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 home >> civil rights history project >> civil rights program series >> symposium schedule & bios

Before and After '68:
The Poor People's Campaign, Then & Now

June 14, 2018
Whittall Pavilion, Jefferson Building
Library of Congress


Flyer of symposium annnouncement on June 14, 2018

10am - Welcoming Remarks: John Fenn

10:05 - Session One: Gordon Mantler; Lenneal Henderson; Marc Steiner; Maggie Gilmore; Nick Petr

11:35 - Break

11:50 - Session Two: Bruce Jackson; Reginald Jackson; Marya McQuirter; Charon Hribar; Yara Allen; Guha Shankar

1:05 - Summation: The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis

Presenter Biographies (in order of appearance)

John B. Fenn III John Fenn

John Fenn

John B. Fenn III is the Head of the Research and Programs section at the American Folklife Center. He supervises AFC staff members involved in public programming, publications, research, and training in the field of folklife. His academic training is in folklore and ethnomusicology (Ph.D., Indiana University, 2004). Prior to his appointment at the Library of Congress, Fenn was an Associate Professor at the University of Oregon. There he served as the Program Director for the Arts and Administration Program, and was a core faculty member in the Folklore Program. Since 2011 he has been a member of the Executive Advisory Committee for the Oregon Folklife Network, which has its administrative office at the University of Oregon. While at Indiana University, Fenn worked for the Lotus World Music and Culture Festival as Assistant Festival Producer. He has conducted fieldwork on expressive culture in Malawi (Southeast Africa), China, Indiana, and Oregon—exploring a wide range of practices, traditions, and communities. Throughout his career he has merged his training in folklore and ethnomusicology with an interest in documentation, public presentation, stewardship, and interpretation of cultural forms and expressions. Fenn has been an active member of both the American Folklore Society and the Society for Ethnomusicology since 1996. In addition to presenting academic papers, he has organized numerous sessions and participated in the Public Programs Section (AFS) and Applied Ethnomusicology Section (SEM). In conjunction with the AFS Archives and Libraries Section, he also helped run professional development workshops for several years on digital audio documentation and archival practices.

Gordon Mantler Gordon Mantler

Gordon Mantler

Gordon Mantler, Associate Professor of Writing and of History, and Director of Writing in the Disciplines at George Washington University, specializes in the history and rhetoric of 20th century social justice movements and the African American and Latino experience in the United States, as well as oral history and the history of film. His first book and focus of his Library presentation, Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960-1974, was published in 2013 as the inaugural volume in the Justice, Power, and Politics series at the University of North Carolina Press. He has received numerous awards, including the first annual Ronald T. and Gayla D. Farrar Media and Civil Rights History Award for the best article on the subject. His current book project focuses on Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s, and the development of the multiracial coalitions that brought Mayor Harold Washington to power in 1983.

Lenneal J. Henderson Lenneal J. Henderson

Lenneal J. Henderson

Dr. Lenneal J. Henderson is Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement and International Affairs, Distinguished Professor of Public and International Affairs and Senior Fellow, William Donald Schaefer Center for Public Policy at the University of Baltimore. He is also currently an Adjunct Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary Born in New Orleans and raised in San Francisco, California, he received his A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley While at Berkley, he became engaged in civil rights activism and the Poor Peoples Campaign of 1968, during which time he lived in the encampment known as Resurrection City in Washington, DC. Subsequently he completed his post-doctoral work at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Henderson is the former Daniel T. Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science at North Carolina Central University and former Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has also taught at the University of San Francisco and Howard University. He has worked for the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of State, and the Environmental Protection Agency. He is currently Chair of the Board of the Maryland Humanities Council. In Fall 2016, the Governor appointed him to the Board of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy. As well, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland appointed him to the Board of Directors of the Reginald Lewis Maryland Museum of African American History and Culture.

