When there’s no Yellow Brick Road


  • Gloria Ladson-Billings University of Wisconsin, Madison




I have framed this essay based on one of my all-time favorite films, The Wizard of Oz. I actually saw the film in the theater at a Saturday matinee and I was fascinated by Judy Garland’s journey from a small Kansas community to the magical land of Oz. When she ended up in Oz Dorothy was directed to “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” as a way to get to the Emerald City. For a working class, Black girl like me growing up in the pre-Civil Rights era, there was no yellow brick road to follow to the Emerald City. I was going to have to actually make the road. Fortunately, I would encounter “road pavers” along the way that made my journey possible. This essay describes a version of that journey.



Ladson-Billings, G. (1990). Like lightning in a bottle: Attempting to capture the pedagogical excellence of successful teachers of Black students. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 3, 335-344.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children. Jossey Bass.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing over to Canaan: The journey of new teachers in diverse classrooms. Jossey Bass.

Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W. F. (1995). Toward a critical race theory of education. Teachers College Record, 97, 47-68.

Tate, W. F., Ladson-Billings, G., & Grant, C.A. (1993). The Brown decision revisited: Mathematizing social problems. Educational Policy, 7, 255-275.




How to Cite

Ladson-Billings, G. (2021). When there’s no Yellow Brick Road. Education Review, 28. https://doi.org/10.14507/er.v28.2967



Acquired Wisdom