Dr. Cedric Burrows honored with Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Award

Dr. Cedric Burrows is an assistant professor of English in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. He is the 2020 recipient of the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Faculty Award.

Dr. Burrows has always shown his commitment to social activism and cultural rhetoric.

“Cedric has contributed to the promotion of equity, inclusion and diversity since his arrival at Marquette,” Dr. Heather Hathaway, associate dean of the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences said. “He wants individuals, especially from historically marginalized groups, to have a say in how they want their histories and stories to be told.”

Originally from Memphis, Burrows grew up attending schools with significant African American populations. He learned a number of valuable lessons from his teachers who had started their careers in the 1960s and had lived through the civil rights movement. This ultimately sparked his interest and dedication to teaching others about different forms of social activism – even at a young age.

Dr. Burrows (left) with students from Young Men on A Mission, an after school mentoring program, and Dennis Gaynor (right), director of the program.

“In [my] modern history class in high school, which was predominately white, I heard my white teacher refer to the 1960 uprisings as ‘riots of those people who burned down their own neighborhoods,’” Burrows said. “I challenged him on the terminology and the context that shaped those uprisings. This interest in narratives shaped my research in school when I wrote my thesis on how Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were narrated in the 1980s and early 1990s, and my dissertation of how these two leaders were framed within composition textbooks.”

During his time at Marquette, Burrows has taught a number of classes including I Am We: Memoirs of the Black Freedom Movement; Writing, Literacy, Rhetorical Studies: The Rhetoric of the Black Freedom Movement; and he will teach The Rhetoric of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in the fall.

Dr. Burrows teaching at Young Men on A Mission.

Burrows’ dissertation, (Re)Reading Readers: The Construction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X in Composition Textbooks, investigated how King and Malcolm X have been anthologized in first-year writing textbooks. Based on his research, Burrows knew making a change to the Marquette curriculum was important.

“After having some misgivings about the racial implications of the new Marquette Core Curriculum, Cedric decided for the benefit of our students to design a new [Engaging Social Systems and Values 2] course on the legacies of King and Malcolm X,” Dr. Leah Flack, associate professor of English, said. 

Dr. Burrows visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in in Montgomery, Alabama after watching an episode of 60 Minutes about it.

When reflecting on his visit to the memorial pictured above, Dr. Burrows said “I was so moved by what I experienced that I revised my English 4220 Rhetorical Practices and Processes class into what I named, “Theorizing the Rhetoric of Black Protest” in which students theorized the rhetoric of the Anti-Lynching Movement, Black Power/Black Arts Movement and Black Lives Matter.”

His upcoming book, Rhetorical Crossover: The Black Presence in White Culture, examines how the black rhetorical presence was narrated by both African Americans and white individuals during a time when African Americans were becoming increasingly more visible in mainstream culture.

Dr. Burrows shared a short video, commenting on recent racial injustice, the value of protesting and #BlackLivesMatter.

Congratulations to Marquette University’s faculty and staff award recipients for the 2019–20 academic year. Marquette is blessed to have some of the most dedicated and talented faculty and staff members in higher education. And the university holds in high esteem its tradition to honor these remarkable individuals at awards and recognition ceremonies throughout each spring semester.

Aligned with our mission, these recipients display the search for truth, the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the fostering of personal and professional excellence, the promotion of a life of faith, and the development of leadership expressed in service to others.

Please read on, and enjoy profiles of the deserving women and men who were recognized this spring.