Knowledge and understandings about the field cannot be limited to the words of those who make significant contributions. It is important to have an understanding of the authors of those words, for in that context we better perceive their meaning. These brief biographies are offered in the spirit of fostering deeper understandings. Readers are encouraged to browse the internet for additional information on these and other important scholars in the field. In addition, the contributors to this special issue are living legacies; therefore, I think it is important for us to visually identify the individuals who have helped to build the field. Traditionally, journals have simply presented brief bios of the contributors, but I go one step further, including their pictures, with the hopes that visual recognition of these scholars will increase conversations that reach across ideological, theoretical, methodological, and generational borders. The ability to put a face to the name is empowering.
(In the transcriptions, as in this section, contributors are identified by their institutions as of the original publication date of these proceedings, which in some cases are different from those referred to in the discussions.)
Abdul Alkalimat is Professor of Library and Information Sciences and African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He moderates the largest African-American Studies discussion list, H-Afro-Am and created and edits Malcolm X: A Research Site, as well as eBlack Studies. He is a member of the editorial boards of Information, Communication and Society and The Black Scholar.
Molefi Kete Asante is Professor at Temple University, where he found the first doctoral program in African American Studies. Asante has published seventy-one books, including four books on the theory of Afrocentricity. Among the most recent works are Maulana Karenga: An Intellectual Portrait (Polity Press), An Afrocentric Manifesto (Polity Press), and The History of Africa (Routledge). Along with his colleague, Ama Mazama, Professor Asante is a leading consultant for infusing African and African American content in public schools.
Ronald W. Bailey holds a PhD in Black Studies from Stanford University, the first such degree awarded in 1979. He was the Director of the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Mississippi for six years, chaired the Department of African-American Studies for eight years at Northeastern University, and served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at South Carolina State University and Knoxville College. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Negro Education, American History: A Bibliographic Review, Agricultural History, Review of Black Political Economy, Black Scholar, and Social Science History, and numerous anthologies.
Lee D. Baker, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies, is Dean of Academic Affairs of Trinity College at Duke University. Baker earned his BS in anthropology from Portland State University and completed his doctorate in anthropology at Temple University. He is the author of From Savage to Negro: Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896–1954, and editor of Life in America: Identity and Everyday experience. He has also written numerous articles and commentaries on topics ranging from socio-linguistics to Afrocentricity.
Alison R. Bernstein, the Ford Foundation’s Vice President for the Knowledge, Creativity and Freedom Program, is the author of three books, American Indians and World War II: Towards a New Era in Indian Affairs (University of Oklahoma Press, 1991; paperback, 1999); with Virginia B. Smith, The Impersonal Campus (Jossey-Bass, 1979); and, with Jacklyn Cock, Melting Pots and Rainbow Nations: Conversations about Difference in the United States and South Africa (University of Illinois Press, 2002).
Carole Boyce Davies is an African Diaspora Studies scholar who is Professor of Africana Studies and English at Florida International University. She is the author of Left of Karl Marx. The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (2008) and Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migrations of the Subject (1994), and has edited the following: Ngambika. Studies of Women in African Literature (1986); Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature (1990); and the two-volume Moving Beyond Boundaries (1995): International Dimensions of Black Women’s Writing (volume 1), and Black Women’s Diasporas (volume 2). She is co-editor with Ali Mazrui and Isidore Okpewho of The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities (1999) and Decolonizing the Academy: African Diaspora Studies (2003), and general editor of the three-volume set The Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora (Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2008).
Josephine Boyd Bradley serves as chair of the Department of African-American Studies/Africana Women’s Studies at Clark Atlanta University in Georgia. She holds an MSW from Michigan State University, and an MA and PhD from Emory University in American Studies. She was honored by the City of Greensboro, North Carolina, for being the first African-American to desegregate and graduate from the city’s predominantly White high school.
Mónica Carrillo is a feminist, a scholar, a poet, and the director of LUNDU, the Center for Afro-Peruvian Studies and Advancement in Lima, Peru. LUNDU is an organization of Afro-Peruvian youth who work to promote recognition and respect for Peru’s African-descendant population and to combat racism and sexism in Peruvian society. Mónica is also a journalist with expertise in international human rights law and African and minority rights.
