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Mendenhall Featured on UIUC's "A Minute With...."

Posted Wed, 09 Apr 2014

Associate Professor Ruby Mendenhall is featured in this week's "A Minute With...." on the UIUC campus homepage. Ruby discusses the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and its effect for low- and moderate-income workers.

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DAAS Faculty on List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent

Posted Fri, 04 Apr 2014

Three faculty members and three teaching assistants in the Department of African American Studies are on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent By Their Students for Fall 2013. Professors Robin Jarrett and Helen Neville and Associate Professor Sundiata Cha-Jua were among those making the list, as were teaching assistants Desiree McMillion, Maria Valgoi, and Tseleq Yusef. Congratulations to all of you!

Ernest Wamba dia Wamba to Speak at DAAS Annual W.E.B. DuBois Lecture

Posted Fri, 07 Feb 2014

The Department of African American Studies and the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will host Professor Ernest Wamba dia Wamba as the guest speaker for the 2014 W.E.B. DuBois Lecture on Thursday, February 20, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. Wamba is Professor of History at the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and former Senator of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Wamba was born in the former Belgian Congo, was schooled under Belgian colonialism, and received his bachelor's and master's degrees in the U.S., at Western Michigan University and Claremont Graduate School (California), respectively. From 1968-1971, he worked as an advisor in Congo's Ministry of Social Affairs. He taught African studies courses at Brandeis University (Boston), Harvard University, and Boston College from 1972-1980. In 1980, Wamba became a professor of history at the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). In 1981, while visiting his parents in Congo, he was arrested by the Mobutu regime and imprisoned for five weeks and then held under "city arrest" for a year. Upon release, he continued his activism among Congolese progressive forces. Wamba rose to leadership among his activist intellectual peers in Africa and around the world, and was elected president of the Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESRIA), the leading social science organization for African intellectuals. He also served as a close advisor to the late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania in his 1994 efforts to address the genocide in Central Africa. In 1998, Wamba was elected as head of the liberation organization called Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratic (RCD), or Rally for Congolese Democracy. He later became a member of the national Senate and a prominent member of the new government. Wamba is especially noted for his theoretical work which focuses on topics vital to the liberation of Africa, including the nature of the state, the politics of emancipation, and world history and revolution. Wamba's talk for the W.E.B. DuBois Lecture is titled "Reflections on the African Renaissance after President Mandela." The talk is free and open to the public.

Inside Illinois "From the Archives": Student Activism

Posted Fri, 07 Feb 2014

On March 11, 1981, a group of U. of I. students held a rally on the Quad in response to the child abductions and murders in Atlanta from 1979 to 1981 when an estimated 28 African-American children and adults were killed. Atlanta native Wayne Williams, 23 years old at the time of the last murder, was arrested and convicted of two of the murders. There is a long tradition of U. of I. students not only being aware of social and political issues, but also of choosing to act and let their voices be heard. The University Archives documents student activism. These records contain timelines of events, eyewitness accounts and photographs that illustrate an outspoken student body through the years.

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Taylor Article on Poverty and Racial Inequality Published in "In These Times"

Posted Thu, 23 Jan 2014

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's article "Where Obama's Class Speech Failed: The president claims 'the opportunity gap in America is now as much about class as it is about race.' Is it?" is currently featured in the independent, non-profit magazine, In These Times. The magazine is dedicated to "advancing democracy and economic justice, informing movements for a more humane world, and providing an accessible forum for debate about the policies that shape our future." The complete article can be found at:

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Benson Blogs About "12 Years a Slave" and the Significance of Its Award Nominations

Posted Thu, 23 Jan 2014

Christopher Benson, Associate Professor of Journalism and African American Studies, posted a blog for the Huffington Post discussing the possible impact of the numerous award nominations the film "12 Years a Slave" has received. Read his article to see why he believes an Oscar win "would mean so much more than a trophy."

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Barber Named New Coordinator for Figure One

