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Beverly Daniel Tatum

Educator and clinical psychologist Beverly Christine Daniel Tatum was born on September 27, 1954, in Tallahassee, Florida, to parents Catherine Faith Maxwell and Robert A. Daniel. After completing high school, Tatum received her B.A. degree in psychology from Wesleyan University in 1975. She went on to receive her M.A. degree in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1976 and later returned there to receive her Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1984. In 2000, Tatum received her M.A. degree in religious studies from Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut.

Tatum began her career in higher education in 1980 as a lecturer in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. During her teaching career, she held professorships in psychology at Westfield State College and Mount Holyoke College. During her tenure at Mount Holyoke College, she was promoted to chair of the Department of Psychology and Education. In 1998, Tatum was appointed as dean of the college and vice president for student affairs. By 2002, she was appointed acting president of Mount Holyoke College before assuming the presidency at Spelman College.

Along with distinguishing herself as a notable educator, Tatum has enjoyed a celebrated career as a clinical psychologist. She worked in independent practice from 1988 to 1998 focusing on individual and group counseling. She specialized in consultation and training related to diversity and multicultural organizational development. Tatum has also written two widely acclaimed books, Assimilation Blues: Black Families in White Communities: Who Succeeds and Why? and ”Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” And Other Conversations About Race, which was named 1998 Multicultural Book of the Year by the National Association of Multicultural Education.

In addition to serving as president of Spelman College, Tatum serves as a member on many boards, including the Board of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C., and the Woodruff Arts Center Board in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also active in many professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association and the American Association of University Women among others.

Tatum is married to Dr. Travis Tatum and is the mother of two sons, Travis Jonathan and David.

Accession Number

A2006.039

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/17/2006

Last Name

Tatum

Maker Category
Middle Name

Daniel

Schools

Burnell Laboratory School

Bridgewater Middle School

Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School

Wesleyan University

University of Michigan

First Name

Beverly

Birth City, State, Country

Tallahassee

HM ID

TAT01

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oceans

Favorite Quote

Breathe Deeply.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

9/27/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Tofu

Short Description

College president and psychology professor Beverly Daniel Tatum (1954 - ) was chair of the Department of Psychology and Education and, later, acting president at Mount Holyoke College, before becoming the president of Spelman College. She has also enjoyed a celebrated career as a clinical psychologist and author.

Employment

University of California Santa Barbara

Westfield State College

Mount Holyoke College

Spelman College

Favorite Color

Pomegranate Red

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Beverly Daniel Tatum's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Beverly Daniel Tatum lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers visiting Danville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her father's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her father's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes the book 'Twenty Families of Color In Massachusetts'

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her parents, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her parents, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her mother's side of the family, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her father's side of the family, pt. 3

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her earliest childhood memories and her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her family's move to Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls growing up in Florida, Pennsylvania and Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes growing up in Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her neighbors in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her neighbors in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls Bridgewater's Burnell Laboratory School, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls Bridgewater's Burnell Laboratory School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her elementary and junior high school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes holidays and her church in Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her time at Bridgewater Middle School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls her Cape Verdean neighbors

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her childhood personality and her time in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers choosing Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes applying to college and her interest in psychology

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls choosing Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her instructors at Wesleyan University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her time at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls developing her sense of black pride in college

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her work between college and graduate school

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes the development of her racial identity, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes the development of her racial identity, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her older brother, Eric Daniel, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her older brother, Eric Daniel, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her dissertation advisor, Eric Berman

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers completing her dissertation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her research about black families

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls teaching a course on racism

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Beverly Daniel Tatum reflects upon her experiences with racism, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Beverly Daniel Tatum reflects upon her experiences with racism, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her move from California to Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Beverly Daniel Tatum remembers her career at Westfield State College

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her career trajectory in Massachusetts

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls joining the Mount Holyoke College faculty

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her book 'Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Beverly Daniel Tatum talks about her research on racial identity, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Beverly Daniel Tatum talks about her research on racial identity, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Beverly Daniel Tatum describes her career at Mount Holyoke College

