African American Studies

  • Double major Veronica Mixon has a passion for mental health advocacy

    Pursuing a double major requires focus, effort, and passion. Add a global pandemic to the situation, and the experience becomes even more complex.

    Pursuing a double major requires focus, effort, and passion. Add a global pandemic to the situation, and the experience becomes even more complex.

    Veronica Mixon, a graduating senior in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences who will earn a Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology this spring, navigated the experience with grace.

    “Since I’ve been at UAB, I’ve learned the importance of self-care and community. I’m on the spectrum for Autism, and, before UAB, I always felt isolation and exhausted from masking 24/7,” said Mixon. “However, I learned how to manage my self-care and create boundaries that made it easier to feel comfortable in social settings. My experiences in the African American Studies Program really helped lay the foundation of my growth through the support I received from my mentors, professors, and friends.”

    According to her professors and mentors, Mixon did in fact lay a strong foundation from which she grew and thrived. Her hard work garnered her both praise and scholarship opportunities throughout her tenure at UAB. She is a McNair Scholar and earned both the College of Arts and Science’s Dean’s Leadership Scholarship and the African American Studies Director’s Award. Also, she won the 2021 College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Dean’s Award and the Outstanding Student Award for African American Studies, and, last April, she was initiated into the historic Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

    “Veronica is passionate about learning and an advocate of social justice. She is not afraid to speak out on issues affecting the quality of life in our society or show compassion towards those who need a ‘voice,’” said Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D., director of the African American Studies Program. “In my academic career, I have encountered students who are certain to succeed and sure to make a difference. I find myself grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the educational experience of these students. Veronica is one such student.”

    Alongside her academic pursuits and achievements, Mixon is also the President of the African American Studies Organization, a Research Assistant in C.L.A.Y.S Lab in the Department of Psychology, and a mental health advocate. Her commitment to and interest in mental health will lead her to become one of the first students to attain the Certificate in Mental Health from the Department of Psychology this spring. Also, as a result of her work as an intern, mentor, and suicide prevention advocate, UAB’s Student Counseling Services named her a Mental Health Champion.

    Through courses like Black Psychology and an emphasis in global health and justice studies, Mixon has found numerous points of intersection between African American studies and psychology. Recently, she shared her insights at a panel entitled “Breaking Down Barriers: Supporting Marginalized Communities During COVID-19,” which was sponsored by Kognito, a health simulation company. By building her critical thinking skills with an interdisciplinary focus, she is now in a position to pursue her career goals.

    Mixon looks to the future with both optimism and excitement. “After graduation, I will be attending the Community Psychology Master’s Program at Florida A&M University,” said Mixon. “I plan to do a thesis and focus on mental health, racial identity, and social connectedness among people of African Descent. After my master’s, I plan to apply to clinical psychology Ph.D. programs!”

    Dr. Morgan is also optimistic about Mixon’s future. “She achieves excellence in everything that she does, and I know, without reservation, that she will be excellent in her future endeavors,” said Dr. Morgan.

    As Mixon prepares to graduate magna cum laude with distinguished honors and reflects on this past year, she has many thoughts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think UAB students did an amazing job of being resilient,” said Mixon. “It’s important for us to give ourselves grace and not put ourselves to an unrealistic standard when we had so many negative things come our way. I genuinely believe that everyone overcame the semester in the best way they could.”

    Read more...
  • A Limitless World

    Makayla Smith wants to use poetry to create spaces of joy and representation for Black, queer audiences.

    Photo of Makayla by Tedric Davenport
    Illustration by Caitlin Du

    Makayla Smith wants to use poetry to create spaces of joy and representation for Black, queer audiences.

    Growing up in the rural South, Smith struggled to find her identity as a writer and as a person. But studying literature, creative writing, and African American Studies at UAB has clarified for Smith what role she wants to play in the world as an academic and creator. Now, as an adult and recent graduate, Smith has a clearer understanding of herself.

    “I feel like there aren’t enough works on the market really exploring that for my age group,” Smith said. “My sexual orientation is such a big part of my writing.”

    Smith also hopes to explore these realities without commodifying Black pain. She worries about the misconception that creating work is only profitable and valuable if the process is painful for the audience and creator.

