Advisory Board

mkDr. Molefi Kete Asante                  

Professor & Chair, Department of Africology & African American Studies

Temple University

Conceptualizer, Theory of Afrocentricity                    

Dr. Asante created the nation’s first doctoral program in African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1987. He also serves as the International Organizer for Afrocentricity International; President of the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies; Guest Professor, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China; and Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa. Asante, often called the most prolific African American scholar, has published 94 books, more than 500 articles, and is considered one of the most quoted living African authors, as well as one of the most distinguished thinkers in the African world, as well as one of the most influential leaders in education. He is a poet, novelist, dramatist, and a painter. His works on African language, African history, multiculturalism, human communication, and philosophy have been cited and reviewed by journals such as Africalogical Perspectives, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Journal of Black Studies, Journal of Communication, American Scholar, Daedalus, Western Journal of Black Studies, and International Journal of Pan African Thought. The Utne Reader called him one of the “100 Leading Thinkers” in America. “It is not enough to know. One must act to humanize the world,” is a credo by which Asante lives.

ddDr. Daryl Cumber Dance                

Folklorist & Professor of English, Emerita

University of Richmond & Virginia Commonwealth University     

Dr. Daryl Dance is an American academic best known for her work on Black folklore. The Richmond, Virginia native served as a member of the Virginia State University Board of Visitors for eight years, from 2012-2020. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Virginia State College in 1957. In 1971, she graduated from the University of Virginia with a doctorate in English and, that same year, she was named an assistant professor at Virginia State University. She taught at Virginia Commonwealth University between 1972 and 1993, at which time she joined the University of Richmond faculty. In 2013, Dance was appointed Sterling A. Brown Professor of English at Howard University. She is the author of over 16 books, including Honey, Hush: An Anthology of African American Women’s Humor. Recently, the octogenarian has been in the news for her amazing feat of publishing three books in one year (2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic: Land of the Free…Negroes: A Historical Novel, which builds upon her previously published family genealogy, The Lineage of Abraham: The Story of a Free Black Family in Charles City, Virginia (1998); Till Death Us Did Part, her semi-autobiographical, fictive reflections on widowhood; and Here Am I, a collection of short stories. Her anthology, From My People: 400 Years of African American Folklore (2002), has been called “a major contribution to African American scholarship. . .destined to be studied, passed on, and cherished for generations to come.”

pdMs. Peggy Davis                                                

Associate Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics

Virginia State University    

In her 18th year at the helm of the Virginia State University Athletics Department, as Associate Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, Peggy Davis continues to enhance a proud legacy of compassionate leadership. Alongside her two Hall of Fame honors (at Virginia State and Howard Payne Universities), in 2021, she was awarded the highest individual honor of the Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA), the Distinguished Service Award, which acknowledges and honors the effort of individuals who strive to promote understanding and appreciation of diversity in its multitude of forms.  Named Athletic Director of the Year by the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) seven times, Davis has been recognized as one of the Top 25 Outstanding Women in Higher Education & Beyond, on two separate occasions, by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and was tagged by the Board of Directors to serve as the Interim Commissioner of the CIAA during its search for a Commissioner, making her the first woman to lead the 12-member historic athletic conference. Since 2004, she has overseen numerous athletic facility improvements at VSU, the largest of which is the $84 million Multipurpose Center, which opened in February 2016.

alexander-gabbin.jpgDr. Alexander L. Gabbin

KPMG LLP Professor of Accounting

James Madison University 

Since 1994, Dr. Alexander Gabbin has been the KPMG LLP Professor of Accounting at James Madison University. A leading accounting educator, he was a founding member (1970) of the National Black MBA Association, Inc., and he was the recipient of their Lifetime Membership Award. Dr. Gabbin was also the Adolph Coors Foundation Professor of Accounting, 1991-1994. Throughout his illustrious career, he has served in an advisory fiduciary role for numerous community organizations, including Third World Press.

