Tag Archive for Lois Brown

AFAM Program Welcomes Its First Core Faculty

This fall, the African American Studies Program hired its first core faculty members. They include Kali Nicole Gross, professor of African American studies, and Khalil Anthony Johnson Jr., assistant professor of African American studies.

Wesleyan opened the Afro American Institute in 1969 and offered minimal courses on African American history. In 1983, students could major in African American studies, but it wasn’t until 2008 that the university created the African American Studies Program. Now the program is poised to make institutional history by African American Studies gaining departmental status, which would put Wesleyan on par with other top-tier universities and colleges.

“Having faculty members hired solely into the AFAM Program represents a real growth and commitment to the long-term stability of the program,” said Lois Brown, professor and chair of the African American Studies Program. “Kali Gross and Khalil Johnson also bring remarkable research strengths to the university.”

“Freedom Summer” Commemoration to Feature Concert, Speakers

BxGx8blCMAAKaUmThe summer of 1964 saw thousands of young people — many from colleges and universities in the North – mobilize to register voters, educate citizens, and support other civil rights work in the Jim Crow South. What came to be known as “Freedom Summer” is credited with ending the isolation of states where racial repression and discrimination was largely ignored by news media and politicians, despite the  the landmark Civil Rights Act passed that July.

Wesleyan students joined the struggle. “Five Wesmen to Fight Voter Discrimination in Mississippi,” said a front-page headline in the Argus. That May, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had given the baccalaureate sermon, and other civil rights leaders had visited campus.

A commemoration Sept. 12 and 13 celebrated not only Wesleyan’s participation, but the unique moment Freedom Summer occupies in American history. (See photos here.)

“Wesleyan’s tradition of engagement and activism goes back over half a century,” said Rob Rosenthal, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology and director of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. “This will be a tremendously exciting chance for students and the community to hear from Wesleyan alums who traveled South to participate in this extremely important period of history, and from activists who were at the forefront of the struggle to gain voting rights for all Americans.”Argus May 12 1964 Freedom Summer (1)

Of particular interest to Rosenthal and to Lois Brown, director of the Center for African American Studies, is the connection between organizers of the 1960s and today’s student activists. Brown is also chair and professor of African American studies, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

In a recent op-ed for the Huffington Post, Rosenthal and Brown said: “… The task of our activists is not to tell their young successors how to carry on their struggle, but to convey the joy that deliberate engagement, unapologetic persistence, and luminous integrity brings.”  

Historian Brown to Speak at Medford’s Royall House

Lois Brown

Lois Brown

Lois Brown, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of African American Studies and English, will be the featured speaker at the annual “Giving Voice” program to benefit the Royall House and Slave Quarters from 3 to 5 p.m. June 8 on the museum grounds at 15 George St. in Medford, Mass.

The title of Brown’s talk — “Marked with the furrows of time: Belinda, the Royalls and Accounts of Freedom” — refers to the 18th century petition of Belinda, a woman enslaved for more than 50 years by the Royall family, for financial support in post-Revolutionary Massachusetts.

“As her commentary in The Abolitionists clearly demonstrated, Lois Brown has the ability to bring historical figures to life,” says Peter Gittleman, co-president of the Board of the Royall House and Slave Quarters. “Her work resonates strongly with our efforts at the Royall House and Slave Quarters to interpret northern colonial slavery and its immediate aftermath. Our organization’s mission is to explore the meanings of freedom and independence, and Belinda’s story exemplifies the complexity of those concepts for formerly enslaved individuals. ”

Brown’s scholarship and research focus on African American and New England literary history and culture. In addition to scholarly essays on memory, race, and antislavery literature and practice, she is the author of Pauline Hopkins: Black Daughter of the Revolution and the Encyclopedia of the Harlem Literary Renaissance.

She has held several prestigious research fellowships, has curated exhibitions at Boston’s Museum of African American History and at the Boston Public Library, and recently served as a scholarly contributor to the American Experience documentary series, The Abolitionists, on PBS.

