2021 Events

Nov. 9

Race in the time of COVID: Hooks Institute Policy Papers Presentation

Thurs. Nov. 9 | 6 pm |  Facebook Live, Hooks Institute Facebook Page

On  Facebook Live on Nov. 9 at 6 pm the Hooks Institute hosted the 2021 Hooks Institute Policy Papers Presentations.
Scholars presented their research using national conversations about critical civil and human rights issues as a starting point to discuss and propose solutions to contemporary problems. In 2021, the policy papers address the myriad ways the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed existing injustices in our society.

Authors of the papers and topics were:

  • "COVID-19 and Evictions in Memphis" by Andrew Guthrie (UofMemphis City and Regional Planning), Courtnee Melton-Fant (UofMemphis Division of Health Systems Management and Policy) and Katherine Lambert-Pennington (UofMemphis Department of Anthropology)
  • "Race and COVID: Illuminating Inequities in Education" by Cardell Orrin (Stand for the Children) and Kelsey Jirikils (Freedom Preparatory Academy)
  • "COVID-19 and Work: Employment Disparities Magnified" by Elena Delavega (UofMemphis Department of Social Work) and Gregory M. Blumenthal (GMBS Consulting)
  • "COVID-19 Reveals the Power - and Limits - of Collective Will" by Daniel Kiel (UofMemphis Law School)
  • "Through a Glass Darkly: Musings on the Harsh Realities of COVID-19 Social Determinants of Health in the Age of
  • Pandemic" by Albert Mosley (Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare)
  • "Life After Death: COVID-19’s Impact on the Wealth of African American Families" by Daphene R. McFerren (Hooks Institute)

Oct.  19

Combating the HIV Epidemic in Memphis Stethescope and documents

Tues. Oct. 19, 6 pm | Facebook Live, Hooks Institute Facebook Page

Panelists discussed HIV stigma and discrimination in the African American community, living with HIV and ways to reduce the risk of getting HIV and other STIs. The event was live-streamed on the Hooks Institute's Facebook page on Oct. 19 from 6-7 p.m.  

The panelists were Juanita Davis (director, CARE4ME Services), Cedric Sturdevant (director, HIV/AIDS Prevention at Community Health-PIER), Eddie Wiley (Shelby County ending HIV epidemic initiative coordinator, TN Department of Health) and DeMarcus Jones (protocol outreach assistant for prevention studies, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital). Hooks Academic Research Fellow Dr. Shemeka Hamlin-Palmer (clinical assistant professor, Department of Healthcare leadership, University of Memphis) moderated.

Oct. 5

YTeacher leads classroom.ou Can't Teach That! Prohibited Concepts in Instruction" in Public Schools created by Tennessee Law

Tues. Oct. 5, 6 pm | Facebook Live, Hooks Institute Facebook Page

On May 23, 2021, Tennessee passed a law banning 14 concepts in instruction that appear to significantly limit how educators can teach students on issues of race, class, gender disparities and privilege in public school classrooms. How will this law be implemented? How will it impact the quality and scope of teaching?  What relationship, if any, does it have to Critical Race Theory. This Facebook Live Event continued the community conversation that began on June 5, 2021, on Facebook Live that addressed “Critical Race Theory: What it is and What It Isn’t.”

Panelists for the event were Courtney Mauldin (Assistant Professor of Teaching & Leadership in the School of Education at Syracuse University), Cardell Orrin (Tennessee Executive Director for Stand for Children), Le’Trice Donaldson (Assistant Professor of African American and U.S. history at the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi) and Daphene McFerren (Hooks Institute Executive Director). Andre Johnson (UofM Associate Professor, Department of Communications and Film) moderated.

Sept. 14

Exploring the African American Experience Through Art: Art, Adornment and Manifestations of African American Cultural Identity with the Metal Museum

Tues., Sept. 14th, 6pm, Facebook Live, Hooks Institute's Facebook Page

Staff from the Hooks Institute and the Metal Museum discussed two recent exhibitions centering on the work and lives of African American jewelers. Metal Museum staff  highlighted some of their favorite artists in the exhibitions and discuss how the Museum included local artists in the exhibition design as well as how the pieces express the culture and social experience of their makers.

“Divine Legacies in Black Jewelry” explores the pluralistic histories of jewelry creation and production in the Black Diaspora of the Americas. This exhibition centers the works and lives of over twenty-five different jewelry artists to present the first survey of the history of Black Diasporic jewelry of its kind.

Tiff Massey is an interdisciplinary artist from Detroit, MI. Her work, inspired by African standards of economic vitality, includes both large-scale and wearable sculptures, music, and performance. Staff will dive into what inspired Massey to create her “Everyday Arsenal” installation, on view at the Metal Museum until September 26th.

Sept. 9

Heather NickelsExploring the African American Experience Through Art: African American artist Elizabeth Catlett

Thursday, Sept. 9th, 6pm | Facebook Live, Hooks Institute's Facebook Page

Brooks Museum Curatorial Fellow Heather Nickels joined the Hooks Institute to look at the recent exhibit, "Persevere and Resist: The Strong Black Women of Elizabeth Catlett." Catlett sought to iconize and inspire oppressed populations in the US and her adopted home of Mexico through her sculptures and lithograph prints.