Kimberle Crenshaw is a Professor of Law at UCLA and at Columbia Law School receiving her JD from Harvard. Her articles in the areas of civil rights, Black feminist legal theory, and race, racism and the law have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, National Black Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, and Southern California Law Review. A founding coordinator of the Critical Race Theory Workshop, she is the co-editor of Critical Race Theory: Key Documents That Shaped the Movement.
Sylvia Cyrus is the Executive Director of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). She has a background in business, sales, and marketing, and served as the assistant chief financial officer for the Westfield New Jersey Public Schools. Under her direction ASALH has sought and obtained major grants from Farmers Insurance (2005) and Wachovia (2005).
James de Jongh, Professor of English at The City College and the CUNY Graduate Center, is a playwright and novelist as well as a scholar. de Jongh’s publications include: “Rudolph Fisher” and “Derek Walcott” in The Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas, (Macmillan, 2006) and Vicious Modernism: Black Harlem and the Literary Imagination (Cambridge University Press), selected by Choice magazine for “African and African American Studies, Outstanding Publications, 1990–1996.”
Kevin Gaines is Director of the Center for AfroAmerican and African Studies and Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He is author of Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics and Culture during the Twentieth Century (1996), which received the John Hope Franklin Book Prize of the American Studies Association. His most recent book, American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era, published by the University of North Carolina Press, was named a 2006 Choice Outstanding Academic Title. He is currently president of the American Studies Association.
Edmund T. Gordon is the Chair of the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies and Associate Professor in Anthropology of the African Diaspora at the University of Texas at Austin. His teaching and research interests include culture and power in the African Diaspora, gender studies (particularly Black males), critical race theory, and the racial economy of space and resources. His publications include Disparate Diasporas: Identity and Politics in an African-Nicaraguan Community (University of Texas Press, 1998).
Beverly Guy Sheftall is founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center and the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College. She published the first anthology on Black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (Doubleday, 1979), co-edited with Roseann P. Bell and Bettye Parker Smith. Other publications include Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880–1920 (Carlson, 1991); Gender Talk: The Struggle for Equality in African American Communities (Random House, 2003) with Johnnetta Cole; I Am Your Sister: Selected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde, co-edited with Rudolph P. Byrd and Johnnetta B. Cole (Oxford University Press, 2009); Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies, co-edited with Stanlie James and Frances Smith Foster (Feminist Press, 2009); and Who Should Be First?: Feminists Speak Out on the 2008 Presidential Campaign (SUNY Press, 2010).
Charles P. Henry is Professor of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1994, President Clinton appointed him to the National Council on the Humanities for a six-year term. Former president of the National Council for Black Studies, Henry is the author/editor of seven books and more than eighty articles and reviews on Black politics, public policy, and human rights.
Austin Jackson is Assistant Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. Austin received his PhD in African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. His research and teaching interests include writing and rhetoric, cultural studies, and critical social theory. Austin serves as Co-Director of the “My Brother’s Keeper” program for at-risk Black males, and he is co-author of several published articles exploring the links between the teaching of rhetoric and writing with popular struggles for racial, social, and economic justice. His most recent article, “We Real Cool: Toward a Theory of Black Masculine Literacies” (with David Kirkland), appears in Reading Research Quarterly (2009).
Stanlie M. James, former Chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is now the Director of the African and African American Studies Program in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. James is a co-editor of Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies with Frances Smith Foster and Beverly Guy-Sheftall for Feminist Press. She edited Theorizing Black Feminisms: The Visionary Pragmatism of Black Women with Abena PA Busia (London & New York: Routledge, 1993) and co-edited Genital Cutting and Transnational Sisterhood: Disputing U.S. Polemics (University of Illinois, 2002), which received a Susan Koppelman Award in 2003.
Charles E. Jones is founding Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Georgia State University and President of the National Council for Black Studies. He edited Black Panther Party Reconsidered (Black Classic Press, 1998) and co-authored “Return to the Source: the Role of Service-Learning in Recapturing the Empowerment Mission of African-American Studies” in The Black Scholar (Summer 2005). He is the recipient of the NCBS Mary McLeod Bethune and Carter G. Woodson Award (2005).
Rhett S. Jones (1940–2008) Professor of History and Africana Studies in Brown University. His most recent published work focused on Black/Native American relations and included Mulattos, Freejacks, Cape Verdeans, Black Seminoles, and Others (2003), Race, Ideas about Race, and the Formation of Zambo Societies (2004), and Orphans of the Americas: Why the Existence of Zambo Societies Has Been Denied (2005). Before his passing Dr. Jones was working on the role slaves played in the creation of race in the New World.
