A scholar and activist

May 16, 2022

Equity

By Kim Catley

As a junior at Richmond, Shauna Myers Knox, ’10, studied abroad in Durban, South Africa, where she wrote a thesis on the program’s theme of truth and reconciliation. While there, she developed an interest in education as she noticed how race and socioeconomic status contributed to deep disparities in the quality of education students received.

Knox became increasingly invested in educational inequity, which she studied in her master’s and doctoral programs. She was accepted into former President Barack Obama’s inaugural class of interns and observed policy innovations that were designed to improve equity. Then, to better understand the U.S. educational system, Knox, who is from Jamaica, signed up for Teach for America.

“It was eye-opening,” she says. “I taught in a racially diverse Title I school in which every student qualified for free breakfast and lunch. The standard of education we were offering them fell extraordinarily short of what people of means received.”

Knox continues to explore these themes in her research. She recently released a curriculum theory book, Engaging Currere Towards Decolonization. A book forthcoming in 2022, The Black Subaltern: An Intimate Witnessing, talks about the importance of exploring the fullness of Black humanity.

 

I started in education, and it will always be my home.

She also translates her scholarship into activism. Knox is the chief of racial equity strategy at Associated Black Charities, a Baltimore nonprofit. She works alongside political and business leaders to implement strategies that aim to move organizations toward racial equity and justice and to close the racial wealth gap. She also is a charter member of the International Civil Society Working Group for the United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent.

“I started in education, and it will always be my home,” she says. “I’m expanding that reach into the workforce ecosystem to grapple with questions about what restitution looks like for Black people in America. There is profuse injury to address, and I am devoted to its repair and restoration.”