Many look to “the school” as the great equalizer, a meritocracy where equal opportunity is realized. For communities of color, this is often far from the truth. Throughout history, each time communities of color have made progress toward equal educational opportunity, a major societal pushback has caused the loss of gains that appeared won. Dr. Williamson-Lott looks to history to show how we can work toward real progress.
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Joy Williamson-Lott is Professor of Education at the University of Washington. Her research examines the reciprocal relationship between social movements—particularly those of the middle twentieth century—and institutions of higher education. She is the author of multiple books. The most recent, “Radicalizing the Ebony Tower: Black Colleges and the Black Freedom Struggle in Mississippi,” examines issues of institutional autonomy, institutional response to internal and external pressures, and the relationship between historically black colleges and the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. She has also written about the Black Panther Party’s educational programs, the history of social justice in education, and the portrayal of the black freedom struggle in high school history textbooks. She is currently working on a manuscript, tentatively titled “Jim Crow Campus: Higher Education and the Southern Social Order in the Mid-Twentieth Century,” which examines “regional convergence” with regard to southern higher education between the late 1950s and early 1970s. She received her Ph.D. in History of American Education from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.