Meet Dr. Tonya Leslie, an educational researcher who studies literacy and educational equity.

How did you become interested in this line of work? (tell us a little bit about your background)

I think about stories a lot. I am a children’s book author and I also facilitate conversations around race and equity. Much of this work is really about story–reflecting on the stories we’ve been told and, when necessary, interrupting those stories with new ways of thinking. When I write stories for children, I try to share new ways of thinking about topics they may be familiar with–or I actively interrupt old ideas.

For example, I recently wrote a book about Rosa Parks and I wanted to interrupt the idea that she was just a woman who was tired one day and sat down on a bus. That’s not true. She was a trained community organizer. She knew exactly what she was doing. She sat down to take a stand. There was nothing passive about it.

Please share a wellness tip or word of advice that relates to the workshop you will be presenting.

Interrogate your stories. Some of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves aren’t true. In fact, I would say those are some of the harshest stories we tell. Cultivate a voice of empathy for yourself. Cultivate forgiveness for yourself. Center yourself as the hero of your own story.

What or who inspires you? (This could be anything from your mentor to your favorite quote)

I recently wrote a book about John Lewis. I always knew who he was, but as I researched his story I became so inspired. This was a man of strength and determination and so much love for his fellow humans. When I feel like I am losing hope, I think about him and the “good trouble” he got in and how that helped to change the world.

What personal or professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being able to facilitate conversations because I think that work changes hearts and minds. When I go into these conversations and people open up, share new ideas and new ways of thinking, I feel happy and hopeful.

Dr. Tonya Leslie, is an educational researcher who studies literacy and educational equity. She is the co-owner of “We Need 2 Talk LLC” a company that facilitates critical conversations about race.  MORE


Color Full Story Telling Series
Thursday, February 25, 2021, 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST


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