February 08, 2021
Did You Know that SEL Emerged Because of A Black Man? The True History of SEL
Source: Lessons For SEL | Repost Fight for Life Foundation 2/8/2021 –
Dr. James Comer – a name you should know. You might have heard his name in passing. You might have even read an article mentioning his name and quickly glanced over it. But why should you know about Dr. James Comer? For starters, some people consider him the godfather of Social Emotional Learning (SEL)… Oh yeah, and he’s a Black man! That’s right; the godfather of Social Emotional Learning is a Black man.
Dr. James Comer was the first African-American to become a full professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He currently serves as the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center and the Associate Dean at the Yale School of Medicine.
His pivotal research project paved the way for the eventual emergence of Social Emotional Learning… and again – he’s a Black man.
Yup, the person responsible for the emergence of Social Emotional Learning, is a Black man! Why does this matter? Because most of the literature and history as it relates to SEL leave out Black voices and their contributions. Much of the available SEL history might include a short sentence, perhaps even a paragraph, acknowledging the work of Dr. Comer. However, the SEL literature rarely, if at all, explicitly gives attention to Dr. Comer being a Black man who was raised and worked during one of the most racially hostile eras (spanning the 1930s – 1980s) in American history. Yet, out of this era, Dr. Comer’s work centered on uplifting Black people out of poverty through social and emotional development.