Marc Steiner Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

In the 25 years since “The Marc Steiner Show” began airing, Marc Steiner has become one of the most recognized voices in Maryland and gained national acclaim for his insightful style of interviewing, including winning a 2007 Peabody Award, the most distinguished award in broadcast media. Marc co-founded Baltimore’s NPR station WYPR, and also founded his own non-profit production company, the Center for Emerging Media. From 2008 to 2017 Marc broadcast daily from WEAA at Morgan State University, and he currently hosts a weekly show on The Real News Network. Marc has spent his life working on issues of social justice. He began working as a Civil Rights organizer at age 14 and was a Maryland Freedom Rider at age 16. Early in his career he counseled at-risk youth in therapeutic settings and also founded theater programs in both the Maryland State prison system and with Family Circle Theatre – a company of teenagers that wrote, produced, directed, and acted in original productions. He served for a year as the principal of Baltimore’s Experimental High School, and taught Theatre for ten years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. As part of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, Marc helped organize poor white communities with the Young Patriots, the white Appalachian counterpart to the Black Panthers. He lived in a makeshift encampment in Resurrection City and was there on the day the police attacked the participants with tear gas and tore the camp down.

Margaret Gilmore Margaret Gilmore

Margaret Gilmore

Margaret (Maggie) Gilmore is a librarian for DC Public Library. While serving in the role of music librarian at the MLK Jr. Memorial Library, she worked to ensure live musical performance was made a priority in public programming. She is a 2018 MICA Fellow, a DC Public Library partnership with Baltimore's Maryland Institute College of Art that is designed to teach library staff about curatorial practice and connecting with communities through intentional arts programming.

 Nick Petr Nick Petr

Nick Petr

Nick Petr is from Baltimore and Southern Pennsylvania. He completed his MFA in Curatorial Practice from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2016. He is an Open Society Institute Community Fellow, co-founder of the Oak Hill Center for Education and Culture, and currently working as a DC Public Library Foundation Curatorial Fellow. Nick's work explores the role of art-making and cultural production in education and in social movement organizing.

Reginald JacksonReginald Jackson

Reginald Jackson

Dr. Reginald L. Jackson, visual artist and scholar, is the founder and the president of Olaleye Communications, Inc., in Boston, MA, a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to document, inform and provide consultative research about the visual and cultural dimensions of the global African diaspora. He is Professor Emeritus of Communications at Simmons College, Boston, and also served as Vice President, Dean of the International Relations, and Professor of Communications at the African University College of Communications (ACCC) in Ghana. Dr. Jackson received his Ph.D. in Communications and Visual Anthropology from Union Institute, and holds MFA and BFA degrees from Yale University. He is also Artist Emeritus at Northeastern University’s African American Master Artists in Residence Program (AAMARP). He has received numerous academic awards including a Fulbright Fellowship, Ford Foundation grants and fellowships from the Smithsonian Institution and, University of Massachusetts, Boston and MIT. Dr. Jackson has been an activist since his college days, during which time he documented the Poor People’s Campaign (1968) and the Yale University student protests (1970). He participates in the Boston Pan-African Forum and other organizations that promote civic engagement and social development. Dr. Jackson has traveled throughout Africa, the US and South America, conducting research and documentation of cultural traditions in diverse spaces. He has documented an array of cultural forms in thousands of photographs and displayed his work in media including photographs, paintings and paper at The Yale University Art Gallery, The Boston Athenaeum, MIT Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Bowdoin Museum of Art, and the RISD Museum of Art and Simmons and Amherst Colleges.

Bruce Jackson Bruce Jackson

Bruce Jackson

Bruce Jackson is an American folklorist, documentary filmmaker, writer, photographer, and Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture at University at Buffalo. In collaboration with SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Diane Christian, he has directed and produced five documentary films. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1971), was nominated for a Grammy Award (1974), and was named an Associate Member of the Folklore Fellows by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (1995). In 2002, in recognition of his ethnographic and anti-death-penalty work, the French government appointed him Chevalier in l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2002 and Chevalier in the Ordre national du Mérite in 2012. He has served as president of the American Folklore Society, editor of Journal of American Folklore, and member and chair of the board of trustees of the American Folklife Center (chair, 1988–89; trustee, 1984-89).
While serving on the Newport Folk Foundation Board in the 1960's, he and folklorist Ralph Rinzler programmed music programs at Resurrection City, the housing encampment for the PPC, in 1968. Dr. Jackson's audio recordings and photographic images from that event are housed at the American Folklife Center Archives. He is author or editor of 40 books, among which are "Wake Up Dead Man: Afro-American Worksongs from Texas Prisons" (Harvard, 1972), “Get Your Ass in the Water and Swim Like Me”: Narrative Poetry from Black Oral Tradition (Harvard, 1974), and "Inside the Wire: Photographs from Texas and Arkansas Prisons" (Texas, 2013). His photographs have been widely exhibited. In 2017, New York’s celebrated experimental theater company, The Wooster Group, premiered a play, The B-Side, based on his recordings of Afro-American folklore in Texas prisons. The play is now touring. A second Wooster play based on his fieldwork is now in development. In 2018, Aperture Magazine published a profile on his prison photography, by Brian Walis, “Bruce Jackson: On the Inside.”

