African American, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Latin-American politics

Ollie A. Johnson, professor

Ollie Johnson is the former department chair in African American Studies. Professor Johnson has conducted extensive research on Afro-Brazilian, African American and Afro-Latin American politics. He published "Race, Politics, and Education in Brazil" in 2015. His new co-edited volume, Comparative Racial Politics in Latin America, will be published by Routledge.

Recently, Professor Johnson has given several invited lectures and paper presentations in the United States and abroad. He lectured twice on President Obama at prestigious universities such as the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA) and the Instituto Universitrio de Pesquisas do Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ) in Brazil. In 2009, he lectured at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Notre Dame. In 2008, using SKYPE, he gave a lecture on the American presidential election to a Brazilian university audience at the Centro Universitario Estadual da Zona Oeste (UEZO) in Rio de Janeiro, from his desk here at Wayne State University.

Johnson is currently preparing two journal articles for publication: "Racial Representation and Black Struggle in the Brazilian Congress," and "Promoting Afro-Brazilian Culture and History: An Analysis of the Fundao Cultural Palmares." Two of his book chapters, "Black Activism in Ecuador, 1979-2009" and "Race, Politics, and Afro-Latin Americans" were published in Comparative Perspectives on Afro-Latin America and The Handbook of Latin American Politics, respectively.

African American literature, African American cinema, poetry, documentary film

Melba Joyce Boyd, distinguished professor

Melba Boyd is a distinguished university professor at WSU. She co-produced with Ron Primeau, professor of English at Central Michigan University, the recently released, "Star by Star: the Poetry and Publishing of Naomi Long Madgett." They received a grant from the Michigan Council of the Humanities for this documentary film project.

Two essays have been accepted for publication: "Celebrating the Legacy of Frances E. W. Harper," Amistad, Howard University; and "The Legacy of Darwin T. Turner and the Struggle for African American Studies." Another essay, authored by Boyd, "German '68ers and African American Culture," appeared in "From Black to Swartz," a collection of essays on the intercultural exchanges and experiences between Germans and African Americans, Michigan State University Press.

During Black History Month 2011, she presented lectures on Frances E. W. Harper at the Pennsylvania Historical Society and the Philadelphia Public Schools Building as part of the city's Centennial Celebration of Frances Harper. She also read some of her poetry as a part of the program at the Moonstone Cultural Center in Philadelphia.

In April 2011, she presented a paper on "Black Detroit: Before and After the Economic Tsunami," at the Collegium for African American Research International Conference at the University of Paris VII.

In November 2010, she was the opening speaker for the 40th Anniversary of the Department of African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her lecture was on "Dudley Randall and the Black Arts Movement in Detroit." She also showed a new version of the documentary film, "The Black Unicorn," which focuses on Randall's poetry and publishing efforts.

Boyd continues to write and publish poetry. Two poems appeared in Working Words (Coffee House Press, edited by M. L. Liebler) and four other poems were published in periodicals: "Rearranging Your Father's Table," Souls: Journal of African American Research, Columbia University Press; "Why I Observe the Sabbath at Home in the D," in by Ishmael Reed's Konch, an online journal; "crystallizing the moon," in the Wayne Review; and "Bloodhounds on My Trail: Ode to Kathryn," in Amistad, Howard University Press.

Professor Boyd also gave poetry readings at the University of Michigan and Arbor, Central Michigan University, Wayne State University's Humanities Center, the Virgil Carr Center in Detroit and the University of Michigan, Detroit Center.

Professor Boyd was commissioned to write a poem, "Eulogy for Detroit 1967," to commemorate the Detroit 1967 Race Rebellion, which she performed at the Wright Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Artists Market Gallery. In addition to readings in the Detroit metropolitan area, she has performed at New York University, La Maison de Poesie in Paris, France and was the featured poet at the International Conference for the Collegium of African American Research in Malaga, Spain and elsewhere. Her poems have been collected in anthologies and journals.

In addition to her creative activities, she has been very prolific as a cultural scholar. Several essays were solicited for premier national and international academic journals, as well as for university press books. She presented for invited lectures and panel presentations nationally, internationally, on-campus and for cultural institutions and organizations. She participated in a roundtable discussion for the Department of History at the University of Michigan for the bicentennial celebration and was invited to give a reading, "Poetry and Politics: Writing Detroit," for the Zora Neale Hurston Memorial Lecture Series for the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at UM. She has given lectures at the University of Detroit and Marygrove College and most recently presented papers on panels at Wayne State University for the Humanities Center and the WSU Law School.

