Kathlyn Joy Gilliam

Education Advocate & Community Activist

 The late Kathlyn Joy Gilliam was a wife and mother of three. She found her calling as a community and education activist in her pursuit to better educate her children.  She is most notably remembered for her 23 years as a trustee of the Dallas Independent School District (DISD).  Upon her election in 1974, she became the first African-American female trustee and was the first African-American to lead as Board President during the 1980-1982 term.  Mrs. Gilliam was known in the community as a champion for public school education, especially aiming to eliminate educational disparities for youth located in heavily populated minority neighborhoods.  

Even before her tenure as a DISD trustee, she was a political activist, serving as the president of the then segregated Dallas City Council PTA school board in the 1960s and as the secretary of the Texas Congress of Colored PTAs in the 1970s.  She also was one of the many plaintiffs in a leading federal case to desegregate Dallas public schools and a founding member of the Political Congress of African-American Women. 

Mrs. Gilliam’s advocacy in the Dallas educational movement was honored when the school board voted in October 2011 to name a school after her- the Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy.  Mrs. Gilliam’s passions also included her love of her beloved community- South Dallas, where she resided for nearly most of her 81 years.  She was a founder of the Clean South Dallas/Fair Park, Inc.- a litter abatement and beautification project, and other countless movements in the South Dallas area.  Mrs. Gilliam championed the citizens of South Dallas and believed in the majesty and restoration of the community.​


 ~ Mrs. Kathlyn Joy Gilliam ~  Oct. 16, 1930 - Dec. 11, 2011

~ Mrs. Kathlyn Joy Gilliam ~ Oct. 16, 1930 - Dec. 11, 2011

Our Leadership

 The Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Museum has gathered a diverse and impressive group of residents to serve on its board and advisory committee- all knowledgeable, dedicated and passionate about bringing the Museum and learning center to life.  They believe in the importance of preserving our local heroes’ legacies, improving education and being apart of revitalizing South Dallas for its residents and all of the Dallas Metroplex. The future of the Kathyln Joy Gilliam Museum and Learning Center is in the hands of highly capable leadership. 

Board of Directors

Constance A. Harris, President

Brian Daniel, Vice-President

M. Lorraine Parson, Secretary/Treasurer

Dr. Stanton E. Lawrence, Sr.

Dr. Terry Flowers

Gregory Lewis

Gayle Ferguson-Smith

Advisory Committee

 Carla Ranger

Marcus Ranger

Bonnie Edison

Robert Edison

Lucy Livingston

Courtney Myers

David King

Jerquila Slaughter

Aiesha Graves

Steven Harris

Brandon Daniel

Museum Curator

 Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney


Chair, Department of History, University of Texas at Arlington