The 2016 theme for Black History Month—Hallowed Ground: Sites of African American Memories brings to mind the many educators who, because of their contributions to students, parents and this city as a whole, have Dallas ISD schools or facilities named in their honor. Every day, students traverse these hallowed halls and can’t help but absorb some insight about their school’s extraordinary namesake and their accomplishments.
During this month, we have profiled the contributions of some of these beloved educators, many who continue, years after their deaths, to impact students.
We close out Black History Month with a profile of Kathlyn Joy Gilliam, the first African American woman elected to the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees, and the first to serve as board president. Friends and family of the late Ms. Gilliam have created a museum in her honor. A ribbon-cutting for the new museum is planned Saturday, Feb. 27. Go here for details.
Gilliam advocated for educational equality in Dallas for more than two decades. A trailblazer who repeatedly overcame racial barriers, Gilliam graduated from Lincoln High School in 1948 and continued her education at the Southwest School of Business, Dallas County Community College District and Southern Methodist University.
A member and president of the Dallas Council of Colored Parents and teachers, Gilliam worked tirelessly to overcome obstacles to racial equality in public education. As a member of the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees, she played a pivotal role in school desegregation and efforts to increase the hiring of minority teachers. She advocated for parent education and sought to improve cooperation between the schools, administration and parents. She assisted in hiring four superintendents, including the district’s first African American superintendent.
In recognition of her many achievements, Gilliam received the Education Award from the National Council of Negro Women and the Freedom’s Journal Humanitarian Award from her alma mater Lincoln High School. She was inducted into the Texas Black Women’s Hall of Fame and the African-American Educators Hall of Fame.
In 2008, Dallas ISD established the Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy, which was located in a temporary facility until a brand new school could be built and opened in 2011.
Schools across the district are observing Black History Month with a number of special programs, trivia games, and other activities to commemorate this important month. Here’s how some schools are celebrating:
Leila P. Cowart Elementary School, kindergarten through first-grade students will engage in a study of African American authors. Fifth-grade students are presenting a historical perspective on well-known African Americans during morning announcements. School staff will celebrate with a soul food luncheon.
Edna Rowe Elementary School, students and staff will present their program “Remembering our Past: From Africa to America.” The presentation begins at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.