Maulana Karenga is Professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. An activist-scholar, he is the chair of the Organization Us and the National Association of Kawaida Organizations, and executive director of the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies. He is the creator of the pan-African cultural holiday Kwanzaa and author of numerous scholarly articles and books, including: Introduction to Black Studies; Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture; Kawaida: A Communitarian African Philosophy; Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings; Maat, The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt and Kawaida and Questions of Life and Struggle. His fields of teaching and research are: Black/Africana Studies theory and history, Africana philosophy; ancient Egyptian (Maatian) ethics; ancient Yoruba (Ifa) ethics; African American intellectual history; ethnic relations; and the socio-ethical thought of Malcolm X.
Terry Kershaw is the editor of the International Journal for Africana Studies and the Director of Africana Studies and the Race and Social Policy Research Center at Virginia Tech University, where his main focus is the operationalization and implementation of scholar-activism. He soon will become the head of African and African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati.
Summer L. (Henry) Melay is the Executive Director of the National Council for Black Studies (NCBS). In this capacity, she has been instrumental in ensuring the effectiveness, quality, and success of the NCBS national conferences. She finds time to work with her church and civic community. In 2002, she moderated an Atlanta-based youth summit at the National Convention for the Prevention of Crime in the Black Community sponsored by the Office of the Attorney General in Florida. She worked with the Women against Domestic Violence unit in Decatur, GA. In 2004, she worked closely with the organizers of the National African American Relationships Institute (NAARI) conference. She has a background in Psychology and Sociology. Ms. Melay received a certification in Marketing from Tulane University School of Business.
Manning Marable is Professor of Public Affairs, Political Science, History, and African-American Studies and founding Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. Marable has written almost two hundred articles in academic journals and edited volumes and written or edited twenty-one books and scholarly anthologies. His books include Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (New York: Viking, 2009). Marable is a national leader in the development of web-based, educational resources on the African American experience. He directed the production of two multimedia courses: a version of Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk and a massive multimedia version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Professor Marable lectures annually at Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York, in a master’s degree program for prisoners.
Irma McClaurin is an activist, administrator, teacher and writer with a commitment to the eradication of social inequality for over thirty years. Currently Associate VP for System Academic Administration and Founding Director of the Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota with the Ford Foundation, she previously She funded “Conversations…” in her position in the Program Office in Education and Scholarship at the Ford Foundation. From 1999-2004, McClaurin was Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida, directing the Zora Neale Hurston Diaspora Studies Research project. After serving as Deputy Provost at Fisk University from 2002–2004, McClaurin became the first Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and Founding Director of Africana Women’s Studies at Bennett College for Women in 2004. For seven years (1997–2004), McClaurin was editor of Transforming Anthropology. She is the author of Women of Belize, three books of poetry, and editor of Black Feminist Anthropology. Her poems have appeared in over sixteen magazines and anthologies.
Claudia Mitchell-Kernan, an anthropologist currently serving as Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division at the University of California Los Angeles, is widely known for her classic sociolinguistic studies of African Americans, which continues to be widely cited. Her most recent book, The Decline in Marriage among African Americans, was co-edited with M. Belinda Tucker (1995). President Clinton appointed her to the six-year term on the National Science Board (1994–2000).
Nathaniel Norment, Jr. is Chair and Associate Professor of African American Studies at Temple University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in African American Studies and African American literature and culture. He is the Director of the Center for African American Research and Public Policy (at Temple), whose research focuses on four areas affecting African Americans: criminal justice, economic development, education, and health. He is the editor of The African American Studies Reader (Carolina Academic Press, 2001, 2nd edition 2007); Readings in African American Language: Aspects, Features and Perspectives-Volume 1 (2003) and Volume 2 (2005) (Peter Lang Publishing); An Introduction to African American Studies: The Discipline and its Dimensions (Carolina Academic Press, forthcoming 2010); and The Addison Gayle, Jr. Reader, (University of Illinois Press, 2009); and has published in the College Language Association Journal, the Journal of Basic Writing, the Journal of Chinese Language Teachers Association, the Journal of Black Studies, and the Language Quarterly.
