Amelia Blyden Ph.D. 1928 – 2020

She graduated with a B.A. in music education from Boston University. She was Professor Emerita at The College of New Jersey, formerly Trenton State University where for 14 years she taught and supervised aspiring teachers in the Department of Special Education. She was elected to The College of New Jersey Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. She was a strong advocate for integrating cultural diversity in the special education curriculum and handicapped people into the mainstream of their communities. She was awarded the Teacher of the Year Award for her contributions to its Citizen Advocacy Program in 1997. This was followed in 2000, with the Woman of Achievement Award from the YWCA of Trenton, NJ for being a constant and persistent advocate for a positive multicultural climate in curricula, strategies, job opportunities, educational opportunities, recognition and funding for minorities with disabilities. Amelia Blyden left behind a tremendous legacy and will be fondly remembered.

Cassandra Jackson 1
Professors Cassandra Jackson, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Juda Bennett, and Piper Williams have a Skype interview with Roxane Gay about their new book, the Toni Morrison Book Club
Cassandra Jackson 3
CJ or JB


Cassandra Jackson Ph.D.

She received a B.A. in English from Spelman College and a Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Her research and teaching interests focus on African-American literature, critical race theory, and visual culture. She is the author of Barriers Between Us: Interracial Sex in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Indiana University Press, 2004) and Violence, Visual Culture, and the Black Male Body (Routledge, 2010).In 2010 she co-curated a TCNJ Art Gallery exhibit, “Wounding the Black Male: Photographs from the Light Work Collection.” This exhibit has also been shown at the Light Work Gallery (Syracuse, NY) and the CEPA Gallery (Buffalo, NY). Professor Jackson is an alum of the OpEd Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the number of women and minority thought leaders in key commentary forums. Her public commentary on race in American culture can be found on the Huffington Post. She is currently working on a book of creative non-fiction on race and infertility. She also wrote the Toni Morrison Book Club along side Roxane Gay, Piper Kendrix Williams, Cassandra Jackson, Juda Bennett and Winnifred Brown-Glaude.

Dr. Christopher Fisher with  Dr. Robert McGreevey


Christopher Fisher Ph.D.

Ewing, is an associate professor of history at The College of New Jersey. Christopher is originally from Long Branch, NJ where he graduated from the high school in 1989. He earned a BA in history and political science from Rutgers College in 1993 and his Ph.D. in history, with a focus on US diplomacy, from Rutgers University in 2001. Christopher has been on the faculty at TCNJ since 2000 and has served in various administrative capacities that include department chair of African American Studies, provost search chair, member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and co-chair of the President’s Commission on Race and Educational Attainment. He has published in Pacific Historical Review and International History Review. He is the co-author of the 2017 textbook, Global America in the Twentieth Century, with Oxford University Press. Christopher is currently writing a book on cold war culture and consciousness in the 1970s. His areas of expertise are the US in the twentieth century, cold war culture and diplomacy, US in the World, American empire and imperialism, African-American history, and Racism and Race Relations in the US.



Craig Hollander Ph.D.

Associate Professor of 19th-century U.S. History, the History of Slavery, and Atlantic History. Professor Craig Hollander graduated from Columbia University in 2004. He then received his PhD in 19th-century U.S. history from The Johns Hopkins University in 2013. Professor Hollander was the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships during his time in graduate school, including the Alexander Butler Prize, the Hodson Fellowship in the Humanities, a Doris G. Quinn Fellowship, a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship, and the Barra Dissertation Fellowship from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the TCNJ faculty, Professor Hollander was the Behrman Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at Princeton University. His dissertation, titled *Against a Sea of Troubles: Slave Trade Suppressionism During the Early Republic*, won both the 2014 C. Vann Woodward Prize from the Southern Historical Association and the 2014 SHEAR Dissertation Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. Professor Hollander’s manuscript is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press for publication in the Early American Studies Series.

Don Evans

Donald T. Evans (Don Evans) Ph.D. 1938-2003

Don Evans was a renowned playwright, actor, director and educator, as well as co-founder and former chair of the Department of African American Studies at TCNJ. He became a member of TCNJ’s faculty in 1972.He won fellowships in playwriting from the National Endowment for the Arts and other organizations and taught courses in playwriting, African American literature and drama, and jazz. A member of TCNJ’s faculty since 1972, Evans worked also as director of the Minority Executive Council, where he served as assistant to the president. His also directed plays at the College, including Ed Bullins’ “Taking of Miss Janie” and August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” His plays have been produced in virtually every major city of the United States, as well as in England , Germany , and Hong Kong.


Gary Fienberg Ph.D.

