Bernard Powers

Dr. Bernard Powers is the founding director of the College of Charleston’s Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston and a professor emeritus of history at the university. He’s an expert on African American history and culture and the role of slavery in American history.

Charleston — the city where the civil war started and where 40% of all enslaved Africans brought to the United States entered the country — has long been a center of African American history and culture. And like many American cities, it also has public Confederate monuments and statues of historical figures who supported slavery and advocated white supremacy.

As of last week, the city has one less monument. The statue of vice president and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun in Marion Square — located just a block from Mother Emanuel AME, the site of the 2015 terrorist attack by white supremacist Dylan Roof — was removed on June 24 after a unanimous city council vote.

In a recent op-ed, Powers advocates for a new monument honoring Civil War-era African Americans — such as Charleston native Robert Smalls — as a replacement for the White Point Gardens Confederate memorial.

Over his 40-year academic career, Powers has published numerous books and articles including 1994’s Black Charlestonians:  A Social History 1822-1885, which examines the socioeconomic history of the city’s vibrant free Black population and the changes caused by emancipation after the Civil War. Most recently, he co-authored the 2016 book We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel.

Powers has also appeared in several documentaries, including the PBS series African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and 2019’s Emanuel: the Untold Story of the Victims and Survivors of the Charleston Church Shooting. His current research focuses on African Methodism in South Carolina.

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Expertise: African American history and culture, the role of slavery in American history

Contact information:

Email (preferred): powersb@cofc.edu

Phone: 843-813-4871

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Last updated June 29, 2020

Bakari Kitwana

Bakari Kitwana is the Editorial Director of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop, which conducts townhall meetings across the US on difficult dialogues facing the hip-hop generation, and the Senior Media Fellow at the Harvard Law based Think Tank, The Jamestown Project. Kitwana wrote the bestselling book The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture, which is used as a coursebook in over 100 colleges and universities.

Kitwana was former executive editor of The Source: The magazine of hip-hop music, culture and politics and editorial director of Third World Press. He also taught political science at University of Chicago and was a visiting scholar at Columbia College. Kitwana is the author of the forthcoming book Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era set to publish later this fall.

Bakari Kitwana

Editorial Director of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop

Senior Media Fellow at the The Jamestown Project

Areas of Expertise: Hip-hop activism, youth culture and young voter political participation

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Contact Information:

Email: Bakari.kitwana@gmail.com

Twitter: @therealbakari

Phone: 440-779-9893 (Office)

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Added October 2015

Last Verified: October 2015

Tiya Miles

Tiya Miles is chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, where she is professor of history, American culture, Native American studies and women’s studies. Her work looking at the interrelationships between African and Cherokee people in colonial America earned her a 2011 MacArthur Foundation fellowship.

Miles has written two prize-winning books, Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom” and “The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story,” as well as numerous articles on women’s history and the black and Native interrelated experience. She has been a frequent guest on NPR’s Tell Me More.

Chair of the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Elsa Barkley Brown Collegiate Professor and Professor of History, American Culture, Native American Studies and Women’s Studies at University of Michigan

Areas of Expertise: History, American History, Native American Issues, African American Studies, Interrelationship Between Native Americans and African Americans, Women’s Issues

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Contact Info:

Email: tiya@umich.edu

Office: (734) 764-5513

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Jason King

Jason King is a cultural critic and associate professor of recorded music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and as of 2014 is one of the curators and hosts of NPR’s 24/7 R&B music stream, “I’ll Take You There.”

A musician and producer himself, King has written about music and culture for publications like Blender, The LA Times, Slate, Vibe, The Village Voice and The Root. He has been a talking head on various documentaries and has appeared as a guest on NPR’s Tell Me More and All Things Considered.

Culture Critic, Associate Professor of Recorded Music at NYU, Host/Curator of NPR’s “I’ll Take You There”

Area of Expertise: Music (R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Rock, Jazz), Record Producing, African American Culture, Asian American Culture

Location: New York City

Contact Info:

Email: jason@jasonkingonline.com

Twitter: @jasonkingsays, @NPRandB

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Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb is the Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University. He was previously a history professor and director of the Institute of African American Studies at the University of Connecticut. He specializes in post-Civil War African American history, 20th century and modern American politics and the history of the Cold War. Cobb served as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic Convention and was selected as part of the Root 100 in 2013 — a listing of influential African American thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs and leaders.

He is a recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright and Ford Foundations. Cobb is the author of “The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress” and “To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic,” which was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing. His collection “The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays” was published in 2007. Cobb’s forthcoming book is titled “Antidote to Revolution: African American Anticommunism and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1931-1957.”

Cobb has contributed to a number of anthologies including In Defense of Mumia, Testimony, Mending the World and Beats, Rhymes and Life. He is a frequent contributor to NewYorker.com and his work has appeared in The New Republic, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Vibe magazine. He has also been a featured commentator on MSNBC, National Public Radio, CNN, Al-Jazeera, CBS News and a number of other national broadcast outlets.

Professor of Journalism, Columbia University

Areas of Expertise: African American Culture & History, Cold War History, 20th-Century American Politics, Contemporary Politics

Location: Hartford, CT

Contact info:

Office: 212-851-1809

Email: jelani.cobb@gmail.com

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