“Giving Voice” is one of the many public programs sponsored each year by the Royall House and Slave Quarters.  In addition to Brown’s talk, the afternoon will also feature music, house tours, museum exhibits and refreshments.

Tickets are $35 for members and will be available at the door. For more information see this link.

Brown Panelist at National Youth Summit on Abolition

Lois Brown

Lois Brown

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History hosted the National Youth Summit on Abolition on Feb. 11.

Lois Brown, the Class of 1958 Distinguished Professor of African American Studies and English, joined a team of experts, scholars and activists in a moderated panel discussion to reflect upon the abolition movement of the 19th century and explore its legacy on modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

The event was webcast live to more than 2,000 students and adults from 31 states and to schools in Kenya, Pakistan and the Republic of Suriname in South America.

The program featured excerpts from the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary The Abolitionists, which weaves together the stories of five of the abolition movement’s leading figures: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown. Lois Brown was on the film’s advisory board.

Brown’s fellow panelists included Kenneth Morris, founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation and the great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington; Luis CdeBaca, ambassador-at-large in the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; and Ana Alarcon, a high school student in Hartford, Conn., who is president of the organization Student Abolitionists Stopping Slavery. Allison Stewart, an award-winning journalist, moderated the event.

The National Youth Summit on Abolition will be broadcast live to students and adults all over the world.

The National Youth Summit on Abolition will be broadcast live on Feb. 11.

Brown, whose teaching and research focuses on 19th Century African American and American literature, history, and culture, as well as and race and memory in colonial and antebellum America, is the author of Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins: Black Daughter of the Revolution and The Harlem Literary Renaissance: An Encyclopedia. She edited the first modern edition of Memoir of James Jackson, The Attentive and Obedient Scholar, the pioneering 1835 biography by Bostonian Susan Paul that is the earliest known biography of a free child of color and the first biography published by an African American woman.

Brown has held research fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. A 2000 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Award recipient, she has been affiliated with the Harvard University Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research where she also has been a visiting fellow. Brown has lectured widely and published articles on African American literature, women’s writing, early American education, and African American history and religion. The Museum of African American History in Boston recognized her work with one of its first African American History Awards and lauded her for her “extraordinary commitment to American history” and her “obvious commitment to education and equality.” Her passion for African American history has led to successful curatorial experiences that have included exhibitions at the Museum of Afro-American History in Boston and at the Boston Public Library. Since 2003, she has curated and co-curated five exhibitions including two major exhibitions honoring William Lloyd Garrison: Words of Thunder: William Lloyd Garrison and The Ambassadors of Abolition and of Words of Thunder: The Life and Times of William Lloyd Garrison.


Trustees Award Brown, Leidy with Tenure

The Wesleyan Board of Trustees recently awarded tenure to two faculty members. They are:

Lois Brown, professor of African American studies, professor of English, came to Wesleyan last fall from Mount Holyoke College where she was Elizabeth Small Professor of English. At Mount Holyoke, where she began teaching in 1998, she was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2004, and was director of the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts for five years. A literary historian, she focuses on culture, identity, race and gender in 18th and 19th century African American writing. She is author of three books and numerous articles, essays, reviews, exhibition guides, and has curated several exhibitions. She earned her B.A. from Duke University and her Ph.D. from Boston College.

Constance Leidy, associate professor of mathematics, has taught at Wesleyan since 2007. She specializes in knot theory, which is a field of low dimensional topology. She has been awarded two NSF grants, organized an NSF funded conference on “knot concordance and homology cobordism” held at Wesleyan in 2010, and has organized three other conferences. She is co-author of nine articles, has delivered 10 invited conference addresses, given 20 colloquia and seminar talks, and 15 research talks. Before coming to Wesleyan she was the Rademacher Instructor at the University of Pennsylvania. Her bachelor’s degree is from Tulane University and her Ph.D. is from Rice University.