Robert Smalls: Daring Hero
Robert Smalls (1839-1915) was originally known as a daring hero during the Civil War. In 1862, he delivered the Planter, a transport steamer, to Union soldiers and by April 1863, he was pilot of the ironclad USS Keokuk. On December 1, 1863, after an act of bravery under fire, Smalls became the first black captain of a vessel in the service of the United States. After the war, he became a Major-General in the SC militia and a state legislator.
Life After the War
Viewed as one of the most powerful black men in the state of South Carolina, he served in the 44th, 45th, 47th, and 49th Congress (1875-1879; 1881-1883; 1885-1887) representing Beaufort, South Carolina. For nearly 20 years he served as U. S. Collector of Customs in Beaufort, S.C., where he lived and owned the house in which he had previously been a slave.
Smalls' contributions to political, economic and education reform in South Carolina were so significant that in 1976, during the celebration of the Nation’s Bicentennial, Governor Edwards issued a proclamation setting aside February 22, 1976 as Robert Smalls Day in the entire state of South Carolina. On September 15, 2007, the U.S. Army commissioned the first vessel in honor of an African American, the USAV Maj. General Robert Smalls, a 314-foot long, 5,412-ton transport vessel.
My Race needs no special defense,
For the past history of them in this country
Proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere,
All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.
Robert Smalls, November 1, 1895
2017: Thavolia Glymph
"Reconstruction's Open Sore: The Promises and Perils of How We Write and Remember History"
Thavolia Glymph, is a Duke University professor of history and African and African American Studies, and a faculty affiliate of the Duke University Population Research Institute.
Glymph is a 19th century historian of the U.S. South, specializing in gender and women's history, slavery, emancipation, the Civil War and Reconstruction.
She is the author of numerous books, articles and essays, including the prize-winning Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge University Press, 2008) (also named one of the ten best books on slavery in Politico in 2015) and “Rose’s War and the Gendered Politics of a Slave Insurgency in the Civil War,” winner of the George and Ann Richards Prize for the best article published in The Journal of the Civil War Era in 2013. She is co-editor of two volumes of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867 (Series 1, Volume 1 and Series 1, Volume 3).
Glymph’s most recently completed book, Women at War: Race Gender and Power in the Civil War will be published by the University of North Carolina Press, and she is currently completing a book on African American women and children refugees in the Civil War with a research grant support from the NIH.
Glymph was the 2015 John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History at Duke Law School and is an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer and an elected fellow of the American Antiquarian Society.
About her research, Glymph said, “Today as we continue to mark the 150th anniversary of the Era of Reconstruction, we do so in another historical moment that reveals the fragility of black life and the ways in which Reconstruction or the long Civil War, as Du Bois put it, remains an open sore and continues to resonate in American life and culture.”
2016: Alondra Nelson
"Reconciliation Projects: Ancestry and DNA in Black Political Culture"
"At the heart of what I'm trying to say is that DNA testing is all about telling stories, and having something to tell a story around."
Finding her roots became more than an academic exercise last winter for Alondra Nelson, dean of social science at Columbia University. But, even before that, as very young girl, she became the keeper of the family stories.
Today those two worlds have merged as Nelson examines the uses of genetic ancestry testing in her new book The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome.
Nelson said the hunger by so many people to find their roots starts with the longing for self-knowledge, and since 2014 one million people have taken a DNA test.
Nelson will talk about her book and research into the growing phenomena of tracing one's history, particularly among African Americans, at this year's 19th Annual Robert Smalls Lecture Series.
Nelson is professor of sociology and gender studies and dean of social science at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality. She is chair-elect of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology. Prior to joining Columbia University, Nelson was on the faculty of Yale University, and received the Poorvu Award for teaching excellence.
About her research, Nelson said in an interview last winter in "Columbia" magazine, "Getting this information, lets African-Americans 'make the move from race to ethnicity — from being African-American or black to being, say, Guinean-American. It's complicated: ethnicity can be its own essentialist category' — 'essentialism' is the idea that racial or ethnic groups possess timeless, inalterable qualities — 'and I'm not saying that ethnicity is the Holy Grail. But it is certainly striking for groups that haven't had that to get it."
"There's a general human desire for a sense of identity," said Nelson.
Nelson will give the keynote address at the 19th Annual Robert Smalls Lecture Series at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 30 in the School of Law Auditorium.
2015: Freeman A. Hrabowski
"Expanding Participation in Higher Education: A 50 Year Experiment"
Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, President of UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) since 1992, is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities, and school systems. He was recently named by President Obama to chair the newly created President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He also chaired the National Academies' committee that produced the recent report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.Named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME (2012) and one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report (2008), he also received TIAA-CREF's Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence (2011), the Carnegie Corporation's Academic Leadership Award (2011), and the Heinz Award (2012) for contributions to improving the "Human Condition." UMBC has been recognized as a model for academic innovation and inclusive excellence by such publications asU.S. News, which the past six years ranked UMBC the #1 "Up and Coming" university in the nation.
