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M. Billye Sankofa Waters, Ph.D.

[em  /  BILL-ee  /  san-KO-fuh-WAH-ters]

Mandou Billye Sankofa Waters, Ph.D. translates to Queen Mother, Warrior. Go back and retrieve what is useful through heaven and earth. Daughter of Mary and Bill – she is a Hip Hop generation Blackgirl from the South Side of Chicago who cultivates Black storytelling toward everyday practices of liberation. She is the author of "Penetrated Soul," "We Can Speak for Ourselves: Parent Involvement and Ideologies of Black Mothers in Chicago"; co-editor of the Lauryn Hill Reader w/ Bettina Love and Venus Evans-Winters (2019) and How We Got Here: The Role of Critical Mentoring and Social Justice Praxis w/ the late Marta Sánchez (2020.) She grounds her work in Black storytelling / critical literacies, qualitative research methods, community praxis & liberatory education, Black feminism and critical race theory.


Sankofa Waters is President of Radical Identity Praxis, LLC (which focuses on documenting family stories across the Black diaspora,) Creator of #BlackFolxAreRich®, & Founding Executive Director of the non-profit Blackgirl Gold Unapologetic, Inc. (which provides funds for Blackgirls who are undergraduate, graduate students, other/mothers and community servants, #BeAResource.) 


She attended Howard University and Olive Harvey City College, earned her B.A. at Columbia College Chicago (Fiction Writing/Black World Studies,) and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Education.) She began formally working in various education spaces in 1998 and has been teaching faculty in Schools of Education since 2012. She currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Washington Tacoma.


Sankofa Waters has been invited as a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and community discussant at several institutions around the country including Chicago State University, Wake Forest University, Northeastern University (Boston), CUNY Queens College and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM.) Regardless if the audience is 200+ or 15, she always speaks candidly and intimately. The heart of her talks and workshops rests in her ability to create "call and response" exchanges that are textured with her lived experiences as a "college dropout", academic writing coach, family archivist, university professor, researcher, freedom dreamer, and co-conspirator of justice praxis. In this way, she invites audience members to dig into their own lived experiences and examine ways they can collectively build across communities and institutions.

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