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art featured the internationally renowned work of African American artist Elizabeth Catlett.

Brooks Museum Curatorial Fellow Heather Nickels examined pieces featured in the recent exhibit, “Persevere and Resist: The Strong Black Women of Elizabeth Catlett.”

Catlett wanted her art to be accessible to all, regardless of education or experience, which, according to her 2021 obituary in the New York Times, "meant balancing abstraction with figuration." Her stylized faces and bodies are proud and stoic, yet curvaceous and soft, designed to "show man's dignity stripped to essence." An educator as well as artist, Ms. Catlett went on to become the first female professor of sculpture and, eventually, head of the sculpture department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico's School of Fine Arts in Mexico City.  Catlett states that she "learned how to use your art for the service of people, struggling people, to whom only realism is meaningful."

June 22

Critical Race Theory: What it is and What it isn't

Tuesday, June 22, 6-7 PM | Facebook Live, Hooks Institute's Facebook Page

The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute hosted an online discussion on the importance of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in academic, education and activist studies. The event was live-streamed on the Hooks Institute’s Facebook page June 22 from 6-7 p.m. This event was free and open to the public. 

About the Critical Race Theory Discussion 
CRT is invaluable in how it helps us understand, research, study and teach how race functions in the United States and across the globe. However, much of this has come under attack as opponents of CRT charge that it divides Americans and promotes a distorted view of American history through a racial and ideological lens. In response to these attacks on CRT, the panelists addressed those concerns and help unpack what CRT is and why it has been and continues to be an essential tool in addressing our racist past and present. 

The panelists for the event are distinguished scholars and serve as Hooks Academic Research Fellows. They were as follows: 

Kami Anderson 
Kami (pronounced kah-MEE) Anderson, PhD is an interculturalist, scholar and language advocate. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisc., 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. Anderson received her PhD in Intercultural Communication from Howard University in 2007. She received a BA in Spanish from Spelman College and a MA in International Communication and Cultural Anthropology from American University. 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. 

Wallis C. Baxter III 
Wallis C. Baxter III, PhD, is a native of Rocky Mount, N.C., and grew up in Marietta, Ga. After attending Morehouse College for his BA degree and Duke Divinity School for his MDiv, Baxter completed his PhD in African American Literature at Howard University. 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). 

Le’Trice Donaldson 
Le’Trice Donaldson, PhD is an Assistant Professor of History in the Applied Social Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She earned her PhD in African American History from the University of Memphis, and her BA and MA 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. 

Daniel Kiel 
Daniel Kiel is a professor of law at the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where he joined the faculty in 2008 and teaches constitutional law, education & civil rights and property law. In addition to his record of publications focusing on disparities in education, Kiel is the director of “The Memphis 13” (2011), a documentary sharing the stories of the first graders who desegregated Memphis City Schools in 1961. The film has been screened at universities, film festivals, museums and schools across the country and was made possible in part by a research grant from the Hooks Institute in 2010. 

Kiel has been recognized on campus with the University's Martin Luther King, Jr., Human Rights Award (2013) and the Alumni Association's Distinguished Teaching Award (2017) as well as various honors within the law school. He has served on the Hooks Institute's National Book Award committee since 2012 and also contributed a paper to the Institute's 2018 Policy Papers series. Kiel is a native Memphian and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard Law School. 

The event will be moderated by Andre E. Johnson 
Andre E. Johnson, PhD, is an associate professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies in the Department of Communication and Film at the University of Memphis. He teaches classes in African American Public Address, Rhetoric, Race, Religion and Interracial Communication. Johnson is the author of “The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition” (Lexington Books, 2012), the co-author (with Amanda Nell Edgar, PhD) of “The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter” (Lexington Books, 2018) and the author of “No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner” (University Press of Mississippi, 2020).

May 21

“Ida B. Wells: A Chicago Stories Special” documentary with Interview Featuring Daphene R. McFerren

Fri., May 21, 8 PM | WTTW Chicago and WKNO-TV Memphis

Along with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting and the landmark 1619 Project, Daphene R. McFerren, executive director of the Hooks Institute, explored the activism of Ida B. Wells in the WTTW Chicago Special- “Ida B. Wells: A Chicago Stories Special.” The documentary, which also features historians and descendants of Ida B. Wells, premiered on WTTW Chicago on May 21 in addition to being shown on WKNO Memphis, periodically, the week of July 16, in honor of the Ida B. Wells celebration unveiling in downtown Memphis.

Systematic Rascism PanelistsApril 13

Systemic Racism and COVID in Memphis

Tuesday, April 13 | 6–7:30PM (Central Time) 

The Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities, the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change, the Department of Communications, the Department of History and the Community of Researchers (CoRs) Health Spaces and Technology Research Community (HSTRC) partnered to present a Zoom panel.