A child-leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Hrabowski was prominently featured in Spike Lee's 1997 documentary, Four Little Girls, on the racially motivated bombing in 1963 of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
Born in 1950 in Birmingham, Alabama, Hrabowski graduated from Hampton Institute with highest honors in mathematics. He received his M.A. (mathematics) and Ph.D. (higher education administration/statistics) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
2014: John C. Brittain
"60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 2014: Is education equal today for all school children?"
John C. Brittain is a tenured professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law. In the past, he served as dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, a veteran law professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law for twenty-two years and the Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, DC, a public interest legal organization started by President John F. Kennedy to enlist private lawyers to take pro bono cases in civil rights. For the 2013 academic year, he was the Charles Hamilton Houston Distinguished Visiting Professor at North Carolina Central University in Durham.
He also has been the president of the National Lawyers' Guild, a member of the Executive Committee and the Board of the ACLU, a long-time member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) and legal counsel to NAACP at the local level and national office of the General Counsel. In 1993, the NAACP awarded Professor Brittain the coveted William Robert Ming Advocacy Award for legal service to the NAACP without a fee. The Ming award was named in honor of a former African American law professor at the University of Chicago and a brilliant civil rights lawyer who closely worked with Thurgood Marshall.
He is an education law specialist and one of the original counsel in Sheff v. O'Neill, a landmark school desegregation case decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 1996. He was frequently mentioned in the book, “The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial,” by Susan Eaton, an excellent chronicle of the Sheff case. In addition, Brittain was a part of a legal team that filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the NAACP in the Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education (Louisville) school cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court (2007) concerning voluntary race-conscious student assignment plans. Further, he filed a friend of the court brief in the Connecticut adequacy finance lawsuit styled, Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell (2010), another landmark case that recognized such a right under the education clause of the Connecticut Constitution. In one other related area, Brittain has concentrated on the intersection between housing and school segregation, and the policies that contribute to the condition of structural poverty in low income and neighborhoods of color.
At the higher educational level, his mentor, the late Professor Herbert O. Reid, the Charles Hamilton Houston Distinguished Professor Law at Howard University, trained Brittain to pursue comparability and competitiveness for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Indeed, he earned a BA (1966) and JD (1969) from Howard University. He is admitted to practice in Connecticut, Mississippi, California and associated federal courts. He is currently a part of a legal team representing private plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the Defendant State of Maryland denying the historically black institutions of higher learning – Morgan, Coppin, Bowie and Maryland Eastern Shore Universities, comparable and competitive opportunities with traditional white universities. Still further, he is a co-counsel on an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of thirty-eight Texas legislators in the case, Fisher v. Texas, the latest challenge to race-conscious affirmative action admissions policies in higher education.
In the field of philanthropy, Brittain served on the Board of Directors of the Hartford Community Foundation. He is the current Chairperson of the Norflet Fund Cy Pres, a charitable organization created by a settlement in a lawsuit involving John Hancock for racial discrimination against African Americans in selling life insurance that will distribute approximately $16 million in grants to benefit African Americans in education, health, and post-Katrina relief.
Finally, his numerous publications have focused on civil and human rights, and he is a frequent dynamic public speaker. In addition, he has participated in filing nearly a dozen briefs in the Supreme Court.
He has traveled extensively throughout the world on international human rights investigations in Africa, Central America, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and further to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
He loves reading books, sailing and enjoys a national ranking for masters runners in his age group. Like the comedian and activist, Dick Gregory, Brittain is a vegetarian – he eats no meats, fish or fowl.
2013: Congressman James Clyburn
"On Whose Shoulders We Stand"
President Barack Obama has said he is, "One of a handful of people who, when they speak, the entire Congress listens." As Assistant Democratic Leader in the 113th Congress, the number three Democrat in the House, James E. Clyburn is the leadership liaison to the Appropriations Committee and one of the Democratic Caucus' primary liaisons to the White House. Working with the internal caucuses, he plays a prominent role in messaging and outreach.
His humble beginnings in Sumter South Carolina, as the eldest son of an activist fundamentalist minister and an independent civic minded beautician, grounded him securely in family, faith and public service. He was elected president of his NAACP youth chapter when he was 12 years old, helped organize many civil rights marches and demonstrations as a student leader at South Carolina State College, and even met his wife Emily in jail during one of his incarcerations.
When Clyburn came to Congress in 1993, he was elected co-President of his Freshman class and quickly rose through leadership ranks. He was elected Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1999, and his reputation as a leader and consensus-builder helped him win a difficult three-way race for House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair in 2002. Three years later, he was unanimously elected Chair of the Democratic Caucus. When Democrats regained the House majority in 2006, Congressman Clyburn was elevated by his colleagues to House Majority Whip.