Janice Petrovich served as Director of Education, Sexuality, and Religion at the Ford Foundation, overseeing the Foundation’s global work in the fields of education and scholarship; sexuality and reproductive health; and religion, society, and culture in its thirteen offices around the world. Her numerous publications include the book Bringing Equity Back (Teachers College Press, 2005) with Amy Stuart Wells. She has served as director of other national organizations and on various commissions and boards of directors of institutions such as: the White House Commission on Latino Educational Excellence at the invitation of President Clinton; Hispanics in Philanthropy; Independent Sector; and Mount Holyoke College.
Daryl Michael Scott is a Professor of History at Howard University and Vice President for Programs for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and serves on the Nominating Committee of the Organization of American Historians (OAH). In 2005, he founded The asalh Press and The Woodson Review. His book Contempt and Pity won the OAH’s James Rawley Prize in 1998. In 2008, he edited Carter G. Woodson’s Appeal, which he discovered in 2005. He is currently working on a history of White nationalism in the American South. Along with Marilyn Thomas-Houston, he is a founding co-editor of Fire!!!: A Multimedia Journal of Black Studies, which is scheduled for a February 2011 launch.
James Stewart, emeritus Professor of Labor Studies and Industrial Organization at Penn State, served two terms as President of the National Council for Black Studies (1997–2001) and is currently the President of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. In addition to his 2004 book, Flight In Search of Vision, his other monographs, include: Black Families: Interdisciplinary Perspectives; The Housing Status of Black Americans; Research on The African-American Family: A Holistic Perspective; and Blacks in Rural America. He is also co-author with Talmadge Anderson of the second edition of Introduction to African American Studies.
Esther Terry, one of the founding faculty of the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was tapped to serve as its Chair in 1988 — a position she held until 2009. Under her leadership, the department inaugurated a PhD program in 1996. Her administrative responsibilities have also included Associate Provost for Faculty Relations in 1998, Associate Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, and Associate Chancellor.
James Turner, Professor of African and African American Studies at Cornell University, is the founder and first Director of the Africana Studies and Research Center—one of the first departments in the field. He is an original member of the editorial board and contributing editor of The Black Scholar, The Western Journal of Black Studies, Journal of African American History, and the Journal of Black Studies. In addition to his advisory contributions to development of Black Studies, Turner worked as an advisor to the Blackside, Inc. series “Eyes on the Prize.”
Dorothy Randall Tsuruta is Chair of Africana Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and serves as editor/advisor to the SFSU Black Studies Journal. Recent publications appeared in Gwendolyn Brooks’ Maud Martha: A Critical Collection (Third World Press, 2002); Concerns: A Publication of the Women’s Caucus of the Modern Language Association (Spring 2002); and Sasongo: The Cameron Review of the Arts (June 2000). Her poetry has appeared in The Black Scholar, The Black Studies Journal, and Best of Show (Detroit Writers’ Guild, 2002), having placed among the winners in the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Poetry Contest.
Warren C. Whatley is Professor of Economics and African and African-American Studies at the University of Michigan. He has published widely on the economic history of Africans and African American, with articles appearing in the American Economic Review, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Economic History and the Journal of Labor Economics. He has published two books, Black America (1989) and History Matters (2004). He has been an Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan, an editor at the Journal of Economic History and Explorations in Economic History, and a member of the GRE Board of the Educational Testing Service. He is the founder of CEDit, Inc., a nonprofit corporation that supports local efforts to develop capital in poor communities.
Special Issue Editor
marilyn miller thomas-houston is the author of “Stony the Road” to Change: Black Mississippians and the Culture of Social Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and co-editor with Mark Schuller of Homing Devices: The Poor as Targets of Public Housing Policy and Practice (Lexington Books, 2006). A multi-disciplinary trained scholar, Associate Professor Thomas-Houston teaches African American Studies and Visual Anthropology at the University of Florida. She is the director-producer of several ethnographic films on Black life and history. Her most recently completed project is a two-part documentary, From These Roots, on Black basketmaking in Nova Scotia, Canada — a family tradition that found its way north through refugees from the War of 1812 and has been sustained for almost two centuries. Much of her “social responsibility” is practiced through her not-for-profit organization, For My People Productions, Inc. Thomas-Houston is also one of the original members of the eBlack Studies Consortium and co-founding editor with Daryl Michael Scott of a new multimedia peer-reviewed journal, Fire!!!