  • Dr. Letoshia Foster | Historian and Nurse Practitioner
  • Tami Sawyer | Shelby County Commissioner and Department of Communications MA Student 
  • Dr. Irma Singarella | Associate Professor, Health Science Librarian at the University Libraries and CoRS 2021 Convener

Moderated by:

  • Dr. Beverly Bond and Dr. Beverly Tsacoyianis

Mar. 9

Lecture: Kelisha B. Graves, author of Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900-1959

Tues. Mar. 9, 6 PM | Facebook Live, Hooks Institute Facebook Page

AK. Grave and Book lecture by Kelisha B. Graves, author of Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900-1959 was livestreamed on the Hooks Institute’s Facebook page (facebook.com/benhooksinstitute/) on Tues. March 9 at 6 pm and was moderated by Hooks Institute Scholar in Residence Andre E. Johnson. It is free and open to the public.
About Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900-1959
Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879–1961) is just one of the many African American intellectuals whose work has been long excluded from the literary canon. In her time, Burroughs was a celebrated African American (or, in her era, a "race woman") female activist, educator, and intellectual. This book represents a landmark contribution to the African American intellectual historical project by allowing readers to experience Burroughs in her own words. This anthology of her works written between 1900 and 1959 encapsulates Burroughs' work as a theologian, philosopher, activist, educator, intellectual, and evangelist, as well as the myriad of ways that her career resisted definition. Burroughs rubbed elbows with such African American historical icons as W. E. B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, and Mary McLeod Bethune. These interactions represent much of the existing, easily available literature on Burroughs' life. This book aims to spark a conversation surrounding Burroughs' life and work by making available her own tracts on God, sin, the intersections of church and society, black womanhood, education, and social justice. Moreover, the book is an important piece of the growing movement toward excavating African American intellectual and philosophical thought and reformulating the literary canon to bring a diverse array of voices to the table.
About Kelisha B. Graves
Kelisha B. Graves is a higher education educator, author, and speaker. She is completing a doctorate in educational leadership with a concentration in higher education. She is an interdisciplinary and global scholar whose research and teaching resides at the nexus of education and the global Africana experience. Specifically, her areas of research interests include: educational leadership and administration, teaching and learning, culturally-responsive pedagogy and assessment, curriculum planning and development, educational technology, socio-cultural knowledges, critical race theory, Africana philosophy, and African American intellectual history. She also maintains interests in global education policy and international development with a specific focus on Africa.
About Andre E. Johnson
Andre E. Johnson is a Scholar in Residence at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change and an associate professor of Communication at the UofM.

Feb. 24

Inaugural Hooks Social Justice Series: No Future in This Country by Andre E. Johnson

Andre Johnson, Left | Middle No Future in the County Book Cover | Right Tom FuerstThe Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change hosted the Inaugural Hooks Social Justice Series event where Hooks Scholar in Residence Andre E. Johnson will give a lecture on his book, No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner.  The event was moderated by UofM Communication and Film graduate student Tom Fuerst and took place February 24 at 1pm CST on the Hooks Institute’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/benhooksinstitute/ and was free and open to the public. 

About No Future in This Country
No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner (University Press of Mississippi, 2020) draws on the copious amount of material from Bishop Henry McNeal Turner’s speeches, editorial, and open and private letters to tell the story of how Turner provided rhetorical leadership during a period in which America defaulted on many of the rights and privileges gained for African Americans during Reconstruction. Unlike many of his contemporaries during this period, Turner did not opt to proclaim an optimistic view of race relations. Instead, Johnson argues that Turner adopted a prophetic persona of a pessimistic prophet who not only spoke truth to power but, in so doing, also challenged and pushed African Americans to believe in themselves.

At this time in his life, Turner had no confidence in American institutions or that the American people would live up to the promises outlined in their sacred documents. While he argued that emigration was the only way for African Americans to retain their “personhood” status, he would also believe that African Americans would never emigrate to Africa. He argued that many African Americans were so oppressed and so stripped of agency because continued negative assessments of their personhood surrounded them that belief in emigration was not possible. Turner’s position limited his rhetorical options, but by adopting a pessimistic prophetic voice that bore witness to the atrocities African Americans faced, Turner found space for his oratory, which reflected itself within the lament tradition of prophecy.

About Andre E. Johnson (Left in Photo)
Andre E. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Communication and the Scholar in Residence at the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis.

About Tom Fuerst (Right in Photo)
Thomas M. Fuerst is a graduate student in the Department of Communication & Film at the University of Memphis studying religious and prophetic rhetoric. He is currently examining the role of prophetic rhetoric in the call narratives of African American preachers in the 19th century.

Feb. 22

“The Fight to Vote: Black Voter Suppression in Tennessee” Documentary Featuring Interview with Daphene R. McFerren

Mon., Feb. 22, 8 PM | Nashville Public Television

Daphene R. McFerren, executive director, Hooks Institute, spoke about the history of voter suppression in Fayette County and voter suppression today in the documentary “The Fight to Vote: Black Voter Suppression in Tennessee,” by Nashville Public Television (NPT). This documentary features a host of activists and historians and was broadcast initially on NPT on Feb. 22, 2021, at 8 PM.
Stay tuned for news about upcoming Hooks events!