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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department

Information for graduates of the Du Bois Department

If you were a graduate or undergraduate student in the UMass Amherst Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, please email Tricia Loveland  to update your alumni profile in our Graduate Alumni Directory. Also we have created a Facebook page for alumni and current students to network (see below). Stay connected to UMass and support the Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies.


M.A. Alumnae/i

Olivia Brown received her M.A. in May, 2014 from our terminal Master's Program. 


Ph.D. Alumnae/i


Vanessa Fabien, successfully defended her dissertation: "African American Environmental Ethics: Black Intellectual Perspectives, 1850-1965"

Donald Geesling, successfully defended his dissertation: "'Survival Kits on Wax': The Politics, Poetics, and Productions of Gil Scott-Heron, 1970-1978"



Allia Abdullah Matta, has accepted a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of English at LaGuardia College CUNY

James Carroll, successfully defended his dissertation: "Composing the African Atlantic: Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Poetics of African Diasporic Composition"

David Swiderski, has accepted a position as a visiting professor at Wesleyan University this fall!  He successfully defended his dissertation: "Approaches to Black Power: African American Grassroots Political Struggle in Cleveland, Ohio, 1960-1966"



Ernest Gibson, III, has accepted a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of English at Rhodes College

McKinley Melton has accepted a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of English at Gettysburg College

Jamal Watson, Senior Staff Writer, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.



Kabria Baumgartner, Assistant Professor of History, The College of Wooster

Jonathan Fenderson, Post-Doctoral Fellowship in African & African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis



Catherine Adams, Assistant Professor of English, Paine College

Jacqueline Jones, Assistant Professor of English, CUNY LaGuardia Community College

David Lucander, Assistant Professor of Pluralism and Diversity, SUNY Rockland Community College

Christopher Tinson, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Hampshire College


Daniel McClure, Assistant Professor of African American History, Grand Valley State University

Alesia McFadden, Instructor, Prince George's Community College

Anthony Ratcliff, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies, California State University


Thomas Edge, Instructor of Ethnic Studies, Bowling Green State University

Marieta Joyner, Associate Lecturer of Politics and History, Curry College

Zebulon Miletsky, Assistant Professor, Africana Studies, Stony Brook University


Michael Forbes,College of Wooster

Lloren Foster, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Western Kentucky University

Ousmane Power-Greene, Assistant Professor of History, Clark University

Rita Reynolds, Assistant Professor of History, Wagner College

Lindsey Swindall, Visiting Professor, Department of History, Sam Houston State University

W.S. Tkweme, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies, University of Louisville

Paul Udofia,Adjunct Instructor, Roxbury Community College.

Angelica Whitmal, Sophomore and Junior Class Dean, Mount Holyoke College



Sandra Duvivier, Assistant Professor of English, Bronx Community College and Adjunct at Queens College

David Goldberg, Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Wayne State University

Andrew Rosa, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Western Kentucky University


Tanya Mears, Assistant Professor of History and Politics at Worcester State College

Trimiko Melancon, Assistant Professor of English, Loyola University


Shawn Alexander, Assistant Professor of African & African American Studies and interim director of the Langston Hughes Center, University of Kansas

Brandon Hutchinson, Associate Professor of English, Southern Connecticut State University

Jennifer Jensen-Wallach, Assistant Professor of History, University of North Texas


Stephanie Evans,Chair, History Department and Associate Professor of African American and Africana Women's Studies at Clark Atlanta University

Carolyn Powell, Administrator, New York City Public School System

Francis Njubi Nesbitt, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University

Christopher Lehman, Professor of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies, St. Cloud State University


Dissertation Defenses of 2014

Vanessa Fabien successfully defended her dissertation, "African American Environmental Ethics: Black Intellectual Perspectives, 1850-1965". Professor James Smethurst chaired the committee.

Donald Geesling succesfully defended his dissertation, "'Survival Kits on Wax': The Politics, Poetics, and Productions of Gil Scott-Heron, 1970-2978". Professor Ernest Allen chaired the committee.

Dissertation Defenses of 2013

James Carroll successfully defended his dissertation,"Composing the African Atlantic: Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Poetics of African Diasporic Composition" on January 25, 2013.  Professor Steven Tracy chaired the committee.

David Swiderski successfully defended his dissertation, "Approaches to Black Power: African American Grassroots Political Struggle in Cleveland, Ohio, 1960-1966".  Professor John H. Bracey chaired the committee.

