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Before 1954, Inc.

Dr. Courtney Wilkerson

(They/Them/Dr. )

Founder & CEO

Executive Coach & School Leader

  • I am a thought leader.

  • I believe Education, not schooling, is liberation.

  • I change daily to create infinitely.

I employ an ethnocultural framework to coach education leaders executively to a self-determining and liberating praxis.


“Abundance is my birthright. Self-determination through a liberatory praxis is how we liberate Black and other children of the global majority. When I came to understand this truth, nothing, not one thing remained the same. From that moment, I knew I was unable to go back. The vision was clear. We are it. We are who we are waiting for ”  Dr. Wilkerson

Before 1954, most Black children were in a Black educator’s daily and communal care. While pre-Brown v Board of Education, Black schools lacked equitable funding to resources, the ways of knowing (teaching) systems of thought (pedagogy) and (cultural meaning-making (synthesis) of Black teachers were unmatched. According to Siddle Walker (2000), Black teachers increased literacy, college attendance rates, and test scores. Today, Black educators provide better academic and economic outcomes for Black (all) children–even in eurocentric schools. I help school and system leaders replicate successes for Black children before 1954.

Why 1954?

Phases & Cycles:

Modules challenge the leader to examine their contributions to systems of privilege and oppression while igniting their commitment to seek self-determination.

Phase 1: Understanding the Social Structures and Governance Systems, of Schools, and Districts

Modules move the leader into revising and creating new ways of being, leading, moving, and reflecting that affirm children of the Global Majority.

Phase 2: Applying Ethnos and Culture to Leadership Ways of Knowing, Movement, and Memory.

Learn More

Modules demonstrate coaching, feedback, and facilitation of courageous actions to move beyond uncomfortable conversation to explicit action to address and confront anti-Black racism.

Phase 3: Making Meaning out of Ethnocultural Leadership to Clear Paths and Expand Impact

Presentations and Publications


Waite, S. & Wilkerson, C. (2023). Are educational leaders of color truly able to lead for equity?” Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 2023.

Article Link


Banks, J., Shockley, K., Wilkerson, C. (2021). “Ain’t I Got a Right to the Tree of Life?”: Examining Special Education through the Application of Afro-Humanity, Philosophical Inquiry in Education

 Article Link


Tyler, A., Berry, J., Wilkerson, C., and Jang, C. (2022). “Advancing Black Excellence: Male Doctoral Students in Science and Engineering Degree Pathways” in Unveiling the Cloak of Invisibility: Why Black Males are absent in STEM Disciplines. Unveiling Cloak Invisibility

Scholarly Presentations


Wilkerson, C. (2023, December). “Ethno-Cultural Leadership Framework: The Joy and Genius of Black Principals”, NASBE Annual Conference.

Wilkerson, C. (2023, November). “Black Principals Who Employ Ethno-Humanism and CRSL to Reduce Racial Bias Against Black Children”, UCEA Annual Convention.

Wilkerson, C. (2023, October). “Catering Through Coaching, to the Needs of Every Child”, Principals Voice Amplified, NASSP Webinar Series.

Wilkerson, C. (2023, July). “Leveraging Feedback and Coaching: Journeying from District Initiatives to School Practices and Student Outcomes”, NAASP Annual Conference.

Waite, S. & Wilkerson, C. (2023, April). “Are educational leaders of color truly able to lead for equity?” AERA Annual Conference.

Wilkerson, C. & Andrews, M. (2022, October). “The Black Educators' Art of Storytelling” Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA) Conference.

Wilkerson, C, Andrews, M., Riddeax, J. (2022, August). “Policy, Practice & Praxis:  Culturally Responsive Policy, School Leadership, and Classroom Practice” Leadership in Equity, Action, and Discourse (LEAD) Conference 2022: Howard University and Sidwell Friends.

Wilkerson, C. (2021, February). An Examination of the Relationship Between Race, Gender, Household income and School Role on Cultural Responsiveness” RAMP Symposium.

The Ethnocultural Approach 

Executive Leadership Coaching 

Coaching occurs in three phases, and each stage consists of three modules. The coaching phases and modules integrate research and practice into praxis. As the leader develops their ethnocultural capacity, modules are adapted to fit the area of equity focus specific to the leader and team. The modules for each phase are Relationship, Responsibility, and Resistance.

  • Too few leaders have the opportunity to develop their capacity to boldly confront anti-Black and other racial biases against Black (and other people of the Global Majority) in their schools, systems, and districts. Before 1954, Inc. employs an Ethnocultural Leadership Framework to provide executive coaching to education leaders and teams to reduce racial bias within their influence and locus of control. Ethnocultural Leadership affirms the courage it takes to seek self-determination through a liberatory praxis.

  • Before 1954, Inc. employed an Ethnocultural Leadership Framework to affirm the courage it takes for school and system leaders to seek self-determination through a liberatory praxis. We leverage a core value, commitment to equitable outcomes for children of the Global Majority, by equipping leaders with “new” tools to reduce racial bias.

    Ethnocultural Leadership tenets are (1) relationship with Black students/students of the Global Majority, (2) responsibility to students of the Global Majority, and (3) resistance to anti-Black racism.

  • Leaders engage in an initial equity audit to determine what if any, systems, policies, practices, or behaviors protect privilege or replicate oppression to those of the Global Majority. Once complete, Dr. Wilkerson provides detailed data-driven feedback and recommends priority focus areas for short- and long-term outcomes. Recommendations are core tenets of ethnocultural leadership, Relationship, Responsibility, and Resistance. The defining outcome of Ethnocultural Leadership is affirming the courage it requires to employ a self-determining and liberatory praxis—in the face of anti-Black racism inherent in public education schools and systems.

  • The equity audit provides insight into who your leadership is in relationship to. For example, who are the student’s staff and other stakeholders with whom you share a unique kinship, expressed in your leadership behaviors, ways of knowing, and cultural meaning-making? Specifically, this tenet asks you to reflect on who your policies, pedagogies, and practices lean towards, engage, or include. Examine why and how to ensure your leadership is not replicating racial bias against children of the Global Majority.

  • Our relationships drive our responsibilities. This tenet provides leaders with tools to examine how their worldviews influence their accountability systems. It seeks to return white hegemony to the systems of privilege and oppression and remove them from the burdens of children of the Global Majority. For example, when reviewing insights from the equity audit and data metrics, leaders determine what drives their accountability to eurocentric metrics or responsibility to liberate Black children with affirming and culturally centered anti-racist, pro-Black assessments, practices, and pedagogies.

  • “Uh Huh, But How Do It Free Us?” is the driving question in the resistance tenet. How does your leadership seek self-determination in a liberatory praxis when examining the equity audit, reflecting on leadership behaviors, and analyzing student achievement data? Resting on the leader’s relationship with and responsibility to Black (and other children of the Global Majority), how are you creating opportunities for Black children to seek self-determination, liberation, and freedom from a hegemonic and anti-Black system of privilege and oppression? To seek self-determination is an act of resistance to anti-Black racism and white hegemony.

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