History professor Paul Lawrie named LA&PS Black inclusion advisor

Paul Lawrie

“We are thrilled that Professor Lawrie has accepted this role,” said LA&PS Dean J.J. McMurtry. “I look forward to his valuable input as we continue to respond to and build on recommendations stemming from our anti-Black racism strategy. Our goal is to create an inclusive and welcoming community for all our students, staff and faculty.”

“It is an honor and a privilege as the new LA&PS special advisor on Black inclusion to build on the groundbreaking work of Professor Andrea Davis, Associate Dean Michelle Johnson, Dean McMurtry and the Advisory Committee on Black Inclusion who all helped shepherd this vital position into existence,” said Lawrie. “I would also like to acknowledge the advocacy of all the senior LA&PS Black staff and faculty members who have long fought the good fight for racial justice and on whose shoulders we all stand.”

Lawrie said that while many of the igniting events for this initiative – such as the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 – may have receded from the headlines, the systematic anti-Black racism from which these events grew, still permeates various institutions such as universities, and historically universities have positioned Black folks as objects of inquiry – as “problems” to be solved – rather than vibrant, active knowledge producers in their own right.

Lawrie believes it is incumbent upon LA&PS and the University-at-large to not merely advocate for the inclusion of Black faculty, staff and students, but to demand the promotion of Black excellence across the board. “I am eager to help in this long-term, multifaceted project and welcome any questions and or comments from those committed to making the Faculty and University a more inclusive and livable space for Black students, staff and faculty,” said Lawrie.

Lawrie is an associate professor in the Department of History and a graduate of York University and the University of Toronto. Before arriving at York University, he was an associate professor of history and the associate dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Winnipeg. As a historian of Afro-America, his research focuses on the intersections of race, labour, disability, urbanism and timekeeping in modern America.

He is the author of Forging a Laboring Race: The African American Worker in the Progressive Imagination (NYU Press, 2016), contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Disability History, winner of the 2021 George Rosen Book Prize from the American Association for the History of Medicine and currently holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant for his current research project “The Color of Hours: Race, Time and the Making of Urban America.”

Lawrie can be reached at lapsspecialadvisor@yorku.ca.