Dissertation Defenses of 2012

Allia Matta successfully defended her dissertation, "Uncovering the Covered Word and Image:
Framing a Blackwoman's Diasporan Stage-Space"
. Professor James Smethurst chaired the committee.

Ernest Gibson, III successfully defended his dissertation, "In Search of the Fraternal: Salvific Manhood and Male Intimacy in the Novels of James Baldwin" . Professor James Smethurst chaired the committee.

McKinley Melton successfully defended his dissertation, "Pen Stroking the Soul of a People: Spiritual Foundations of Black Diasporan Literature". Emeritus Professor, Michael Thelwell chaired the committee.

Jamal Watson successfully defended his dissertation, “Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press: Black Journalism and Its Advocacy Role from 1954-1991”. Professor John Bracey chaired the committee.

The Esther M. Terry Award: Distinguished Dissertations in Afro-American Studies

Ernest Gibson, Ph.D. 2012

Dissertation Title: "In Search of the Fraternal: Salvific Manhood and Male Intimacy in the Fiction of James Baldwin"

Chair: James Smethurst

James Carroll, Ph.D. 2013

Dissertation Title: "Composing the African Atlantic: Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Poetics of African Diasporic Composition"

Chair: Steven Tracy

Christopher Tinson, Ph.D. 2010

Dissertation Title: "The Fight for Freedom Must Be Fought on all Fronts: Liberator Magazine and Black Radicalism, 1960-1971"

Chair: Ernest Allen, Jr.

Kabria Baumgartner, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "Intellect, Liberty, Life: Women's Activism and the Politics of Black Education in Antebellum America"

Chair: Manisha Sinha

Jonathan Fenderson, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "'Journey Toward a Black Aesthetic': Hoyt Fuller, the Black Arts Movement and the Black Intellectual Community"

Chair: James Smethurst



Black Passports: Travel Memoirs as a Tool for Youth Empowerment, by Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans (Ph.D.2003)

(SUNY Press, June 2014)

A resource guide that uses African American memoir to address a variety of issues related to mentoring and curriculum development.

In this resource guide for fostering youth empowerment, Stephanie Y. Evans offers creative commentary on two hundred autobiographies that contain African American travel memoirs of places around the world. The narratives are by such well-known figures as Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Billie Holiday, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Muhammad Ali, Richard Pryor, Angela Davis, Condoleezza Rice, and President Barack Obama, as well as by many lesser-known travelers. The book addresses a variety of issues related to mentoring and curriculum development. It serves as a tool for “literary mentoring,” where students of all ages can gain knowledge and wisdom from texts in the same way achieved by one-on-one mentoring, and it also provides ideas for incorporating these memoirs into lessons on history, geography, vocabulary, and writing. Focusing on four main mentoring themes—life, school, work, and cultural exchange—Evans encourages readers to comb the texts for models of how to manage attitudes, behaviors, and choices in order to be successful in transnational settings.

“This book provides a new and refreshing way to think about Black youth and issues of empowerment. It will be a useful tool for teachers, parents, scholars, and community organizers, leaders, and activists.” — Valerie Grim, Indiana University Bloomington


Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement: A Fragile Coalition, 1967-1973, by Dr. Christopher P. Lehman (Ph.D. 2002)

(ABC-CLIO, June 2014)

Focusing on four major civil rights groups, Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement: A Fragile Coalition, 1967–1973 documents how factions within the movement and sabotage from the federal government led to the gradual splintering of the Civil Rights Movement. Well-known historian Christopher P. Lehman builds his case convincingly, utilizing his original research on the Movement's later years—a period typically overlooked and unexamined in the existing ...



Winning the War for Democracy: The March on Washington Movement, 1941-1946, by David Lucander (Ph.D. 2010)

(University of Illinois Press, September 2014)

Scholars regard the March on Washington Movement (MOWM) as a forerunner of the postwar Civil Rights movement. Led by the charismatic A. Philip Randolph, MOWM scored an early victory when it forced the Roosevelt administration to issue a landmark executive order that prohibited defense contractors from practicing racial discrimination.

Winning the War for Democracy: The March on Washington Movement, 1941-1946 recalls that triumph, but also looks beyond Randolph and the MOWM's national leadership to focus on the organization's evolution and actions at the local level. Using the personal papers of previously unheralded MOWM members such as T.D. McNeal, internal government documents from the Roosevelt administration, and other primary sources, David Lucander highlights how local affiliates fighting for a double victory against fascism and racism helped the national MOWM accrue the political capital it needed to effect change.

