Donald Spivey was born and reared in Chicago. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he received his B.A., "with distinction in history" (1971) and a M.A. in history (1972), and from there to the University of California at Davis where he earned his Ph.D. in history (1976). His field is late nineteenth- and twentieth-century America, with specialization in African-American history, sport, labor, music, and education.
Professor Spivey has lectured throughout the country and been a frequent commentator on radio, television, and in the print medium. See, for example, his lecture on “Satchel Paige and Negro Leagues Baseball in the Civil Rights Movement” broadcasted on C-SPAN: http://www.c-span.org/person/?donaldspivey; and presentation on “The Historical Richness of Black Baseball in the New Negro Movement, 1919-1941,” at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington University Humanities Center Summer Institute: https://cenhum.artsci.wustl.edu/nnr-lectures
His book publications include Black Pearls of Wisdom: Voicing the African-American Journey for Freedom, Empowerment, and the Future (2014); Step Forward the Hero: The Story of Milton L. Olive, III, First African American Awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War (2014); "If You Were Only White": The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige (2012); Fire From the Soul: A History of the African-American Struggle (2003); The Politics of Miseducation: The Booker Washington Institute of Liberia, 1929-1984 (1986); Sport in America: New Historical Perspectives (1985); Union and the Black Musician: The Narrative of William Everett Samuels and Chicago Local 208 (1984); Schooling For the New Slavery: Black Industrial Education, 1868-1915 (1978; pb. 2007); and numerous scholarly articles in such journals as International Journal of the History of Sport, Journal of Sport History, Journal of Negro History, Phylon, Chronicles of Oklahoma, and Social Science Quarterly.
He has taught at the University of California at Davis; Wright State University; the University of Michigan; the University of Connecticut, where he was founding director of the Institute for African-American Studies; and joined the University of Miami in 1993.
Spivey has received numerous recognitions including the Faculty Senate Award for Outstanding Teaching (2019); Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity; selection as a “Top Black Educator of South Florida” by Legacy Magazine; the Robert Peterson Recognition Award for his book, "If You Were Only White": The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige; appointment to the Search Committee for Historian of the United States House of Representatives; Cooper Fellow of the College of Arts and Sciences; and the Ronald McDonald House “Twelve Good Men Award” for Distinguished Community Service in Miami.
His team-taught course on “The Sixties” is one of the most popular courses at the University and now offered every two years. For more information on the course, please visit the website at: scholar.library.miami.edu/sixties.