Asa Hilliard: Professor of Educational Psychology Biographical Essay

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1757 Words
Date:  2022-06-06

Asa Hilliard, currently, a professor of educational psychology, was born in Galveston, Texas on August 22, 1933. Hilliard attended the University of Denver, and in 1955, he earned his Bachelors of art degree. His career began with him teaching as a fellow at the University of Denver, and throughout his career as an educational psychologist, Hilliard exemplified an excellent passion for African history and culture. Other than his great passion for the African American culture, Hilliard questioned the way in which the United States was committed to ensuring that children excelled academically. This being said, the core intent of this essay is to discuss Asa Hilliard III, as a member of a minority group and his various psychological contributions.

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To begin with, for over 40 years, Dr. Hilliard's work has substantially impacted various educational fields such as the field of educational psychology, testing and measurement, teacher education, and most importantly, the African American studies. In academia, Hilliard has made significant contributions through his extensive consultations on perceived cultural biases in numerous African history textbooks. Besides, he has written hundreds of scholarly articles on diverse topics, including African history and public policy. Notably, in his books, Hilliard put great emphasis on child development and also matters concerning teachers, training (Lee, 2008). Based on this context, it is evident that he has had a successful career that has centrally been dedicated to exploring the numerous ways available for bettering the education of children and also to teach about the truths regarding the African history as well as the African diaspora. Among his various projects conducted in the African Continent, Hilliard is known for having developed African centered curriculums and also being an active leader of study groups in both Egypt and Ghana, in the course of his psychological career. In particular, being a Board certified forensic examiner, Hilliard has been actively involved in lending his expertise as an expert witness in federal landmark cases on both test validity and biases.

Beginning from the 1970s, Hilliard became a renowned African American scholar who actively promoted educational excellence. In particular, in 1970, Hilliard was astounded upon witnessing the William Johntz's SEED program for the very first time. He found black sixth-grade students who were poor but were learning high-level mathematics in high energy and an overly engaging manner. Although this was appealing at first, it occurred to Hilliard that the method required public school teachers who had a profound knowledge of mathematics. Following this experience, Hilliard went ahead and wrote his renowned book, "Young, Gifted, and Black." In this book, he argued that there was a quality of service gap that plagued low-income schools. This, to him, was the only valid explanation as to why a majority of the African Americans performed so poorly in school. To help counter these experiences, Hilliard proposed that it was possible to turn the failures by the African America children, around, through having ordinary teachers and principals with extraordinary commitment transforming both the ordinary and failing schools into islands of hope (Mabie, 2000).

For more than 20 years, Dr. Hilliard served as a leader of Afrocentrism, which was an ethnic history movement that primarily highlighted the historical achievements of African Americans. More precisely, his Afrocentrism contribution merited great debates among a vast range of scholars and polarizing figures such as Leonard Jeffries. Besides, in this movement, Hilliard centered on boosting the self-esteem of minority African Americans. Another significant psychological success of Dr. Hilliard was seen during the implementation of the renowned training guides commonly known as the "African-American Baseline Essays," and during this time, Hilliard became a consultant to the Atlanta schools. More fundamentally, these essays were developed by various educators in Portland, Ore and like many other African American awareness texts, these essays perceived ancient black Egypt as the birthplace of the philosophical, mathematical as well as the scientific theories that formed civilization.

Hilliard is also well renowned for his scholarship and the implication for Black Principle leadership. Essentially, from the year 1984 to 2007, Hilliard participated in the authorship of numerous articles, books chapters, essays, and also made a number of speeches regarding the education of African American students in public schools, to scholars, researchers, and policymakers. According to Hilliard (1998) it is apparent that Hilliard understood that education is a highly contested site of political power and control especially in matters around issues of curriculum content, teacher training, leadership, pedagogy, and cultural perspectives among others. To him, Hilliard understood that educators go through long-term struggles in their quest to combat racism in schools. Therefore, based on this context, themes such as inequitable educational structures, cultural proficiency, minimum competency standards, and the quality of services gap in education became prominent in a majority of his work.

