Updates and Resources for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Women's History Month

The NC State College of Education is committed to becoming an anti-racist college. In line with this commitment, Pack IDEAs newsletters provide resources for advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. March is designated as Women’s History Month. It is a time to reflect and increase our awareness of women’s contributions to United States history, as well as existing equity and justice issues for women in society today. 

6 Things to Know About Women’s History Month

  1. Women’s History Month is celebrated in March every year by presidential proclamation. This month is set aside to honor women’s contributions to U.S. history.
  2. Women’s History Month started as Women’s History Week, a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California, in 1978. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed the celebration. Organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. And the movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year. 
  3. An association of women’s groups and historians — led by the National Women’s History Project, which is now the National Women’s History Alliance — lobbied for national recognition. And in February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. 
  4. Presidents who followed Carter continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987, when Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating March as Women’s History Month. 
  5. Congress passed additional resolutions, between 1988 and 1994, requesting and authorizing the president to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. 
  6. Each year, the National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes the theme for Women’s History Month. The theme for 2021 captures the spirit of these challenging times. Since many of the women’s suffrage centennial celebrations originally scheduled for 2020 were reduced, the National Women’s History Alliance is extending the annual theme for 2021 to “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.”

Source: National Women’s History Museum


Many schools and universities boast a diverse student body, but simply having diversity is not the same as providing an equitable educational experience for students across all backgrounds, says Joy Gaston Gayles, Ph.D., professor of higher education and senior advisor for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the NC State College of Education. Gayles explains how educators can become change agents and engage in anti-racist work that can help create more equitable experiences for all. Learn more about Gayles’ research.


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.

Sarah Cannon, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Professional Education
Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences

How long have you been a faculty member at NC State? I have worked at NC State since August 2016; although, I was not technically faculty until later.

Why are diversity, equity, and inclusion in education important to you? This question is actually a difficult one to answer because issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion have always been important to me; however, I didn’t always have a name for them. As a small child, I remember being taught that all people were equal so, I remember always getting really angry when people weren’t actually treated equally. This continued through my adolescence and into my adult years. Once I became an educator, I saw firsthand how inequities aren’t just individual acts, but part of a larger system that impacted my students in a real and tangible way. Doing my part to create more justice is a moral imperative.

Are you currently conducting research around the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion? If so, tell me a little about your research. Because I am a faculty member in the professional track, research is not a major component of my duties. Rather, my focus is on teaching and professional experiences for our teacher candidates. Because of this focus, I have worked to infuse diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our core courses (ED 204: Introduction to Teaching and ED 311/312: Principles of Assessment) and in our early field experiences, and have designed an equity course as a GEP, so our candidates from all programs as well as students from across the university can consider how equity and education intersect. We have presented on these efforts at regional and national conferences to share what we have learned about infusing DEI into all parts of educator preparation. Next, I will be collaborating with faculty and instructors from across the departments to focus our efforts on developing anti-racist educators through intentional content in coursework, field experiences and other experiences for our candidates.

What are you hoping to accomplish as a result of your work, and how do you expect it to impact the field of education and learners? My goal is to foster the development of a new generation of educators who are not only able to critique curriculum, pedagogy and policies through an equity lens but feel empowered to make change in schools across the state and country.

Are there community projects and initiatives you are involved in related to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Tell me about those projects. Outside of my work within the college, I have been a founding member of the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Special Interest Group within the North Carolina Association of Colleges of Teacher Education. This group is working to bring EPPs across the state together to address issues related to DEI and teacher preparation across the state such as the recruitment, support and retainment of teachers of color.

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 hope my future educators are equity literate – that they are able to identify when inequities are occurring in their classrooms and in the school community at large. I hope my future educators have the tools to be culturally sustaining in their classrooms and to be advocates within the larger school community. Lastly, I hope these future educators know why it’s important to consider the needs of students whose identities have been marginalized in our schools and in society. It might seem like a silly thing to point out, but I think new educators sometimes forget the humanity of their students. We are so wrapped up in lesson plans and classroom management that we see our students as one big amalgamation, and not as individual human beings who need to be seen and valued. So, I hope our future educators see their students, really see them, and honor them and fight for them so that education is a building block and not an obstacle.

For other educators and teacher-leaders interested in learning more about social justice and anti-racist education, what are two resources you would recommend? If you are looking for a community of like-minded educators, I would check out Liberate and Chill, which features a really outstanding group of educators and scholars who are creating an intentional community. I have an extensive list of books, but for me, it all begins and ends with Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I read my first excerpt as an undergrad, and I just keep coming back to it. It will change your life or at least make you question things really hard.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the College of Education community? Take care of yourself and take care of other people. This was obviously always important, but I think we’ve had a series of stark reminders of just how important this is, and how much of it we are missing.


For students, educators and leaders who are interested in learning more about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion and anti-racist education, here are some resources recommended by Cannon, as well as other resources around diversity, equity and justice. 