    “[Writing] does not have to be traumatizing in order for it to sell and it will literally have the same impact,” Smith said. “I want people to feel joy. I want people to feel happy to be themselves and safe.”

    During her final semester at UAB, Smith compiled a poetry manuscript called I don’t believe in mermaids. In the manuscript, she uses her childhood and personal memories as a way to broach the topics of how community, family, and one’s surroundings can affect an individual’s relationship with their sexuality and perception of self. Smith writes about the experience of growing up with her grandparents, particularly her relationship with her grandmother and how that impacted her identity.

    “In poetry, you’re limited in some senses of style and formatting,” Smith said. “It was very meticulous [work] trying to convey a clear picture while also trying to not give it away at the same time, to be metaphorical.”

    Before attending UAB, Smith attended Booker T. Washington Magnet High School in Montgomery. Smith had the opportunity to write with the Alabama Writers Forum and as a journalist for the Kentuck Festival of the Arts. Writing with and for her community confirmed for Smith that writing was what she wanted to do professionally.

    “Essentially, what I’m trying to teach people is that you don’t have to be in one specific place, like New York or San Francisco, to really learn about yourself or to be proud of your identity,” Smith said. “I want Black, queer people in general to feel proud of themselves.”

    In High School

    In high school, Smith had felt adamant that attending school or living in a major city was necessary to achieve a career in writing. She ultimately chose to attend UAB instead of going out of state since it was the best option financially. Looking back, Smith is grateful for how her time at UAB allowed her to grow as a writer and person.

    “It ended up being a very introspective, very needed last four years,” Smith said. “I didn’t need to go out of state to find all these great things out about myself.”

    Smith is especially appreciative of the relationships she was able to foster with her professors during her time at UAB. She describes the Department of English and the African American Studies Program as a family. Smith hopes to carry that dynamic with her as she continues in academia.

    “It felt safe and like I could show up 100 percent as myself. There was no white gaze to interfere with,” she said. “It feels good knowing that people are going to be there for you and stand up for you.”

    Smith is also thankful for the confidence that her African American Studies minor and literature studies has given her. Before UAB, Smith was unfamiliar with the idea of intersectionality. Exploring that, along with critical race theory, allowed Smith to understand herself better.

    “I was able to really analyze the systemic and historical context of my existence, of Black people’s existence. It makes sense why I am the way I am and now I can work on myself,” Smith said. “That’s the best thing both departments could have ever given me.”

    New Opportunities in New York

    Since graduating from UAB, Smith has flourished professionally and academically. Currently, Smith is attending the New School of New York for her M.A. She is also on staff at the school as a tutor and as an intern for “One Story,” a literary magazine based in Brooklyn. Over the summer, Smith also announced on social media that she won a Gilman Scholarship. The scholarship will cover her travel and living costs while she studies television and film production in London for three weeks.

    “I was with my brother at the time [of receiving the scholarship], screaming at the top of my lungs. I’ve never been overseas a day in my life, owned a passport, or anything like that so I’m just really grateful,” she said.

    However, Smith acknowledges that rejection is a large but often hidden part of the application process. In the same social media caption announcing her Gilman Scholarship, Smith admitted that receiving this award came after multiple rejected scholarship and job applications.

    “There are so many different ways to get to where you want to be,” she said. “That is my healthy way of dealing with being turned down from so many opportunities and scholarships.”

    Currently, Smith is studying children’s literature at the New School and has workshopped several short stories. She hopes to publish more illustrated editions of her work in the future. She hopes that her experiences inspire others to persevere, even through rejection.

    “One person’s no will be another person’s yes. The world is limitless.”


    If I Could Buy Love in the Marketplace

    Grandma used to make tea cookies that left sweet fantasies in the air
    But the texture was brittle and bleak and rock-like as if it had been -
    apart of a canyon
    She used to say, "Do right by me and right shall follow"
    To which I respnded with irate sadness and irate confusion
    How dare she place God where they need not be?
    Between hard boiled cookies and my sweet, little fantasies
    But God was her love for all seasons and her love for all reasons
    And I, too, was fascinated with that idea of unconditional love
    From an unconditional savior like Jesus Christ
    But instead, I was warped with thoughts of buying vases of love
    In its glass cylinder as it refracted the Moon
    Christ had nothing to do with this equation
    And Grandma's tea cookes had left me toothless and heartbroken
    I, too, was to do right by myself
    Amen

    Read more...
  • Celebrating 20 years of the UAB African American Studies Program

    The program was approved as a degree-granting program by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education on April 28, 2000.

    By Kathryn Morgan, Ph.D., Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the African American Studies Program

    The UAB African American Studies Program will celebrate its 20th anniversary on April 28, 2020. The program was approved as a degree-granting program by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education on April 28, 2000.

    At the time of its inception, the UAB African American Studies Program was the only one of its kind in the Southeast and is still only one of two degree-granting African American Studies (AAS) programs in Alabama. In the 1970s, Dr. Horace Huntley taught the first Black History courses at UAB, and in the 1990s, Dr. Virginia Whatley Smith worked diligently to implement the first organized African American Studies Program. When it was approved as a program on April 28, 2000, Smith was appointed as the first Director.

    Coker AdeniyiAfter Smith left the University, Dr. Niyi Coker, associate professor of Theater, was named program director. Under Coker’s leadership, the program grew in size and visibility. During his tenure as director, he explored the possibility of a shared AAS program with the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

    When Coker left in 2005 to accept a Distinguished Professorship at the University of Missouri, Dr. Dellita Ogunsula became interim director and continued to pursue this endeavor. Leaders of both the UAB and UA African American Studies programs envisioned that a shared program would be advantageous to the University of Alabama System. The vision of the program was to implement a unique shared course of study that led to the completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies at both universities. In 2009, the joint UAB-UA program was approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE). After meeting several post-implementation conditions, the shared program was re-accredited by ACHE in 2014-2015.

    Dellita OgunsulaSince 2005, Dr. Dellita Ogunsula, Dr. Jacqueline Wood, and Dr. George Munchus served as interim program directors and made significant contributions to the advancement of the program. Dr. Kay Morgan was appointed as program director in 2013.

    After graduating its first student, Angela Craig, with a BA in AAS in 2001, the AAS program has established itself as a program committed to producing scholars and citizens who are equipped to effectively, critically, and actively engage the world and create positive change. Graduates of the program today reflect the remarkable opportunities afforded by completing a BA in African American Studies. Program graduates have gone on to excel in careers in many fields including social and behavioral sciences, medicine, education, and engineering.

    Twenty years after its launch, the UAB African American Studies Program continues to walk in the spirit of the black intellectual tradition. Dedicated to the critical study of the lived experiences, culture, and history of people in Africa and the African diaspora, it offers a major and minor, and students are able to choose from one of three areas of interest: Global Public Health and Social Justice, Historical Investigation and Social Awareness, and History and Culture of Afro-Caribbean and Latino People.

    Kathryn MorganThe AAS program, while focusing on the experience of African-descended people in the United States, has also provided a critical understanding of the cultural, historical, and social value and experiences of people of African descent across the African diaspora. Unlike other programs, the program’s focus is anchored in, but not limited to, history and the social and behavioral sciences. Students in this program receive a well-rounded, coherent body of knowledge that expands their fields of knowledge by including courses in public health, music, literature, and language. Students in the program develop their critical thinking skills and enhance their reading, writing, and public speaking skills, allowing them to engage in critical discourse concerning people of African descent. Students in the program are better prepared to enter various fields such as medicine, education, law, non-profit sector, arts, and public health because of their interdisciplinary training. And the AAS program’s location in Alabama, which holds a significant place in American history, underscores the importance of its presence in and contribution to the University.

    This fall, the program hopes to host several celebrations to honor the students, faculty, and staff who have helped the program develop and thrive at UAB.

    Read more...
  • Michael Chambers II: Distinguished Young Alumni Award 2020

    This award honors alumni ages 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College.

    Michael Chambers II: B.A. African American Studies, 2007The College of Arts and Sciences annual alumni awards highlight the diverse talents, professional accomplishments, and community service of our alumni. The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors alumni ages 40 or younger for significant accomplishments in industry and/or their career field or for service in the College. In 2020, we recognized two winners in this category: Michael Chambers II and Amanda Keller.