jgDr. Joanne Gabbin                         

Founding Executive Director      

Furious Flower Poetry Center

James Madison University

A professor of English at James Madison University (JMU), Joanne V. Gabbin was the director of the JMU Honors Program when she hosted the premier Furious Flower Poetry Conference in 1994, which was the first academic conference on Black poetry. She continued to invite Black poets and other scholars to the JMU campus under the auspices of the Honors Program (calling these guest lectures and readings Furious Flower events), and in 2005, after the grand success of another major Furious Flower Poetry Conference in 2004, JMU formally established the Furious Flower Poetry Center (FFPC), the first, and at the time, only academic center devoted to Black poetry. Dr. Gabbin left her beloved position with the Honors Program to become executive director of the nascent FFPC. Since then, Gabbin has served as a visionary leader, building key relationships with scholars, poets, and corporate partners, as well as conceiving, overseeing, and fundraising for special projects and events.

egMr. Everett L. Glenn, Esquire                      

CEO & Executive Director

Business of Student Success (BOSS)  

A graduate of Oberlin College and Case-Western Reserve University’s School of Law, Mr. Glenn is a member of the State Bar of Ohio and the State Bar of California. For over 20 years, Everett was an NFL and NBA certified contract advisor, whose clients included 13 first round draft picks in the NBA and NFL and 3 inductees into the NFL Hall of Fame. Everett was the first Black attorney/agent to represent multiple 1st round draft picks in the same NFL draft (twice); first and perhaps still the only attorney/agent to represent 1st round draft picks in both the NBA and the NFL in the same year (twice); 1st round draft picks in 5 straight NFL drafts; and 1st round wide receivers in 4 straight NFL drafts. His list of “firsts” also includes becoming the first Black attorney in the Office of the City Attorney for the City of Long Beach, where he took the lead on ensuring compliance by developers with Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Act of 1968 on over $150 million in affordable housing projects, and authored the Small Business Enterprise Program for the Port of Long Beach, the nation’s busiest port, to promote participation of small and very small business concerns in Port spending. Enacted in 2006, the program resulted in the award of over $300 million in construction and planning contracts for small and very small businesses.  

lhDr. Lenneal Henderson                

Senior Fellow and Eminent Scholar

Virginia State University 

Dr. Henderson is the former Interim Dean of VSU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is also a Visiting Faculty Member at the College of William and Mary. He is Assistant Dean of Students and Distinguished Professor of Public and International Affairs, Emeritus at the University of Baltimore. Also, a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a Fellow of the International City Management Association, he is the former President of the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, Vice-Chairman of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, and a founding Board member of the Reginald Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture.

rhDr. Renée A. Hill                                              

Retired VSU Professor of Philosophy 

Former Co-Director of VSU’s Institute for the Study of Race Relations 

Renée A. Hill retired as an Associate Professor of Philosophy specializing in Political Philosophy and as the Interim Department Chair for the Department of History and Philosophy at Virginia State University. She developed and coordinated the Oasis, the Mindfulness/Meditation Center on VSU’s campus and for twelve years was Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Race Relations. She taught, researched, lectured, and implemented programs in the areas of social justice and contemplative practices.  Hill advised the LGBTQ student advocacy organization on campus and continues to be on the board of the Southern Initiative Algebra Project. She has studied at the Intercultural Communications Institute and the U.S. Holocaust and Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and was awarded a fellowship for the teaching of contemplative practices by the American Council of Learned Societies. 

dr.-clenora-hudson-weems--recent-headshot--somber.jpegDr. Clenora Hudson-Weems             

2021-2022 Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Prof, African American Studies--U of Iowa

