take on certain responsibilities, because--not only because we're needed, but because we have a commitment to do so.$$Okay.$$So it was--there were--I guess I've touched on the primary problems, trying to serve and support minority students while doing what professors are expected to do was a real problem.