    A native of Washington, D.C., Michael Chambers II has worked at the local, state, and national level, managing and developing programs across a variety of arts and humanities organizations. He has produced living history vignettes, curated panel discussions, and led cultural youth development programs. In his latest role in the Director's Office at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, he manages board relations, a national philanthropic professional network, and special projects.

    Chambers also leads a cultural consulting practice, Humanities in Public, which uses a humanities lens to foster new ways of thinking, presenting history, and connecting new audiences. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

    Read more...
  • 2019 Winners of College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Announced

    Established in 2018, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching.

    Established in 2018, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching. The individual must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period. Winners were selected by the CAS President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Committee from three groupings of the College's academic departments:

    • Arts and Humanities – Art and Art History, Music, Theatre, Communication Studies, English, Foreign Languages, History and Philosophy
    • Natural Sciences and Mathematics – Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences – African American Studies, Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology

    Winners were selected for their outstanding accomplishments in teaching as demonstrated by broad and thorough knowledge of the subject area; ability to convey difficult concepts; fairness, open-mindedness and accessibility to students; ability to inspire and mentor students; effective use of innovative teaching methods, promotion of ethical and professional values; modeling service and scholarly activities; and more.

    The three winners will be honored at a reception at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts on March 5 and will be considered for the final College of Arts and Sciences nominee for the President’s Award of Excellence in Teaching.

    From the Arts and Humanities, Dr. DeReef Jamison, Associate Professor in the African American Studies Program

    Dr. Jamison explores the connections between Africana intellectual history and social science, particularly the notion of cultural consciousness. In his teaching, Dr. Jamison encourages students to think critically about the world in which they live. As he says in his faculty bio, he seeks to follow the model set by pioneering African American Studies scholars who stressed academic excellence, social responsibility, and social change.

    Dr. Jamison received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Bowie State University, his master's in community psychology from Florida A&M University, and his doctorate from Temple University in African American Studies.

    One of his student nominators said, "Dr. Jamison's classroom is unlike any other educational space. His remarkable teaching style remains a highlight of my education at UAB. He also takes a careful interest in each student and is available to expound on class assignments and topics or just sit and listen to the fanciful ideas of aspiring scholars. It was Dr. Jamison’s encouragement that persuaded me to apply to be an intern at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and his love of and commitment to his research and publications emboldened me to pursue graduate school."

    From the Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Dr. Karolina Mukhtar, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology

    Dr. Mukhtar graduated with a joint B.S./M.Sc. in biology from the University of Szczecin, Poland. She received her Ph.D. in genetics from the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, and completed her post-doc in plant immunity from Duke University.

    Her research focuses on various aspects of plant-microbe interactions using genetic and biochemical approaches. Specifically, she explores the interface between the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and several of its pathogens, including both fungi and bacteria. She is a committed teacher at all levels, including K-12, and was named one of the 11 inaugural UAB Faculty Fellows in Service Learning.

    She has created innovative teaching methods and is committed to developing instructional strategies for students with various learning disabilities. In Spring 2015, she was named Outstanding Faculty Mentor by the Office of Disability Support Services.

    One of Dr. Mukhtar's student nominators said, "Dr. Mukhtar's engaging lectures, clear explanations, and presentation of the field's newest discoveries combined to make my undergraduate Plant Biology class the best lecture-based course I have ever experienced. Later, when I was one of her Supplemental Instruction Leaders, she always made sure I had everything I needed to do my job well and made time to explain the concepts so I could better serve the students. I was able to see how she adapted her plans based on the needs of the students. She consistently looks for ways to improve her teaching methods to ensure her students gain a deeper understanding of genetics."

    From the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Erin Borry, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration

    Dr. Borry's research focuses on bureaucratic structure, employee minority status, and employee willingness to bend rules and perceptions of red tape. She has also published work on governmental transparency and government websites.

    Dr. Borry received her bachelor's degree and master's in public administration from Rutgers University and her doctorate from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as the digital media editor for the journal Public Integrity and as a board member for two sections within the American Society for Public Administration. She is also a research fellow with the Center for Organization Research and Design (CORD) at Arizona State University and is an affiliated researcher with the Local Government Workplaces Initiative (LGWI) at the University of North Carolina.

