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Emory professor Vanessa Siddle Walker voted American Educational Research Association president-elect

Emory Report | April 9, 2018

Vanessa Siddle Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of African American Educational Studies at Emory University, has been voted president-elect of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

A national research society, AERA strives to advance knowledge and scholarly inquiry related to education and to promote the use of research to improve education. Walker’s term as AERA Council president will begin next year at the conclusion of AERA’s annual meeting on April 9, 2019. 

For more than 25 years, Walker’s research has explored the segregated schooling of African American children, including the climate that has permeated segregated schools, the network of professional collaborations that explains the similarity across schools, and the hidden systems of advocacy that demanded equity and justice for schoolchildren.

Her research has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Grawnmeyer Award for Education and the 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 the AERA, including categories of Best New Female Scholar, Best New Book and Outstanding Book.

Walker is also an AERA Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Education. She completed her undergraduate training in education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; taught for four years at the desegregated Cummings High School in Burlington, North Carolina; and finished her masters and doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Her 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 decision, and their continued advocacy after the ruling.

Her book based on the project, “Hidden Provocateurs: Black Education in a Century of Secret Struggle,” is currently under contract. Walker has also authored and edited several other prominent scholarly books, including “Hello Professor: A Black Principal and Professional Leadership in the Segregated South” and “Their Highest Potential: An African American School Community in the Segregated South.”

Upon stepping into the role of AERA president in 2019, Walker will succeed Amy Stuart Wells, professor of sociology and education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Wells formally assumes the AERA presidency on April 17, following the close of the association’s 2018 annual meeting in New York City.