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"Own Your History"


A leadership course on the creative edge

Our Mission

The mission of The Reconciliation Education Project, Inc. is to advance equality, reconciliation, and inclusion in the United States through education and leadership empowerment, with a particular focus on young people.

The Project primarily develops educational programs and materials to engage young people personally to understand the historical causes of fear and division in American society and to assess leadership by others. The Project strives to challenge young people to grow personally and socially to be leaders for the bridging of differences, reconciliation, and equality and thereby to promote the American ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Our Team

The “Own Your History” Leadership Course (OYHL Course) is being developed by an excellent team of six graduate and advanced undergraduate students from George Washington University, Howard University, The Johns Hopkins University and California State University at Northridge . They are researching and helping develop content and lessons plans for Course modules. We also have collaboration from US History faculty at George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, the University of Iowa, Stanford University, and the University of Southern California, and the Education School at George Mason University.

Our Founder

reager

ROBERT EAGER – BIO FACTS

  • BA. magna cum laude, Vanderbilt University, 1967
  • Social Studies teacher, Riverdale Country School, Upper School, Bronx, NY, 1973-76
  • MA., Ph.D. in U.S. History, Stanford University, 1969, 1978 (advisers: Carl N. Degler and David M. Kennedy)
  • JD, magna cum laude, Georgetown University Law Center, 1981
  • Lawyer, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, a major national law firm,  1981-2014 (partner, 1990-2008)
  • Founder, The Reconciliation Education Project, Inc., a section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational nonprofit, 2014.
  • Initiator, The Mandela Program and Fund at the McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN, 2013

The Course has been developed to date primarily by Robert Eager, who was a teacher and Ph.D. historian, then a practicing lawyer, and now again an educator. His passion for objective history education and reconciliation is fuel by the country’s longstanding, continuing, deep divisions, as well his own family history. In developing the Course, he has come to “own” a family history that mirrors the best and worst of the country as a whole: a slave owning Founding Father, antebellum and Jim Crow Southern Governors, numerous slave-owners, as well as the Quaker founder of a great university and hospital.

Bob Eager’s passion and deep commitment to this work are rooted in both a strong personal commitment to truth and reconciliation and in extensive family history. He grew up in Maryland and Georgia and attended segregated schools. In 1961, the powerful example of the Freedom Riders caused him to reject Jim Crow and support the end of segregation. As chairman of the IMPACT Symposium at Vanderbilt University in 1967, he brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Stokeley Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to campus. He received his BA from Vanderbilt in 1967.

bobandjohn2 After teaching social studies in a New York high school and receiving a Ph.D. in U.S. History (Stanford University, 1978; advisers: Carl N. Degler and David M. Kennedy), he got a law degree and became a practicing lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, a major national law firm, from 1981-2014.

Since retiring as a lawyer at the beginning of 2014, he established The Reconciliation Education Project, Inc. (REP) as a section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational nonprofit, and began developing  the OYHL Course.  One of REP’s first projects was a challenge grant establishing the Mandela Program and Fund at the McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN, in 2013, to bring outside speakers and foster school activities related  to justice and reconciliation.  The first Mandela Program speaker was Rep. John Lewis in 2014.

He “owns” his  family history, which includes the following immediate family ancestors:

Slaves owned by colonial Maryland ancestors grew tobacco.

William Floyd, a New York signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Continental Congress, 1776-1783, who owned many slaves on his Long Island “northern plantation.” (great-great-great-great-grandfather).

Kitty Floyd in 1783 defied her father and Thomas Jefferson to end her engagement to James Madison to marry another man (great-great-great-great-grandmother).

John Motley Morehead, a slave-owner antebellum Governor of North Carolina (great-great-great-grandfather).

E. C. Eager, a Vermont-born Baptist minister, moved to Mississippi and became pastor of an antebellum church near Natchez with plantation and slaveowner members (great-great-grandfather).

Confederate Gen. Robert D. Johnston of N.C.fought throughout the Civil War and then became a banker in Birmingham, AL (great-grandfather, namesake).

Joseph F. Johnston, Alabama governor who signed Jim Crow laws in the 1890s (great-great-uncle).

In 1908-10, W. G. Eager Jr. was an engineer at the coal/steel company that was perhaps the largest user of African-American convict lease labor in Alabama (grandfather); Joseph Johnston had been president of that company (great-great-uncle).

Johns Hopkins, a Maryland Quaker, founded a university and a hospital that served patients of all races (great-grandfather’s first cousin).

Johnsie Evans Johnston, who in 1900 founded a Birmingham vocational school alternative to jail for white juvenile offenders with funds she secured from the Alabama Legislature (great-grandmother).

Into the 1960s, an African-American family lived in a shanty like this while working on E. J. Eager’s farm in south Georgia (grandsmother).

In 1958, Bob Eager was in a blackface minstrel show at his junior high school in Georgia.

In 1967, Bob Eager hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke at Vanderbilt University.