    Some of her most recent courses include Human Resources Management, Intergovernmental Relations, Open Government, and Scope of Public Administration.

    One of her nominators wrote, "Dr. Borry’s teaching influences my daily leadership. As an executive director of a local non-profit, I frequently rely on the concepts Dr. Borry demonstrated in the Human Resource Management class. When I took her class, I had limited experience managing employees. She had the challenging task of conveying a topic with which most of us had no experience, and she did so brilliantly. I’ve heard that alumni success raises the caliber of academic programs. However, alumni would not be successful without relevant, engaging, and high-caliber teaching. Dr. Erin Borry provides the academic foundation for me and my fellow alumni to succeed."

    Read more...
  • Faculty fellows to foster community, academic enrichment for honors students

    What do mindfulness and meditation have in common with the hip-hop’s global consciousness? Those topics and more will be discussed by the 2018-2019 cohort of Honors Faculty Fellows during their yearlong fellowship beginning in August.

    Read more...
  • New course: Pulpits in Protest

    This course will cover four major social movements involving African Americans and the protest speeches, sermons, and songs given by women and men from the Black Church and beyond.

    The African American Studies program is offering a new Special Topics course in the 2018 Spring semester, AAS 250: Pulpits in Protest. This course will cover four major social movements involving African Americans and the protest speeches, sermons, and songs given by women and men from the Black Church and beyond. It will examine how rhetoric can be used to oppose oppression and bring about social change. There will be an emphasis on the ideas of black social thought within the black church, political protest, and the speeches, sermons, and songs given in a particular movement with efforts to initiate social change. The class will be held on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m. Register now!

    Read more...
  • Change Starts in the Streets

    Students lend a hand to Birmingham
    By Haley Herfurth • Photos by UAB Digital Media

    Read more...
  • African American Studies students selected for impressive internships

    Two African American Studies students — an alumna and a senior — are participating in their dream internships this summer.

    Two African American Studies students — an alumna and a senior — are participating in their dream internships this summer.

    Anissa Latham-Brown, B.A. 2017

    Before Anissa Latham-Brown graduated from UAB, she told African American Studies program director Kathryn Morgan that her "dream would be to get an internship in New York with Pacifica Radio.” This summer she is interning with WBAI 99.5 Pacifica Radio in New York City. As a member of the Pacifica Radio chain, WBAI is a listener-supported radio station with an international audience. The station's programming encompasses a variety of categories, including news, arts, music, public affairs, health, and science and ecology. The station leadership's mission is to “provide radio that informs, educates, and entertains New York with a critical approach to politics, art, music, literature, health, and culture.”

    Anissa graduated UAB in April 2017 with a B.A. in African American Studies and a B.A. in an Individually Designed Major, Cultural Digital Storytelling. With a GPA of 3.93, she was the 2015-2016 recipient of the African American Studies Academic Scholarship.

    As a student, she was media fellow with UAB Digital Media and a production assistant with Yellow Cake Films. She was also the Social Media Manager for African American Studies. For her capstone project, Anissa created an independent film, 942 Greene Avenue. The film examines her family's participation in the Great Migration (to New York) during the 1960s and their return to the South.

    Madison Allen, Senior

    Madison Allen is spending the summer between her junior and senior year at the Smithsonian Institution in an internship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened to the public on September 24, 2016. It is the newest of the Smithsonian Institution museums and the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.

    Madison is a senior pursuing a double major in African American Studies and Sociology (with a concentration in Social Psychology). She is the recipient The Annie P. and Ferris S. Ritchey Sr. Endowed Scholarship Honor Recipient (2015-2016) from the Department of Sociology and the African American Studies Academic Scholarship (2016-2017). She is also in the University Honors Program.

    According to Madison, working at the museum will be an opportunity to learn more about the Black Museum movement and acquire knowledge about program development, partnership development, and archival research and cataloging. She is excited to be able to use the knowledge that she has gained in her African American Studies classes.

