On November 20, 1970, while completing a dissertation examining school systems led by black superintendents, Dr. Charles D. Moody, Sr. invited several African-American superintendents to a meeting at the O’Hare Marriott Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The purpose of the meeting was to share concerns, develop a resource pool, and to form an organization of black school superintendents. Representing the Metropolitan Applied Research Center (MARC), the organization that helped to fund the early meetings, were Hylan Lewis, Director of the Fellowship Program and Dixie Moon, Executive Administrator.
Dr. Moody says, “When one is in a struggle or battle, he looks around to see if he is alone. This human characteristic was one of the underlying factors in the formation of the National Alliance of Black School Superintendents.” Fifteen superintendents agreed that forming an organization was a viable idea. Before that meeting was over on November 22, plans were made to meet again in August 1971 in Miami Beach, Florida. It was during the Miami meeting that the superintendents formally organized the National Alliance of Black School Superintendents (NABSS) – Dr. Russell Jackson was elected President.
In 1972, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Office of Special Concern’s Office of African-American Affairs, awarded NABSS a grant to conduct an in-depth research study of 40 school districts headed by African-American superintendents. Dr. Meharry Lewis was the principal investigator for the grant. The study resulted in the development of a set of educational objectives for school districts enrolling predominantly African-American students.
On April 19, 1973, during the presidency of Ulysses Byas, NABSS voted to include administrators and other educational personnel in the organization and changed the organization’s name to the Nation Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE). Commissions that linked members with common and related job functions were formed. On November 23, 1973, in Detroit, Michigan, NABSE was formally launched with 284 charter members.
NABSE officially opened its first national office in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 1979. Dorothy Moore, on loan from the Detroit Public Schools, served as the first executive director. William Saunders was both office manager and executive director from 1983-1993.
Today, NABSE affiliates throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean perpetuate NABSE’s legacy. NABSE continues to be the premier organization advocating on behalf of African-American education. Many of our members hold prestigious positions of authority and responsibility in public and private school districts and higher education.