The Association for Teaching Black History in Kentucky—constituted by Berea College, Kentucky State University, the Muhammad Ali Center and Kentucky History Resources, LLC—has hired Chaka Cummings as its inaugural executive director.
The recently formed Association for Teaching Black History in Kentucky, which will be housed in the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education at Berea College, will work with the state’s public schools to help ensure that the many social, historical and cultural contributions of Black Kentuckians are not forgotten but instead are woven into the teaching of the state’s—and the nation’s—history. The Association’s goal is to provide an inclusive experience for all students that supports their academic success. Continuing to improve education in the Commonwealth to reflect the complexities of current events and their historical context is critical and should include awareness of the Black experience in Kentucky. To this end, the Association will provide resources for teachers, including workshops, a website with carefully curated instructional videos, links to Kentucky historical resources and sample lessons plans.
“The opportunity to lead the work of elevating and centering the experiences and history of Black Kentuckians is truly an honor and a tremendous responsibility,” Cummings said. “As a teacher, I look forward to collaborating with and supporting fellow educators in this endeavor.”
Cummings’ career in education spans various roles in education, including being a classroom teacher, administrator and diversity practitioner. He has taught every grade level from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, and he has specialized in teaching social sciences. Cummings has led numerous presentations on teaching practice, training educators in frameworks such as Backward Planning, Design Thinking and Socratic Seminar. The NBC affiliate in Lexington named him Kentucky’s “Best of the Bluegrass Teacher of the Week” in January 2021 for his incorporated lessons about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. across different grade levels.
Cummings has worked in Kentucky as the director of K-12, postsecondary, and equity policy and practice at The Prichard Committee, where he led the Equity Coalition and represented Prichard on the Kentucky Coalition for Advancing Education, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and at the Kentucky Education Summit. His most recent position was as the senior manager of inclusion at IMG Academy, where he led inclusion policy and practice for an organization with more than 2,000 employees and 1,400 student-athletes.
Cummings is a 2002 graduate of Berea College, where he earned a degree in Education Studies. He also earned a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Higher Education Studies with an emphasis in diversity, equity and inclusion there. A member of the Alumni Executive Council at Berea College, he is married to his Berea College sweetheart, Bobbie, and they have two children.
Regarding the important work anticipated for the Association, Cummings said, “The historical tapestry of the Bluegrass has been woven with significant contributions from Black Kentuckians, and it is the role of the Association for Teaching Black History in Kentucky to make sure that these stories are widely available to students and teachers across the Commonwealth. I’m both humbled and honored by this truth and I look forward to the partnership with Berea College, Kentucky State University, the Muhammad Ali Center and the Thomas D. Clark Foundation as we work to continue to bring Kentucky’s robust Black history to life.”
Berea College President Lyle Roelofs; Bennie Ivory, chair of Kentucky History Resources, LLC; Dr. Ronald Johnson, interim president of Kentucky State University; and Marilyn Jackson, president and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, constitute the governing board of the Association.
“Our four organizations are honored to have collaborated to launch this crucial effort and are so pleased to have reached the stage of appointing Executive Director Cummings to lead it,” Roelofs said on behalf of the Board. “It is urgent and essential that the historical contributions made by Black Kentuckians be made readily accessible to teachers in the Commonwealth, and we are confident that Chaka Cummings is the right person to lead this important work.”