    Read more...
  • New Pan-African Student Coalition Looks for Unification

    The Pan-African Student Coalition at UAB, organized during this summer semester, hopes to provide a place where students can feel they belong and serve as an umbrella organization for other organizations consisting of people of African descent.
    Members of the newly organized Pan-African Student Coalition at UAB recognized Rwandan Liberation Day by gathering in the Hill Student Center on July 5 and talking to students about the anniversary of the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

    Sharing knowledge in that way is a part of carrying out the coalition's primary goal of unifying Africans with descendants of Africans from other parts of the world, said Uche MgBodile, PAC President and junior majoring in biology in the pre-medicine track.

    Sharon Uwanyuze, left, a UAB student from Rwanda, talks to other students about Rwanda Liberation Day in the Hill Student Center on July 5."It is just an example of informing people of other cultures even through the littlest things," said MgBodile, whose parents are Nigerian. "Just by bringing people together through food and small talk we already started sparking interest with people, thus beginning the cycle of unification."

    The Pan-African Student Coalition, organized during this summer semester, hopes to provide a place where students can feel they belong and serve as an umbrella organization for other organizations consisting of people of African descent. The main goals of the group are unification, cultural and social awareness and scholastic advancement.

    MgBodile, an Atlanta native who has lived most of her life in Birmingham, said she decided to get involved when she noticed a disconnect between Africans and African Americans on campus and realized that it was mostly due to the lack of knowledge of each other.

    "To me it seemed like the African Americans were interested in connecting to their African heritage but there was always a communication barrier between themselves and the Africans," she said. "Both sides were interested in understanding each other more, but no one was initiating the change."

    Dr. Kathryn Morgan, director of the African American Studies Program and associate professor of Criminal Justice, serves as faculty advisor of the student organization. Morgan said the Coalition's activities will correspond with the African American Studies Program's mission to advance knowledge and understanding about various cultures and people of diasporic African and African Americans.

    "The Pan African Student Coalition contributes to that mission by bringing together African and African American student groups into an alliance that promotes cultural understanding between the groups and strengthens the bonds of students on this campus who are of African descent," Morgan said.

    The Coalition plans to sponsor events including community service, fundraisers, forums about current and historical events relating to Pan-Africans, dance classes, and video and documentary screenings.

    For more information, see the Pan-African Coalition's Facebook page.

    Read more...
  • Pop Goes the Classroom

    How superheroes and hip hop inspire academic exploration
    By Jess Simpson • Illustrations by Ron Gamble

    Read more...
  • Carlon Harris Attends Black Solidarity Conference

    Carlon Harris, a senior African American Studies major and Honors Program student, was one of several UAB students selected to attend the 21st Black Solidarity Conference at Yale University in February. He was also recently interviewed on Birmingham’s WBRC Fox 6.
    Carlon Harris, a senior African American Studies major and Honors Program student, was one of several UAB students selected to attend the 21st Black Solidarity Conference at Yale University in February. This year’s theme was "The Miseducation: Changing History As We Know It," highlighting the ways that black histories have often been misconstrued, falsely constructed, and ignored in the US.

    Conference participants attended workshops, panels, presentations, and discussions covering a variety of issues including: PWIs (predominantly white institutions) v. HBCUs (historically black colleges/universities); race and the politics of punishment; how class matters in black lives; and many other topics. The Yale University conference is a student-organized and student-hosted conference that brings undergraduates of all colors together to discuss issues pertaining to the African Diaspora.

    Carlon Harris also was interviewed recently by Birmingham’s WBRC Fox 6 for their story on human trafficking. Carlon is completing a documentary on human trafficking as his Honors Program Project. You can read the interview on the station’s website.

    Read more...
  • Updates from African American Studies

    Students and faculty in the UAB African American Studies Program have been recognized for their achievements this semester.

    Anissa Latham-Brown is African American Studies Program Scholarship Recipient

    Anissa Latham-Brown is the recipient of the 2015-2016 African American Studies Scholarship. She is an African Americans Studies major as well as a Digital Media Fellow. Her work in partnership with other Digital Media fellows won an ADDY Gold Award for the website KnowDope, which is part of a project developed by the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama to combat the heroin epidemic.

    Kathryn Morgan Honored

    Dr. Kathryn Morgan was recently selected as the Outstanding Faculty Member at the Black Women’s Achievement Gala sponsored by the Black Student Awareness Committee. Dr. Morgan, director of the African American Studies Program, also received the award in 2014.