Professor of English--University of Missouri, Columbia

Conceptualizer, Africana Womanism & Establisher,  Till as Catalyst of the CRM

Professor, Author, Screen Writer and Producer, Dr. Hudson is Conceptualizer of Africana Womanism – an authentic global family-centered paradigm that prioritizes race, class and gender -- and author of four Africana Womanism books, including the new edition of the 1993 classic, Africana Womanism: Reclaiming Ourselves (Routledge 2019-20), and its sequel, Africana Womanist Literary Theory (Africa World Press 2004). The 1st International Africana Womanism Conference was hosted by the University of Zimbabwe in OCT 2010, the seed for its upcoming conference on Women in OCT 2021, where she will serve as the Opening Plenary Speaker.  The 1st to establish Emmett Till as the true catalyst of the modern Civil Rights Movement in her1988 Ford doctoral dissertation, “Emmett Louis Till: The Impetus of the Modern Civil Rights Movement” (U of Iowa), later published as Emmett Till: The Sacrificial Lamb of the Civil Rights Movement (1994). Her culminating Till book, the 4th one, Emmett: Legacy, Redemption, Forgiveness (2014), was endorsed by Oscar Award-winning co-writer of Rain Man, Barry Morrow. Other book endorsers for her 1st Till book include Dr. John Blassingame, preeminent author and Professor of History at Yale U--“Hudson-Weems is absolutely right. We historians missed it;” and Dr. C. Eric Lincoln, esteemed author and distinguished Professor at Duke U-- “She challenges the most sacred shibboleths of the origins of the Civil Rights Movement.”  Initiating the Nation’s 1st graduate degrees (PhD and MA) in English with an Africana Concentration in 2000, she also co-authored (with Dr. Wilfred D. Samuels) Toni Morrison (1990), the 1st critical study of the works of the Nobel Laureate. Editor of Contemporary Africana Theory, Thought & Action: A Guide to Africana Studies (Africa World Press 2007), her recent invitational volume, Africana Paradigms, Practices & Literary Text: Evoking Social Justice, was released in AUG, 2021(Kendall Hunt). She has finished 2 more unpublished books--“Africana-Melanated Womanism: Men/Women/Children—In It Together,” advocating interconnectivity for the 2-sided human coin as key in our united fight for true Social Justice, and “Legendary Africana People—from A-Z.”

kDr. Maulana Karenga     

Professor & Chair, Department of Africana Studies                    

California State University, Long Beach

Kwanzaa Creator & Founder of Kawaida Philosophy         

Dr. Karenga is internationally known as the creator of Kwanzaa, an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrated throughout the global African community, on every continent in the world. He is the author of the authoritative book on the subject: Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture, and lectures regularly and extensively on the vision and values of Kwanzaa, especially the Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles), in various national and international venues. Dr. Karenga has had a far-reaching effect on Black intellectual and political culture since the 1960s. Through his intellectual and organizational work, and his philosophy of Kawaida, he has played a vanguard role in shaping the Black Arts Movement, the Black Studies and Black Power Movements, the Black Student Union Movement, Afrocentricity, and the study of ancient Egyptian culture as an essential part of Black Studies. As well, he has been a pivotal figure in Ifa ethical studies, rites of passage programs, the Independent Black School Movement, African life-cycle ceremonies, the Simba Wachanga Youth Movement, Black theological and ethical discourse, and the Reparations Movement. Moreover, he is the Executive Director of the African American Cultural Center and the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies, Los Angeles, and National Chairman of The Organization Us, a cultural and social change organization, so named to stress the communitarian focus of the organization. Dr. Karenga also played a key role on the founding and executive committee of the Black Power Conferences of the 60's, the National Black United Front, the National African American Leadership Summit, the Black Leadership Retreat, and the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO). He also served on the executive council of the National Organizing Committee of the Million Man March/Day of Absence, and he authored the Mission Statement for this joint project.

bkMr. Benyameen Sam Keelson                       

Professional Artist & Retired Cultural Administrator

W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan African Culture, Accra &

