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  • Accomplished Educators, Parents, and Supporters

  • Amplifying the Voices and Experiences of the African Diaspora

  • Productive Discussions to Improve Pedagogy

ABEN Summer Institute History

After establishing the California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE) in 2001, to advocate for Black children who were being marginalized in that state, Debra Watkins envisioned providing two-day summer institutes to inform and inspire educators with proven pedagogical resources to ensure academic and cultural excellence for students of African ancestry. From the onset, these institutes were well-attended and given excellent evaluations. Over a ten-year period, held either at Stanford University or the University of California, Los Angeles, these institutes combined to serve more than 1000 educators and featured the following keynoters: Drs. Bob Moses (twice); Beverly Daniel Tatum; Gloria Ladson-Billings; Pedro Noguera; Wade Nobles; Lisa Delpit; Sharroky Hollie; Carole Lee; and Geneva Gay.

After realizing that institute attendees were not getting traction in the field with these great practices, the CAAAE took a four-year break to focus on policy. After California's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) became law in 2013, the ground was fertile for culturally relevant pedagogy so we held an institute in 2016 featuring Dr. Arnetha Ball as our keynote speaker, in 2017 featuring Dr. Stephen Hancock, and in 2018 our keynote speaker was Dr. Beverly Daniel-Tatum.

In 2019, Dr. Bryan Brown, Assistant Dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, keynoted. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, ABEN pivoted to a virtual institute and Dr. Chris Emdin, the Robert Naslund Endowed Chair in Curriculum and Teaching at the University of Southern California, keynoted. In 2021, we were still virtual and featured two keynoters, Dr. Bettina Love (Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Education at the University of Georgia) and Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz (Associate Professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University).

Past Keynote Speakers

2017: Dr. Stephen D. Hancock
Stephen D. Hancock, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Multicultural Education in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education at UNC Charlotte where he also serves as the Assistant Director of the Urban Education Collaborative. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, he received his B.A. in English with a minor in Latin and a M.A.T. in Elementary Education. He received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in Curriculum & Instruction with cognates in Multicultural and Early Childhood Education. Dr. Hancock’s research interest supports academic relationships in urban school context, reading practices and strategies for urban students, ethnographic and autoethnographic methodologies, and White teacher effectiveness in multicultural spaces. He is the editor of two books: Autoethnography as a Lighthouse: Illuminating Race, Research, and the Politics of Schooling as well as White Women’s Work: Examining the Intersectionality of Teaching, Identity, and Race.

2016: Dr. Arnetha Ball
Dr. Arnetha Ball (Ph.D., Stanford University) is Professor Emeritus of Education in Curriculum Studies, Teacher Education, and Educational Linguistics at her alma mata. She is a former President of the American Educational Research Association and was Director of the Program in African and African American Studies, and Co-Director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Language at Stanford. Dr.Ball’s research focuses on literacy studies, teacher preparation, and linguistic diversity in the US and South Africa. With more than 20 years of K–12 urban teaching experience and fifteen years as Owner/Director of an inner-city private education center, she has also co-taught courses in teacher education in South Africa, published widely, and served as the visiting Barbara A. Sizemore Distinguished Professor of Urban Education at Northwestern University.

2011: Dr. Geneva Gay
Geneva Gay is the author of Culturally Relevant Teaching: Theory, Research and Practice and a Professor of Education at the University of Washington-Seattle where she teaches multicultural education and general curriculum theory. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award, presented by the Committee on the Role and Status of Minorities in Educational Research and Development of the American Educational Research Association; the first Multicultural Educator Award presented by the National Association of Multicultural Education; the 2004 W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Lecturer Award presented by the Special Interest Group on Research Focus on Black Education of the American Educational Research Association; and the 2006 Mary Anne Raywid Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Field of Education, presented by the Society of Professors of Education. She is nationally and internationally known for her scholarship in multicultural education, particularly as it relates to curriculum design, staff development, classroom instruction, and intersections of culture, race, ethnicity, teaching,and learning.​​
Dr. Gay's writings include numerous articles and book chapters, including A Synthesis of Scholarship in Multicultural Education; the co-editorship of Expressively Black: The Cultural Basis of Ethnic Identity (Praeger, 1987); author of At the Essence of Learning: Multicultural Education (Kappa Delta Pi, 1994), and Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Practice, & Research (Teachers College Press, 2000); and editor of Becoming Multicultural Educators: Personal Journey Toward Professional Agency (Jossey-Bass, 2003). Culturally Responsive Teaching received the 2001 Outstanding Writing Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). She also is a member of the authorship team of the Scott Foresman New Elementary Social Studies Series. Her professional service includes membership on several national editorial review and advisory boards. International consultations on multicultural education have taken her to Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Finland, Japan, England, Scotland, and Australia.

2010: Dr. Carol Lee
Carol D. Lee is Professor Emeritus of Education in the School of Education and Social Policy and in African-American Studies at Northwestern University. Dr. Lee, president of the National Academy of Education, is best known for her five decades of work helping students from minority backgrounds excel in an environment of low expectations, poverty, negative stereotypes, and other barriers. She was among the early scholars to scaffold children’s everyday experiences as a resource for learning in school. Today her sophisticated ideas behind “cultural modeling” are a standard approach in the field. Dr. Lee founded three African-centered schools, including two charter schools, under the umbrella of the Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools (est. 1998) where she serves as chair of the board of directors. Dr. Lee has garnered countless awards for her many contributions to the field of education.