Dr. Gary Fienberg is Assistant Professor of Trumpet, Coordinator of Brass Studies and Jazz Ensemble Director at The College of New Jersey, and served as Department Chair from 2008 to 2013. Dr. Fienberg is a trumpeter whose experiences range from the great concert halls of Europe to the orchestra pits of Broadway. His performance interests cover the complete range of possibilities for a contemporary trumpeter in classical, jazz and commercial music. He has performed with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, The Manhattan Transfer, Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, The Temptations, Toots Thielmanns and many others. During a nine year residence in Europe, he worked for all of the major broadcasting companies in both the Netherlands and in Germany, performed at the acclaimed North Sea Jazz Festival, and worked with both the Big Band and Symphonic Orchestra of the Nord Deutscher Rundfunk. In 1992, Dr. Fienberg was appointed Director of Jazz Ensembles at Carnegie Mellon University and then served as Assistant Head of the School of Music from 1998-2001. During this time he was a member of the acclaimed River City Brass Band, performing in both the Solo Cornet and Flugelhorn positions. In 2001, Dr. Fienberg was appointed Assistant Professor of Trumpet, Coordinator of Brass Studies and Jazz Ensemble Director at The College of New Jersey. Dr. Fienberg earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Carnegie Mellon where he was a student of Anthony Pasquarelli. He received a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh where Dr. Nathan Davis served as his dissertation advisor.

o-jdick25-a - Gloria Harper Dickinson


Gloria Harper Dickinson Ph.D. 1947-2009

She was a founding member and past chair of TCNJ’s African American Studies Department, she worked at TCNJ for over 30 years. Before this, she spent several years teaching in public schools in Camden, NJ. In 1978 she joined the African American studies faculty at TCNJ, or as it was known back then Trenton State College. Dr. Dickinson arrived at the College in 1971, teaching in the English department before joining the African-American studies faculty, where she would chair at various times throughout her tenure. She was president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History from 2001-3, and was also the former secretary and international director of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Dr. Dickinson’s interests were in Africana women, African diaspora cultures, new media pedagogies, and in strengthening and modernizing African American civil society.

Professors Cassandra Jackson, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Juda Bennett, and Piper Williams have a Skype interview with Roxane Gay about their new book, the Toni Morrison Book Club


Juda Bennett Ph.D.

Bennet received degrees in Creative Writing at Binghamton University and a Ph.D. in American Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. He teaches courses in Queer Literature and Theory, African American Literature, and Transgender Theory. He is a c0-author with Roxane Gay, Piper Kendrix Williams, Cassandra Jackson, and Winnifred Brown-Glaude of Toni Morrison and the Queer Pleasure of Ghosts (SUNY, 2014) and The Passing Figure: Racial Confusion in Modern American Literature (Peter Lang, 1998). His scholarly essays on race and sexuality have appeared in The African American Review, Biography, ImageText, and other journals, and his creative work has appeared in Laurel Review, Quarterly West, Wisconsin Review, and other literary journals.

Dr. Graham


James Graham Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) he received a B.A. in psychology from Miami University and completed graduate studies in developmental psychology at the University of Memphis. His scholarly work addresses the social-cognitive aspects of relationships between the group and dyadic levels across early, middle, and late childhood in community-based settings. Dr. Graham is co-author or co-editor of several books including, The African American Child: Development and Challenges, and Children of Incarcerated Parents: Theoretical, Developmental, and Clinical Issues. He has presented his work at a variety of international and national conferences and has published articles in professional journals such as Social Development, Child Study Journal, Behavior Modification, Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, Journal of College Student Development, and American Journal of Evaluation. Currently, he is the Coordinator of the Developmental Specialization in Psychology at TCNJ. For ten years, Dr. Graham taught graduate courses in psychology and education in Johannesburg, South Africa through TCNJ’s Graduate Global Program. He is actively involved in several community agencies, such as the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, Kidsbridge Center, CampFire NJ, Head Start, and the Trenton Education Dance Institute.



Kim Pearson M.A.

She started out in the English Department of TCNJ in 1990. Her magazine journalism has appeared in Black Enterprise, Emerge, and the Quarterly Black Review of Books, among other outlets. She was named the New Jersey CASE Professor of the Year in 2000. She received a B.A. from Princeton and a M.A. in journalism from New York University. Kim Pearson is currently an associate professor of journalism at The College of New Jersey. At TCNJ, Pearson has taught a broad range of courses in the Journalism, Professional Writing, African American Studies, Interactive Multimedia and Liberal Learning programs. She co-founded TCNJ’s Interactive Multimedia major, along with Ursula Wolz and Phillip Sanders. From 2011-14, she chaired the Department of African American Studies.


Lee Ridley

Lee Ridley is a renowned bassist and also an important figure to the AAS department since he helped establish race-related education as a mainstay of the College alongside other people important to the development of the African American Studies Department.



Leigh-Anne Francis Ph.D.