Representations in popular culture

Lisa Alexander, associate professor

Professor Alexander is an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies. She most recently had chapters published in two anthologies: "Are We There Yet?: Major League Baseball and Sexual Orientation" was published in Ron Briley's book The Politics of Baseball: Essays on the Pastime and Power at Home and Abroad and released in April 2010 and "Barry Bonds: Of Passion and Hostility" was published in "Fame to Infamy: Race, Sport, and the Fall from Grace: Essays That Reveal the Public Slide into Disrepute of Once-Cherished Male Sport" edited by David C. Ogden and Joel Nathan Rosen which was released in October of 2010. Professor Alexander presented a paper at the 2010 North American Society for the Sociology of Sport entitled "Sheryl Swoopes and the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Sexuality." That presentation led to an invitation to present at the Performing Ethnicities Through Sport Conference held at the University of Iowa on April 1-3, 2011.

Her first book, "When Baseball Isn't White, Straight, and Male: the Media and Difference in the National Pastime", was released in 2012. Professor Alexander finished the draft of her second book tentatively titled "Dancing Around the Mainstream: Intersectionality and Six Decades of Black Film." The manuscript is currently under review. Dr. Alexander also signed a contract to co-edit the book "The Circus is in Town: Sport, Celebrity, and Spectacle" with the University Press of Mississippi. Abstracts for the volume have been vetted and the editors are awaiting the author's first drafts. Her article entitled "The Jackie Robinson Story vs. The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson vs. 42: Hollywood's Representations of Jackie Robinson's Legacy" was published in the NINE Journal of Baseball History and Culture and her article "21st Century Mamie Johnson: Pitch and the Intersection of Race and Gender" is in press at Black Ball: A Negro Leagues Journal. Dr. Alexander is currently in the planning stages of her next book which will analyze the representation of race, gender and gender identity in the Star Trek franchise.

American literary and cultural studies, African American studies, Detroit oral history, poetry

Laval Duncan, associate professor of teaching

During 2010-2011, Senior Lecturer Todd Duncan, taught Introduction to African American Literature and continued two Detroit-centered courses: "Stories of Oldtimers," an oral history course that connects students and longtime Detroit residents; and "Detroit Poetry," which explores poetry and the culture of poetry in Detroit. A student paper from the poetry course was presented at the WSU Honors College research day for undergraduates.

Working with WSU librarian, Diane Sybeldon, he also helped facilitate a digitizing poetry project and the poetry section of an arts installation project commemorating the decades-long Cass Corridor arts movement. (Cass Corridor is adjacent to the Wayne campus; the installation is housed in the Undergraduate Library.)

During the academic year, Duncan also directed a graduate independent study on Indo-Caribbean literature, directed an M.A. essay (Orientalism and Subaltern Voices) and served as a committee member for a Ph.D. dissertation completed in the history department (Detroit's Blues Queens). From April to June, he taught 6 seminars at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute: "Heart and Mind: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on African-American Literature." Duncan also serves on the university's ADA Advisory Committee, which is devoted to expanding campus access for students with disabilities.

"Three students from Detroit Poetry, a course I teach through African American Studies and English, recently wrote essays on the theme, "Amplifying Experience: Poetic Detroit as News and Memory." This COVID-19 time of virulence has reminded me that, whoever we are, our sensibilities can find solace, reflection and strength in poetry. A deeper appreciation of our common humanity is what is most needed, especially now."

Black social movements, Black labor history, Black urban history, Black Detroit, Black radicalism, the civil rights and Black power movements, Black intellectual history and race, labor and the law.

David Goldberg, associate professor

In 2011, Dr. Goldberg published a co-edited volume with Trevor Griffey, "Black Power at Work: Community Control, Affirmative Action, and the Construction Industry" (Cornell University Press). Black Power at Work chronicles the history of direct action campaigns to open up the construction industry to Black workers in the 1960s and 1970s. The book's case studies of local movements in Brooklyn, Newark, the Bay Area, Detroit, Chicago and Seattle show how struggles against racism in the construction industry shaped the emergence of Black power politics outside the U.S. South. In the process, "community control" of the construction industry, especially the government's war on poverty and post-rebellion urban reconstruction projects became central to community organizing for Black economic self-determination and political autonomy.

Dr. Goldberg also recently completed a chapter on Detroit's tenants' rights movement that will be published in "The Business of Black Power," University of Rochester Press, 2012. He has also completed two book reviews for the Journal of American Studies and the Journal of African American History, respectively.

