As Oral Historian, Tonia will connect with the descendant community of the Williamsburg Bray School, restoration specialists, exhibit designers and members of the Bray School Board and Advisory Council to capture and preserve the legacy of the Bray School and other cultural and historical assets.
Tonia was introduced to oral history work as an intern at the African American Library at the Gregory School in Houston, TX. She also gained experience working with the descendant communities at historic sites in Houston's Fourth Ward, including Olivewood Cemetery and the Rutherford B. H. Yates museum. In 2019, these sites were recognized by UNESCO and placed on their Slave Route Project. Tonia has published several articles with the George Washington Digital Encyclopedia and the East Texas Historical Association. She recently presented her research on the Great Migration at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's 2022 annual conference in Montgomery, Alabama.
Tonia's interest in the Bray School dates back to 2013, when she learned about the school on her first trip to Williamsburg. She credits the discovery of the school with inspiring her to leave her career in education administration to pursue a master's degree in history. Recently, she learned through genealogical research that she is a member of the Bray School descendant community. She is eager to connect with the descendant community locally and abroad to document the history of the Bray School students.
Tonia earned her master's degree in history from Sam Houston State University, where she also served as president of the Sigma Phi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society.