As a national leader he has worked to respond to the needs of America's diverse communities. He championed rural communities supporting the development of regional water projects, community health centers, and broadband connections. He has supported higher education by leading the charge for increased Pell grants; investing millions in science and math programs and historic preservation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He has encouraged economic development by securing funding for Empowerment Zones; investing in green technology development such as nuclear, wind, hydrogen and biofuels; and directing 10 percent of Recovery Act funding to communities 20 percent under the poverty level for the past 30 years. Clyburn was instrumental in advancing into law measures to resolve historic discrimination issues, significantly reducing the statutory disparity in cocaine sentencing and compensating African and Native American farmers who suffered racial discrimination under the USDA loan program.
Jim and Emily Clyburn have three daughters, Mignon, Jennifer Reed, and Angela Hannibal; two sons-in-law, Walter Reed and Cecil Hannibal; and three grandchildren, Walter A Clyburn Reed, Sydney Alexis Reed, and Layla Joann Clyburn Hannibal.
2012: Dr. Nikky Finney
"Writing and Refusing Wooden Nickels"
Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff's Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky, Finney also authored Heartwood (1997) edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co- founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney's fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.
2011: Dr. Cornell West
"Hope on a Tightrope"
One of America's most provocative public intellectuals, Cornel West has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his ferocious moral vision. Currently the Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University, Dr. West burst onto the national scene in 1993 with his bestselling book, Race Matters, a searing analysis of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, selling more than half a million copies to date. In his latest work, Hope on a Tightrope, he offers courageous commentary on issues that affect the lives of all Americans. Themes include Race, Leadership, Faith, Family, Philosophy, Love and Service. Cornel West has published 19 other books and has edited 13 texts.
In just 3 short years, Dr. West graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. Martin Kilson, one of his professors there, describes West as the most intellectually aggressive and highly cerebral student I have taught.; earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he became a professor of religion and director of the Afro-American Studies program there. West has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris.
In his last book Democracy Matters, West analyzes the arrested development of democracy both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. He argues that if America is to become a better steward of democratization around the world, it must first recognize its own long history of imperialist corruption. His latest CD, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations is a collection of socially conscience music featuring collaborations with Prince, Outkast, Jill Scott, and Talib Kweli. West also offers commentary weekly on The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI.
West was an influential force in developing the storyline for the popular Matrix movie trilogy and has served as its official spokesperson, as well as playing a recurring role in the final two films.
2010: Jonathan Green
"African American Art or a Place and Time"
Jonathan Green, painter and printmaker, was born and raised in the small Gullah community of Gardens Corner located near the South Carolina Sea Islands. Green's early life was greatly influenced by his grandmother who relied heavily on oral traditions to instill in him the values and traditions of his African and African-American heritage. The customs and mores internalized by Green stressed the importance of work ethic and a commitment to community values with a respect for the dignity and integrity of others. He is one of the first known artists of Gullah heritage to receive formal training at a professional art school, The Art Institute of Chicago, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1982.Green looks to the familiar images of his ancestral home for the subjects of his paintings. In this art Green draws upon his own intimate personal experiences, steeped in the traditions of family, community and life in the Southern United States. Each of his paintings is a testament to the motivating power of place capturing the continuity of the past combined with the energy, exuberance and creativity of the present.As a result of his tremendous and prolific talent, Green's work has been embraced by collectors and critics throughout the world. His paintings can be found in major museum collections in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Japan, Germany and Sierra Leone. In 1996 the University of South Carolina Press published a book, Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green , reproducing 180 images of his paintings in color. SOUTH CAROLINA AWARDSJonathan Green has received numerous awards throughout the United States for his art and his contributions to cultural and educational institutions. To mention a few:
In 2010, Jonathan will receive the highest arts award given in the State of South Carolina, The Elizabeth O'Neill Verne Governor's Award for the Arts Lifetime Achievement.
In 2009, Green received the Key of Life Award for his contributions and achievements in the visual fine arts from the NAACP at the organization's fortieth Image Awards held in California.
In 2002, Jonathan received the Order of the Palmetto Award for the Arts from the State of South Carolina.
In recognition for his recoding southern culture and history, he has been awarded Honorary Doctorates in Fine Art form the University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina University.
