Hooks Research Fellows
With the goal to increase the Hooks Institute's research capabilities and interconnectedness with faculty working in civil rights across the nation, the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change created the Hooks Academic Research Fellows. Serving for two years, Fellows assist the Hooks Institute in fulfilling its mission of teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change and in becoming a premier center for scholars working on race and social justice scholarship. The Academic Research Fellows consist of Faculty from diverse disciplines and universities around the country.
Hooks Research Fellows
Interculturalist, Scholar, and Language Advocate
Dr. Kami (pronounced kah-MEE) Anderson is an interculturalist, scholar, and language advocate. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Anderson has always kept a tight grip on her passion and compassion for others and difference through language. Her primary focus is family empowerment through language with an emphasis on application and confidence. Dr. Anderson received her Ph.D. in Intercultural Communication from Howard University in Washington, DC in 2007. She received a BA in Spanish from Spelman College and a MA in International Communication and Cultural Anthropology from the American University in Washington, DC. She has been teaching in higher education since 2005. She has taught a wide range of courses in higher education including public speaking, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, human communication, media, culture and society, small group communication, international communication, business communication as well as a faculty-led student travel course: City as Text.
Associate Professor of Geography, University of Memphis
Angela Antipova is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Memphis, where she teaches quantitative methods, spatial statistics, transportation planning, urban geography, economic geography, and cultural geography in the Department of Earth Sciences. She is interested in understanding spatial processes in urban environments including various aspects of urban, health, and transportation issues focusing on race, life quality, and social injustice problems in Shelby County, Tennessee. She addresses disparities in maternal health, travel behavior, employment patterns, and other life aspects, which are preventable and avoidable, focusing on vulnerable populations including minorities and lower-income workers.
Wallis C. Baxter III
Senior Pastor of the Second Baptist Church, District Heights, MD
Wallis C. Baxter III, Ph.D. is a native of Rocky Mount, N.C. and grew up in Marietta, GA. After attending Morehouse for his BA degree and Duke Divinity School for his M.Div., Dr. Baxter completed his Ph.D. in African American Literature at Howard University. Dr. Baxter currently teaches African American Literature at Gettysburg College. He is the author of the forthcoming publication You Must Be Born Again: Phillis Wheatley as Prophetic Poet (Lexington Books, 2021). In addition, he is co-editing a two-volume series of sermons entitled Preaching During a Pandemic: The Rhetoric of the Black Preaching Tradition (Peter Lang, 2022).
Professor Chair, Instruction Curriculum Leadership, The University of Memphis
Assistant Professor of History in the Applied Social Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Stout
Le’Trice Donaldson is an Assistant Professor of History in the Applied Social Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She earned her Ph.D. in African American History from the University of Memphis, and her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Her research centers on the lives of African Americans in the military and how gender and masculinity help (re)shape the narrative of the Black military experience.
Earle J. Fisher
Senior Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee
Earle J. Fisher completed his Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Memphis and currently serves as the Senior Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. As a scholar that studies rhetoric and religion and Black Liberation movements, Dr. Fisher teaches religion and humanities at several colleges and universities. As a community organizer, Dr. Fisher co-organized the Memphis Grassroots Organization Coalition in August of 2015 in response to the brutal death of Darrius Stewart as well as spearheading initiatives in criminal justice reform, media accountability, the removal of confederate monuments, and voter empowerment. In November of 2017, Dr. Fisher formed #UPTheVote901, a voting rights initiative to increase overall voter turnout in Memphis and Shelby County Tennessee.
Elizabeth M. Gillespie
Assistant Professor in the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration at the University of Memphis
Elizabeth M. Gillespie, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration and is affiliate faculty with the Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Memphis. She earned her doctorate in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her research interests include citizen and social movement engagement and activism through philanthropy and nonprofits, social change and gender lens philanthropy, feminist theories and practices, and grant-making foundations. Before her academic career, Elizabeth spent a decade working in the nonprofit field primarily in a human services nonprofit based in Des Moines, Iowa.
Cerise L. Glenn
Associate Professor of Communication Studies at UNC Greensboro
Dr. Cerise L. Glenn (Ph.D., Howard University) is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at UNC Greensboro. She is the immediate former director of African American & African Diaspora Studies (2016-2020) and the president-elect of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender. Her research focuses on cultural identity and identity negotiation, African American communication and culture, occupational socialization and identification of diverse groups, organizational culture, and intersectional feminisms.