2009: Dr. Sharroky Hollie
Dr. Sharroky Hollie is the Co-Founder of the Culture and Language Academy of Success (CLAS) charter school. CLAS was a K-8 independent charter school for ten years that espoused culturally responsive pedagogy as its primary approach. At CLAS, Sharroky directed and developed the curriculum, professional development, and teacher development. Dr. Hollie was a tenured, assistant professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Working in the Teacher Education Department for nearly two decades, Professor Hollie taught reading for secondary teachers, classroom management, and methodology..​​
Dr. Hollie is also the executive director of the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing stellar professional development for educators desiring to become culturally responsive. With the Center, Sharroky serves as a national expert, traveling around the country training thousands of teachers.  Sharroky has been acknowledged by several groups as one of the top professional developers in the country.​

2007: Dr. Lisa Delpit
Dr. Lisa Delpit has won accolades for her work on teaching and learning in urban schools and in diverse cultural settings. She has studied education in both Alaska and New Guinea, published several books, and is a sought-after speaker.  Delpit's placement as one of the foremost educators and writers on the subject of culturally-relevant approaches to educating students of color began with a series of eloquent, plain-spoken essays in the Harvard Educational Review. ​
These essays questioned the validity of some popular teaching strategies for African-American students and were eventually spun off into a book titled, Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom.  The book, published in 1995, has been cited for the ongoing debate surrounding what she describes as "finding ways and means to best educate urban students, particularly African-American, and other students of color." Dr. Lisa Delpit received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Education in 1993 from Harvard Graduate School of Education, which hailed her as a “visionary scholar and woman of courage.”

2006: Dr. Wade Nobles
Dr. Wade Nobles is the author of Seeking the Sakhu: Foundational Writings in African Psychology. Dr. Wade Nobles earned a PhD from Stanford University in California and is a renowned psychologist in the field of African Psychology. Dr. Nobles was a professor at San Francisco State University for several decades and is also Executive Director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture, Inc. This particular institute remains the only independent organization dedicated solely to the improvement of Black family life and culture. Under Nobles' leadership, the Institute has flourished and become active in the transformation of the African American community through social work and scientific research. Dr. Nobles was a key figure in the creation of a national federation of programs dedicated to the training and development of Black manhood.

Through the work of Dr. Nobles, the Institute of the Advanced Study of Black Family Life and Culture has affected prominent changes, such as the empowerment of Black Psychology and social change within African American communities. African Psychology is a historical concept, being connected to ancient African thought. Dr. Wade Nobles argues throughout the book that the semantics of Western Psychology have distorted the essence of Ancient African thought and in turn misconstrued the field of African Psychology. Western Psychology focuses on the human being as an object, rather than an entity that is comprised of spiritual, physical, and biological attributes.

2004: Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings
Gloria Ladson-Billings (Ph.D. Stanford '84) is the former Chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction where she held the Kellner Family Endowed Professorship in Urban Education and was a Faculty Affiliate in the Departments of Educational Policy Studies and Afro American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was the 2005-2006 president of the American Educational Research Association. Ladson-Billings' research examines the pedagogical practices of teachers who are successful with African American students. She also investigates Critical Race Theory applications to education.​
Ladson-Billings is the author of the critically acclaimed books, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, Crossing over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms, and Beyond the Big House: African American Educators on Teacher Education. She is the editor of five other books and the author of more than 50 journal articles and book chapters. She is the former editor of the American Educational Research Journal and a member of several editorial boards. Her work has won numerous scholarly awards, including the H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship, Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the Palmer O. Johnson outstanding research award. In spring 2005 she was elected to the National Academy of Education and the National Society for the Study of Education.

2003 & 2018: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., author of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, was brought back to keynote the institute in honor of the 20th anniversary of that seminal book. Dr. Tatum was  President of Spelman College. Prior to her appointment at Spelman, she was Acting President and Dean, as well as Professor of Psychology and Education, at Mount Holyoke College.​ An expert on race relations in the classroom and the development of racial identity, Dr. Tatum participated in President Clinton's "Dialogue on Race," lectures extensively throughout the country, and conducts numerous workshops with students, educators, and parents. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

2002 & 2008: Dr. Bob Moses
Robert P. Moses, President and Founder of the Algebra Project, was a pivotal organizer for the civil rights movement as field secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was director of SNCC's Mississippi Project. He was a driving force behind the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 in organizing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which challenged the Mississippi regulars at the 1964 Democratic Convention. From 1969-1976, he worked for the Ministry of Education in Tanzania, East Africa, where he was chairperson of the math department at the Sam School. A MacArthur Foundation Fellow from 1982-87, Moses used his fellowship to develop the concept for the Algebra Project, wherein mathematics literacy in today's information age is as important to educational access and citizenship for inner city and rural poor middle and high school students as the right to vote was to political access and citizenship for sharecroppers and day laborers in Mississippi in the 1960s. Moses also served as director of the project's materials development program until his passing in 2021. Together with Algebra Project, Inc. board member Danny Glover, Moses and others recently launched a national discussion calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution for Quality Public School Education as a Civil Right. Six years after his initial keynote at our summer institute, we invited Dr. Moses to speak again because California was still wringing its hands about how to successfully teach algebra to Black students. Dr. Moses had done that countless times in some of the most poverty-stricken areas of this country like the Mississippi Delta.
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