In this speech, Professor Charles Payne reflects on the role that race has played in Chicago schools. Professor Payne says that race can often be a sensitive topic that permeates nearly all interactions at the school. He offers keen observations on how racial thinking has influenced pedagogical practices, partnerships with external institutions, staff relationships, and parent involvement.

This speech was given by Professor Payne at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Education on April 22, 2005. An earlier version was presented at UChicago Consortium's October 21, 2004 symposium, "Race, Chicago School Reform, and School Politics," convened in honor of nine departing members of the UChicago Consortium Steering Committee. At the time of the speech, Charles Payne was the Sally Dalton Robinson Professor of History, African-American Studies, and Sociology at Duke University and a former member of the Consortium Steering Committee.