An associate professor with dual appointment in the departments of African American Studies and Women and Gender Studies at TCNJ. She has a Ph.D. in United States and African American History, an M.A. in U.S. and World History, and a B.F.A. in Painting and Illustration. She won the Outstanding Course Award for her FSP on Race, Crime, and Prisons in US History.  According to Shaun Wiley, coordinator of the FSP program, Dr. Francis’s course was chosen because it “met and exceeded every goal of the First Seminar Program. It was rigorous and interdisciplinary. It pushed students to think through difficult contemporary and historical issues. It included scaffolded writing assignments that gave students the benefit of your expert feedback.



Marla Jaksch Ph.D.

Dr. Marla L. Jaksch is a Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Coordinator of Competitive Post-Graduate Fellowships. She attended the Pennsylvania State University where she received a dual-title Ph.D. in Women’s Studies and Art Education. Her research and teaching interests include: transnational feminisms, development, art and microfinance schemes, STEAM, visual culture, cultural tourism, heritage, and preservation, feminist pedagogies and methodologies, and global community engaged learning.

mary cannito-coville

Mary Cannito-Coville Ph.D.

Dr. Cannito-Coville is an Assistant Professor of Criminology and AfricanAmerican Studies. She received her PhD in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University. Her teaching and research interests examine the school to prison pipeline, prison industrial complex, youth violence, and anti-gang policing. Dr. Cannito-Coville is currently at work on a book manuscript based on her dissertation Targeted: Young black men, schools & the consequences of anti-gang policing. Prior to her graduate studies, she was a Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Languages at the Universidad de Medellín in Colombia. She brings a wealth of teaching and leadership experience at the secondary and post-secondary levels.



Mekala Audain Ph.D.

Dr. Audain is an Associate Professor of Nineteenth-century U.S. history and African American history. She earned her Ph.D. from Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2014. Her research interests center on slavery, fugitive slaves, black emigration, and free and enslaved African Americans on the U.S.-Mexico border. Audain was a fellow at Brown University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice before coming to TCNJ in 2015.  She has continued her research — directing two students studying the topic in a Mentored Undergraduate Summer Research project — and is working on a book manuscript titled, Mexican Canaan: Fugitive Slave Escapes to Spanish Texas and Northeastern Mexico, 1804–1865.

michael conklin

Michael Conklin Ph.D.

Dr. Conklin is an adjunct Instructor of Music (Historical and Cultural Studies in Music).Dr. Conklin is an active scholar, musician, and writer who specializes in jazz history and American music, the Harlem Renaissance, and issues of race and class. He also has a keen interest, and passion for, the life and music of pianist Bill Evans. He holds the Doctor of Letters degree (with a concentration in Jazz History and American Cultural Studies) from Drew University where his dissertation was entitled, “Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: Jazz as Social Commentary in Harlem of the 1920s.” He defended his dissertation with distinction. Dr. Conklin was recently awarded the coveted 2019 Morroe Berger – Benny Carter – Ed Berger Jazz Research Fellowship at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ.



Michael B. Mitchell, M.A.

Assistant Professor for African American Studies and Criminology and a critical criminologist who critiques power, privilege, and racism and their relation to systems of oppression, namely the criminal legal system. He received a B.S. in Administration of Justice from Texas Southern University (TSU), a historically Black university in Houston’s Third Ward; an M.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Arlington; and is currently completing a Ph.D. in Administration of Justice at TSU. His current research agenda focuses on the impact of the criminal legal system on family life (especially during the reentry process), with emphasis on the parenting experiences, challenges, and resiliency among mothers and fathers with histories of incarceration.



Ntozake Shange M.A. 1948-2018

Shange was an American playwright and poet. As a Black feminist, she addressed issues relating to race and Black power in much of her work. In 1971, Paulette Williams changed her name to Ntozake Shange, which is Zulu for “she who comes with her own things and walks like a lion. She is best known for her Obie Award-winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Among Shange’s honors and awards were fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, a Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Pushcart Prize. In April 2016, Barnard College announced it had acquired Shange’s archive. Shange’s works include: A Photograph (1977), Boogie Woogie Landscapes (1979), Spell #7 (1979), Black and White Two Dimensional Planes (1979), Mother Courage and Her Children (1980) for which she received an Obie award, Three for a Full Moon (1982), Bocas (1982), Educating Rita (1982), and Three Views of Mt. Fuji (1987). Her novels include: Sassafras, Cypress, and Indigo (1982), Betsey Brown (1985), and Liliane: Resurrection of the Daughter(1994). Her poetry collections include Nappy Edges (1978), A Daughter’s Geography (1983), Ridin’ the Moon to Texas (1987), The Love Space Demands (1989), and her first children’s book, I Live in Music (1994). She graduated cum laude from Barnard with a B.A. in 1970.  In 1973, she earned an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

Professors Cassandra Jackson, Winnifred Brown-Glaude, Juda Bennett, and Piper Williams have a Skype interview with Roxane Gay about their new book, the Toni Morrison Book Club


Piper Kendrix Williams Ph.D.

Hired in 2002, is an Associate Professor in the English and African American Studies Departments. Wrote a book which was published by SUNY Press in 2010, Re-presenting Segregation: Toward and Esthectics of Living Jim Crow, which was co-edited with Brian Norma. Also wrote the Toni Morrison Book Club along side Roxane Gay, Piper Kendrix Williams, Cassandra Jackson, Juda Bennett and Winnifred Brown-Glaude. Currently, she is serving as the chair for the African American Studies Department. 

ruth hall

Ruth Hall Ph.D.

An Associate Professor of Psychology, with an AB from Heidelberg College; MA, and an PhD from Boston University. Ruth Hall, a professor of psychology at the College, received the award for Distinguished Contribution to Ethnic Minority Issues for 2011. This award is given by the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues (Division 44 of the American Psychological Association). Hall won the award for the extensive research she has done that integrates issues that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and people of color face.



Ruth Palmer Ph.D.

Palmer received her bachelor’s degree from the University of the West Indies at Trinidad and her MA and PhD in educational psychology from Howard University. Palmer taught a variety of courses, including Adolescent Learning and Development and the FSP Pedagogy and Politics of the Civil Rights Movement: A Focus on Citizenship Schools, Freedom Schools, and Community. Her research interests include teacher education, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and middle-level education. Palmer advised TCNJ’s student-led Secondary Education Teachers Association, and she has served on the Board of Education for Ewing Township Public Schools. She was elected as a general representative to the Executive Board of the Council on Undergraduate Research in 2017. Associate Professor of Educational Administration and Secondary Education. almer’s teaching portfolio at TCNJ has included multiple courses in the U.S. and international programs of the School of Education such as Adolescent Learning and Development; the first-year seminar Pedagogy and Politics of the Civil Rights Movement: A Focus on Citizenship Schools, Freedom Schools, and Community; and practicum-based research and inquiry integrated into courses. She retired  July 1, 2019 after 24 years at TCNJ.


Stephen Chukumba Ph.D. 1933-2012 

Dr. Chukumba was born in Mbaise, Nigeria, and had been a resident of Ewing Township since 1972. He was a professor and main founder of the African American and African Studies Department.



Winnifred Brown-Glaude Ph.D.

Dr. Winnifred is a Professor in the departments of African American Studies and Sociology & Anthropology at The College of New Jersey. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Temple University (2003). Her primary fields of research include, Race and Ethnicity in the Anglophone-Caribbean; Race, Gender and Informal Economies; Gender and GlobalizationHer most recent book is Higgler’s in Kingston: Women’s Informal Work in Jamaica (Vanderbilt University Press, 2011). Her other publications include several articles and an edited collection, Doing Diversity in Higher Education: Faculty Leaders Share Challenges and Strategies (Rutgers University Press, 2009). She is currently working on her third book project, Neoliberalism in a Small Place: The Case of Jamaica. Courses taught at The College of New Jersey include: ‘Race and Ethnicity in Latin America and the Caribbean’, ‘Women of Color: A Global Perspective’, ‘Women in World Perspective: A View from the Caribbean’, ‘Race and Ethnicity in the United States’, ‘Deviance and Social Control’.



Zakiya Adair Ph.D.

Dr. Adair is an associate professor in Women’s and Gender Studies and African American Studies. She went to graduate school at the University of Washington, in Seattle where she earned her Ph.D. in Women’s Studies. Her areas of specialization are transnational women’s cultural history, African American history and black internationalism with specific focus on early trans-Atlantic expressive culture. Adair’s research traces the southern Underground Railroad to Spanish Texas and northeastern Mexico from 1804 through 1867.  She continues her studies by working on an article about fugitive slaves in northwestern Louisiana.She is the recipient of many fellowships; most recently, Dr. Adair was a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Scholar in Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 2013. Currently she is working on completing her first book length monograph that will explore the relationship between race, gender and nation in trans-Atlantic and transnational vaudeville, cabaret and music hall in the early twentieth century. In the future, Adair would like to develop a course entitled, “African Americans in the West, 1821-1921.”She would also like to offer a course featuring the experiences of free black Americans from the colonial era to emancipation. 

2019_AAS Dept_Grad4
2019_AAS Dept_Grad6
2019_AAS Dept_Grad
Graduation for 2020
2019_AAS Dept_Grad2
2018_AAS Dept_Grad 2jpeg
2018_AAS Dept_Grad3
2018_AAS Dept_Grad 5
2018_AAS Dept_Grad1


African American Studies Graduation

Years pictured – 2012, 2015, 2018, 2019

© Connie Huang, Laila Rich, Simile Zhu, Stephannie Sipaque

back to top