Updates and Resources for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The NC State College of Education is committed to becoming an anti-racist college. In line with this commitment, Pack IDEAs newsletters provide resources related to advancing diversity, equity and justice and creating a healthy teaching and learning community for all. This month we honor and recognize Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. 

We recognize that Black history is more than a month of celebration and recognition of Black people’s perseverance, the descendants of slaves and oppressed people. Black History Month puts a spotlight on African Americans who have made significant contributions to our country. It is a celebration of those individuals who have impacted not just our country, but the world with their activism, achievements and contributions to society.

7 Things to Know About Black History Month

  1. Harvard Historian Carter G. Woodson and Minister Jesse E. Moorland founded what is known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 1915 in an effort to bring awareness to the African American people who made contributions to society but had been forgotten or left out of the narrative. 
  2. Woodson, the son of former slaves and the second African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard, led the movement for Black History Month. In 1916, he established the Journal of Negro History and in 1937, he established the Negro History Bulletin, giving Black scholars a place to publish their research and findings. 
  3. Negro History Week began in 1926 after Woodson and Moorland looked for a way to make those unsung contributions of African Americans known to the public. Before Black History was an entire month, it was only celebrated for one week in February.
  4. Colleges and universities began to expand the recognition of African American history to the full month of February in the 1960s. And President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month in 1976 when it was made a national holiday and became a month-long celebration.
  5. Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12) and Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14). Both men were widely celebrated by the Black communities at the start of Negro History Week. 
  6. A Black History Month theme is chosen every year by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The theme for this year is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity,” and it will explore the African diaspora. 
  7. Even though the practice of celebrating Black History Month originated in America, other countries have adopted the practice of celebrating. Canada also celebrates the month in February, while the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Ireland celebrate in October. 

Sources: History.com and People.com


The NC State College of Education’s land-grant vision is to lead the way in increasing educational opportunities for all and reducing achievement gaps. To fulfill this vision, the advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion task force seeks to confront racial injustices and build a more diverse, inclusive and supportive community — both within our college and in the field of education. Visit our newly launched website, which is constantly evolving and changing, and will be updated regularly, for more information on our efforts to become an anti-racist college.


In each newsletter, we highlight faculty, students and alumni who have expertise and experiences that align with advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the college. In becoming an anti-racist college community, we must deepen our commitment to creating and sustaining a healthy teaching and learning community that uplifts the humanity of all people, but especially Black, Indigenous and people of color, who due to structural inequities are marginalized in education and society. The spotlight feature of this newsletter offers a counternarrative that celebrates and showcases the brilliance of individuals within our college community. 

Joy Gaston Gayles, Ph.D.
University Faculty Scholar
Professor of Higher Education and Program Coordinator
Senior Advisor for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

How long have you been a faculty member at NC State? I have been a faculty member at NC State University since 2007. Prior to my appointment here, I was a faculty member at Florida State University for five years. 

Why are diversity, equity, and inclusion in education important to you? Growing up in a working-class family and as a Black woman, first-generation college student, I experienced a lot of microaggressions, systemic oppression, barriers and so many other forms of discrimination at all levels over the course of my life and even now. So these issues have always been important to me, even when I didn’t have the language to express what was happening and why. I just always knew that it didn’t feel right and wanted to do something about it so that it wouldn’t negatively impact me or anyone else. Because of my experiences and those of so many others in this country, I am forever committed to doing the work and getting into good trouble to advance equity and justice in education and society. 

Are you currently conducting research around the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion? If so, tell me a little about your research. Everything I do in my research is undergirded by issues of equity, diversity and social justice. Whether it’s writing about the unfair treatment of student athletes and the misaligned values of intercollegiate athletics and higher education or the experiences of women and underrepresented people of color in STEM fields — the context for the work that I do is usually, if not always, rooted in the fact that these disparities exist because we live in a society that consists of systems, rules, policies, legislation and structures that are inherently designed to privilege certain groups in society and discriminate against and alienate others.

I’m working on a lot of projects now and I’m excited about them all. Two projects are grant-related with a team of scholars at NC State. If funded, we will engage in work to advance women and women of color in STEM fields in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. I am also writing a few papers with doctoral students on issues related to social justice and equity — one focusing on allyship and advocacy and another chapter for a book that focuses on mentoring undergraduate Black women in STEM. I’m also hoping to launch a survey project on faculty experiences in conjunction with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. 

