Albert Sykes

Albert Sykes, Executive Director
Institute for Democratic Education in America

About the Speaker

Albert Sykes is the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA). This native son of Mississippi has been an IDEA organizer and fellow for three years. Albert has a powerful personal story, one that is rooted in the struggles and search for quality education through community organizing and youth advocacy.

The proud father of three sons, Albert grew up in the Shady Oaks community around the corner from where NAACP member and civil rights activist Medgar Evers lived and died. Evers has been one of Sykes’ guiding lights in doing the work needed to move Mississippi and our nation forward. Becoming a student of the Algebra Project and a mentee of Bob Moses brought Evers into Sykes’ life, and made his sacrifices tangible to the then teenager. . In Mississippi, Albert has also helped lead the growth and development of a new statewide cadre of math literacy workers and young political organizers. Sykes, whose National Public Radio (NPR) StoryCorps story was ranked #1 in the nation in 2015, has also been quoted in the Huffington Post. Albert wrote an article entitled “And They Came: The Lineage of Freedom,” for the Souls Journal, A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, published by the Taylor & Francis Group. Albert works on both the local and national level around critical issues such as education reform, zero-tolerance policies, and the school-to-prison pipeline. He advocates for policies such as Quality Education as a Constitutional Right and works in conjunction with many organizations which includes the NAACP, where he serves on the Statewide Education Committee.

Prior to serving as the Executive Director of IDEA, Albert served as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Young People’s Project. He also led the organizing efforts of the National Youth Congress for the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer and helped organize the “Finding Our Folk Tour” in response to Hurricane Katrina, has been active in the development of Independent Television Services’ “The Masculinity Project” sponsored by the Ford Foundation, and helped organize events such as the Gathering for Justice with Harry Belafonte and the Take Back America Conference. Sykes also served as national co-chair of the Freedom Riders 50th anniversary Youth Leadership Summit in Mississippi. Sykes developed the classroom curriculum for Barack and Curtis, a film by acclaimed director Byron Hurt and recently completed a policy & advocacy curriculum for the Young People’s Project. Through these experiences, this Mississippian has gained much firsthand knowledge and understanding of Black Mississippi’s struggle for justice, equity, and full citizenship. 

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