Museum Würth - Kuenzelsau, Germany
The Morris Museum - Augusta, Georgia
The von Liegib Art Center - Naples, Florida
The Afro-American Museum of Philadelphia
The Naples Museum of Art - Naples, Florida
The IFCC Cultural Center - Portland, Oregon
The Beach Institute Museum - Savannah, Georgia
The McKissick Museum - Columbia, South Carolina
The Norton Museum of Art - West Palm Beach, Florida
The Gibes Museum of Art - Charleston, South Carolina
The Greenville Museum of Art - Greenville, South Carolina
The Marco Island Historical Museum - Marco Island, Florida
The Afro-American Cultural Center - Charlotte, North Carolina
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, New York
H. Lawrence Cursory Gallery of Multicultural Art - University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont
SELECTED HONORS AND AWARDS
2009 “Key of Life Award” – NAACP at the 40th NAACP Image Awards – Los Angeles, California, February 12, 2009
2008 “Spirit of the Center Award” – Afro-American Cultural Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, December 2, 2008
2007 “2007 Artist of the Year” – Penn Center, Inc. – 25th Heritage Days Celebration – Saint Helena Island, South Carolina – November 10, 2007
2006 “Annual National Programs Award’ - Presented by the Links, Inc., Pennsylvania
2005 “Honorary Ambassador of the Arts for the State of Florida,” by Florida’s First Lady, Columba Bush, Sarasota, FL, June 2005
2003 “Century of Achievement in Art Award” – Museum of the Americas, Arlington, Virginia
“Honorary Chair” – The School of the Art Institute Bare Walls, 2003 – Chicago, Illinois – November 8, 2003
2002 “King-Tisdell Foundation Award” for cultural achievement – Savannah, Georgia – October 12, 2002.
“2002 History Makers Award in the Fine Arts” – National African American Archives – Chicago, Illinois, October 17, 2002.
1998 “Order of the Palmetto Award” – South Carolina Governor’s Highest Award for the Arts – Columbia, South Carolina – October 25, 2002.
1997 “Clemente C. Pickney Award” – honor bestowed by the South Carolina House of Representatives for outstanding contributions to art and culture, August, 23, 1997
1997 “South Carolina Senate Resolution” by McKinley Washington, Jr., for artistic and cultural contributions to South Carolina, August, 1997
1985 Honorary Doctorate Degree in Fine Arts – University of South Carolina – Columbia, South Carolina
DEGREES AND STUDIES
1982 The School of the Art Institute, Chicago, Illinois - B.F.A.
1982-2000 Independent studies throughout the United States and Europe
Lives and works from his studio in Daniel Island, SC
2009: Dr. Julianne Malveaux
"To Excite Dissatisfaction: Foundations of Literacy and Financial Acumen Among African Americans"
A 1831 North Carolina law reads, "To teach a slave to read is to excite dissatisfaction", and refers the "detriment of the common well-being" as a result of slave knowledge. Is it surprising to realize that literate slaves are unhappy slaves? This lecture will examine the ways that literacy and financial acumen have promoted the well being of African American people and suggest ways that these assets will be instrumental as we construct a future that attains economic justice. Dr. Julianne Malveaux is the 15th President of Bennett College for Women. Recognized for her progressive and insightful observations, she is also an economist, author and commentator, and has been described by Dr. Cornel West as “the most iconoclastic public intellectual in the country.” Dr. Malveaux’s contributions to the public dialogue on issues such as race, culture, gender, and their economic impacts, are shaping public opinion in 21st century America.
As a writer and a syndicated columnist, her writing appears regularly in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education, Ms. Magazine, Essence magazine, and the Progressive. Her weekly columns appear in numerous newspapers across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Charlotte Observer, the New Orleans Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, and the San Francisco Examiner.
Well-known for appearances on national network programs, Dr. Malveaux is a charismatic and popular guest on a variety of shows. She appears regularly on CNN, BET, as well as on Howard University’s Television show, Evening Exchange. She has appeared on PBS’s To The Contrary, ABC’s Politically Incorrect, Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor and stations such as C-SPAN, MSNBC and CNBC. She has also hosted talk radio programs in Washington, San Francisco, and New York.
In addition to her columns and media appearances, Dr. Malveaux is an accomplished author and editor. Her academic work is included in numerous papers, studies, and publications. She is the editor of Voices of Vision: African American Women on the Issues (1996); the co-editor of Slipping Through the Cracks: The Status of Black Women (1986), and recently co-edited The Paradox of Loyalty: An African American Response to the War on Terrorism (2002). She is the author of two column anthologies: Sex, Lies, and Stereotypes: Perspectives of a Mad Economist (1994), Wall Street, Main Street, and the Side Street: A Mad Economist Takes a Stroll (1999). She is most recently the co-author of Unfinished Business: A Democrat and A Republican Take On the 10 Most Important Issues Women Face (2002).
A committed activist and civic leader, Dr. Malveaux serves on the boards of the Economic Policy Institute, The Recreation Wish List Committee of Washington, DC, and the Liberian Education Trust.
Dr. Malveaux received her BA and MA degrees in economics from Boston College, and earned a Ph.D in economics from MIT. A native San Franciscan, she is the President/ CEO of Last Word Productions, Inc. a multimedia production company headquartered in Washington, DC, and currently resides in Greensboro, NC.
2008: Dr. Cleveland L. Sellers, Jr.
