Listen to and learn from others. As we reflect on this unspeakably challenging year, we realize we have spent a lot of time trying to do just that. We’ve learned so much from the school and district leaders we have partnered with across the country, hearing about their struggles and their innovative solutions for better meeting the needs of their students. We also spent a lot of time soaking up the perspectives, experiences, and wisdom of the educators, researchers, social justice warriors who shared with the world their ideas and observations 

#EquityReads 2020 is a compilation of some of the writings, films, podcasts we consumed this year that have helped inform the work we do to support and develop culturally responsive leaders in education. This list is by no means comprehensive, so we invite you to help us expand this resource by sharing the equity-focused education materials you have found most valuable and inspiring this yearPost them on Twitter and tag them with #EquityReads and @LeadershipAcad_ or email them to and we will add them to this list. 

An essential part of being a culturally responsive leader is opening your head and your heart to the ideas and experiences of others. We look forward to continuing to learn from you and to creating spaces for that learning. We are all in this work together.

Lead for Equity and Access 

In her book CasteIsabel Wilkerson explores through deep research and stories how America, throughout its history, has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.  

The Fire Is Upon Us by Nicholas Buccola explores James Baldwin, William F. Buckley, and the debate on race in America.  

In her “Unlocking Us” podcast, Brene Brown has fascinating guests and great conversations!  

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie Glaude Jr.   

In So You Want to Talk about Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers through subjects from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an effort to encourage honest conversations about race and racism. 

Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi offers a tremendous history of racism dating back centuries. This is the young adult version of Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and is very accessible for younger readers.  

This Book is Antiracist by Tiffany Jewell is a young adult book guides the reader through the origins of racism while providing a workbook for learning more about yourself as an anti-racist.  

In Dena Simmons’ article“Confronting Inequity/Healing Black Students’ Pain,” she writes, “If we truly care about the future of our young people and our nation, we can no longer be passive about racial justice. We can no longer walk away and ignore the pain our students are feeling.”  

Harvard Professor of Education Jal Mehta writes, “There is no shortage of supply of equity approaches that would integrate thought and action; what is missing is the demand for such approaches, and the willingness to follow-through on the difficult action steps” in his article, Equity Work: Too Much Talk, Too Little Action.”  

What is owed” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, in which she argues, “If true justice and equality are ever to be achieved in the United States, the country must finally take seriously what it owns black American.” 

In his article, “American Nightmare” in The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi writes, “To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.” 

Lindsey Yoo writes about ways to combat the racism and xenophobia experienced by Asian-Americans during COVID-19. 

Claude M. Steele’s “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Time)” is an oldie but essential read for anyone working to disrupt racism. 

In her powerful TEDTalk, social justice advocate Kori Carew talks about “Just belonging: Finding the courage to interrupt bias.” 

The Education Trust’s podcast series, “Extraordinary districts in extraordinary times,” takes listeners through the toil and triumphs of three school districts. While each district takes a different approach, they all demonstrate a commitment to students, research, and continual evaluation to solve many of the problems that face school districts nationwide. 

Layla Saad’s “Good Ancestor” podcast features interviews with “changemakers and culture shapers.” 

Align Mission, Vision, & Core Values 

California-based principal Joe Truss writes about “What Happened When My School Started to Dismantle White Supremacy Culture.” 

In her Teaching Tolerance article, “Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus,” writer Coshandra Dillard writes, “The spread of the new coronavirus has become racialized, so it’s critical that educators understand the historical context and confront racist tropes and xenophobia from students and colleagues.”  

The Equity Center provides a guidebook for organizations looking to move away from white dominant culture.  

Edward Fergus discusses the biases associated with poverty and discipline in his article featured in Phi Delta Kappan, “Confronting our beliefs about poverty and discipline 

Ivan Natividad’s “Why are American public schools still segregated?” provides a comprehensive look at segregation in this country—past and present. 

The podcast “Nice White Parents” takes listeners through the evolution of one school building in Brooklyn, NY, the numerous efforts to integrate the school, and the power of white parents.  

Family Engagement  

In “Family-School Relationships Are the Missing Link in COVID-19 Era Education,” Leticia Alvarez Gutierrez, Laura Hernandez, Taeyeon Kim, Paul J. Kuttner, Gerardo R. Lopez, Jennifer Mayer-Glenn, Amadou Niang & Almaida Yanagui  share how crucial family engagement is to student learning, even more so during the pandemic. 


Antiracist Baby is a picture book by Ibram X. Kendi.  

Zaretta Hammond offers “3 Tips to Make Any Lesson More Culturally Responsive”  

Angelina Murphy writes in “Using Learning Stations to Kick Off the Year” about the use of learning stations to break up the routine, add movement, and increase engagement. 

Education Dive’s “Study Guide: IEPs and special education during COVID-19” provides an overview of some of the challenges to providing services to special education students during the pandemic. 

Christopher Emdin’s For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education (Race, Education, and Democracy) provides concrete strategies for teachers on how to teach through a culturally-responsive lens. 

In “Dear White Teachers: You Can’t Love Your Black Students If You Don’t Know Them” Bettina Love asserts, “Let me be clear: I do not think White teachers enter the profession wanting to harm children of color, but they will hurt a child whose culture is viewed as an afterthought. 

Teaching Tolerance offers videos for teachers to use in their middle and high school classrooms in The Forgotten Slavery of Our Ancestors. 

On the podcast TeachLab, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum talks about the ABCs of culturally responsive teaching and gives some concrete suggestions for addressing the challenges of racial issues in schools including colorblindness  

Dr. Sheldon Eakins’ Leading Equity podcast focuses on supporting educators to educational equity. Recent guests have included Mirko Chardin and Dr. Katie Novak, Dr. Todd Mealy, Clement Townsend, and Dr. Stephanie Abraham. 

The Abolitionist Teaching Network launched the podcast Teaching to Thrive,” hosted by ATN founder Bettina Love and Chesley Culley-Love, to share ideas that strengthen the everyday lives of Black and Brown students within schools and communities.   

Adult Development 

Coaching for Equity by Elena Aguilar  

My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem