Black History Month: Dr. Shani Byard

Dr. Shani Byard

(Currently Living)

20th - Shani Byard


[su_note note_color=”#40cd11″ radius=”5″]Noteworthy Accomplishments & Historical Facts [su_list icon_color=”#191f17″]
  • Founder of Afro-Media Literacy Education
  • Owner of Message Ed-School of Black Leadership in the Digital Age
  • Founded Message Media Ed (MME) in 2008 – the ONLY Afro-Media Literacy professional development training center in the nation
  • Co-Chair of the Empowerment Congress Education Committee
  • Principal Researcher and Documentary Producer for Great Beginnings for Black Babies
  • Adjunct Professor for the Marriage & Family Therapy Master’s Program at Pacific Oaks College

The Industry that Inspired Her to Make a Change 

Dr. Shani M. Byard is a native of Leimert Park in Los Angeles (LA), CA. She is an educator and social entrepreneur who specializeds in educational leadership for racial justice. However, before she went down this career path, she was in TV and music video production, working with some of the well-known Hip Hop heads, such as Dr. Dre, Snoop, and Eminem. Shani made the decision to leave that industry because she began to realize the damaging effects the media had on young people and she wanted to create something that would allow her to spin the negative into positive. Armed with that mission, she redirected her career towards media and arts education.

Shani has a Bachelor’s degree in Television Production, a Master’s in Organizational Management & Leadership, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice. Since 2000, she has utilized the tools of arts and media education, leadership development and career awareness to empower youth, families and educators throughout LA abd Long Beach Unified School Districts, continuation schools, and probation camps. In 2008, Shani founded Message Media Ed (MME), which is the only Afro-Media Literacy professional development training center in the nation.

What Message Media Ed Does

MME trains Black and non-Black youth, adults, educators, and leaders to become 21st century visionaries, transcend media stereotypes, cultivate interracial understanding, and close digital divides within Black communities and throughout institutions, businesses and learning spaces which serve Black youth.


She also offers a book writing and publishing program through the Digital Scholars Program, and provides office space and promotional support for start-up companies and organizations through the Urban Rising Biz Incubator Program. There is also a rotating lecture series and family movie nights, equipped with guest speakers, and a multimedia library. Students (adults and youth alike) also learn computer skills, online social media marketing and etiquette through onsite classes. 

Helping Non-Blacks to Become Anti-Racist

Shani Byard has set out to teach non-Black educators, mentors, and youths to counteract racism by changing their perception of Black people. She explains how the media greatly affects how Blacks are perceived, and in most cases Blacks are portrayed negatively in the media. Below you will see an example of a workshop that she conducted at the YWCA. This video basically shows how she is teaching girls from multiple different backgrounds to love themselves and respect their differences. Embracing ones differences is a key component to combating racism, especially when done in a group setting among many different races of people.


If you’re around the Los Angeles, CA area, feel free to drop by and pay her a visit! However, if you’re not in the area and you want to learn more, check out her website here.


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Message Media Ed

Shani Byard

Digital Elder