"I Got the Light of Freedom"
This lecture will address the loss of innocence and the lives sacrificed during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. This was a time when Fannie Lou Hamer would burst into song, singing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Ella Baker would speak in a hushed tone about the darkness and uncertainty while reminding us that we had a history and strong sense of faith and spirituality — passed down to us by our ancestors who had courage and determination as they fought for our humanity, out of love for family and community. The once dark clouds turned to bright sunshine, tears were dried, burdens were lifted, and the shackles melted away as were reminded of Langston Hughes’ poem, “ Mother to Son” and the words rang true “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” Through it all, we continue to let our light shine.Dr. Sellers, a political activist, civil rights pioneer, educator and administrator has had a profound impact on American history life and culture from his youth until the present day. Today, Dr. Sellers serves as Director of the African-American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina where he also teaches. He is a former member of the South Carolina State Board of Education, Second Judicial District, and Voorhees College Board of Trustees.
Teacher, Composer, Guitarist, and Vocalist
Osalami Lamoke self-produced a CD of her original Gullah progressive folk music in 2004. She has performed at the Gullah Festival, Penn Heritage Days, Democratic Party fundraisers and many other cultural events in the Low Country.
A native of St. Helena Island in Beaufort County, she received her early education at St. Helena School and the Dalton School in New York City. She holds a Masters Degree in Sociology from the University of Paris and currently teaches Government and Economics at Beaufort High School.
2007: Dr. Darlene Clark Hine
"Women in the Robert Smalls Era: Martha Schofield (1839-1916) and Dr. Matilda A. Evans (1872-1935)"
Darlene Clark Hine (PhD Kent State University, 1975) is a leading historian of the African American experience who helped found the field of black women's history and has been one of its most prolific scholars. A past-president of the Organization of American Historians and the Southern Historical Association and the winner of numerous honors and awards, she is the Board of Trustees Professor of African American Studies and History at Northwestern.
Her numerous publications include: The African-American Odyssey, Black Victory: The Rise and Fall of the White Primary in Texas, Black Women in White: Racial Conflict and Cooperation in the Nursing Profession, 1890-1950, The Harvard Guide to American History, Hine Sight: Black Women and the Re-Construction of American History, More Than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas, A Question of Manhood: A Reader in U.S. Black Men's History and Masculinity, A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America, Speak Truth to Power: Black Professional Class in United States History, and "We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible": A Reader in Black Women's History.
She has been awarded fellowships and grants by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Co-Sponsors: African-American Professors Program, Association of African-American Students, Institute for Families in Society, Institute for Southern Studies, Multicultural Student Affairs, Women's Studies Program
2006: Bishop Vashi Murphy McKenzie
"Leadership and Values in Times of Crisis: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow"
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie serves as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her historic election in the year 2000 represents the first time in the over 200-year history of the A.M.E. Church, in which a woman had obtained that level of Episcopal office. In 2004, she again made history becoming the first woman to become the Titular Head of the denomination, as the president of the Council of Bishops. She served her one year term that made her the highest-ranking woman in the predominately Black Methodist denominations.
Bishop McKenzie is honored to serve as the presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District which includes the State of Tennessee and Commonwealth of Kentucky. Her husband, Stan McKenzie serves as the Supervisor of Missions.
She is launching an innovative agenda designed to rebuild lives, churches and communities through several new ministries. The Nehemiah Nation, a men's service ministry; Living Well Everyday, a health and wholeness emphasis; A.M.E. Works Day, community service projects, School of the Prophets, enrichment and educational training; as well as developing good spiritual habits and the non-profit arm, Believe, Inc. bring a fresh wind to fan the embers of faith to build positively on the past, lay a foundation for the future and work diligently in the present.
She had previously served in 2000-2004 as the chief pastor of the 18th Episcopal District in Southeast Africa, which is comprised of Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique. Bishop McKenzie instituted an ambitious agenda: "Strength to Climb". This included strengthening the District's infra-structure, by instituting computer labs in two AME high schools, creating seven entrepreneurial business projects, 37 new church starts, facilitating two USA-African teacher workshops and summits; producing four new classrooms and supplying school supplies for AME schools and scholarships for clergy and High School students. She completed nine buildings, purchased four parcels of land, built eight new mission houses, and built twelve new church buildings. She opened a not-for-profit computer center in Lesotho, three District office/centers, initiated the AME Schools Annual Conferences in Lesotho and Swaziland, and provided scholarships for 31 students. She also expanded services to 75 children orphaned or affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in a day program in Botswana.
In Mbabane, Swaziland, the Selulah Sandlah AME Village was built that include three large group homes for 36 orphaned children plus house parents. It was built without government grants or support, but by many people who believed something needed to be done to help children left homeless and abandoned by this disease. The three group homes were dedicated in December 2002 and the first children arrived in October 2003.