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

10$7

DATitle
Beverly Daniel Tatum describes the development of her racial identity, pt. 2
Beverly Daniel Tatum recalls teaching a course on racism
Transcript
But when I was at Wesleyan [Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut], I became a resident advisor in the residence halls, and in my--on my residence hall, I had two black girls who also had grown up in predominantly white communities and one of them did it the way I did it in the sense that she came to Wesleyan and she really became part of the black community, and another one didn't. She seemed to be uncomfortable, not able to make that transition, and hung out mostly with other white students and I wondered at the time what made the difference. What made the difference for me, what made the difference between these two girls, and that was really my research question when I went off to graduate school. It was like, what makes the difference? And, I studied that question when I did my doctoral dissertation, and I tried to answer the question in my book, 'Assimilation Blues' ['Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community,' Beverly Daniel Tatum], and in the book I described three kinds of families. I discovered, as part of my research, that there were three kinds of families that I described. One was families that were what I would call race conscious. These were black families living in white communities that, even though they were in a white community, they really worked hard to try to make sure that their kids developed a strong sense of black identity. And maybe they did that by visiting their relatives other places, or sending the kids to a black church, or, you know, maybe joining Jack and Jill [Jack and Jill of America, Inc.], or you know, they did things (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Just immersing themselves in some kind of black environment--$$Trying to find some way to maintain that kind of ongoing connection for their children. And then there were some families that said it was important but didn't really do it, that they were kind of neutral. And then there were families that didn't think it was important, didn't really talk about it, didn't, you know, kind of avoided the whole topic of race, and I called them race-avoidant. If I had to characterize my family, I would call my parents [Catherine Maxwell Daniel and Robert A. Daniel] race neutral.$$Okay.$$You know, they didn't talk a lot about race, they really talked, they talked--or when they did, it was in the spirit of judging people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. They were really humanitarians in the sense of I can honestly say I never heard my parents make negative comments about white people or anybody, you know. They were very much guided by the golden rule: treat people the way you want to be treated. That was a clear principle in my household, so I would not give my parents credit for my own desire to establish--to connect with black people because it wasn't necessarily something that they talked a lot about. They didn't say you should do this or you should not do that and, in fact, when I went off to college with my Angela [HistoryMaker Angela Davis] and came home, I went off to college, came home, you know, looking like Angela Davis and talking about power to the people (laughter), you know, my mother thought I had really become kind of anti-white, and she and I had a long conversation about this in my summer after my first year of college, when I said to her, you know, "It's possible to be pro-black without being anti-white," you know. It's not necessarily both--you know, you don't have--I still had white friends, I still saw my high school friends, but clearly my focus had shifted.$So, I got invited to teach a course in the black studies department. The first course I was invited to teach was a course called--was really about black children and education. It was called Education and the Black Child. So, I taught that course and it went pretty well, and then I was asked to teach another one, and the second course I was asked to teach was called Group Exploration of Racism, and I had not ever taught a course like that before, but I, as a psychologist, had facilitated groups, you know, assertiveness training groups, all kinds of groups. And I had done all this reading about coping patterns and responses to racism on the parts of black families and so, anyway, to make a long story short, I thought I could do it and so I, and I needed the money (laughter) so I was offered the opportunity and I took it and I wasn't, I was twenty-five years old, I mean I was still young. Maybe I was twenty-six. I got married when I was twenty-four, going on twenty-four, so maybe I was twenty-six at this time, but I was a new professor and even though I wasn't very experienced, I had a very powerful teaching experience, because at the end of the semester, teaching this course, Group Exploration of Racism, my students said, "This course was the best course we've taken at this university. Everybody should take this course. It should be required." And I just felt like, wow, this is really powerful, and what was it that was making the course such a powerful learning experience? And, what I concluded was it was really about giving young people the permission to talk about a topic that had been a taboo up to that point for them. I mean, it was a very uncommon thing to be able to come together in a racially mixed class and talk about race. Most people hadn't had that experience before.$$Now were there as many whites as there were blacks, or were there--$$Oh, there were more whites, it was mostly white, so it wasn't evenly divided. The University of California at Santa Barbara [University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California] was the least diverse of the University of California campuses at the time that I was there, and that's probably still true. The black student population was about two percent, the Chicano student population was maybe five percent, the Asian population was a little higher perhaps, but it was still largely white campus.$$Well, a lot of times black students will shy away from classes on racism, but in that particular instance, you still had black representation (simultaneous)--?$$(Simultaneous) Yes, I did. I did. So, you know, if their class had maybe thirty students in it, maybe five of the students were black, and that's not a huge number but it is certainly, you know maybe 20 percent of the students would be black, and that, for most of the white students, was a new experience, being in a class with 20 percent of the students being of color, because most of the time, maybe there'd just be one or two. And, but anyway it was a very powerful teaching experience, and as the result of it, I made a personal decision that I wanted to always teach a course on racism. I thought it was an important social duty that I should engage in.