Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Black Educator Hall of Fame

E’ry day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer.

But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month. February is just the Blackest.

Today, our featured Black educator is Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, affectionately and respectfully known as the Notorious GLB.

Dr. Gloria Jean Ladson-Billings was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1947. An Overbrook High School graduate, she is a distinguished scholar, theorist, and advocate for Black children.

She is the former Kellner Family Distinguished Professor of Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and a faculty affiliate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her work on the topics of culturally relevant pedagogy, systemic inequalities in education, as well as critical race theory, have set her apart as one of the more prophetic voices in educational research.

Educated in the School District of Philadelphia, Dr. Ladson-Billings experienced what Dr. Jarvis Givens described in his book, Fugitive Pedagogy: Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching, as Fugitive Learning where Black teachers would teach Black history under the reality of white surveillance.

When in fifth grade at a segregated Philadelphia public school, her teacher broke with the school curriculum to teach the class tales of accomplished Black people left out of the textbooks. According to Dr. Ladson-Billings, “One of us would stand sentinel at the classroom door, and she’d say, ‘If the principal comes, turn to page 127 in the U.S. history book [and pretend to be learning that].’”

The experience would shape her career and the questions she considered about the education of Black children: who was teaching them and what they were being taught.

She attended and graduated from an HBCU, Morgan State University in 1968. In 1972, she graduated from the University of Washington with a Masters in curriculum and instruction. She started her professional career in the classroom. For more than a decade, Dr. Ladson-Billings taught in the school system she was raised in, Philadelphia public school, and later in California.

Her quest to answer the question “why Black students aren’t successful,” led her to the Stanford Graduate School of Education where she’d graduate with a Ph.D. in curriculum and teacher education in 1984. She used her education to explore best practices for teaching Black children. Rather than continuing the refrain of asking what’s wrong with Black children, she looked to find what’s right with them and question the very systems “responsible” for educating them.

In the 1990s she became renowned for her groundbreaking research into what makes teachers of Black students successful and for introducing the concept of culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), a way of engaging all learners who are outside the mainstream. In 1994, her groundbreaking work The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children was released. A year later, Dr. Ladson-Billings became the first Black woman to be tenured as a professor in UW–Madison’s School of Education.

Although now “retired”, Dr. Ladson-Billings remains an inspiration and resource for many aspiring educators and researchers. Her ability to serve in the role of “impact player” in both academia and in the K-12 classroom has touched many lives, in ways that cannot be quantified. Nevertheless, one can honestly say that the education of Black children has improved as a result of Dr. Ladson-Billings’ dedication to the work of advocating for Black children through research and scholarship.

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.

For more information on Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, visit the following site.


  1. Dr. Gloria Larson-Billings is truly one of the premier pioneers in changing the educational landscape for African American children. Her abolitionist pedagogy has produced a groundswell of disciples committed to reversing the academic trajectory of America’s marginalized population.


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