Mwalimu J Shujaa EdD Education and Cultural Studies Scholarship

This scholarship honors the life work and legacy of Dr. Mwalimu J. Shujaa. It is intended to support Southern University students who are studying education and/or researching the role of culture in the education of people who are of African Descent. 

Dr. Shujaa was born and raised in Parsons, Kansas in 1950. He graduated in 1972 from what was then Kansas State College and is now Pittsburg State University. He went on to Trenton State College, now College of New Jersey, to obtain his Master’s degree in Special Education in 1979. During the 1970s and 1980s he co-founded the Afrikan People’s Action School in Trenton and served as Special Needs Coordinator of Trenton Head Start Programs. After earning his doctorate in Anthropology of Education from Rutgers University in 1989, Dr. Shujaa was appointed assistant professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He received tenure and later became the Founding Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Teaching Africana Studies in Schools (CIRTASS). He co-founded another African-centered independent school, Nile Valley Shule in Buffalo and became the National Executive Officer of the Council of Independent Black Institutions (CIBI), serving from 1989 through 2000.

In 1998, Dr. Shujaa moved downstate to Medgar Evers College – City University of New York and served in several capacities there: Professor of Education, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts & Education, and Founding Director of The DIRECT Center (Diopian Inquiry and Research on Education as Culture Transmission). Before returning to Medgar Evers as a Professor in 2006, Dr. Shujaa spent five years at Fort Valley State University as Founding Executive Director of the African World Studies Institute and Professor of Education. 

Dr. Shujaa’s connection to Southern University began in 2008 as a Professor and Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost at SUBR. He also served as Interim Dean of the Graduate School. In 2012 he became Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at SUNO. Dr. Shujaa returned to SUBR in 2016 and served as Professor of Education until retiring in 2020.

Few have shown the unwavering dedication and deep commitment to the education of people of African descent that Mwalimu Shujaa has shown throughout his life. His background in cultural anthropology and anthropology of education prepared him to analyze and understand the role of culture, of community, and of true education for African people. He reflected this not only in his academic positions of teaching, advising, and publishing hundreds of articles, chapters and books, but also in his community-based work developing and supporting independent African-centered educational institutions. He clarified the differences between education and schooling (Too much schooling, too little education: A paradox of Black life in White societies,1994), analyzed the effects of politics on education (Beyond desegregation: The politics of quality in American education, 1996), and, along with his daughter, provided definitive knowledge about African cultural heritage (Encyclopedia of African cultural heritage in North America, 2015). 

Mwalimu Shujaa will be greatly missed yet his legacy will continue. This scholarship provides opportunities for the next generation of scholars who are studying education and/or the role of culture in education for the enhancement of African American people to continue and to build upon Dr. Shujaa’s legacy.