Vanessa Siddle Walker

Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American and Educational Studies


Vanessa Siddle Walker is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American Educational Studies (B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; M.Ed Harvard University; Ed. D Harvard University). For 25 years, she has explored the segregated schooling of African American children, considering sequentially the climate that permeated segregated schools, the network of professional collaborations that explains the similarity across schools, and the hidden systems of advocacy that demanded equality and justice for the children in the schools. Her research has garnered a number of awards, including the prestigious $200,000 Grawmeyer Award for Education and the American Educational Association (AERA) Early Career Award. In addition, she has received awards from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, the American Education Studies Association, and three awards from AERA Divisions, including the Best New Female Scholar Award, the Best New Book Award, and the Outstanding Book Award.

Walker’s current research project, Hidden Provocateurs, brings to light the history of black educators in the fight for justice for black children. It examines black educators’ activities to demand equality in the generations before the Brown v. Board of Education decision, their interconnected story with the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and their continued advocacy after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. By elevating the role of these black educators, Hidden Provocateurs challenges, expands, or contextualizes every popular book of civil rights, educational history, and Brown v. Board of Education commentary. In its pages, well-known public advocates such as Walter White, James Weldon Johnson, and W. E. B. Du Bois are intertwined with the unknown generations of educators such as H. A. Hunt, Charles Harper and, finally, the book’s central figure: Horace Edward Tate. Collectively, their activities reveal an intricate system of symbiotic collaboration identifiable in every generation’s effort to effect equality of opportunity for all children. The book, published as The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools, was the winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award for 2019 and lauded as one of the Best Nonfiction Books for 2018 by Publisher's Weekly. 

Walker has consulted widely with media, participating in the PBS Special, SCHOOL, and has shared her research nationally and internationally for more than 25 years. In 2012 she delivered the American Educational Research Association’s annual Brown v. Board of Education Lecture in Washington, DC with the webcast viewed by more than 500 people in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Peru, Qatar, South Africa, Taiwan, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Since the Brown Lecture, she has provided Keynote Addresses for the U.S. Department of Education; the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women; the Kansas City-Missouri Emancipation Proclamation Celebration; the University of Cape Coast, Ghana; Teachers College Columbia; Howard University; Michigan Law School; American Educational Research Association; University Council for Educational Administration; the University of Georgia; and Duquesne University. Walker is a former National Academy of Education Fellow and in 2009 was named a Fellow of AERA. She is President of AERA for 2019-2020.

Additional Information

Vanessa Siddle Walker previously taught courses in the History of Education, African American Educational History, and Qualitative Research Methods in the Division of Educational Studies. Her courses in the Department of African American Studies have included Education in Georgia in Black and White, The Past is Present: TITUS Internship, So You Want to Teach for America? Resurrecting an African American Pedagogical Model for Education in American School, and Contemporary Issues in African American Education: TITUS Seminar.


  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. Hidden Provocateurs: Black Educators in a Century of Secret Struggle. New York: New Press, Under Contract.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. Living the Legacy: The Historical African American Professional Network as a Model for University and School Collaborations. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Under Contract.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle with Ulysses Byas. Hello Professor: A Black Principal and Professional Leadership in a Segregated Community.  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2009.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle and John Snarey, eds. Race-ing Moral Formation:  African American Perspectives on Care, Justice, and Moral Education.   New York:  Teachers College Press, 2004.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. Their Highest Potential: An African American School Community in the Segregated South.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
  • Hidalgo, N., McDowell, C., Siddle, eds. Facing Racism in American Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review Reprint Series, 1990.

Selected Refereed Articles:

  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. “Black Educators in an Elusive Quest for Justice.”  Educational Researcher 42, no. 4 (2013): 207-222.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. “Tolerated Tokenism, or the Injustice in Justice: Black Teacher Organizations and Their Forgotten Struggle for Educational Justice, 1921-1954.”  Equity and Excellence 46, no. 1 (2013): 64-80.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. "Second-class integration: A Historical Perspective for a Contemporary Agenda.” Harvard Educational Review 79, no. 2 (2009), 269-284.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. “Organized Resistance and Black Educators’ Quest for School Equality, 1878-1938.  Teachers College Record 107, no. 3 (2005): 355-388.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. “After Methods, Then What?”  Teachers College Record 107, no. 1 (2005): 30-37.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle.  "Brown and its Impact on Schools and American Life." American Bar Association Focus on Law Studies 19 (2004): 1-17.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle and Ulysses Byas. “The Architects of Black Schooling in the Segregated South:  The Case of One Principal Leader.”  Journal of Curriculum and Supervision 19 no. 1 (2003): 54-72.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle.  “African American Teachers in Segregated Schools in the South, 1940-1969.” American Educational Research Journal 38, no. 4 (2001): 751-780.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle. “Valued Segregated Schools for African American Children in the South, 1935-1969:  A Review of Common Themes and Characteristics.”  Review of Educational Research 70. no. 3 (2000): 253-285.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle.  “Research at Risk: Lessons Learned in an African American Community. Educational Foundations 9, no. 1(1995): 5-15.
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle.  “Caswell County Training School, 1933-1969: Relationships Between Community and School.”  Harvard Educational Review 63, no. 2 (1993): 161-182. 
  • Walker, Vanessa Siddle.  “Interpersonal Caring in the 'good' Segregated Schooling of African-American Children: Evidence from the Case of Caswell County Training School.”  Urban Review 25, no. 1 (1993): 63-77.