    DeReef Jamison Awarded Grant

    Dr. DeReef Jamison has been awarded a Faculty Grant for Online Course Development He will use it to create an online version of AAS 335: Psychology of Hip Hop. The development of this course will help to expand the number of online course offerings for the African American Studies Program.

    Read more...
  • Jessie Dunbar Awarded Career Enhancement Fellowship

    Jessie Dunbar, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of English, has received a six-month Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
    Jessie Dunbar, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of English, has received a six-month Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

    The Career Enhancement Fellowship is used to “increase the presence of junior minority faculty members to eradicate racial disparities, as well as break down stereotypes  and promote cross-racial understanding in the arts and sciences.”  Dunbar will receive a stipend along with a research, travel or publication grant, and funding to attend the foundation’s Annual Retreat.

    Dunbar, who is currently teaching a class titled “Black Bolsheviks: Cultural and Literary Exchanges between African Americans and Russians,” decided during a graduate class on 19th century African-American literature to pursue research in the subject.

    “I just kept noticing that all of these black people were in Russia, and nobody had spoken about this -- not even my professor had spoken about this -- and I found myself interested in the reasons why black people would have gone to Russia in the 19th century,” Dunbar said.

    With the fellowship, Dunbar will spend her time researching Russian literature and the role of black people in Russia during the 19th century. In August, Dunbar will attend a conference in Tampa, Florida to discuss her research interests and will later return to Tampa at the end of the six-month period to talk about the findings of her research.

    Dr. Dunbar joined the UAB Department of English in 2013. Originally from New York City, she received her B.A. from Clark Atlanta University and her M.A. from the University of Georgia. She completed her Ph.D. at Emory University.

    In addition to researching blacks in 19th-century Russia during her six-month fellowship, she will also devote some of her time learning about writer and activist LeRoi Jones, with the hope of developing a class on the Black Arts Movement and hip-hop.

    For more information about the Department of English, visit the department's website.
    Anissa Latham-Brown is a 2015-16 UAB Digital Media fellow. She is majoring in African-American Studies and is in the process of creating an individually designed major dealing with Media and Racial Representation.

    Read more...
  • An Evening with James Meredith

    Phi Alpha Theta presents "An Evening with James Meredith." Join the roundtable discussion recounting the 1962 integration of the University of Mississippi.
    James Meredith walking to class accompanied by US marshals. Image courtesy of the US Library of Congress. You are invited to "An Evening with James Meredith," a roundtable discussion recounting the 1962 integration of the University of Mississippi. Join us on February 12 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hill Student Center Ballroom.

    In 1961 Meredith applied to the all-white University of Mississippi. He was admitted, but once his race was discovered his admission was withdrawn. Meredith filed a suit alleging discrimination and won when the US Supreme Court ruled in his favor. When he first attempted to register for classes on September 20, 1962, he found the entrance blocked. Attorney General Robert Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy sent US Marshals, military police, the Mississippi National Guard, and officials from the US Border Patrol to deal with rioting that broke out. Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi on October 1, 1962.

    This roundtable is sponsored by the Department of History, the African American Studies Program, Phi Alpha Theta, and Student Multicultural & Diversity Programs.

    Read more...
  • Students Contribute to Creation of Musical at Hip Hop Writing Workshop

    UAB students gathered for the "Exploring Racism through Hip Hop" writing workshop at the Department of Theatre's acting studio on Nov. 13 to add their voices to a musical in the works.

    Watch Video:

    Video 1 | Video 2

    UAB students gathered for the "Exploring Racism through Hip Hop" writing workshop at the Department of Theatre's acting studio on Nov. 13 to add their voices to a musical in the works.

    The Department of Theatre, the African American Studies program, and the Department of English collaborated to present the workshop, the first of a series of writing workshops for a musical directed by theatre professor Karla Koskinen that will be produced in two years.

