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With noted historian Dr. John Hope Franklin (1915-2009) as its Founding Chairman beginning in 2005, the museum created a scholarly advisory committee to help shape its intellectual agenda, exhibition content and programming.
John Hope Franklin served as Founding Chairman of the NMAAHC Scholarly Advisory Committee until his death in March 2009.
The James B. Duke Professor of History, Emeritus, at Duke University and former Professor of Legal History at Duke University Law School. Franklin also taught at Fisk University in Tennessee, St. Augustine's College in North Carolina, North Carolina College, Howard University, Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago. Franklin is best known for his study "From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans," now in its eighth edition. Some of his other notable publications are "The Militant South, 1800-1860" (1956); "Reconstruction After the Civil War" (1962); "The emancipation Proclamation" (1963); "Racial Equality in America" (1976); "Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938-1988" (1990); and "The Color Line: Legacy for the 21st Century" (1993). He also served as historical consultant on Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated film "Amistad." Franklin has served on a variety of commissions and boards, including the President's Initiative on Race, the National Council of the Humanities, the National Parks System Advisory Board and the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He received his bachelor's degree from Fisk University in Tennessee and his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University.
Deborah L. Mack is an Independent Museum and academic consultant and Curator. Mack has consulted for numerous cultural organizations and has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University and Lake Forest College. Mack has worked for the Field Museum of Natural History, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and the American Association of Museums. Her areas of scholarly expertise include museum and cultural representation and material culture; historical and cultural tourism in Africa; the African diaspora in the Americas; law and society; cultural anthropology and ethnography (theory); and cultures and history, including Sahelian Africa. Mack serves as a U.S. delegate to AFRICOM, the International Council of African Museums. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and her master's and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University.
Drew S. Days is the Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law at Yale University Law School. Days, who serves Of Counsel to the Washington, D.C., firm of Morrison & Foerster LLP, is a former Solicitor General of the United States (1993 - 1996) and former Assistant attorney General for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice. He initially practiced law in Chicago and was a volunteer attorney for the Illinois Civil Liberties Union. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and joined the NAACP Legal Defense and Education fund as First Assistant Counsel upon his return to the United States. Prior to his appointment at Yale, Days taught at Temple University and the University of Ghana. He joined Yale University Law School in 1981 and, in 1989 became the founding Director of the school's Orvill H. Schell Jr. Center for International Human Rights Law. Days received his bachelor's degree from Hamilton College in New York and his bachelor of laws degree from Yale University Law School.
The John Spencer Bassett Professor at Duke University. Powell's research and teaching interests lie in American art, African-American art, and theories of race and representation in the African diaspora. His books include "Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson" and "Black art: A Cultural History." Powell received his doctoral degree from Yale University.
Professor of African-American, U.S. Social and U.S. religious History at the University of Maryland. Moss is the author of "The American Negro Academy: Voice of the Talented Tenth" and co-author, with John Hope Franklin, of the sixth, seventh and eighth editions of "From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African-Americans." He is co-editor of "The Facts of Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of John Hope Franklin," which was chosen by the Gustav Myers foundation as An Outstanding Book on the Subject of Human Rights in the United States. Moss is currently writing a multi-volume study of the relationship between philanthropic agencies and schools for African-Americans. He is a member of the editorial boards of the journals Washington History and Studies in Anglican and Episcopal History. A Trustee and first Vice President of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, Moss received his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago.
A recipient of numerous awards and honors, Dr. Clement A. Price was named CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Professor of the Year for New Jersey in 1999, and was recently named Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers, one of the highest faculty honors at the university. The latter honor noted Price's dedication "to the ideas of community, and his sustained impact on the development of cultural, civic, educational and academic institutions in the City of Newark and the State of New Jersey" and his "unwavering commitment to the communities in which he lives, and his concern for social justice."
Price, who teaches history, has played leadership roles with many organizations in New Jersey, including the New Jersey Historical Commission, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Fund for New Jersey, the Newark public schools, the Newark Black Film Festival, and the Governor's Commission on Ellis Island. Price's affection for Newark comes from his deep appreciation of the city's historical significance and constant change. He is the founder and director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience, which conducts research and presents innovative public programs on a range of topics.
