Kathlyn Joy Gilliam was one of nine children born to the late Ross Christian and Lucille Donaldson Christian. Much of her interest in public affairs and her trailblazing spirit was inspired by her mother who was active in community affairs in their small town of Campbell, TX. Following her mother’s example, Kathlyn early discovered her passion to foster solidarity and create better educational opportunities for all children. Her community involvement included:
- President of Dallas Council of Colored Parents and Teachers
- Officer of the Texas Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers
- Active member of the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers
These organizations existed in 19 southern States and the District of Columbia, solely to accommodate the segregated education systems of the time. They also served as a catalyst for Ms. Gilliam’s rise from outspoken parent and community advocate to the first and only female African-American to be elected president of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Education. Her concern for equitable educational opportunities for all children led her to serve the Dallas community as elected school board member for more than 23 years. The Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy was opened in 2011 in honor of her commitment to boys and girls.
Mrs. Gilliam helped found organizations such as the Wendelkin/Driskell Neighbors Association, Clean South Dallas/Fair Park, Inc., Selena Butler Institute, Black Coalition to Maximize Education and the list goes on — all centered around helping create community involvement, incentive and geared toward educating youth.
Established in 2014, the Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum is housed in the actual home of the late Kathlyn Joy Gilliam, which was recently designated a City of Dallas historical landmark.
The Museum honors the legacy of Mrs. Gilliam who was one of Dallas’ greatest, most courageous civil rights leaders and a champion for African-American youth and children. She fought and won many battles that literally changed not only Dallas, but the entire nation in the areas of education, justice and political empowerment for African-Americans. She fearlessly shaped a better and brighter future for generations of youth and was a champion for both civil rights and education who represented the South Dallas community with dignity and pride.
Plans call for further development of the Museum to realize Mrs. Gilliam’s vision of:
- Providing a safe, inspiring environment where community members can build a solid educational foundation for children and youth
- Developing community and business leaders for generations to come
- Sharing and displaying her awards, books, writings, and photos to inspire others
- Creating a place for teaching and learning that will train others to practice Mrs. Gilliam’s strategies for creating exceptional learning opportunities for youth
- Teaching and empowering the community to renew its greatness and pursue new avenues of development.
Our intent is to teach and engage others to perform the kind of community service that benefits community. The museum will serve as a tribute to an icon who fearlessly fought to help make a difference in so many lives.
You can help make this dream a reality by joining Team Gilliam, sharing this link with others and inviting them to join this effort.
With your support, the new Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum will open its doors to the public on October 16, 2015 — Mrs. Gilliam’s 85th birthdate! In addition to hours for public viewing, the Museum will offer ongoing seminars, field trip opportunities and strategy sessions devoted to community empowerment and the educational development of young people.
THE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
(Reading Programs) – Mrs. Gilliam believed that reading is the key to success. “If you can read, you can do anything” was her famous quote. She left behind dozens of books that she enjoyed reading. The Museum will encourage people of all ages to enjoy the books that she cherished, and sponsor quarterly literacy programs, including senior citizen mentoring programs, read-ins, summer reading camps, computer literacy, and other educational programs for young and old.
(Debate Center) – The Museum will also serve as a training center for debate team competitions. “It is important that children learn to think outside the box and implement critical thinking in order to succeed in life,” Mrs. Gilliam would say. The Debate Center will encourage discussion of everyday issues and opinions – and teach youth to communicate without becoming physical or confrontational. “Our children have not mastered the art of discussion,” Mrs. Gilliam would say. Debates are a way for those who hold opposing views to discuss controversial issues without descending to insult, emotional appeals or personal bias. During Mrs. Gilliam’s school years, debate team competitions were a vital part of training and educating youth. We must get back to basics in teaching today’s youth. “Technology is great,” she would say “however, if you are not communicating face-to-face, you are missing out on one of life’s most powerful human interactions.”
The Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum is a 501(c)(3), non-profit charity organization. Thank you for your support!
— Committee for the Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum