USA Artists and Scholars

Deborah A. Fortune


Dr. Deborah A. Fortune is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Education and the Director of the Status Matters Project at North Carolina Central University and a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.  Prior to her current position, Dr. Fortune served as the Director of the National HIV & CSHE Project with the American Association for Health Education.  Dr. Fortune has over 25 years of experience with HIV prevention education, and her research interests include HIV prevention and sexual health behaviors among African American college women.  She received her PhD in Public Health Education, with a minor in Cultural Anthropology, from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Naimah Fuller

Naimah Fuller

NAIMAH FULLER is a recipient of the National Media Women’s Award for Best Producer Of A Documentary, which she received during her tenure at WABC-TV Eyewitness News in New York City.  Her career as a professional filmmaker began with an apprenticeship at Local 81, the Motion Picture Trade Union for Script Supervisors. Naimah began her pursuit into filmmaking at the Studio Museum in Harlem.  She also studied Television Production at The New School for Social Research. In 2000 Naimah moved from New York City to Atlanta, Georgia to launch her production company EarthLight Media. She was unaware that she was actually participating in a historical event, and that her first project would be about the mass migration of black people moving to the southern regions of the U.S. “HOME: The Great Migration of The 21st Century” is Naimah’s first feature length documentary movie. For further information on Naimah’s projects visit:


Joanne Hershfield 

Hershfield 650 (1)

Joanne Hershfield is Professor Emerita of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is the author of Imagining la chica moderna: Women, Nation, and Visual Culture in Mexico, 1917-1936 (2008); The Invention of Dolores del Río (2000); and Mexico’s Cinema: A Century of Film and Filmmakers, edited with David R. Maciel; and Mexican Cinema/Mexican Woman,1940-50. In addition to these publications, Prof. Hershfield is also a documentary film producer. Her nationally and internationally distributed films include Mama C: Urban Warrior in the African Bush (2012), the story of Charlotte O’Neal, a former member of the Kansas City Black Panther Party, a poet, musician, artist, and community activist, who has lived for over forty years as an “urban warrior in the African Bush” in the Tanzanian village of Imbaseni; These Are Our Children (2011), a one-hour documentary film that reveals how the devastating effects of poverty, HIV/AIDs, and violence on Kenyan children are successfully being reduced through local grassroots interventions; and Men Are Human, Women are Buffalo (2007), a film about violence against women in Thailand. A portion of her film on Benevolence Farm, a transitional housing program for formerly incarcerated women, will be screened at the conference.

Stefanie Jackson

Stephanie JacksonStefanie Jackson is an Associate Professor of Art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. Jackson received her BFA from Parsons School of Design in 1979 and her MFA from Cornell University in 1988. Her dramatic paintings speak of the hardships of African Americans through her distinctive voice.  The artist’s work references European traditions, African American music and literature, surrealism, social issues around race, and her life’s own narrative. Jackson has been the recipient of several individual grants from Georgia Council for the Arts and a Special Projects Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. In 2002 Jackson became a recipient of the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Award in recognition of her life’s dedication developing artistic goals, regardless of other personal or financial responsibilities.  (Photo credit: –

Geeta Kapur

NCSC Reception (1)

Attorney Geeta Kapur is a proud native of Nakuru, Kenya. After graduating from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill, she pursued a calling to study law at UNC-Chapel Hill From her work at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation to Assistant Public Defender to private practice, she has devoted her entire thirteen-year legal career to being a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer for racial minorities and the poor. Kapur was the first woman of color to earn the distinction of being a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Law – Juvenile Delinquency. She has argued several landmark constitutional law cases before the Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court. In addition, she served as one of the lead pro bono lawyers for the North Carolina NAACP Moral Monday protests and was awarded the 2014 North Carolina NAACP Humanitarian of the Year Award. Kapur took her passion for mass incarceration into the classroom and has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina and at Campbell Law School in Raleigh. She has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations. She was recently recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the top 100 criminal defense trial lawyers in North Carolina.

Baiyina W. Muhammad

Baiyina (cropped)

Baiyina W. Muhammad is an Associate Professor of History at North Carolina Central University.  She teaches courses on the Black experience, the History of women and Special topics courses that explore race, class, gender, and religion.

Her current research project is an examination of Black Muslim women who are former members of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and now identify as member of the Warith D. Mohammed (WDM) community.  Her analysis of Black Muslim women performs two roles; it places women within the center of a movement that we know little about to illuminate their role as community builders; but also to disrupt the current discourse that renders Black Muslim women invisible.

Mamyrah Prosper

ProsperMamyrah Prosper is a Postdoctoral Scholar at North Carolina State University at Raleigh in Interdisciplinary Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Global & Sociocultural Studies from Florida International University in Miami, an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern University, and a B.A. in Political Science and Africana Studies from Barnard College. Her research focuses on social movements in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Prosper has served as an organizer with land and housing rights organizations Take Back the Land and Haitian Women in Miami.  Prosper is developing a book project that explores the body politics that shape citizenship and national belonging in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean through an examination of their constitutions and special laws for the exclusion or inclusion of Afrodescendant people.