Posted Tue, 21 Jan 2014

Rehema Barber is the new Visiting Coordinator of Figure One, an off-campus venue of the University of Illinois School of Art and Design. A native of Chicago, Barber received her BA in history from Roosevelt University and her MA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, specializing in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism. She comes to Urbana/Champaign from Memphis where she worked as an independent curator and museum consultant and as an adjunct faculty member at Memphis College of Art and the University Memphis. She has also served as Executive Director of Power House Memphis, a museum, as an art educator in the St. Louis Public Schools, and as a curatorial associate at the Amistad Center for Art & Culture based at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut. Figure One, located at 116 N. Walnut Street in Champaign, is embarking on an ambitious project starting in February. “Social Habitat: The Porch Project by Heather Hart” will open on February 21st and close on April 5th. Hart has shown at the Brooklyn Museum, the Seattle Art Museum and the Studio Museum, and is currently a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Artist in Residence. “Hart was invited to transform Figure One’s main gallery space. She has proposed to construct a porch from found and salvaged materials, that will be accessible from below and above its surface. The resulting exhibition “Social Habitat: The Porch Project by Heather Hart” will be a place where segments of community are formed and defined, a place where people congregate to socialize, voice their ideas and concerns or listen to tales long forgotten.” Hart will be installing the Porch Project beginning at the end of this month through February 21, 2014. She will be presenting a public lecture at 5:30 p.m. on January 30th at 62 Krannert Art Museum. Barber has reached out broadly with opportunities for student and community participation. She is seeking installation volunteers and presenters for various themed programs, including poetry, oral history, storytellers, musicians, actors, dancers, DJs, improve artists and more. ALL PROPOSALS MUST BE FINALIZED BY JANUARY 31, 2014. For additional details on developing a program, go to: https://illinois.edu/lb/files/2014/01/21/50213.pdf

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Mendenhall Awarded EITC Evaluation Grant

Posted Tue, 21 Jan 2014

Ruby Mendenhall has been awarded a grant for $146,000 by the City of Chicago to evaluate a pilot project that involves giving low- and moderate-income families advance payments of their Earned Income Tax Credit. The opportunity to apply for the grant came after her invited talk about her research on the Earned Income Tax Credit at the University of Chicago’s Employment Instability Policy Forum. The City of Chicago and the Center for Economic will initiate a pilot project that will provide recipients of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit with half of their credit dollars during periodic intervals in 2014. The projects interdisciplinary research team will advise the Center for Economic Progress on the design of the pilot project and its Implementation, and monitor conformity of implementation to the project design. The project’s research staff includes: Ruby Mendenhall, Associate Professor of Sociology, African American Studies, and Urban and Regional Planning; Christopher Larrison, Associate Professor of Social Work; Lizanne DeStefano, Professor of Educational Psychology, Director, I-STEM Educational Initiative; Ilana Redstone Akresh, Associate Professor of Sociology; Karen Kramer, Assistant Professor of Human and Community Development, Family Studies; Andrew Greenlee, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Flavia Andrade, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Community Health; Kevin Franklin, Executive Director of the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (I-CHASS), Senior Research Scientist for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), Research Professor in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership and Adjunct Associate Professor African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Renee Lemons, Ph.D. Student in Educational Psychology; and Loren Henderson, Ph.D. Student in Sociology. For additional information on Professor Mendenhall’s background research, see Mendenhall, R., Edin, K., Crowley, S. Sykes, J., Tach, L., Kling, J., and Kriz, K. 2012. The Role of Earned Income Tax Credit in the Budgets of Low-Income Families. Social Service Review 86(3): 367-400.

UI English professor and team document life in Chicago's public housing

Posted Thu, 14 Nov 2013

In 1999, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development required the Chicago Housing Authority to conduct an inventory and inspection of its projects. When most were labeled uninhabitable and scheduled for demolition, the city formulated a “Plan for Transformation” that promised the residents would be relocated to better housing in nicer neighborhoods. Audrey Petty, professor of English at UIUC, immediately decided to chronicle the stories of the high-rise diaspora. “It was the PFT that made me feel this urgent desire to become better informed about this plan and what was happening to people,” Petty said. That curiosity resulted in her book, “High-Rise Stories: Voices From Chicago Public Housing,” recently published by McSweeney’s as part of its oral history series, Voice of Witness.

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Student survey: More than half experienced sexual coercion

Posted Thu, 07 Nov 2013

More than half (53 percent) of young women have experienced at least one incident of verbal, physical or substance-facilitated sexual coercion--and more than half of those incidents resulted in sexual intercourse, a recent study of high school and college students found. The study was conducted by Bryana H. French, a UI alumnus and faculty member at the University of Missouri, and Helen A. Neville, professor of African American studies and educational psychology at UIUC.

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UI Library acquires archives of Gwendolyn Brooks

Posted Thu, 07 Nov 2013

The U. of I. Rare Book and Manuscript Library has acquired the literary archives of Gwendolyn E. Brooks, the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize and the poet laureate of Illinois for the last 32 years of her life, until her death in 2000. The archives, which had been kept by Brooks' daughter Nora Brooks Blakely, comprise more than 150 boxes stuffed with manuscripts, drafts, revisions, correspondence, scrapbooks, clippings, homemade chapbooks in which Brooks neatly handwrote [sic] her earliest (unpublished) poems, and heavy bronze awards ensconced in velvet-lined boxes collected later in her career.

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