This kind of creative ministry is not foreign to Bishop McKenzie. She has served as a pastor of three congregations from the rural to the urban center, from seven members to over 1,700 members. Most recently, prior to becoming a bishop, she served for ten years as the pastor of historic Payne Memorial AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland growing that congregation from 330 to over 1,700 members, increasing property value from 1.6 to 5.6 million dollars, launching 25 innovative ministries and instituting and organizing Payne Memorial Outreach, Inc, a million dollar faith based non-profit organization.
She also led the Payne Memorial congregation to petition and secured a $1.5 million welfare-to-work contract with the State of Maryland, the only congregation to bid and win. More than 600 men and women were educated, trained and placed in jobs leaving the welfare system behind them. Under Bishop McKenzie's leadership, the church purchased a two-story office building to house twelve community service programs and renovated a vacant five-story apartment building on a drug infested corner, making it into a $1.8 million human and economic development center, with a senior adult day care, a Headstart and other businesses.
She has been active in other areas, including being the founding president and organizer of the Collective Banking Group of Baltimore, as well as the organizer of the Church Health Coalition, and a former president of the A.M.E. Ministerial Alliance.
Bishop McKenzie is the author of three books. The first two, Not without a Struggle and Strength in the Struggle concerns leadership and professional growth for women. Her latest book, Journey to the Well helps women seek new directions for personal growth following the footsteps of the Biblical Samaritan woman. Both, the hard and paperback editions of this book have made several best sellers list including Essence Magazine's "Best Seller List" for non-fiction publications.
She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park; holds a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity and has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. A poll of national civic, social, religious and academic leaders selected Bishop McKenzie for Ebony Magazine's "Honor Roll of Great African American Preachers" in 1993 and again in 1997. She was honored to be named at the top of Ebony's "15 Greatest African American Female Preachers".
Characterized as being an electrifying preacher, the former journalist and electronic broadcaster have held a variety of media positions. From a radio program director, an on-air personality, a city desk reporter, a staff writer, to even becoming the corporate vice president of programming. Bishop McKenzie has been honored for her community service, outstanding achievement and being a religious role model by a number of diverse civic, educational, business and governmental leaders. She is also the National Chaplain for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. an international public service organization and life member of the NAACP. She has received honorary doctorates from Howard University, Wilberforce University, Morgan State University and Goucher College.
She is the wife of Stan McKenzie, the supervisor of missions for the 13th Episcopal District. Currently, he is a human resource consultant and a former player of the National Basketball Association. Together, they have three children.
Bishop McKenzie is humbled and grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings afforded her as she strives to serve with excellence in the Kingdom of God.
Co-Sponsors: African-American Professors Program, Association of African-American Students, Institute of Families in Society, Institute of Southern Studies, Multicultural Student Affairs, Office of the Benjamin E. Mays Professor, Office of I. DeQuincey Newman Endowed Chair, S.C. Department of Education, USC Black Alumni Association, Women's Studies Program
2005: Dr. John Hope Franklin
"Days of Infamy: Personal Reflections on WW II"
John Hope Franklin is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, and for seven years was Professor of Legal History in the Law School at Duke University. He is a native of Oklahoma and a graduate of Fisk University. He received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in History from Harvard University. He has taught at a number of institutions, including Fisk University, St. Augustine's College, North Carolina Central University, and Howard University. In 1956 he went to Brooklyn College as Chairman of the Department of History; and in 1964, he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, serving as Chairman of the Department of History from 1967 to 1970. At Chicago, he was the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor from 1969 to 1982, when he became Professor Emeritus.
Professor Franklin's numerous publications include The Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant South, The Free Negro in North Carolina, Reconstruction After the Civil War, and A Southern Odyssey: Travelers in the Ante-bellum North. Perhaps his best known book is From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans, now in its seventh edition. His Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities for 1976 was published in 1985 and received the Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize for that year. In 1990, a collection of essays covering a teaching and writing career of fifty years, was published under the title, Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938-1988. In 1993, he published The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century. Professor Franklin's most recent book, My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin, is an autobiography of his father that he edited with his son, John Whittington Franklin. His current research deals with "Dissidents on the Plantation: Runaway Slaves."
Professor Franklin has been active in numerous professional and education organizations. For many years he has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Negro History. He has also served as President of the following organizations: The American Studies Association (1967), the Southern Historical Association (1970), the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa (1973-76), the Organization of American Historians (1975), and the American Historical Association (1979). He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Fisk University, the Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.
Professor Franklin has served on many national commissions and delegations, including the National Council on the Humanities, from which he resigned in 1979, when the President appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He has also served on the President's Advisory Commission on Ambassadorial Appointments. In September and October of 1980, he was a United States delegate to the 21st General Conference of UNESCO. Among many other foreign assignments, Dr. Franklin has served as Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University, Consultant on American Education in the Soviet Union, Fulbright Professor in Australia, and Lecturer in American History in the People's Republic of China. Currently, Professor Franklin serves as chairman of the advisory board for One America: The President's Initiative on Race.