Centre for National Culture - Western Region, Ghana West Africa               

Mr. Keelson has organized several training programs for artists and craftsmen, youth organizations and Students of Second Cycle Schools in the Western Region, which, because of his organizational ability, is has been projected in several international, national, and regional exhibitions, bazaars, and fairs. Beyond this, Mr. Keelson has undertaken Artistic projects and also trained talented but academically weak youth and students. He won a major artistic project at the Elmina Beach Resort in 1999/2000, a project he executed with excellence. During his services at the Centre, in charge of Visual Arts and Research Departments, he was the Project Coordinator for the Artistic Restoration of Fort Apollonia. He had earlier coordinated the Sustainable Skill Training for Street Children (SSTFSC) Project, which the Centre undertook with sponsorship from the Community-based Poverty Reduction Project – Street Children Component of the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, in 2003 – 2004 and the Cultural Initiative Support Programme (CISP) Vocational skills Training for Street Hawkers in 2008. Through these projects/programs, about 80 homeless children were trained in Vocational Skills, allowing them to move them from the streets of the Metropolis. He has a store of leadership qualities that has motivated and inspired myriad young people of diverse background.

clDr. Carol “Mama Safisha Madhubuti” Lee             

Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University

School of Education and Social Policy 

Dr. Lee is the President-Elect of the National Academy of Education (NAEd), and she co-edited their recently issued report, Educating for Civic Reasoning and Discourse. Additionally, Mama Safisha holds membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Reading Hall of Fame. As well, she is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association, a fellow of the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy, and a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. She has led two international delegations in education on behalf of the People to People’s Ambassador Program to South Africa and the People’s Republic of China.  She is the author or co-editor of three books, including Culture, Literacy and Learning: Taking Bloom in the Midst of the Whirlwind, and  over 108 journal articles and book or handbook chapters in the field of education. She is a founder of three African-centered schools in Chicago that span a 48-year history, including two charter schools under the umbrella of the Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools (est. 1998) where she serves as chair of the Board of Directors.  She is married to Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti, famed Black Arts Movement poet and publisher emeritus of Third World Press, and is the mother of three adult children and four grandchildren. Together they have six adult children and nine grandchildren.

hmDr. Haki R. Madhubuti

Professor Emeritus, Chicago State University

Founder, Third World Press 

Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti is an award-winning poet, one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, an essayist, educator, founder and publisher (Emeritus) of Third World Press (1967) and Third World Press Foundation. Baba Haki, as he is fondly known, is the author/editor of over thirty-six books of poetry and nonfiction including Don’t Cry, Scream (1969), Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook (2004), YellowBlack: The First Twenty-One Years of a Poet’s Life (2006); Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems 1967-2009 (2009), Honoring genius, Gwendolyn Brooks: The narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice (2011); and the best-selling Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? (1991). A long-time community activist and institution builder, Madhubuti is a co-founder of the Institute of Positive Education and its three schools in Chicago. He retired in 2011 after a forty-two-year distinguished teaching career that included Cornell University, Howard University, Chicago State University where he was appointed its first University Distinguished Professor and was the founding Director of its MFA Program in Creative Writing, and DePaul University, where he served as the last Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor. Madhubuti’s most recent books are, Taking Bullets: Terrorism and Black Life in Twenty-First Century America (2016), co-editor of Not Our President: New Directions From the Pushed Out, the Others, and the Clear Majority in Trump’s Stolen America (2017) and Taught By Women: Poems As Resistance Language New And Selected (2020).

christopher-metzler.jpgDr. Christopher J. Metzler  (1964-2024)*                        

Lecturer, Columbia University 

Visiting Scholar, London School of Economics 

Christopher J. Metzler, M.A., Ph.D., M.L., is President and CEO of HFW¥ a global Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Metzler was Associate Dean at the School of Continuing Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Before joining Georgetown University, he was on the faculty at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School where he directed the EEO and Diversity Studies program. At Cornell, he created the nation’s first certification program for diversity professionals and established the Chief Diversity Officers’ Roundtable. He lectures globally on diversity, global employment practices, corporate social responsibility, human rights, human resources and comparative employment systems.