Lucander details the efforts of grassroots organizers to implement MOWM's program of empowering African Americans via meetings and marches at defense plants and government buildings and, in particular, focuses on the contributions of women activists like Layle Lane, E. Pauline Myers, and Anna Arnold Hedgeman. Throughout he shows how local activities often diverged from policies laid out at MOWM's national office, and how grassroots participants on both sides ignored the rivalry between Randolph and the leadership of the NAACP to align with one another on the ground.


For Jobs and Freedom: The Speechs and Writings of A. Philip Randolph, by David Lucander (edited with Andrew E. Kersten)

(University of Massachusetts Press, January 2015)

As the head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a tireless advocate for civil rights, A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) served as a bridge between African Americans and the labor movement. During a public career that spanned more than five decades, he was a leading voice in the struggle for black freedom and social justice, and his powerful words inspired others to join him. This volume documents Randolph's life and work through his own writings. The editors have combed through the files of libraries, manuscript collections, and newspapers, selecting more than seventy published and unpublished pieces that shed light on Randolph's most significant activities. The book is organized thematically around his major interests--dismantling workplace inequality, expanding civil rights, confronting racial segregation, and building international coalitions. The editors provide a detailed biographical essay that helps to situate the speeches and writings collected in the book. In the absence of an autobiography, this volume offers the best available presentation of Randolph's ideas and arguments in his own words.


Also, see Dr. Lucander's forthcoming chapter in Reframing Randolph: Labor, Black Freedom, and the Legacies of A. Philip Randolph, Edited by Andrew Kersten and Clarence Lang (New York University Press, January 2015).

Unbought and Unbossed: Transgressive Black Women, Sexuality, and Representation, by Trimiko Melancon (Ph.D. 2005)

(Temple University Press, September 2014)

Unbought and Unbossed critically examines the ways black women writers in the 1970s and early 1980s deploy black female characters that transgress racial, gender, and especially sexual boundaries. Trimiko Melancon analyzes literary and cultural texts, including Toni Morrison's Sula and Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place, in the socio-cultural and historical moments of their production. She shows how representations of black women in the American literary and cultural imagination diverge from stereotypes and constructions of "whiteness," as well as constructions of female identity imposed by black nationalism. Drawing from black feminist and critical race theories, historical discourses on gender and sexuality, and literary criticism, Melancon explores the variety and complexity of black female identity. She illuminates how authors including Ann Allen Shockley, Alice Walker, and Gayl Jones engage issues of desire, intimacy, and independence to shed light on a more complex black identity, one ungoverned by rigid politics over-determined by race, gender and sexuality.



Black Female Sexualities, by Trimiko Melancon (edited with Joanne M. Braxton; Foreword by Melissa Harris-Perry)

(Rutgers University Press, January 2015)

Western culture has long regarded black female sexuality with a strange mix of fascination and condemnation, associating it with everything from desirability, hypersexuality, and liberation to vulgarity, recklessness, and disease. Yet even as their bodies and sexualities have been the subject of countless public discourses, black women’s voices have been largely marginalized in these discussions. In this groundbreaking collection, feminist scholars from across the academy come together to correct this omission—illuminating black female sexual desires marked by agency and empowerment, as well as pleasure and pain, to reveal the ways black women regulate their sexual lives.  The twelve original essays in Black Female Sexualities reveal the diverse ways black women perceive, experience, and represent sexuality. The contributors highlight the range of tactics that black women use to express their sexual desires and identities. Yet they do not shy away from exploring the complex ways in which black women negotiate the more traumatic aspects of sexuality and grapple with the legacy of negative stereotypes. 
Black Female Sexualities takes not only an interdisciplinary approach—drawing from critical race theory, sociology, and performance studies—but also an intergenerational one, in conversation with the foremothers of black feminist studies. In addition, it explores a diverse archive of representations, covering everything from blues to hip-hop, from Crash to Precious, from Sister Souljah to Edwidge Danticat. Revealing that black female sexuality is anything but a black-and-white issue, this collection demonstrates how to appreciate a whole spectrum of subjectivities, experiences, and desires.






