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Todd M. Mealy, Ph.D.  

Website of HISTORIAN and EDUCATOR, Todd M. Mealy

Biography

Welcome to toddmealy.com, the online home of Todd M. Mealy! Todd is the author of eight books, including The N-Word in Music: An American History (2022), the strongly endorsed Race Conscious Pedagogy: Disrupting Racism at Majority White Schools (2020); Displaced: A Holocaust Memoir and the Road to a New Beginning with Linda Schwab (2019); Glenn Killinger, All American: Penn State's World War I Era Sports Hero (2018); This Is the Rat Speaking: Black Power and the Promise of Racial Consciousness at Franklin and Marshall College in the Age of the Takeover (2017); Legendary Locals of Harrisburg (2014), Aliened American: A Biography of William Howard Day, 1825-1900, Vols. I and II (2010); and Biography of an Antislavery City: Antislavery Activists, Abolitionists, and Underground Railroad Operatives in Harrisburg, Pa (2007). Todd authored a chapter in From the Pews: The Story of the Bethel AME Church in Harrisburg (2015). He has also published several articles in Pennsylvania Heritage and American Heritage.


Todd's scholarship on the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania along with Black abolitionist and educator William Howard Day has been cited in works by Steve Luxenberg (Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation), Richard Blackett (Making Freedom: The Underground Railroad and the Politics of Slavery), and the late Hari Jones ("Deciphering the African American Mystery in American History"). His research on Glenn Killinger is also featured in Anne R. Keene's acclaimed book The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team That Helped Win World War II (2018).


Mealy holds a Ph.D. from Penn State University. He also attained a Master's degree from the same institution, where he was the 2014 recipient of the John S. Patterson Award for academic and creative achievement. In 2018, he received the university's Sue Samuelson Award for his doctoral dissertation.


He is a contributing writer for Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine. His publications in the magazine include pieces about the 19th-century trials that led to the end of legal segregation in Pennsylvania's public schools; the abolitionist and cofounder of the Liberty Party Francis Julius LeMoyne; an All-American football player from Penn State who reached the pinnacle of his career following World War I named Glenn Killinger; the 100-year history of the Penn State Nittany Lions - Pittsburgh Panthers football rivalry; and the greatest African American women's tennis and basketball player before World War II, Ora Mae Washington. 


Todd's scholarship on Ora Washington appears in the BBC/Stance Studios Podcast "Untold Legends: The Ora Washington Story." This seven-part series draws on Todd's Pennsylvania Heritage article "Indomitable: Ora Washington, Philadelphia's Ultimate Sports Trailblazer." Todd appears throughout the series as an expert historian.


Todd's most recent publications in Pennsylvania Heritage are "Muhammad Ali at Fighter's Heaven," a 4,000-word article examining the eight years Muhammad Ali spent training at a long-forgotten training camp in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and "Without Fear and without Reproach: Octavius V. Catto and the Early Civil Rights Movement in Pennsylvania," which explores the life of Octavius Catto, an African American civil rights activist and educator killed in Philadelphia trying to protect Black voters on October 10, 1871, just a year after the ratification of the 15th Amendment. In December 2021, Todd's article "Fastest Man on Earth: Barney Ewell and the Story of Two Missed Olympics" was published by the magazine.

The newest book written by Todd is The N-Word in Music: An American History. This title explores the history of the N-word in minstrelsy, ragtime, blues, rock 'n' roll, country, and rap. 


He is currently working on two books. The first is the authorized biography of Jane Elliott, an educator known for the Blue Eyes / Brown Eyes exercise on discrimination. Tentatively titled Shades of Brown: The Authorized Biography of Jane Elliott and the Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes Exercise (2023), Todd is utilizing hundreds of hours' worth of interviews with Jane Elliott, her family, colleagues, and former students to provide a comprehensive, and exhaustive, account of Elliott's life (1933-present). Todd is also co-authoring a children's book with his son, Carter, and illustrator Caesar Westbrook, titled, at present, Vault, Floor, Rings, Bars and Pommel Horse: Mikey's Story About Fear and Courage (2023).


Todd is the Director of the National Institute for Customizing Education, LLC. The organization advances scholarship aimed at providing educators with customizing tools to help students achieve their full academic potential. Recognizing that public schools look different across the United States, the institute prides itself on a heterodox approach to the work of educational equity. To that end, Todd's institute does not maintain a standard approach to equity practices. Todd and his team consider educational equity a multi-layered practice that must customize services to the specific needs of the demographic make-up of school districts, schools, and classrooms (i.e. socio-economic, linguistic, religious, race/ethnicity, dis/ability, etc., absenteeism, discipline, curriculum design, border realignment, workforce equity, hiring, governance equity, family/community engagement, etc.). The institute carries a large team that engages in research, professional learning, institutional assessments or audits, certifications, and speech- and policy-writing.


Todd also is an adjunct professor in the History Department at Dickinson College, where he teaches courses about United States history and race, gender, and American sports. At Dickinson, Todd collaborates with the House Divided Project to lead teacher-training workshops and programming for low-income, first-generation students.


Todd will soon launch the Ewell, Winters, Shaffner Public History Center (website forthcoming) during the winter of 2022. The history center will engage high school students from the School District of Lancaster in professional and publishable research on history projects related to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. J.P. McCaskey High School will house the history center, and the 2022-2023 student researchers will be split into two cohorts. One group will concentrate on the Thaddeus Stevens Underground Railroad site in Lancaster. Another group will work on-site and remotely at Muhammad Ali's training camp, known as Fighter's Heaven, in Deer Park. The students will conduct oral histories of those stories to share about the camp. The oral histories and other primary documents about the site will be used to design lesson plans for K-12 educators. This project also aspires to teach students entrepreneurial skills.


Mealy was born in Bradford in 1979, grew up in Harrisburg, and currently lives in Lancaster with his wife, Melissa, son, Carter, and daughter, Adeline. He has taught in Lancaster County public schools since 2001. He spends summers traveling to countries in Europe, Asia, and South America. He also coached high school football for 22 years. These experiences helped shape his focus on issues related to justice, race & society, political history, and sports culture.