Assistant Professor of Higher and Adult Education at the University of Memphis
Dr. Edith Gnanadass is an assistant professor of higher and adult education at the University of Memphis. She has more than 20 years of experience in adult and higher education working with diverse populations. She has also administered and taught adult literacy and early childhood programs in New York City for more than 16 years. Using a postcolonial feminist lens, her research interests include race and learning, cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) as a framework to analyze learning, DesiCrit (theorizing the racial ambiguity of South Asian Americans), using Black texts in adult and higher education and racialized immigrant narratives. Her selected publications include her 2014 article “Learning to Teach about Race: The Racialized Experience of a South Asian American Feminist Educator” in Adult Learning (vol. 25, no. 3) and a co-written 2020 article “Troubling the Discursive Moment: Using Black texts for Activating Dialogue” in New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (vol. 165), 21-33.
Instructor at the Crews School of Accounting at the University of Memphis
Dr. Rita Green has been part of the faculty at the Crews School of Accounting at the University of Memphis for the last five years following her tenure as state specialist for family financial management at Mississippi State University-Extension Service. She holds a doctorate in higher education and her dissertation research explored financial wellness for consumers seeking bankruptcy protection. Her interdisciplinary research interests include consumer economics and personal financial empowerment. Dr. Green was recently appointed to the IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Panel and has also served on the Community Development Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Christopher A. House
Associate Professor of Communication Studies, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Christopher A. House (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) is an associate professor of Communication Studies and affiliate faculty in the Culture and Communication and Martin Luther King Scholar program. His research interests are in Black Pentecostal rhetoric & social action, rhetoric, race & religion, communication & culture, Black church studies, African American rhetoric, and rhetorical theology.
Kimberly P. Johnson
Associate Professor of Communications and an affiliate faculty member of Women’s Studies at Tennessee State University.
Dr. Kimberly P. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Communications and an affiliate faculty member of Women’s Studies at Tennessee State University. Johnson brings to the Department of Communications, her areas of specialization: Political, Religious, and African American Rhetoric, Rhetorical Criticism, Cultural Criticism, and Womanism. Johnson teaches the senior project capstone course, communication research methods, honors public speaking, fundamentals of communication, public speaking, persuasion, African American rhetoric, and introduction to women’s studies to undergraduate students. Johnson has presented her research at professional communication associations such as the National Communication Association, Rhetoric Society of America, Southern States Communication Association, and Tennessee Communication Association. Johnson is the author of The Womanist Preacher: Proclaiming Womanist Rhetoric from the Pulpit (Lexington Books, 2017) and has a forthcoming edited volume, Preaching During a Pandemic: The Rhetoric of the Black Preaching Tradition, with Peter Lang. Some of Johnson’s other work can be found in the Journal of Communication and Religion, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Religious Education, and The African American Lectionary. Johnson’s research interests lie at the intersection of rhetoric, race, and religion; more specifically, womanist rhetoric & womanist preaching; feminist rhetoric, African American rhetoric; along with issues around power and social justice.
Assistant Professor of English in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication Concentration at the University of Memphis
Liz Lane is an Assistant Professor of English in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication concentration at the University of Memphis. Her research explores the intersections of activism in digital spaces, feminism, and technical communication. Her work has appeared in Peitho, Computers, and Composition, Composition Studies, Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, and edited collections. She is also the co-founder and co-managing editor of Spark: a 4C4Equality Journal, an open access, peer-reviewed journal of activist rhetorics in writing studies.
SunAh M. Laybourn
Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Memphis
Dr. SunAh M. Laybourn is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Memphis and an Affiliate Faculty Member for the Center for Workplace Diversity & Inclusion. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Maryland (2018). Her research examines racialization processes and cross-racial interaction. Dr. Laybourn is the co-author of Diversity in Black-Greek Letter Organizations: Breaking the Line (Routledge 2018). Her work has been published in Social Problems, Sociology of Race & Ethnicity, Racial & Ethnic Studies, and Asian Pacific American Law Journal, among others. Her next book project, tentatively titled Adoptable Orphan, Deportable Immigrant: The Paradoxes of Exceptionalism (under contract with NYU Press) examines immigration, citizenship, and belonging through the case of Korean transnational transracial adoptees and citizenship rights advocacy. In addition to her work in academia, Dr. Laybourn is an Advisory Council Member for the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network and a member of The Global Citizen Collective board of directors. You can also hear Dr. Laybourn every Saturday morning on her radio show Let’s Grab Coffee on WYXR 91.7FM Memphis or WYXR.org as she catches up with experts from across the country who are investigating our most pressing social issues and common curiosities.