In addition to these publications, Dr. Goldberg presented papers at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture's International Conference and the Working-Class Studies Association's annual conference in Chicago. Professor Goldberg is continuing work on the Detroit Civil Rights, Community Activism and Labor History Project, a multi-media website that will include digitized primary source materials, oral histories, student and faculty-produced research reports and lesson plans for middle school and high school teachers. He was also awarded a Schomburg Center for Research and Culture Residential Fellowship for 2012, where he will continue working on his forthcoming monograph on the history of African American firefighters.

"The courses that I teach examine the history and consequences of structural racism and inequality in the U.S., the very forces that have caused Black people to suffer so disproportionately during the COVID-19 Pandemic. My scholarship and teaching focus on Black resistance to oppression and exploitation, the history of Black social movements and Black labor and urban history. In each, I detail the history and policies that have so deeply entrenched racism within the U.S., but pay particular attention to the experiences and freedom struggles waged by Black working people, including those who disproportionately toil in underpaid and underappreciated 'essential' jobs as well as those currently fighting against White supremacy and state violence and for a better world."

African American studies, adult education and literacy, gender and third world studies, transformative learning

Daphne W. Ntiri, professor

Associate Professor, Daphne Ntiri's, recent publications include: 1) with Merry Stewart. Recruitment challenges: "Lessons learned from elderly African American living with diabetes in an urban literacy program," Educational Gerontology; and "Framing the literacy issue: Correcting Educational Misrepresentation in U.S. society," Western Journal of Black Studies. She currently has under review the following: "Transformative Learning and Adult Literacy Education: An Autoethnographic Perspective." Journal of Transformative Education and a chapter, "Literacy as a social divide: Roadblocks to a shared understanding of the White/Black gap and adult literacy implications." In Lifting While Climbing: Talmadge C. Guy and Lisa Merriweather Hunn (Eds.) University Press of America. She published a book review of K. Merseth's Inside Urban Charter Schools: Promising Practices and Strategies in Five High-performing Schools (Harvard University Press, Cambridge: MA) in the Western Journal of Black Studies.

In 2011, Dr. Ntiri presented her paper, "Transformative Learning and Adult Literacy Education: An Autoethnographic Perspective," at the University of Athens and the Pan-Hellenic Adult Education, Athens, Greece, May 27 -30, 2011. She also presented at the Adult Education Research Conference, Transformative Learning Intervention: Effect on functional health literacy and diabetes knowledge in older African Americans. Sacramento, California June 2-4, 2010. Later that year, she presented a new research focus entitled, Transformative Learning and Adult Literacy Education: an autoethnographic perspective. Clearwater Beach, Florida, October 26-28, 2010. In 2010, her attendance was marked at other local conferences namely 1) Literacy Convergence at MAACE in Lansing, March; 2) American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Literacy Roundtable discussion, November 1-6. 3) Humanities Center Fall Symposium, November 6, Representation of health and disease in the city, WSU. Transformative Learning Intervention: Effect on functional health literacy and diabetes knowledge in older African Americans. 5) Black History Month celebration. Transformative Learning Intervention: Effect on functional health literacy and diabetes knowledge in older African Americans.

Her scholarship includes principal investigator of a state-funded grant under WIA Title II for $100,000 for 2009/10 and a continuation grant for 2010/2011 of $90,000 to raise the level of academic schooling for those with less than high school and prepare them for transitioning into post-secondary and the world of work.

She served as undergraduate thesis advisor for women's studies student, Alanna Woolley (spring 2011) and graduate thesis advisor for two interdisciplinary masters students: Hayward Moon (spring 2011) on African American/African Immigrant Same Ancestry But Conflicting Cultures and Dorothy Dardy (winter 2009) on The Justification for Allowing Women Clergy. She served as a doctoral committee member for Lanissa Freeman, (spring 2011) College of Education on Effective Language Arts Teachers of Urban African American Middle School Students.

She is very active in the local community and recently served as a consultant to the Detroit Institute for the Arts, "Through African Eyes" (2010) first African exhibition presented by the museum over several decades. Dr. Ntiri is quoted on the Marcus Belgrave Kresge Eminent Artist monograph in the section titled, "Belgrave as Educator" at She prepared the winning grant application to Kresge for $50,000. She is also quoted in the Heidelberg annual review monograph (2011) for her service as a board member of this emerging artistic institution in Detroit.

