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Education Notes: Black History Month Experts

February marks the celebration of Black History Month, a remembrance of important people and events in African American history. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin examine African American history and contemporary issues of race and equality from a variety of perspectives.

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February marks the celebration of Black History Month, a remembrance of important people and events in African American history. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin examine African American history and contemporary issues of race and equality from a variety of perspectives.

African American Business and Entrepreneurship

John Butler
Professor, McCombs School of Business
512 471-4788

Butler is a leading expert on African American and minority entrepreneurship. He directs the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship as well as the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin. Butler earned the Booker T. Washington Legacy Award in 2006 from The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change for his research on the importance of business enterprise for wealth and job creation.

Tiffany Gill
Assistant Professor, Department of History

Gill examines the role of African American beauticians and beauty salons in 20th century social, political and economic movements. To learn more, read the feature “Beauty and the Business.”

Juliet Walker
Professor, Department of History

Walker researches African American business, intellectual and women’s history and is the author of “The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship” and “Free Frank: A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier.” She is working on a book manuscript, “Oprah Winfrey: An American Entrepreneur,” for Harvard Business School Press. To learn more about her research, read the feature “Black Business is Her Business.”

Jerome Williams
Professor, College of Communication

Williams is an expert on multicultural advertising and marketing. He has testified in a number of court cases as an expert witness on consumer response to advertising strategies and consumer racial profiling. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book on diversity in advertising. To learn more, read the feature “The Color of Money.”

African American Literature

Jennifer Wilks
Assistant Professor, Department of English

Wilks teaches courses on African American literature since the Harlem Renaissance and researchers gender issues in modern African American literature. She is working on a book, “Atypical Women: Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism.”

A. Van Jordan
Assistant Professor, Department of English

Van Jordan is a poet and author of “M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A,” a book of poems inspired by the life of MacNolia Cox, the first black finalist in the National Spelling Bee Competition. The poems draw on blues, jazz and prose to depict racism in the Depression era. His latest work is “Quantum Lyrics.”

Shirley Thompson
Assistant Professor, Department of American Studies

Thompson researches narratives of slavery and freedom, race and ethnicity and African American literature. Her current manuscript is a cultural history of New Orleans, focusing on Creoles of color, the French speaking population of African descent. Her next project focuses on African American history and property ownership.

African American History, Culture, Politics

Deborah Bolnick
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Bolnick’s research addresses the intersections of race, genetics and ancestry. She has recently explored the complex questions DNA ancestry tests raise about ethnic identity. To learn more, read the feature “Deep Roots?

Edwin Dorn
Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs

Dorn was dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs from 1997 to 2004 where he has taught on the evolution of civil rights since the 1960s. To learn more, read the feature “From Black and White to Color.”

Laurie Green
Assistant Professor, Department of History

Green researches the politics of race and gender and the civil rights movement. She is the author of “Battling the Plantation Mentality: Race, Gender and Freedom in Memphis During the Civil Rights Era.” To learn more, read the feature story “Marching on Memphis.”

Eric McDaniel
Assistant Professor, Department of Government

McDaniel’s research areas include religion and politics, African American politics and organizational behavior. His work targets how and why African American religious institutions choose to become involved in politics. In addition, he examines the role of religious institutions in shaping African American political behavior.

Leonard Moore
Associate Professor, Department of History

Moore teaches courses on the history of the hip hop generation, Black nationalism and the Black Power era. He also studies the intersection of race, sports and the hip-hop culture. He is the author of “Carl B. Stokes and The Rise of the Black Political Power.”

Martha Norkunas
Lecturer, Department of Anthropology

Norkunas works with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement on the African American Texans Oral History Project. More then 180 hours of recorded interviews have been transcribed and excerpted for this project. To learn more, read the feature “Listen in on History.”

Tasha Philpot
Assistant Professor, Department of Government

Philpot specializes in African American politics, public opinion and political behavior, political communication and political parties. Her research examines the consequences of using racial images in political communication. She is the author of “Race, Republicans, and the Return of the Party of Lincoln.”

Greg Vincent
Vice President, Division for Diversity and Community Engagement

Vincent works with a broad range of student, faculty, staff and community constituents to make the university a national model for diversity in higher education. Vincent’s research is on “Affirmative Action in a Post-Grutter Era: Defining and Addressing Immediate and Long-Term Challenges and Successes at The University of Texas at Austin.” He is a professor in the College of Education and School of Law with expertise on issues concerning equity and access to higher education. To learn more, read the feature “Powerful Partnerships.”

Craig Watkins
Associate Professor, departments of Sociology and Radio-Television-Film

Watkins’ teaching and research interests focus on race, media, hip hop and youth digital media cultures. He is the author of “Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement.” In his forthcoming book, he examines how new media behaviors are transforming youth culture, identity and everyday life. To learn more, read the feature “Studying a Hip Hop Nation.”

Race and Sports

Louis Harrison Jr.
Associate Professor, College of Education


Harrison researches the ways in which race influences physical activity and sports participation. He is investigating why African Americans are 12 percent of the population but make up 78 percent of the National Basketball Association, 67 percent of the National Football League and 63 percent of the Women’s National Basketball Association. To learn more, read the feature “Redefine the Finish Line.”

Ben Carrington
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Carrington has published widely on race, sports and culture, including topics such as sports, masculinity and the black cultural renaissance, the politics of race and sport policy, and blackness and celebrity sports stars.