Professor Franklin has been the recipient of many honors. In 1978, Who's Who in America selected Dr. Franklin as one of eight Americans who has made significant contributions to society. In the same year, he was elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. He also received the Jefferson Medal for 1984, awarded by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. In 1989, he was the first recipient of the Cleanth Brooks Medal of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and in 1990 received the Encyclopedia Britannica Gold Medal for the Dissemination of Knowledge. In 1993, Dr. Franklin received the Charles Frankel Prize for contributions to the humanities, and in 1994, the Cosmos Club Award and the Trumpet Award from Turner Broadcasting Corporation. In 1995, he received the first W.E.B. DuBois Award from the Fisk University Alumni Association, the Organization of American Historians' Award for Outstanding Achievement, the Alpha Phi Alpha Award of Merit, the NAACP's Spingarn Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1996, Professor Franklin was elected to the Oklahoma Historians Hall of Frame and in 1997 he received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. In addition to his many awards, Dr. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than one hundred colleges and universities.
Professor Franklin has been extensively written about in various articles and books. Most recently he was the subject of the film First Person Singular: John Hope Franklin. Produced by Lives and Legacies Films, the documentary was featured on PBS in June 1997.
Co-Sponsors: African American Professors Program, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Education, Institute of Families in Society, Multicultural Student Affairs, Office of the President, Women's Studies
2004: Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Professor Gates is co-editor with K. Anthony Appiah of the encyclopedia Encarta Africana published on CD-ROM by Microsoft (1999), and in book form by Basic Civitas Books under the title Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (1999). He is the author of Wonders of the African World (1999), the book companion to the six-hour BBC/PBS television series of the same name. With Cornel West, Professor Gates co-authored The African American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Century (2000).
Professor Gates is the author of several works of literary criticism, including Figures in Black: Words, Signs and the 'Racial' Self (Oxford University Press, 1987); The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (Oxford, 1989), 1989 winner of the American Book Award: and Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars (Oxford, 1992.) He has also authored Colored People: A Memoir (Knopf, 1994), which traces his childhood experiences in a small West Virginia town in the 1950s and 1960s; The Future of the Race (Knopf, 1996), co-authored with Cornel West; and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (Random House, 1997). Professor Gates has edited several anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (W.W. Norton, 1996); and The Oxford-Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers (Oxford, 1991).
In addition, Professor Gates is co-editor of Transition magazine. An influential cultural critic, Professor Gates' publications include a 1994 cover story for Time magazine on the new black Renaissance in art, as well as numerous articles for the New Yorker.
Professor Gates earned his B.A. summa cum laude from Yale University in 1973 in English Language and Literature and M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature from Clare College at the University of Cambridge. Before joining the faculty of Harvard in 1991, he taught at Yale, Cornell, and Duke universities. His honors and grants include a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" (1981), the George Polk Award for Social Commentary (1993), Chicago Tribune Heartland Award (1994), the Golden Plate Achievement Award (1995), Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" list (1997), a National Humanities Medal (1998), and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1999).
Co-Sponsors: Office of the President, African American Professors Program, Office of the Benjamin E. Mays Professor, Institute of Families in Society, Institute of Southern Studies, Women's Studies Program, Office of I. DeQuincy Newman Endowed Chair, Multicultural Student Affairs, Association of African American Students, College of Liberal Arts
2003: Dr. Ekwueme Michael Thelwell
"The Civil Rights Movement: The Unfinished Revolution"
Ekwueme Michael Thelwell: Writer, Educator, Activist. Thelwell is currently Professor of Literature and Writing in the W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 1970, Thelwell was founding chairman of the department and has been a member of the faculty ever since.
The Jamaican born activist & intellectual received his early education at Jamaica College. He came to the United States in 1959 to attend Howard University where he was editor of the student newspaper and participated in the non-violent Civil Rights Movement. His graduate work was at the University of Massachusetts.
In the early sixties, Thelwell was a staff member at the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), working in the deep South and as Washington's representative of SNCC and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). He was centrally involved in the legislative mobilization for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the MFDP challenge to the seating of the Congressmen from Mississippi.
In the late eighties, he was director of the Jamaica Hurricane Reconstruction Fund and is active on the question of human rights in Jamaica. In 1986, he led a citizens legislative initiative to end American tax-payer subsidies to apartheid by amending the U.S. tax codes to deny tax write-offs to U.S. based corporations for taxes paid to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The initiative was successful, being enacted by Congress and reluctantly signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in December, 1987.
Thelwell is a writer of fiction and essays in literary and social commentary which have been published internationally. His work has appeared in the Black Scholar, the Massachusetts Review, Temps Moderne, Freedomways, the Partisan Review, Mother Jones, Ramparts, the Village Voice, and the New York Times. He is currently a columnist for Z Magazine and African Commentary, published by Chinua Achebe.