20th – 21st-century African American literature, home in African American literature, African American women metaphor

Valerie Prince, associate professor

Professor Prince's recent work focuses on innovative approaches to engaging the community in scholarship. For instance, Waterbearer is a hybrid text that presents scholarly concerns and an embodied performance of lyrical prose. She collaborated with Beth Watkins, Professor of Communication Arts at Allegheny College, to stage an excerpt from the writing with student actors. The initial performance generated two encore performances, one on campus and another hosted by the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary by a group of concerned citizens interested in discussing water infrastructure in Pittsburgh.

Her second monograph, Daughter's Exchange (a vernacular performance), was released on May 22, 2018, with Alternative Book Press (under the pen name V. Efua Prince). This book marks her first attempt to codify the limits of academic writing as an African American woman. It is an experimental piece that blends scholarly writing with narrative and fiction to create a new form that rejects the pressure to "cross-dress" and to "pass" often imposed by traditional scholarship. While this manuscript was selected as a finalist in Vanderbilt University's Issues in Critical Investigation's 2011 Manuscript Competition, Daughter's Exchange purposely calls into question the normative value of academic prestige and rejects the intellectual capital such prestige represents in favor of the mundane experiences that better reflect the way the majority of African American women spend their lives.

Prince has written a chapter titled "Amita," which draws on the research in Daughter's Exchange. It was selected through a competitive process to appear in The Other Anthology Not White/Straight/Male/Healthy Enough: Being Other in the Academy edited by Kathryn Quinn-Sanchez and Michael Moreno. The Other Anthology will be published by Cambridge Scholars later this year.

Prince has also been invited to contribute to The Science of Story: The Brain Behind Creative Nonfiction edited by Nicole Walker and Sean Prentiss to be published by Bloomsbury Press. Her chapter, "On Metaphor," is in progress.

"In 1957, 80,000 Americans died from the Asian Flu and in 1968 the Mao Flu killed 100,000 US Citizens. These years were also marred by increased tensions in race relations. Most notably, Red Summer followed on the heels of the 1918 influenza pandemic dubbed the Spanish Flu, which killed 675,000 Americans. Just over a hundred years ago the Red Summer of 1919 marked an outbreak of mob violence across the country directed primarily at African Americans for nebulous reasons. A century later, the pent-up rage erupting in streets across the country during our current pandemic reflects many of the unresolved inequities woven into the fabric of our nation. The spark is the callous death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, but students in African American Culture: The Historic and Aesthetic Roots know that the issue is not local; it's endemic."

African American literature, African diaspora studies, Black feminist thought

Lisa Ze Winters, associate professor

Dr. Ze Winters has published one monograph and one online essay and has given three invited talks and three conference presentations. Ze Winters's monograph, The Mulatta Concubine: Terror, Intimacy, Freedom, and Desire in the Black Transatlantic was published in January 2016 by the University of Georgia Press for their Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900 series. Reflecting the interdisciplinarity of her scholarship, The Mulatta Concubine has garnered positive reviews in the following journals: The ALH Online Review Series, Early Modern Women, The American Historical Review, The Journal of Southern History, New West Indian Guide, Journal of American History, The Journal of American Culture, Women's Studies: An inter-disciplinary journal. In March 2018, UGA Press released The Mulatta Concubine in paperback. During the 2017-18 academic year, Ze Winters presented at the Annual Meetings for the American Historical Association (Jan. 2018) and the American Studies Association (November 2017).

In October 2016, Ze Winters was an invited panelist for a two-day symposium at the University of California, Los Angeles, "Black Feminist Vision: A Symposium on Possibility and Practice." In February 2017, Ze Winters was invited to publish her talk from this conference on Black Space: Crafting a Space for Black Women Writers, as the inaugural piece for the website's series on mothering and African American literature. In May 2016, Ze Winters gave an invited lecture at the University of Texas at Austin's John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies as part of their "Diaspora Talk" series. In January 2016, Ze Winters was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion, "Interracial Intimacy in Antebellum America: An Evening Conversation with Dolen-Perkins-Valdez, Trudier Harris, Sharony Green and Lisa Ze Winters." In July 2015, Ze Winters presented her research at the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR). Also in 2015, Ze Winters was awarded a 2015 WSU Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship.

"I look at Black motherhood and Black kinship, Black girlhood, communities of care and how Black people imagine and enact freedom. My work is centered on Black feminist theories, literature and practices. My research and theoretical frameworks facilitate an analysis of how and why COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black communities and how mutual aid and other responses are most effective when they center the most vulnerable members of our community."