Michael Brandon McCormack
Associate Professor of Pan-African Studies and Comparative Humanities (Religious Studies) at the University of Louisville
Dr. Michael Brandon McCormack is Associate Professor of Pan-African Studies and Comparative Humanities (Religious Studies) at the University of Louisville. He earned his Ph.D. in 2013 from the Vanderbilt University Graduate Department of Religion, where he was also a Fellow in the Program in Theology and Practice. His research explores the intersections between Black religion, popular culture, the arts, and activism. He teaches courses in African American religion, religions of the African diaspora, and religion and hip-hop culture.
Adjunct, The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Marquette University
Dr. Annette Madlock is an independent scholar and university professor. She is the Founder and the Chief Executive and Creative Officer of Sister Circle Writers. Madlock completed her doctoral work in Rhetoric and Culture at Howard University. She is an award-winning author with over 40 publications and over 45 national and international professional presentations and workshops. Dr. Madlock’s notable publications include Health Communication and Breast Cancer Among Black Women: Culture, Identity, Spirituality and Strength, Communicating Women’s Health: Social and Cultural Norms that Influence Health Decisions, and Womanist Ethical Rhetoric: A Call for Liberation and Social Justice in Turbulent Times, (co-editor, with Cerise L. Glenn ). After moving back to her hometown, she currently adjuncts for The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Marquette University.
Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University
AnneMarie Mingo is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University, and an affiliate faculty member in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. She was the 2018-2019 Ella Baker Visiting Professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Drawing on oral histories and ethnographies, her work in Christian Social Ethics centers on the lived experiences of Black Churchwomen who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Her research interests include 20th and 21st Century Black Freedom Struggles with a specific focus on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, South African Apartheid Movement, and global Movement for Black Lives, socio-religious activism of Black women, and theological and ethical influences in social movements.
Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Systems Management and Policy at the University of Memphis
Courtnee Melton-Fant, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Systems Management and Policy at the University of Memphis. She holds a MS in exercise science and a Ph.D. in health outcomes and policy research. Before joining the University of Memphis, Dr. Melton-Fant worked for a state-level public policy research center providing information and analysis to policymakers, the media, and the general public. Melton-Fant has experience conducting both academic and non-academic research ranging from clinical trials and health outcomes to analysis of state-level health care reforms for policymakers and advocacy groups. Her research interests include state and local-level public policy, health outcomes, and racial health inequities. She is particularly interested in examining structural racism as a root cause of health inequities and how broad-based public policies can be used as tools to ameliorate those inequities.
Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Health Sciences, University of Memphis
Shameka Hamlin-Palmer's professional development has been grounded in theories and methods found in the field of social and behavioral science. In addition to teaching, she dedicated the past 15 years to working, partnering, and collaborating with CBOs, health care organizations and other academic institutions to reduce the impact of health disparities, including HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, mental health, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer in minority populations throughout the United States.
Paige Pirkey, Ph.D., e-RYT, YACEP is a native Memphian and is committed to supporting the process of sustainable social change for all Memphians, including minority persons attending or working in urban schools. She earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Psychology & Research and a Master of Science in Psychology from The University of Memphis, as well as her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Christian Brothers University. Dr. Pirkey’s current research focuses at the heart of change-making: education. Indeed, her work centers on urban schools and adopts a bottom-up approach wherein all sub-systems within the school system (i.e., students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members) engage with every stage of this project’s ongoing development to ensure shared transparency, equity, decision-making, and responsibility; specifically, the curriculum being created provides an innovative, engaging approach that not only promotes healing and self-empowerment but also supports the development of life skills critical to success, which ultimately aims to create an authentic culture of resilience and cooperative change.
Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Sonya Ramsey grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and attended Howard University, where she received a B.A. in Journalism and received her Master’s and Ph.D. in United States History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An Associate Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies, Dr. Ramsey currently serves as the Director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She specializes in African American Gender History, the History of Education, and Southern History. An experienced oral historian, Dr. Ramsey was one of the original interviewers in the Behind the Veil Project: Documenting the Jim Crow South sponsored by Duke University and the Ford Foundation.
Melodie J. Rodgers
Ph.D. student at Georgia State University in the Department of English and Literary Studies
Melodie J. Rodgers’ literary journey began years before college when she was a faithful performance poet and stage actor. Her creative circles included places such as the University of Iowa, Alliance Theatre, Charis Books, PushPush Theatre, Green Mill in Chicago, Java Monkey Cafe, and several other venues in the U.S. and abroad. After this extraordinary performing arts journey, Melodie’s creative work transitioned primarily to the construction of experimental poetry and fiction. Her creative writing has appeared in Johns Hopkins University’s Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, G.R.I.T.S. – Girls Raised In the South: An Anthology of Southern Queer Womyns’ Voices and Their Allies, Underground, CIEE Brazil Poetry OnFilm project, and many others. Melodie received her MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte’s Latin American program with residencies in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.
Assistant Professor of English at the University of Memphis
Don Rodrigues is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Memphis specializing in early modern literature, theories of social justice, and digital humanities. His first book, Shakespeare’s Queer Analytics: Distant Reading and Collaborative Intimacy in Love’s Martyr, marshals queer theory and computational tools to demonstrate that the coterie volume Love’s Martyr (1601) betrays extensive evidence of Shakespearean collaboration at a time when Shakespeare is often thought to have been working in solitude. This book is under contract with the Arden Shakespeare Series at Bloomsbury. In the Department of English at Memphis, Rodrigues teaches graduate and undergraduate courses with an intersectional approach to constructions and representations of race, gender, and sexuality. Rodrigues has held fellowships at The Folger Shakespeare Library, the Digital Humanities Center at Vanderbilt University, and the metaLAB at Harvard University.
Kathy Lou Shultz
Charles Freeburg University Professor and Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Memphis
Dr. Kathy Lou Schultz is the Catherine and Charles Freeburg University Professor and Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Memphis. A literary historian, critic, and poet, her research interests include the relationship of the arts to social change, poetry and poetics, Africana Studies, and gender and sexuality studies. Recent projects include scholarship on the Afro-Modernist epic, the Black Arts Movement, Afro-Surrealism in the Caribbean, and San Francisco New Narrative writers.
Visiting Assistant Professor in the Social and Behavioral Division at the University of Memphis School of Public Health
Jennifer Turchi is currently a visiting assistant professor in the Social and Behavioral Division at the University of Memphis School of Public Health. Her research focuses on social and structural inequities, broadly around child development, family outcomes, health, and race. She worked on a variety of studies including measuring the impacts of 500-year floods on academic success for poor grade-school students living in Iowa, assessing youth engagement in rural Vermont, and college student housing and food insecurity. Most recently her work has included an exploration of youth activism, justice-involved youth, and adverse childhood experiences, collaborating with faculty at the Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law.
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice/Criminology and the director of the African American studies program at Ball State University
Kiesha Warren-Gordon is currently an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice/Criminology and the director of the African American studies program at Ball State University. She’s also an affiliate faculty member in the Gender and Women’s Studies program and teaches a variety of courses including; Victimology; Race, Gender, and Crime; and Human Services in Criminal Justice. Dr. Warren-Gordon’s substantive areas include community engagement, criminology, and a critical approach to examining race/ethnicity issues within the criminal justice system. Her research explores the intersection of race and class in the miscarriage of justice, violence, and intercultural conflict. Her work also centers on critical approaches to community engagement while working with marginalized communities. Currently, her research projects include critical pedagogical approaches to teaching positive community involvement outside of traditional criminal justice educational norms as well as, media framing of social movements.
Courtney N. Wright
Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Dr. Courtney N. Wright is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Honors, and Founding Co-Director of the Intergroup Dialogue and Conflict Resolution Program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is a graduate of Northwestern University (Ph.D.) and Vanderbilt University (B.S.) and has a multidisciplinary background that spans the social sciences, humanities, and STEM disciplines.