freddy-thomas.jpgDr. Freddy L. Thomas (1943-2024)*                                    

Professor of English Emeritus

Virginia State University 

A longtime educator and administrator, Dr. Thomas is the former Chair of the Department of Languages & Literature, Director of the Quality Enhancement Program, and Founding Director the VSU Writing and ePortfolio Studio. Thomas, as well, was Director of the Southside Virginia Writing Project, a National Writing Project site (1992 – 2005). He also was Professor and Chair of the Department of English (1987-1992) at Southern University and A. and M. College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he was also Director of the Southern University/East Baton Rouge Parish Articulation Program to Improve the Teaching of Writing – funded by a Funds for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. He served as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)’s representative to the Board of Examiners for the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), from 1995-2016. A highly sought-after consultant and examiner, since 1997, he has also been a member of the Editorial Board of the bi-annual journal Assessing Writing.

vwMs. Val Gray Ward  (1932-2024)*                                     

Actress & Cultural Activist

Founder, Kuumba Theatre, Chicago

Val Gray Ward, popularly known as “The Voice of the Black Writer,” dramatist-historian, producer, director, educator, cultural activist, “quilt memoirist,” and the founder of Chicago’s famed pioneering Black arts theatre Kuumba Theatre, was born and raised in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, one of the oldest all-Black towns in America. The daughter of a Black southern minister, she had an ordained gift for performance that manifested at an early age through her love for literature when she dramatically recited poems and won various oratorical competitions in school and the state of Mississippi. In 1951, Ward migrated to the city of Chicago. She, subsequently, got married and gave birth to five children. Ward’s natural penchant for the arts and relentless dedication to Black empowerment, liberation, and culture got her heavily involved in the Black Arts Movement (BAM) and Pan-Africanist Movement. Ward cultivated lifelong friendships with Gwendolyn Brooks, Dr. Margaret Burroughs, Hoyt W. Fuller, Haki Madhubuti (Don L. Lee) among many others, and was a regular at the South Side Community Arts Center and the DuSable Museum of African American History. In 1965, she met her second husband, Francis Ward, veteran journalist, university professor emeritus and co-founder of National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). In 1968, Ward founded the iconic Kuumba Workshop in her Southside home. “Kuumba” in Kiswahili means “clean-up, create, and build.” Prior to Kuumba, Ward established a community-centered organization called “Artists for Freedom.” In 1969, she became the first director of the Afro-American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. A pan-Africanist, Ward’s art and activism have taken her around the world, where she performed and gave lectures at community and cultural centers, churches, prisons, universities, colleges, street corners, and festivals.  In 1977, Ward took the Kuumba cast and crew of Useni Perkins’s play The Image Makers to FESTAC ‘77, Lagos, Nigeria. The play was born out of Ward’s strong stance against Blaxploitation films. Over the years, Ward’s Kuumba Theatre has produced plays such as The Amen Corner by James Baldwin, Welcome to Black River by Samm Art Williams, and Five On The Black Hand Side by Charles Fuller. Ward is the recipient of over 200 awards, including an Emmy for the WTTW PBS television production of her edutainment film Precious Memories: Strolling 47th Street, which was co-written by her husband, Francis, and won 21 Emmys. Most recently she received the Benjamin Banneker Lifetime Achievement Award; the King Arts Complex “Legends & Legacies” Award in Columbus, OH; the DuSable Museum Lifetime Membership Award; and the 100 Black Women Award. In 2003, she released her Grammy-nominated CD Rhapsody in Hughes 101, honoring the life and works of Langston Hughes. In 2022, Ward was successfully nominated for an honorary doctorate from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. The following year, a course was developed in her name and legacy at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA.

*It is with profound sadness that we observe the recent passing of these beloved JABAI Founding Advisory Board Members*
Dr. Christopher J. Metzler 1964-2024
Dr. Freddy L. Thomas 1943-2024
Val Gray Ward 1932-2024