Our Story

photo of students standing outside HGSE's libraryA dedicated cadre of students of color at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) created the Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) during the 2002/2003 school year to bring awareness to the educational issues impacting communities of color. In keeping with this effort, every year, alumni and current HGSE students design and facilitate a space that aims to inspire and transform education by convening educators, scholars, researchers, change makers of all varieties, policymakers, and students of all backgrounds concerned with issues of race, class, and education as they pertain to all people and, in particular, to Communities of Color.

At its founding, the conference was “an opportunity to invite back alumni of color in the field and in the academy to present their work so we could learn from them and connect with them,” says AOCC co-founder Daren Graves, Ed.D.’06, now an associate professor at Simmons University in Boston and a regular attendee of AOCC.

“While the conference has taken on many themes over the two decades, each year the AOCC inspires attendees to effect lasting change,” say 2020 co-chairs, master’s students Zoë Mayfield and Molin Chen. 

“Traditional research conferences are often more dispassionate or detached, and sometimes communities of color are ‘studied,’ but not in a way that honors what they have to contribute,” says Lecturer Candice Bocala, Ed.D.’14, who was one of the student tri-chairs for the 2009 AOCC convening. “AOCC celebrates research, scholarship, and practice that works in partnership with, or is led by, people of color.”   

One of the most impactful aspects of the conference, says Bocala, has been creating a space to honor the contributions of alumni of color. It also creates a space for current students to learn, explore, and collaborate outside of the walls of a classroom.

“AOCC has become part of the fabric of HGSE,” says Graves. “It has made HGSE a better place, and a better place in particular for our community of color.” (www.gse.harvard.edu/hgse100/story/aocc-leads-way)

2003: Exploring Issues of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Identity in Education | 2004: Reconnecting the I and We: Building Community For Change | 2005: Power, Politics, and the Experiences of People of Color in Education | 2006: Growth, Strength, and Action: Honoring our Commitment to Individuals and Communities of Color | 2007: Image and Knowledge: Constructing Power in Communities of Color | 2008: Raising Our Voices: (Re)Framing Conversations About Race & Education | 2009: Crossing Borders: Exploring Local and Global Perspectives on Race, Inequality, and Education | 2010: Response-Ability: Using Dissonance and Delight for Justice | 2011: We Make the Road by Walking: Education for Leadership and Transformation | 2012: Disrupt the Discourse: Discussing the ‘Undiscussable’ | 2013: The Revolution will be LIVE! | 2014: From Dreams to Movements | 2015: The Other Narrative: Celebrating Untold Stories | 2016: Educators as Architects: Building a Mosaic for Democracy Now! | 2017: Define, Defy, Dismantle | 2018: Radicalize, Reimagine, Reconstruct | 2019: Homecoming: Past, Present, and Future | 2020: HGSE 100 Years in the Making: Past, Present, and Future of Education for Communities of Color | 2021: Immunity in Community: Resilience in the Face of a Double Pandemic | 2022: Passing the Torch of Knowledge: Movements Toward Liberation Through Education

Anjali Adukia | Laura Carmen Arena | Wanda Bailey | Jeremy Brown | Tara Brown | Dorinda Carter | Martha Casas | Anisha Desai | Robert Fowler | Antonio Garcia | Frank Gaytan | Lamont Gordon | Daren Graves | Heather Harding | Elizabeth Holliday  Keishana Howse | Carol Hsiao | Julia Hunter Cavanaugh | Keishia Kemp | Sun Kim | Erin Lewis | Roystone Martinez | Victor Milner Katrina Mitchell | Aaron Park | Wendy Perez | Richard Reddick Louie F. Rodriguez | Khadijah Salaam | Steve Song | Carol Strickland | Phitsamay Sychitkokhong | Frank Tuitt | Dyan Watson | Marcia Wells | Hope Williams | Kia Martin