10 African-American Innovators of Education

June 24, 2010  |  

by Brandy Wilson

What do a record-breaking pilot, a Harvard scholar, and a civil rights activist have in common? All have found unconventional ways to successfully educate young people around the country. These educators found a way to engage and educate students where traditional methods had failed. From starting a movement to starting a school from the ground up, they’ve proved there is more than one way to break through and that good teaching goes beyond books.

Robert Williams

Social psychologist Robert Williams coined the term Ebonics (a combination of ebony and phonics) in 1973. He followed it up two years later with the book “Ebonics: The True Language of Black Folks.” “We need to define what we speak. We need to give a clear definition to our language,” Dr. Williams said. The term had become increasingly irrelevant until twenty years later when Oakland’s school board controversially decided to recognize it as a primary language of its Black students. Dr. Williams has published over 60 professional articles, three books, and several culturally specific intelligence tests.

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