    [widgetkit id="67" name="Students Contribute to Creation of Musical at Hip Hop Writing Workshop"]

    Read more...
  • Memorial and Funeral for Professor Glenn Feldman

    Professor Glenn Feldman passed away suddenly on October 19. His life and family will be honored in a prayer vigil Wednesday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m. at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Homewood. His funeral will be held Friday, October 23.
    Professor Glenn Feldman passed away suddenly on October 19. His loss is devastating to his family, colleagues, and students. His life and family will be honored in a prayer vigil Wednesday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m. at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Homewood. His funeral will be held Friday, October 23, at All Saint's Episocpal Church. Visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m.; the service will start at noon. All are welcome. For more information call the church at (205) 879-8651.

    Glenn joined the UAB family in 1996. A prolific scholar, he had written or edited 11 books and published over 150 articles and reviews. His latest book, The Great Melding: War, the Dixiecrat Rebellion, and the Southern Model for America's New Conservatism (University of Alabama Press), was released a few months ago. You can read more about him in his obituary on AL.com.

    All Saint's Episcopal is at 110 West Hawthorne Road, Homewood, AL 35209.

    Read more...
  • Special Topics Course: Africa in the Americas

    Africa in the Americas (AAS 250/HY 290/HY 390), taught by Department of History professor Pamela Murray, will introduce students to those countries and regions of Latin America that, since the 1500s, have comprised the heart of the New World's African diaspora.
    Interested in learning about the rich, little known history of Afro-Latin America this fall? 

    Benedita da Silva, a contemporary Afro-Brazilian political leader.Africa in the Americas (AAS 250/HY 290/HY 390), taught by Department of History professor Pamela Murray, will introduce students to those countries and regions of Latin America that, since the 1500s, have comprised the heart of the New World's African diaspora.

    Some more information about what students will explore in the course:

    Through reading, films, music and class discussion, it explores the dramatic, often painful, experiences of Afro-Latin Americans, descendents of the nearly 6 million Africans who came to the Spanish and Portuguese colonies as a result of the transatlantic slave trade. 

    It highlights the important contributions Afro-Latin Americans have made to modern Latin American history, society and culture. Students also will learn of their continuing struggles for justice and equality, especially in the Afro-Latin "core" countries of Brazil, Cuba, and Colombia.

    Read more...
  • Role Model, Mentor Recognized by Black Student Awareness Committee

    Vern Cile Bush, Administrative Associate for the African American Studies program and the Department of Anthropology, was recently awarded the Black Student Awareness Committee's 2015 Outstanding Faculty or Staff Member of the Year award.
    Vern Cile Bush, Administrative Associate for the African American Studies program and the Department of Anthropology, was recently awarded the Black Student Awareness Committee's 2015 Outstanding Faculty or Staff Member of the Year award. Martez Files, a UAB alumnus and a close friend, nominated her.

    Bush has worked with UAB for about 25 years. In that time, her door has been open to countless students. Being a mentor to students means much more to her than giving encouragement — she wants to leave a lasting impression in others’ lives. She wants students to say, “Oh, I remember her.” 

    Bush’s drive to help students started when she was in church. A network of friends, relatives, and loved ones supported her throughout her life, but she says that not every student has that crucial network. She mentored Files throughout his academic career to uplift and encourage him. “Not everyone has a mom or dad or someone to lead them. I want to steer [kids] along the right path.”

    For Files, Bush is a role model. He had personal struggles his senior year of college, and she was instrumental in helping him succeed, both academically and personally. He says that he was a troublemaker and he felt lost during his time at UAB. He wanted to drop out, but he went to speak with her before making the final decision. 

    Bush encouraged him to pursue education. “Martez is here for a purpose,” she says. “He’s a role model for others.”

    Files graduated from UAB in December of 2014 with a degree in African American Studies, and he went on to graduate school at Brown University. He is one of many students who will never forget her. “Ms. Bush is humble,” he says. “She won’t talk about her awards, but she deserves recognition.”

    Bush was “shocked and excited to receive the award,” she says, adding that it validates her purpose and “means that what I’m doing is right.”

    As for the future, she says, “As long as I have breath, I want to help the kids.”

    Read more...
  • UAB's DeReef Jamison Reaches Top 1 Percent of Academia.edu Profiles

    UAB African American Studies professor Dr. DeReef Jamison was recently listed in the top 1 percent of academics for profile views on Academia.edu.
    UAB African American Studies professor Dr. DeReef Jamison was recently listed in the top 1 percent of academics for profile views on Academia.edu.

    Read more...