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Updated: 4 days ago

Last year taught me to embrace a practice of writing in far briefer, but more consistent spurts. It taught me to claim time very early in the morning for my runs and to embrace writing at night. Sometimes the order of these activities switches, but the passion behind these intentions do not.

Last year was my most productive professionally, yet personally challenging.

This year started with some devastating events. I share this because the extroverted introvert in me decided to make this blog a place that is both real and reflective. Mine.

Over this year I set new goals to enhance my writing and running....looking forward to sharing the lessons learned over the course of the year.

The following works were completed in 2023. They all will be released this month.

Rhoden and I, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Archives and Special Collections,

January 2020. Image Credit: Brittany Webb

“’I like to say I’m from Birmingham’: John Rhoden’s Memory(s) of Home,” in Determined to Be: Sculptures of John Rhoden, edited by Brittany Webb (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2024)  [click here to order book]

John Rhoden grew up during the Jim Crow era in Birmingham. This article focuses on his early memories of home. He self-narrates a story that growing up playing with the red clay of the industrial city forged for him a future of art and artistry. Art helped him transcend the realities of his everyday life. 

This project is the culmination of research that supported an exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The show is called "Determined to Be: The Sculptures of John Rhoden" and it remains open at PAFA until April 7th.

On Saturday, February 10th PAFA will host a Symposium and Catalogue Launch.

Above: Title page(s) of article about the sculpture John Rhoden's relationship with his hometown, Birmingham. Image Credit: Sylvea Hollis

Below: The catalogue for PAFA's exhibition on Rhoden. Image Credit: Sylvea Hollis

“The Rhetoric of Freedom: Remembering Slavery during the Semi-quincentennial of the American Revolution,” The Public Historian 46, No. 1, pp. 7–29 (February 2024) [click here. Special thanks to The Public Historian for providing readers with FREE access to article.]

This project is the culmination of a collaboration with the National Park Service and National Council of Public History. We brought academics and public historians together to ask the question of how to prepare for the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution while also discussing the preservation of slavery after the war. We focused on the question of how to do the work with members of the public who come to historic sites with their own range of interests. This work would not have been possible, without conversations with Yveline Alexis, Ista Clark, Maya Davis, and Marcus Nevius. I wrote about this opportunity back in Spring 2023.

"The role of Sullivan’s Island in slave history led author Toni Morrison to visit a decade ago. Above, Morrison rests on the bench placed by the Bench by Road Project at Fort Moultrie -- a bench dedicated to enslaved Africans." File/Staff-Tyrone Walker, The Post-Courier

“There is no place where you or I can go, to think or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves; nothing that reminds us of the ones who made the journey and of those who did not make it. There is no suitable memorial or plaque or wreath or wall or park or skyscraper lobby. There is no three-hundred-foot tower. There’s no small bench by the road. There is not even a tree scored with an initial that I can visit or you can visit in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence, better still, on the banks of the Mississippi." --Toni Morrison, “Slavebody and the Blackbody,” in The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

Second Author with Tondra Loder-Jackson, “Fantasizing Education for Liberation in Jim Crow Birmingham: Angela Davis’s Formative Years and Intertwined Legacy with Pioneer Educator and Prison Abolitionist Carrie A. Tuggle,” in #BlackEducatorsMatter: The Experiences of Black Teachers in an Anti-Black World, edited by Dr. Darrius Stanley (Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2024) [click here to order book]

This article foregrounds two biographies and examines strategies employed by African American women during the Jim Crow period to create a range of personal freedoms. They lived during different time periods, but both had formative experiences in Birmingham (my hometown).


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