Two resources recommended by Cannon:

On combating racial terror and the impacts of COVID-19: 


The NC State College of Education’s 2021 Research Celebration on Feb. 25, featured James A. Banks, Ph.D., Kerry and Linda Killinger Endowed Chair in Diversity Studies Emeritus at the University of Washington, Seattle. In his lecture titled “Knowledge Construction, the Canon Debate, and the Education of Citizens in Diverse Societies,” Banks shared his epistemological journey and challenged us to consider the different types of knowledge that have been constructed by assimilationists and multiculturalists and the influence this has on us as individuals, educators and researchers. Watch the lecture and Q&A. 


Film and Panel Discussion: I’m Smart, Too
March 2, 2021 | 6 p.m.

The College of Education’s Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences will present a film and panel discussion on I’m Smart, Too, a documentary film that explores how the public school system sows lasting seeds of disparities in the early grades. After the screening, there will be a Q & A with education experts to discuss the film’s topics. For more information or to register, visit the NC State College of Education’s events calendar.

Diversity and Inclusion adVenture Experience (DIVE)
March 7, 2021

Applications are now open for the Diversity and Inclusion adVenture Experience (DIVE) program through NC State’s Wellness and Recreation department. This year, the program will be taking students on mini-adventures (hiking, biking and canoeing) in the Raleigh area as groups discuss diversity and social justice. This program is offered at no cost to students who are selected.  No outdoor experience or equipment is needed to participate, just a desire and drive to create a more inclusive NC State! Applications are due by Sunday, March 7 at 11:59 p.m.

FI Connects: Learn, Share, and Be Together. | Lunch and Learn Series
March 23, 2021 | Noon

The Friday Institute of Educational Innovation’s Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative (PLLC) and Online Professional Learning Team is relaunching FI Connects: Learn, Share, and Be Together, a solution-based, virtual capacity-building program where educators across North Carolina and beyond can learn from each other and grow together. The series will consist of short, 20-minute webinars and will continue weekly, every Tuesday through May 25. For more information or to register, visit the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation

Don C. Locke Multiculturalism and Social Justice Symposium
March 24, 2021 | 4 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.

How to Promote Culturally and Historically Responsive Teaching during the Current Political Climate
April 1, 2021 | 6:30 p.m.

The TELS Diversity and Social Justice Committee presents “How to Promote Culturally and Historically Responsive Teaching during the Current Political Climate” with Gholdy Muhammad, Ph.D., associate professor of language and literacy at Georgia State University,  director of the Urban Literacy Collaborative and Clinic and author of Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy. For more information, visit the College of Education events calendar or register via Zoom.


Smithsonian Social Studies Online: Women’s History Month
March 4, 2021 | 11 a.m.

Join the National Museum of American History for an online exploration into key social studies topics, featuring museum resources from the Smithsonian. This episode will focus on Women’s History Month. To watch this online webcast, visit their YouTube page.

#EdEquityVA Webinar Series: Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT)
March 9, 2021 | 3 p.m.

The Virginia Department of Education will host a two-part webinar series on culturally relevant teaching. Maria Burgos, supervisor of global learning and culturally responsive instruction for Prince William County Public Schools will be the speaker. Register online for this free event. 

2021 NADOHE Annual Conference
March 9-12, 2021

The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) will host its 15th annual conference virtually, March 9-12, and this year’s theme is “Dismantling Structural Racism: Transforming Higher Education.” The conference will focus on the work that needs to be done to transform higher education and ensure that we support inclusive and equitable practices, policies and cultures. Nonprofit leader, political activist and author Stacey Abrams will give the opening keynote address. For more information, visit the NADOHE website

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.

In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice
March 11, 2021 | 5 p.m.

The National Portrait Gallery is hosting In Dialogue: Smithsonian Objects and Social Justice, a series of conversations about art, history and material culture in an effort to heighten civic awareness. Each month, educators from the National Portrait Gallery partner with colleagues from across the Smithsonian to discuss how historical objects from their respective collections speak to today’s social justice issues. This month, educators from the National Air and Space Museum and the National Women’s HIstory Museum will explore the question “What does a leader do?” in relation to portraits of activists Sojourner Truth and Sylvia Rivera and pilot Bessie Coleman. For more information or to register for this free event, visit EventBrite

2021 Play Like a Girl Women’s Leadership Summit: New Rules for a New World
March 19, 2021 | 11 a.m.

The 2021 Play Like a Girl Women’s Leadership Summit brings successful, emerging and future women leaders together to shape a stronger world. This year’s theme is “New Rules for a New World.” This half-day summit features keynotes, panel discussions, inspiring stories, mentoring sessions, interactive workshops and more as they tackle today’s most relevant and pressing topics. For more information or to register to attend, visit the Play Like a Girl website

5th Annual Let’s Talk Racism Conference: Becoming Anti-Racist Educators
March 19-20, 2021

we are (working to extend anti-racist education), will host the 5th Annual Let’s Talk Racism Conference with this year’s theme of “Becoming Anti-Racist Educators.” The purpose of this conference is to give K-12 educators and pre-service teachers an opportunity to engage in sessions centered on the impact of systemic racism and ways of dismantling it in our schools. For more information or to register, visit the we are Eventbrite page.


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 website, which is constantly evolving and changing, and will be updated regularly, for more information on our efforts to become an anti-racist college.


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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