Against Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle against the Colonization Movement
by Ousmane K. Power-Greene (Ph.D. 2007)
(NYU Press, September 2014)

Against Wind and Tide tells the story of African American’s battle against the American Colonization Society (ACS), founded in 1816 with the intention to return free blacks to its colony Liberia. Although ACS members considered free black colonization in Africa a benevolent enterprise, most black leaders rejected the ACS, fearing that the organization sought forced removal. As Ousmane K. Power-Greene’s story shows, these African American anticolonizationists did not believe Liberia would ever be a true “black American homeland.”   In this study of anticolonization agitation, Power-Greene draws on newspapers, meeting minutes, and letters to explore the concerted effort on the part of nineteenth century black activists, community leaders, and spokespersons to challenge the American Colonization Society’s attempt to make colonization of free blacks federal policy. The ACS insisted the plan embodied empowerment. The United States, they argued, would never accept free blacks as citizens, and the only solution to the status of free blacks was to create an autonomous nation that would fundamentally reject racism at its core. But the activists and reformers on the opposite side believed that the colonization movement was itself deeply racist and in fact one of the greatest obstacles for African Americans to gain citizenship in the United States.   Power-Greene synthesizes debates about colonization and emigration, situating this complex and enduring issue into an ever broader conversation about nation building and identity formation in the Atlantic world.


The Path to the Greater, Freer, Truer World: Southern Civil Rights and Anticolonialism, 1937-1955, by Dr. Lindsey Swindall (Ph.D. 2007)

The Southern Negro Youth Congress and the Council on African Affairs were two organizations created as part of the early civil rights efforts to address race and labor issues during the Great Depression. They fought within a leftist, Pan-African framework against disenfranchisement, segregation, labor exploitation, and colonialism.  By situating the development of the SNYC and the Council on African Affairs within the scope of the long civil rights movement, Lindsey Swindall reveals how these groups conceptualized the U.S. South as being central to their vision of a global African diaspora. Both organizations illustrate well the progressive collaborations that maintained an international awareness during World War II. Cleavages from anti-radical repression in the postwar years are also evident in the dismantling of these groups when they became casualties of the early Cold War.





See also


Radwa Ashour, the Egyptian writer and scholar born in Cairo, Egypt in 1946, is the department's first Ph.D. graduate. She earned her degree in African American Literature at the University of Massachusetts in 1975 (working jointly in the English & the Du Bois Department). In 1973, a joyfully-cultivated friendship with Shirley Graham Du Bois, world traveler, litterateur, and widow of W.E.B., led Ashour to UMass. Madame Du Bois, as the école-educated Ashour still calls her late liaison to Amherst, was living in Cairo at the time, and pointed the young Egyptian toward the then-infant Afro-American Studies department here. "She said, 'the best department in the United States is at UMass,' says Ashour, remembering how Du Bois returned from a visit to Massachusetts with an application and a scholarship for her protegé. Ashour has published 7 novels, an autobiographical work, 2 collections of short stories and 5 criticism books. Part I of her Granada Trilogy won the Cairo International Book Fair “1994 Book of the Year Award”; the Trilogy won the First Prize of the First Arab Woman Book Fair (Cairo, Nov. 1995). She has co-edited a major 4-volume work on Arab women writers (2004); The English translation: Arab Women Writings: A Critical Reference Guide: 1873-1999 (AUC Press 2008). In 2007 Ashour was awarded the Constantine Cavafy Prize for Literature. She is currently professor of English and Comparative Literature, Ain Shams University, Cairo.

Undergraduate Alumnae/i

From our first class who as sophomores served on the committee that launched the Du Bois Department:

Carlton Brown from the class of 1971 who serves today as the President of Clark-Atlanta University

Robin M. Chandler who is today a tenured professor at Northeastern University in Boston

Other Alums in the Spotlight:

Akosua Boateng, "Bringing Change to Ghana: Alumna Shannan Magee opens a school for girls," founder of the The Youth Institute of Science & Technology, an international school based in Agogo, Ghana; class of '96, '97G.

Sonia Gloss, program assistant for SCOPE, Strengthening Community Partnership and Empowerment. which was established in 1999 to address HIV and AIDS and other health challenges in Kenya; class of 2009.


Make a Gift

The W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies is a vibrant center of intellectual productivity and interdisciplinary teaching and research. But because of the statewide and nationwide budget crisis, we are threatened with severe losses in state funding. Please help us preserve our capacity to continue providing our students with excellent education. Your contributions will help us offer scholarships and social events, and host visits by internationally renowned scholars. If you have made contributions to the Department in the past, thank you again. For those who have not, please contribute now to help the Du Bois Department continue its tradition of excellence during this period of economic crisis. Click to visit the Make a Gift page