Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Headshot of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

About Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Gholnecsar Muhammad (Gholdy Muhammad) is currently an associate professor at Georgia State University teaching literacy and language in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education. She began her career as a reading, language arts and social studies middle school teacher in Cahokia, Illinois.

After teaching in the classroom, she served as a school district assistant curriculum director and was responsible for kindergarten through 12th-grade literacy instruction, grant writing, assessments and professional development.

Muhammad received her Ph.D. in literacy, language and culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research interests are situated in social and historical foundations of literacy development within Black communities and the writing practices among Black women and girls. She explores 19th-century Black literary societies to understand literacy development and how the roles of literacy can be reconceptualized in classrooms today.

She became interested in this line of research when she led a summer writing institute with Black girls called, Black Girls WRITE!. She continues to hold summer literacy programs with Black and Brown youth as well as Muslim girls. She explores how historical practices among communities of color can be used with adolescent learners today.

Some of the journals she has published articles in include, Research in the Teaching of English, English Education, Urban Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and Written Communication.

Additionally, she serves as the director of the Georgia State Urban Literacy Collaborative and Clinic. She strives to shape the national conversation for educating youth who have been underserved. She also strives to support the next generation of educators who are seeking pathways to meet some of the most pressing challenges encountered in urban schools.

She works with teachers and youth across the United States and South Africa in best practices in literacy instruction. Currently, she is working in Harlem schools in conjunction with writing her forthcoming book entitled, Historically Responsive Literacy.

She is a former school board president and continues to work collaboratively with local schools across communities in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Muhammad is the 2014 recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English, Promising New Researcher Award, the 2015 NCTE Alan C. Purves Award, the 2016 NCTE Janet Emig awardee, the 2017 Georgia State University Urban Education Research Awardee and the 2018 UIC College of Education Researcher of the Year.


Cover of Dr. Gholdy Muhammad's book Cultivating GeniusIn Cultivating Genius, Dr. Muhammad presents a four-layered equity framework–one that is grounded in history and restores excellence in literacy education. This framework, which she names, Historically Responsive Literacy, was derived from the study of literacy development within 19th-century Black literacy societies. The framework is essential and universal for all students, especially youth of color, who traditionally have been marginalized in learning standards, school policies, and classroom practices. The equity framework will help educators teach and lead toward the following learning goals or pursuits:

  • Identity Development–Helping youth to make sense of themselves and others
  • Skill Development– Developing proficiencies across the academic disciplines
  • Intellectual Development–Gaining knowledge and becoming smarter
  • Criticality–Learning and developing the ability to read texts (including print and social contexts) to understand power, equity, and anti-oppression

When these four learning pursuits are taught together–through the Historically Responsive Literacy Framework, all students receive profound opportunities for personal, intellectual, and academic success. Muhammad provides probing, self-reflective questions for teachers, leaders, and teacher educators as well as sample culturally and historically responsive sample plans and text sets across grades and content areas. In this book, Muhammad presents practical approaches to cultivate the genius in students and within teachers.