Every student deserves an equitable education. That means that more Black educators must be recruited, supported, and elevated. This Black History Month, ASCD asked influential Black authors and Faculty members to tell the story of their experiences in the classroom and how Black history has shaped their lives and careers.
"Knowing what education has done for me is one of the reasons that I wanted to become an educational leader." —Avis Williams, Superintendent of Selma City Schools and ASCD Board Member
To Avis Williams, equity is making sure that all students have what they need—and that's more than what's in a textbook or a lesson plan. Equity means addressing students' emotional needs, too. In this video, hear Williams speak about her own education, what inspires her, and how showing vulnerability makes teachers and leaders stronger.
"Always be thinking about humanity as that fundamental foundation that allows us to connect heart-to-heart." —Jill Harrison Berg, ASCD Author
Education has been a crucial value to Jill Harrison Berg's family since at least the 1860s, when her great-great-grandmother started a school to teach others to read. But U.S. schooling wasn't designed for today's diverse population. Watch this video to hear about Berg's exploration of her own ancestry and how incorporating storytelling traditions from other cultures can help effect positive change in education.
"Where are your gifts most needed? That's where you should plant your feet, define your reality." —Kwame Simmons, ASCD Faculty Member
Kwame Simmons's father told him to always look at the world through his own cultural lens. From this advice and his own experience in education, Simmons believes that hiring Black men as educators transforms the learning trajectory for all kids. In this video, hear Kwame Simmons discuss using your skills to make the world a better place.
"Given the number of things that we've been able to overcome, we are a group of people who just never give up." —Vernita Mayfield, ASCD Author
When Vernita Mayfield began her teaching career in Compton, she felt grateful for the Black teachers who took her under their wing. Moving to a less diverse area and having to dispel assumptions other educators held, however, strengthened her resolve to raise awareness about implicit bias. In this video, Mayfield speaks about her work with educators who are unaware of their bias and how it can negatively affect interactions with both students and colleagues.
"I like the way that it felt to be able to take ownership and responsibility of teaching young people that look like me." —Gabriel Benn, ASCD Faculty member
Gabriel Benn sees himself as an accountability partner to his students. Inspired by science fiction author Octavia Butler's writing out her career plans on the back of a notebook and making them happen, he began to understand the magic of creating a new reality through work and focus. In this video, listen to Benn speak about the importance of storytelling and representation.
"Education is really the only equalizer we have." —Robyn Jackson, ASCD Author
When Robyn Jackson encountered teachers who didn't think she was capable of success, it was jarring. As a person who loved to learn, she became an educator in order to share that love with others and help every student see their potential to engage in rigorous learning. Here, author and presenter Robyn Jackson shares her dedication to breaking down barriers facing Black and brown students.
"A lot of my work centers on identity. It helps us understand not only the breadth of our story, but the depth of it." —Mark Anthony Gooden, ASCD Author
The stories of Black people are too often forgotten or relegated to the past. For Mark Anthony Gooden, education is both an opportunity and an obligation. Hear this professor and author's views on the importance of identity, racial reflective exercises, and connecting with students in multicultural environments.
"There are very few professions where you actually get to save a life, to be responsible for inspiring, changing, and motivating a generation. Education does just that." —Tiffany Anderson, ASCD Faculty Member
As a student, Tiffany Anderson recognized the difference in education quality between the private school she attended and the schools in her home district. She knew from that moment that she was meant to be an educator—and called to serve the underserved. This educator and ASCD Faculty member shares her story about walking in her purpose to dismantle systems of oppression.
"I love doing implicit bias training because it's an opportunity for everybody, including myself, to see things from a different perspective." —Robert Jackson, ASCD Author
Robert Jackson's early experiences didn't just inspire him to become an educator—it also motivated him to help teachers understand how to better reach Black and brown students. His advice to educators? Have conversations with colleagues who don't look like you.
"Black history propelled me, but simultaneously it saved my life." —Baruti Kafele, ASCD Author
Baruti Kafele's trajectory changed forever when he read To Kill a Black Man, a book about the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. As a longtime educator, presenter, and author, Kafele instills the importance and relevance of Black history into his work.