Aug 13, 2021 (updated Aug 18, 2021)
When Dr. Ivory A. Toldson was recently tapped for a leadership role at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), he remembered a June 30, 1963 letter from his grandfather to the civil rights organization’s executive director.
“This is to inform you that while I was attending a vote meeting Friday night week, my wife and daughter were harassed,” read the first sentence to Roy Wilkins written by the Reverend John H. Scott, Toldson’s grandfather, who had been a civil rights activist and scholar.
The letter detailed atrocities the Black community had been facing in northern Louisiana that month.
“Things are bad here,” Scott wrote, explaining how the Ku Klux Klan had burned down churches, issued death threats to his family, and threatened to rape Black women. For support, Scott turned to the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the issues around Black people getting fair treatment under the rights of the law continue today,” said Toldson, professor of counseling psychology at Howard University, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Negro Education.
Now, he is the NAACP’s new director of education innovation and research, a post that he is excited about after serving for many years as the president of Quality Education for Minorities (QEM)
“I’ve done a lot of research and policy work on educational issues and equity, such as how Black children are underrepresented in gifted and talented classrooms yet overrepresented in special education,” said Toldson, who is the author of numerous publications including No BS (Bad Stats): Black People Need People Who Believe in Black People Enough Not to Believe Every Bad Thing They Hear about Black People. “Now I can be more of a scholar activist.”
Under the Obama administration, Toldson was the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As an activist and an academic today, Toldson sees his NAACP position as breaking down communication barriers between the ivory tower, the policy world, and the public.