Thelwell is author of the novel The Harder They Come (Grove Press, 1980) and a collection of political and literary essays, Duties, Pleasures and Conflicts (UMass Press, 1987). He is presently at work on a critical study of the novels of Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe. Thelwell's literary awards include literary fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Society for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Centennial Medal of the Institute of Jamaica. Thelwell was also senior advisor to Blacksides, Inc., for the television series, Eyes on the Prize, Part II.
Since the 1998 death of Kwame Ture Stokely Carmichael, Thelwell has been preparing Carmichael's memoirs for publication. The long awaited memoir of the life and struggles of the controversial civil rights leader and Pan-Africanist revolutionary is scheduled for publication by Scribner in November, 2003.
2002: Dr. Asa Hilliard, III
"The Relevance of African American History and Culture in the Public School Curriculum"
Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III, is the Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Urban Education at Georgia State University, with joint appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Department of Educational Psychology/Special Education. A teacher, psychologist, and historian, he began his career in the Denver Public Schools, teaching psychology, mathematics and American History. He earned a B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Counseling, and Ed.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Denver, where he also taught in the College of Education, and in the College of Arts and Sciences in the Honors Program in Philosophy. Dr. Hilliard served on the faculty at San Francisco State University for 18 years. During that time he was a Department Chair for 2 years, Dean of Education for 8 years, and was consultant to the Peace Corps and Superintendent of Schools in Monrovia, and school psychologist, during his six years in Liberia, West Africa.
He has helped to develop several national assessment systems, such as proficiency assessment of professional educators, and developmental assessments of young children and infants. He is a Board Certified Forensic Examiner and Diplomat of both the American Board of Forensic Examiners and the American Board of Forensic Medicine. He served as expert witness in several landmark federal cases on test validity and bias, including Larry P. v. Wilson Riles in California, Mattie T. v. Holiday in Mississippi, Deborah P. v. Turlington in Florida, and also in two Supreme Court cases, Ayers v. Fordice in Mississippi, and Marino v. Ortiz in New York City.
2001: Dr. Veronica Davis Gerald
"Robert Smalls and the Gullah Culture"
Veronica Davis Gerald's familiarity with the South Carolina Gullah culture extends well beyond her professional career of researching and teaching about this unique community. One could say she has spent her entire life learning the ways of the Gullah people. Born in Mullins, South Carolina, Gerald heard elderly relatives and neighbors tell about their lives and the history of their people. She left South Carolina to receive academic degrees in English and later taught at several universities outside the south. In 1981, Gerald returned to South Carolina to accept a teaching position at Coastal Carolina University. Last December, Gerald was also appointed director of History and Culture at Penn Center on St. Helena Island. Ms Gerald brings both an indigenous and academic prospective to her advocacy of Gullah culture. While holding a full-time teaching position, Gerald renewed her ties to the community and applied her academic training to learn more about its history. This quest not only resulted in research projects, but also contributed to her goal to ensure that the Gullah people and their history are well represented outside the community and the state. As she points out, "The influence of the Gullah people is evident in almost every aspect of the state including music, folkways, moral values, rituals, agriculture, and language." Through her lectures and storytelling, and her participation in festival displays and museum exhibits, Ms. Gerald has advocated and promoted the Gullah culture.
2000: Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin
"Lady Today: The Continuing Relevance of Billie Holiday"
Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin is an associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her bachelor's degree in American history and literature from Harvard and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. Dr. Griffin is the recipient of many honors. Among them are the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute Fellowship at Radcliffe College and her departmental Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Her courses are cutting edge, characterized by such titles as "Cross Cultural Conjure Women: Creativity, Politics and Spirituality in Contemporary Fiction and The Literature of Social Vision and Social Action." A list of her articles, essays, and book reviews, conference papers, and invited lectures is equally impressive and interesting and testifies to the breadth of her research interests.
1999: Dr. Michele Foster
"Reflecting Black Teachers: Understanding the Past, Shaping the Future"
Dr. Michele Foster is a professor in the Center for Educational Studies at the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California. She earned her masters and doctoral degrees in Anthropology and Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Before teaching at Claremont she taught Education as well as Africa and African American Studies at the University of California at Davis. Also she has worked as a multicultural curriculum specialist and serves as principal investigator on numerous research projects. Dr. Foster is the recipient of awards from organizations that include the Carnegie Corporation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
1997: Dr. Andrew Billingsley
"A Bold and Brilliant Dash into History: Robert Smalls May 1862"
Dr. Andrew Billingsley is a Visiting Professor in the Institute for Families in Society and the African American Studies Program at USC for the 1996-1997 academic year. He has held the position of Professor in the Department of Family Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park campus since 1987. He was also Chair of the Department from 1987-1995. From 1985-1987, he was Professor of Sociology and Afro-American Studies on the College Park campus. He spent the 1992-1993 academic year on sabbatical as visiting Scholar-in Residence at Spelman College, where he continues as Adjunct Professor of Sociology. He is past president of Morgan State University and former vice president for Academic Affairs at Howard University.