Pearl T. Robinson

Pearl Robinson

Pearl T. Robinson is Associate Professor of Political Science, International Relations and Africana Studies at Tufts University, and has taught at Makerere University and the University of Dar es Salaam.  A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a past President of the African Studies Association, she has published more than 40 articles and book chapters on African and African American politics, and is a co-author of two books—Stabilizing Nigeria: Sanctions, Incentives, and Support for Civil Society, and Transformation and Resiliency in Africa. She has served on the boards of Oxfam-America, TransAfrica, and the National Conference of Negro Women’s international division. Her current projects include an intellectual biography of 1950 Nobel Peace laureate Ralph Bunche, and Mama Kyota, a recently completed documentary film about a Sufi Muslim women’s movement in Niger. Robinson spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, where her work as a public health educator included home visits to a case load of 204 babies in a rural Hausa town. (Photo by Robert Potter)

Nikkole Salter 


Nikkole Salter is an award-winning actress and writer. She along with co-author and co-performer Danai Gurira, received an OBIE Award (2006), and the N Y Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Award for Best New American Play (2006) for “In the Continuum” (ITC). In addition to being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, ITC was named one of the best plays of 2005 by the New York Times, Newsday and New York Magazine. Salter’s deep sense of social responsibility led her to found and serve as Executive Director of The Continuum Project, Inc. a nonprofit organization that creates innovative artistic programming for community empowerment and enrichment. For the conference, she will be one of the Artists in Residence during the second week to feature her play, Torn Asunder, adapted from Heather Williams’s history, Help Me to Find My People, which is about the quest to reunify African American families after the Civil War. (Photo by Michael Tamarro)

Carlos Schröder 


Carlos Schröder is a poet and translator as well as a Professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria. Schröder holds a B.A. from the University of the District of Columbia an M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland. He has published a collection of poetry, has a play produced and has co-authored a number of books on pedagogy and Human Rights and coordinated workshops on the same topic with the Education Committee of the APDH (Permanent Assembly of Human Rights, Argentina) of which he has been a member since the mid ‘80s.
ni olvido ni perdón – juicio y castigo     (Photo by Bob Mondello)

Ula Yvette Taylor

 UlaTaylorWebUla Yvette Taylor is a Professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.  She is the author of The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Amy Jacques Garvey, co-author of Panther: A Pictorial History of the Black Panther Party and The Story Behind the Film and the forthcoming Making a New Woman: Women and the Nation of Islam, 1930-1975. Her articles on African American Women’s History have appeared in the Journal of African American History, Journal of Women’s History, Feminist Studies, and other academic journals.  In 2013 she received the Distinguished Professor Teaching Award for the University of California, Berkeley. She is the second African American woman in the history of the University to receive this honor.

Cristal Chanelle Truscott 

Cristal Chanelle Truscott. Photo by Akintoye Moses

Cristal Chanelle Truscott, Playwright, Director, Educator and Scholar, is founder and artistic director of Progress Theatre, a touring ensemble using theatre to encourage social consciousness, cross-community dialogue and cultural awareness. She is a recipient of multiple national grants, including the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, NEFA National Theatre Project grant and two National Performance Network Creation Fund grants. Truscott holds a BFA in Theatre from New York University (NYU), and a Master of Arts and Doctoral degrees in NYU’s Department of Performance Studies with a research focus on representations of Muslims in African American Theatre before 1950.  Her plays include: PEACHES, a rich, complicated picture of Black female experiences in contemporary America; ‘MEMBUH, a family saga that explores the power of remembrance and inherited legacies; and The Burnin’, a reimagining of two historic nightclub tragedies separated by decades. She as taught in university theatre programs nationally and internationally, which have included The Netherlands, South Africa, and in the U.S. at Spelman College and Prairie View A&M University in Texas, where she was Director of the Theatre Program and Interim Department Head of Music & Theatre. (Photo Akintoye Moses)

Miea A. Walker 


Miea A. Walker, a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Master of Social Work program, brings a wealth of knowledge regarding mass incarceration and the roadblocks that returning citizens face as they are released from prison. She works tirelessly in developing strategic partnerships with agencies to effectively bridge the gap in service delivery. Her passion as a social justice advocate is geared towards building authentic relationships between the church and those returning home by training church leaders on the power of mentorship. She is a training and reentry specialist with Jobs for Life, a non- profit organization that helps local churches address the impact of joblessness. Walker’s vision is to amplify the voices of those directly impacted by the criminal justice system by creating awareness and challenging the status quo. Miea is a board member of Benevolence Farm, a transitional living program for women leaving North Carolina prisons.

Belinda Deneen Wallace 


Belinda Deneen Wallace is a postcolonial scholar who specializes in transatlantic and African diasporic literature and culture. Her publications and research focus on the role(s) of queer women in literary representations of Caribbean revolutionary movements and moments. Wallace is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of New Mexico. She teaches courses in contemporary black women’s literature, 20th- century Caribbean literature, black diaspora poetry, and postcolonial studies. Wallace received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park. Wallace will help audience members connect the ways in which literature is used as a gateway to national belonging for queer Caribbean women.

Heather Andrea Williams 


Heather Williams trained at Harvard and then pursued a successful legal career that included time in the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York. She received her Ph.D. from Yale in 2002
and is currently a Presidential Term Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her book Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom has won numerous awards including the Lillian Smith Book Award 2006. Her 2012 book, Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery, is an innovative history of the individual, familial, and communal pain that resulted from forced separations of black families. This book is the basis for Nikkole Salter’s play, Torn Asunder. Williams’s text deals with family reunification after war, specifically finding African American family members who were separated during slavery. (Photo by Clay Williams)