Lemons-Smith (2008) contends that one with regard to Hilliard's scholarship, one of the most significant contributions done through his speeches and scholarship has to be the imperative for both teaching and leadership, which essentially facilitates the provision of African American students with high-quality educational services. According to Hilliard, racism is a compelling aspect that had substantially impacted the opportunities offered for African Americans to gain both equity and fair representation and access to public schools. Notably, Hilliard argued that policymakers and educators, especially in public schools, focus on all the wrong aspects regarding the achievements of African Americans. Unlike all other scholars in the 20th century, Hilliard did not focus on the reasons why Black Americans did not learn, but instead, focused on understanding the equality of educational services that were being received by African American children for them to stand better chances of succeeding in life, as compared to their counterparts. Based on this context, Hilliard became overly dedicated to finding a solution to these issues facing the African American students. He, therefore, insisted that the primary solution for the underachievements of African American students did not necessarily need the implementation of alternative teaching techniques (Chamberlain, 2005). Instead, he contended that the solution was rather a moral and one that required the sheer use of common sense. He, therefore, insisted on the fact that there was a need to provide every child with high-quality educational services.

Another major psychological significance of Dr. Hilliard is exemplified in his emphasis on the importance of having culturally proficient leaders and teachers in public schools. Precisely, Hilliard put a lot of emphasis on the need of having teachers who had crucial knowledge about the African culture. With regard to his teaching and academia, Hilliard insisted that for there to be significant changes on how African American children were treated in public schools. His, phrase that, "A culturally salient and sensitive education is essential to a pluralistic nation" (Hilliard, 1984) has been considered one of the most influential aspects of his contributions to equality for African Americans in the education system.

Hilliard's keen contribution towards creating awareness of the role of prejudice, racism, and discrimination in public schools in the United States has also had significant implications for school leaders and directors. For instance, in one of his books, "Rx for Racism: Imperatives for America's Schools," Hilliard argued that the American people have let racism sabotage the entire nation's efforts to provide high-quality education for all the public school going children (American Psychological Association, 2007). According to him, there was a great need to bring all these prejudices to an end since he believed that students of the African American descent experienced what he described as a conceptual separation from their roots and for this reason, they were forced to situate their individual experiences in the context of paradigms, constructs, assumptions, and other people languages. Following this premise, Hilliard contended that there was a need for both the educators and the students to have a deep understanding of the origin of African Americans. He enforced this by teaching that African Americans have to actively resist the ideology of a mainstream society since this ideology could only result in assimilation or what has commonly been referred to as the marginalization of African Americans as a group that is culturally distinct.

In research, Hilliard has had significant contributions having worked as a researcher, speaker, and a consultant in many schools in the United States. Through his teaching and research, he advised most stakeholders in the education sector, especially those from the Black community, not to give in to the structure ideology that has been overly prevalent in the society. To him, these ideologies, caused a majority of the ethnic minorities, specifically the African American, to doubt their fundamental human potential as well as those of the masses of their children. By so doing, Hilliard made the teachers and the school leaders to believe that all children, regardless of their ethnicity, would achieve anything that they wanted, if given the right opportunities to learn.

His establishment and enforcement of various African American help organizations have also had significant impacts on the nature and quality of education according to African American students, in predominantly white schools. This has been made possible by the fact that Dr. Hilliard has always believed that for there to be change and equality in the education system, African American educators have to be committed to helping the African American students. Besides, he has always insisted on the need for African American educators to partner with communities and parents in helping them to excel academically. () points out that this can be done by assisting in the students' social and academic development even when the schools failed to do so.


In 2001, Dr. Hilliard was remembered for having been enstooled as the Development Chief for Mankranso, Ghana. It was during this time that he was also given the name, Nana Baffour Amankwatia, which means, "generous one." In a nutshell, Hilliard spent more than thirty years leading various study groups in both Ghana and Egypt, as part of his mission of teaching and making known, the truth about the history of Africa as well as the African Diaspora.


American Psychological Association. (2007). Featured Psychologist: Asa Hilliard, III, PhD. Retrieved from

Chamberlain, S. P. (2005). Recognizing and Responding to Cultural Differences in the Education of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners. Intervention in School and Clinic, 40(4), 195-211. doi:10.1177/10534512050400040101

Hilliard, A. G. (1998). SBA: The reawakening of the African mind. Gainesville, FL: Makare Pub.

Lee, C. D. (2008). Synthesis of Research on the Role of Culture in Learning Among African American Youth: The Contributions of Asa G. Hilliard, III. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 797-827. doi:10.3102/0034654308320967

Lemons-Smith, S. (2008). Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III: Trumpeter for the Academic and Cultural Excellence of African American Chi...

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