What are you hoping to accomplish as a result of your research, and how do you expect it to impact the field of education and learners? I hope the work that I do in research and practice empowers and liberates people, particularly people who find themselves on the margins of society because of their social identities. I have two children and I want their experiences in education and society to be better than mine. So in a sense, I want to do work that makes a real transformative difference in the lives of others. For me, it’s important not to just do the work, but live the work so that my actions and how I treat others align with what I say I value. I want to use my influence through my research and my leadership positions to challenge the status quo.

Are there community projects and initiatives you are involved in related to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Tell me about those projects. Yes, in 2013 or so I started an accountability group and that has been an amazing experience so far. Over the years, it’s been a great way for me to mentor and be mentored and create a sense of community for myself and others within the college. I’m really excited to be a part of a team of scholars at NC State working on a National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE grant project led by Pamela McCauley, associate dean in the College of Textiles. If funded, this project will make a difference in advancing the careers of women and women of color in STEM disciplines. 

I am also involved in a lot of communities outside of NC State that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including the work that I do with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. As President-Elect for the Association of the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), I get to lead an entire national and international community of scholars and that’s been an exciting experience so far. 

What do you hope to teach future educators and scholar-leaders about equity and inclusion in education? How do you incorporate that into your instruction and curriculum? I really want future educators to know and understand that context matters, and I want them to find and use their voices for good. In our field, we prepare scholar-leaders to work in postsecondary educational settings, which represent some of the most diverse environments in the country. However, diversity is not equivalent to equity. In order to work effectively with and on behalf of ALL students, we have to create spaces that are equitable and just for everyone. To do that we have to disrupt the norm that has historically privileged people who hold dominant social identities and oppressed people who fall outside of this mythical norm. So in the courses that I teach we talk about issues of privilege, power and oppression. I introduce critical perspectives and include readings from diverse perspectives. I try to create assignments that have real-world applications.   

For other educators and teacher-leaders interested in learning more about social justice and anti-racist education, what are two resources you would recommend? Wow, just two! There are so many! If people are interested in learning about what it means to be and do anti-racist work, I would recommend Ibram Kendi’s book How to Be an Antiracist — the second book I would recommend that has a social justice in education slant is We Want to do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom by Betina Love. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the College of Education community? Given that it’s Black History Month, I should add that I’m the first African American to achieve the rank of full professor in the higher education program and in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at NC State University.


For students, educators and leaders who are interested in learning more about advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion and anti-racist education, here are some recommended resources around racism and Black history. 

To help train, prepare and support Black, Indigenous and people of color who are teaching assistants or faculty who face racism in their classrooms:

For combating racial terror:

On slavery and prison history:


STEM, Literacy, and Black History Month
Feb. 5-28, 2021
Learn more about the STEM contributions of African Americans through this online, self-paced module. Access the online resources anytime between Feb. 5 and Feb. 28. Complete a series of tasks, activities and challenges exploring STEM contributions of African Americans and literature that serves as windows and mirrors into past history and history-in-the-making. Activities will include coding, virtual reality and reading digital books. Register in Sage and then submit a Google Form to complete the PGU, if you want to receive PGU credit. For more information or to access the activities, visit the METRC website.  

The 2021 Black History Month Virtual Festival 
Feb.1-28, 2021
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) invites you to attend the 2021 Virtual Black History Month Celebration. They will be hosting several events throughout the month that are free and open to the public through ASALH TV, the association’s premier YouTube channel. On Feb. 20 at 1 p.m., there will be a marquee event titled “Finding Our Roots in African American History: A Conversation with Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham,” which is a ticketed event. For more information or to register for the marquee event, visit the association’s website at https://asalh.org/FESTIVAL/.

(Counter) Narrative: Black History Month Student Perspectives Panel
Feb. 11, 2021 | 6 p.m.
The College of Education’s Offices of Undergraduate and Graduate Student Success and Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force are sponsoring a student perspectives panel as part of activities around Celebrating Black History Month that are open to all faculty, staff and students within the College of Education and the broader university community. Students will share their perspectives about their K-12 experiences and their experiences as pre-service teachers. Please register at go.ncsu.edu/cedbhmstudentpanel to attend. 

African American Author Read-INs: First Thirty Thursdays
Feb. 11, Feb. 18, Feb. 25 | Times Vary
Join the Media and Education Technology Resource Center (METRC) on Thursdays in February to hear 30 minutes of reading from Black authors or illustrators of picture books. You will be asked to do some sketchnoting during the reading and reflect after the reading – you will also have an opportunity to share books significant to you by Black authors/illustrators. Master of Arts in Teaching and undergraduate students can earn PGU credit by registering in SAGE.

Feb. 11 | 4-4:45 p.m. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, a local author and winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for 2021. Visit the METRC website for more information or register online to receive the Zoom link. 

Feb. 18 | 12-1 p.m. Books by Jacqueline Woodson with a blend of young adults, middle grades and picture books. Visit the METRC website for more information or register online to receive the Zoom link. 

Feb. 25 |12-1 p.m. Coretta Scott King award-winning/nominated books. Visit the METRC website for more information or register online to receive the Zoom link. 

Black Minds Matter: Addressing Disproportionate Suspensions of Black Children and Youth
Feb. 17, 2021 | 4 p.m.
In recent years, there has been increasing attention and educational policy efforts designed to address the disproportionate suspensions of Black children and youth. Using data from California public schools, the presenters will highlight persistent disparities in the application of exclusionary discipline. A reactor panel will then provide insights on how schools and educational leaders support ongoing efforts for change. Please register online for the Zoom link.

Hair Love: Building a Legacy Through Representation with Matthew A. Cherry
Feb. 18, 2021 | 4-5 p.m.
Celebrate Black History Month with a screening and conversation with Matthew A. Cherry, writer, creator and director of the Academy Award-winning animated short film, Hair Love, organized by DreamBank. After viewing the seven-minute film, American Family Insurance Chief of Staff Tyler Whipple will talk with Cherry about his journey from NFL wide receiver to writer, director and producer. They will also discuss the power of representation, the film’s purpose-led storyline and how the Hair Love legacy will continue to unfold. To register, visit Eventbrite

Culturally Relevant and Affirming Pedagogy: Faculty Perspectives Panel
Feb. 25, 2021 | 3 p.m. 
The College of Education’s Offices of Undergraduate and Graduate Student Success and Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force are sponsoring a faculty perspectives panel as part of activities around Celebrating Black History Month that are open to all faculty, staff and students within the College of Education and the broader university community. Faculty and staff will share their perspectives on the use of culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy in the classroom. Please register at go.ncsu.edu/cedbhmfacultypanel to attend.

2021 Research Celebration Featuring James A. Banks, Ph.D.
Feb. 25, 2021 | 4-6 p.m.
James A. Banks, Ph.D., the Kerry and Linda Killinger Endowed Chair in Diversity Studies Emeritus at the University of Washington, will deliver a keynote address titled, “Knowledge Construction, the Canon Debate, and the Education of Citizens in Diverse Nations,” during the NC State College of Education 2021 Research Celebration. Faculty and graduate students are invited to attend. Breakout sessions for faculty poster presentations and a breakout session with Banks for doctoral students will take place after the keynote address. See the Research Celebration invitation for more information on this event. 

2021 Teaching and Learning Symposium
Feb. 26, 2021 | 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 
The Office of Faculty Development will hold its annual Teaching and Learning Symposium, which is free of charge. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in roundtable discussions led by NC State faculty, watch a keynote lecture and meet and talk with NC State peers who are interested in teaching and learning. Saundra Yancy McGuire, Ph.D., director emerita of the Center for Academic Success and retired assistant vice chancellor and professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, will deliver the keynote address, “Increase Faculty Success by Increasing Student Resilience: Metacognition is the Key!” For more information or to register to attend this virtual event, visit the Office of Faculty Development events page

NC State University Black History Month Events
Feb. 1- March 1, 2021
Various offices and departments through NC State University are hosting Black History Month events from trivia night to a virtual wax museum, campus history workshops to a campus tour. All virtual and open to all NC State faculty, staff and students, and the general community. Check out the calendar of events for more information and to register. 

Unapologetic Educational Research: Addressing Anti-Blackness, Racism and White Supremacy with Dr. Mark Gooden
March 11, 2021 | 3 p.m.
In this webinar sponsored by The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology, Mark Gooden, Ph.D., Christian Johnson Endeavor Professor of Education Leadership at Columbia University, will examine the racialization of positionality in research endeavors and will engage audiences in thinking about and reflecting on what it means to conduct educational research from a standpoint that honors Black lives in the research process, while also disrupting racism and white supremacy. Please register online for the Zoom link.

Don C. Locke Multiculturalism and Social Justice Symposium
March 24, 2021 | 4:30 p.m.
Join the NC State College of Education for the third annual Don C. Locke Multiculturalism and Social Justice Symposium. National Academy of Education President Gloria Ladson-Billings will deliver the symposium’s keynote address, “This is Us! Educating Post Covid/Post Civic Unrest America — Tragedy or Opportunity?” For more information or to register, visit our website.


As we continue our work toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the college, the task force would love to hear from you. Please submit your ideas, suggestions, and feedback for what you’d like to see and experience for your growth and development, as well as what the college should focus on to improve the culture and climate.

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