African American Art History

Michael Charles
Professor, Department of Art and Art History

Charles’ graphically styled paintings investigate racial stereotypes drawn from a history of American advertising, product packaging, billboards, radio jingles and television commercials. In addition to teaching studio art and painting, Charles exhibits and lectures nationally and internationally, and was among the first group of artists showcased in the 2001 PBS series titled “ART 21,” which highlights the top artists of the 21st century. To learn more, read the feature “Dynamics of Difference.”

John Yancey
Chair, Department of Art and Art History

Yancey was appointed chairperson of the Department of Art and Art History in January 2007, making him the first African American department chair. Yancey’s work takes three main forms: paintings, community-based mural paintings and ceramic tile mosaic public art monuments. Yancey continues to exhibit and lecture extensively on various aspects of African American art history. To learn more, read the feature “Rhapsody in East Austin.”

Cherise Smith
Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History

Smith offers courses in and has published articles on African American and African Diaspora art, the history of photography and contemporary art. Her manuscript, “En-Acting ‘Others’: Ethnic, Gender and Racial Performance in Works by Eleanor Antin, Adrian Piper, Anna Deavere Smith and Nikki S. Lee,” is in progress. The project historicizes the politics of identity by looking at how racial, ethnic and gender identities are negotiated in art.

African Americans and Education Issues

Rebecca Bigler
Professor, Department of Psychology

Bigler’s research interests are social cognition in children, gender role development and racial stereotyping. She is director of the Gender and Racial Attitudes Laboratory and is an affiliate of the Children’s Research Laboratory. To learn more, read the feature “Primary Education.”

Anthony Brown
Assistant Professor, College of Education

Brown’s scholarship focuses on the education experiences of African American males and the ways African American history is constructed and presented in kindergarten to 12th grade curriculum.

Kevin Cokley
Associate Professor, College of Education

Cokley’s research themes are the psychological and environmental factors affecting African American student achievement. His scholarly work has led him to challenge the notion that African American students are anti-intellectual and to reexamine the impact of racial and ethnic identity and gender on academic achievement.

Kevin Foster
Assistant Professor, College of Education

Foster’s research focuses on preparing future teachers for ethnically diverse classrooms and readying the teachers for students and families who may have different cultural norms, gender role socialization and interpersonal relations than they do. Foster is an educational anthropologist who looks at the social, cultural and structural factors affecting students’ educational outcomes.

Jennifer Jellison Holme
Assistant Professor, College of Education

Holme studies the prominence, or absence, of colorblindness in desegregated schools and researches racial and social class segregation in charter schools. She is conducting a study in several California high schools to determine the relationship between standardized tests and the demise of racially mixed schools.

Melissa Mosley
Assistant Professor, College of Education

Mosley researches anti-racist teaching practices. She is interested in culturally relevant and anti-racist approaches to literacy instruction and the ways in which non-equitable literacy instruction has denied African American children the same educational and social opportunities as white children.

Richard J. Reddick
Assistant Professor, College of Education

Reddick studies exemplary programs for retaining and supporting students of color in higher education, multiracial equity in American education and African American professors’ mentoring relationships with African American students. He worked on the National Campus Diversity Project at Harvard University and has co-authored “A New Look at Black Families” as well as “The Case for Black Colleges in the 21st Century.”

African Americans and Health Issues

Mary Lou Adams
Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Adams focuses on increasing African American women’s participation in breast cancer screenings. As project director of a Texas Cancer Council initiative, she developed a community-based outreach program to encourage minority women’s participation in early detection and follow-up services. To learn more, read the feature “Diagnosing Disparities.”

Carolyn Brown
Professor, College of Pharmacy

Brown’s research interests involve understanding cultural and social elements that may affect quality of care and therapeutic outcomes of patients with chronic illnesses, particularly ethnic minority patients who experience a disproportionate burden of poor health. Her research focuses on patients’ treatment decisions, particularly as they relate to use of prescribed medications and complementary and alternative treatment practices.

Chiquita Collins
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Collins’ research interests include racial differences in mortality, African-American health issues, AIDS awareness and prevention, and the effects of residential segregation on health. She was recently awarded two grants that will illuminate the effects of institutional racism on health. To learn more, read the feature “Mixed Messages.”

King Davis
Professor, School of Social Work; Director, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health

Davis specializes in mental health policies and services, particularly for people of color and the history of public mental health care for people of color. His research interests also include black non-profit organizations, black philanthropy, voluntary participation, and families and consumers of color.

Dorie Gilbert
Associate Professor, School of Social Work

Gilbert’s interests include prevention and intervention with women and people of color living with HIV/AIDS; psychological adjustment in persons coping with social stigma and child and adolescent welfare and counseling. Her study, “Project Mother-Daughter Talk,” investigates the lives of young African American girls whose mothers are living with HIV/AIDS.

Darlene Grant
Associate Professor, School of Social Work; Associate Dean, Graduate Studies

Grant partners with Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, a program working with the children of women who are in prison, and helped found the local chapter in 1998. She earned the 2007 Rosa Parks Award from the American Association for Affirmative Action recognizing an individual committed to civil rights and social issues who also serves as a role model and leader.

Dawnovise Fowler
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work

Fowler studies abuse against women, chemical dependency and mental health issues and services for underrepresented populations. She also is interested in spirituality, cultural resiliency, social justice, race/ethnic differences in dually diagnosed women (substance abuse and mental illness) and African American leadership in social work.