Bernice Johnson Reagon - scholar, composer, singer, activist - has been the 2002-04 Cosby Chair Professor of Fine Arts at Spelman College in Atlanta GA. She is also Professor Emeritus of History at American University and Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington DC. Reagon is also the recipient of the 2003 Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities given by the Heinz Family Foundation.
As a musician, Reagon for over 30 years has led and performed with Sweet Honey In The Rock, internationally renowned a cappella ensemble she founded in 1973. She has produced most of the group's recordings including the Grammy nominated Still The Same Me (Rounder Records release for younger audiences, 2001). Her work as a scholar and composer is reflected in publications and productions on African American culture and history, including: a collection of essays entitled If You Don't Go, Don't Hinder Me: The African American Sacred Song Tradition (University of Nebraska Press, 2001); We'll Understand It Better By And By: Pioneering African American Gospel Composers (Smithsonian Press, 1992); and We Who Believe In Freedom: Sweet Honey In The Rock: Still on the Journey, (Anchor Books, 1993).
Reagon has served as music consultant, composer and performer for several radio, film and video projects, including the path-breaking Peabody Award-winning 1994 radio series Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions (Produced by National Public Radio and the Smithsonian Institution); composer, compiler and performer in the creation of the sound scores for WGBH's Peabody Award winning Africans in America film series for PBS (1998); and Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore, (The Documentary Institute at the University of Florida and WUFT-TV, 2001). Reagon is featured in The Singing Warrior (Veterans of Hope Video Series, Iliff School of Theology).
Michael Blakey is currently National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology and Professor of American Studies at the College of William and Mary. He is founding Director of the Institute for Historical Biology at that university. From 1992-2004 Dr. Blakey was Scientific Director of the New York African Burial Ground Project involving interdisciplinary study of 419 skeletons of Africans enslaved in 18th century New York City. Professor Blakey held an Adjunct Professorship in Anatomy in the College of Medicine at Howard University where he had for many years been Professor of Anthropology and Curator of the W. Montague Cobb Human Skeletal Collection. He has taught at Spelman College, the Universita di Roma - La Sapienza, Columbia University, and Brown University. He served as a Research Associate in Physical Anthropology in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution for 9 years. He is a past President of the Association of Black Anthropologists, member of the Executive Council of the Society for Medical Anthropology, United States' Representative to the Council of the 4th World Archaeological Congress in Cape Town, and Permanent Representative to Washington for the African Bureau of Education Sciences, Organization of African States.
He is currently a member of the Scholarly Advisory Committee for the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the Mall in Washington. Blakey earned his B.A. at Howard University and the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from York College, CUNY in 1995. His numerous publications concern paleopathology, historical demography, race and racism, biocultural anthropology and the history and philosophy of science. His work is found in leading journals that include Annual Review of Anthropology, American Anthropologist, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Historical Archaeology, Current Anthropology, and Critique of Anthropology.
Dr. Alvia J. Wardlaw is the curator of the exhibit, Something All Our Own: The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art. Ms. Wardlaw grew up in the historic neighborhood of Third Ward in Houston, Texas. After graduating from Jack Yates High School she attended Wellesley College where she earned a B.A. in art history in 1969. A string of exhibitions and publications followed for venues throughout the country: including African Tribal Art, the Menu Foundation, 1973; Roy DeCarava: Photographs, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1975; Ceremonies and Visions: The Art of John Biggers, Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin, Texas, 1980; Homecoming. African American Family History in Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, 1982; John Biggers: Bridges, California Museum of African American Life and Culture, Los Angeles, California, 1986. Ms. Wardlaw was awarded the M.A. in art history from The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Institute of Fine Arts in 1986.
It was 1989 when Ms. Wardlaw was recognized as one of the leading African-American art historians in the country when she was co-curator with Barry Gaither and Dr. Regena Perry of the watershed exhibition Black Art Ancestral Legacy: The African Impulse in African American Art for the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas. The catalogue for this exhibition has become widely used in the art curriculums of colleges and universities in the United States. In 1995 Ms. Wardlaw organized The Art of John Biggers: View from the Upper Room for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which traveled nationally to seven venues. In 1996 Wardlaw became the first African American to receive the Ph.D. in art history from the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation focused on the art of John Biggers.
The list of honors and awards bestowed on Dr. Wardlaw include: Fulbright Fellow, West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Senegal, 1984; Best Exhibition of 1990 for Black Art Ancestral Legacy, D Magazine, Dallas, Texas; the Texas Women's Hall of Fame, 1994; a Fulbright Award for study in Tanzania, East Africa, July 1997. Senior Fellow, American Leadership Forum, 2001.
Dr. Wardlaw is Associate Professor of Art History at Texas Southern University and Director/Curator of the University Museum at Texas Southern University. She serves as Curator of Contemporary and Modern Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and is currently organizing an exhibition of the art of Kermit Oliver as well as an exhibition surveying the quilting tradition of African American women in Gees Bend, Alabama.
Deborah Willis has pursued a dual professional career. First an art photographer, she later became a historian of African American photography and a curator of exhibits relating to African American culture. She is the 1996 recipient of the Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation Prize, and in 2000 was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow. Willis is the author of numerous books, including Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present, published in 2000. In 1996, she co-edited Visual Journal: Photography in Harlem and DC in the Thirties and Forties and Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography. With Carla Williams, she co-authored The Black Female Body: A Photographic History in 2001. Her latest publication is titled Family History Memory: Recording African American Life. Over the course of her career, she has been involved in various exhibits, including Tied to Memory at the Kemper Museum of Art in Kansas City; The Comforts of Home at the Hand Workshop Art Center in Richmond, VA; Re/Righting History: Counter-narratives by Contemporary African-American Artists at the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY; Memorable Histories and Historic Memories at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art; and Cultural Baggage at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Deborah Willis is currently Professor of Photography and Imaging and Africana Studies at New York University.
Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole currently serves as the 14th president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her career as a college and university professor and administrator spans over three decades. Her accomplishments in the field of education, and her record of community service paved the way for her appointment as the first African American woman to serve as president of Spelman College since it's founding in 1881. In May 2004 she became the first African American to serve as Chair Board of United Way of America. Dr. Cole is President emerita of Spelman College and professor emerita of Emory University from which she retired as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies and African Studies.
Dr. Cole entered Fisk University at the age of 15 and completed her undergraduate degree at Oberlin College. She obtained her master's degree and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Northwestern University. Dr. Cole's teaching and research is in the areas of cultural anthropology, African and women throughout the world. Dr. Cole serves on the board of the Carter Center, the National Visionary Leadership Project, and the United Way of Greater Greensboro. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Merck & Co., Inc., and the Atlanta Falcons. Dr. Cole consults on diversity matters with Citigroup. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, The Links, Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women. In addition, she is the recipient of honorary degrees from 50 colleges and universities and has been honored with numerous other awards for outstanding service and educational accomplishments.
Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, is the author of a grand three-volume work that is both a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a history of the Civil Rights Movement under his leadership. The product of nearly 25 years of intensive archival research and the collection of oral history, the trilogy has been hailed as one of the greatest achievements in the field of American biography. Branch has just published the third and final volume, "At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68" (2006), which chronicles the last three years of King's life, from the march on Montgomery to his assassination in Memphis. Branch received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Christopher Award, and the "Los Angeles Times" Book Award for the first volume in the trilogy, "Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963" (1988). The book was also named a "Best Book of the Year" by the "New York Times" and "Boston Globe." A second volume, "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965" (1997), appeared nearly ten years later.
Earlier in his career, Branch worked as a staff writer for "Washington Monthly," "Harper's," and "Esquire." His previous nonfiction books include "Blowing the Whistle: Dissent in the Public Interest" (1972, edited with Charles Peters), and "Labyrinth: The Pursuit of the Letelier Assassins (1982, with Eugene Propper). Branch also co-wrote the autobiography of NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, "Second Wind: The Memoirs of an Opinionated Man" (1979), and produced a novel "The Empire Blues" (1981). In 1991, Branch was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship for his contributions to American history.