Marya McQuirter Marya McQuirter

Marya McQuirter

Marya Annette McQuirter is curator of dc1968, an ambitious project commemorating the 50th anniversary of 1968 in Washington, DC. Every day, throughout 2018, she is producing and sharing original stories and photographs via her website, and Instagram and Twitter feed - @dc1968project - about events that occurred #OTD in 1968. Through dc1968 Dr. McQuirter is re-narrating popular perceptions of the nation's capital by amplifying activism, art, architecture and everyday life. Based on extensive archival research at the DC Public Library Special Collections, Howard University and the Sumner School Museum & Archives, she has unearthed rare photographs and ephemera. In addition, she has cultivated relationships with dozens of individual Washingtonians, churches and organizations who have shared material from their collections and, as importantly, have provided critical metadata for photographs and ephemera from institutional archives.
Dr. McQuirter is the author of several award-winning publications, including African American Heritage Trail Guide, Washington, DC and a co-authored volume with David Freund in the Young Oxford History of African Americans series edited by Robin D.G. Kelley and Earl Lewis. She has a forthcoming essay in a Debates in the Digital Humanities volume published by the University of Minnesota Press. She is also working on a book and film about five friends who biked from NYC to DC in 1928. Dr. McQuirter has a PhD in history from the University of Michigan. She is an Affiliate Scholar at George Washington University and was a recent fellow at the NEH Office of Digital Humanities and Beautiful Data II at Harvard University.

Charon Hribar Charon Hribar

Charon Hribar

Charon Hribar is the Director of Cultural Strategies at the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice. She also serves as the co-coordinator of Theomusicology and Movement Arts for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Over the past 15 years, Charon has been dedicated to the work of political education, leadership development, and integrating the use of arts and culture for movement building with community and religious leaders across the country. Believing that music is a powerful tool for social change, Charon is a vocalist who uses and teaches the art of protest music to embody the connections of culture, art, and history and promote collective action. She received her M.Div from Union Theological Seminary and her Ph.D. in Religion and Society from Drew University where she also served as the coordinator of Drew University’s PREP (Partnership for Religion and Education in Prisons) Program at Northern State Prison in Newark, NJ. Charon is a trainer with Beyond the Choir, a collective working with social justice organizations to craft resonant messaging, plan strategic campaigns, and mobilize larger bases of support. She was an Opportunity Agenda 2016 Creative Change Fellow and Opportunity Agenda 2017-2018 Communications Institute Fellow.

Yara Allen Yara Allen

Yara Allen

Yara Allen, native of Rocky Mount, NC, is Director of Cultural Arts for Repairers of the Breach, Co-Director of Arts and Culture with the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and is Visiting Artist at Auburn Seminary in NY. She is a singer, songwriter, poet, and musician whose love for Jazz, Gospel and Blues helps her to create and deliver soulful movement songs that infuse energy in workshops and seminaries, and in actions and events, both nationally and internationally.
For 17 years, Yara has engaged in community organizing and movement building and has lifted her creative voice and passion for justice in song, poetry, and community theater. In herrole as National Theomusicologist with Repairers of the Breach, Yara teaches the theory and practice of music for moral movements. Following in the footsteps of previous generations of movement singers she engages audiences to create what she calls, Justice Jump-Off Choirs - spontaneous on-the-spot singing choirs groups drawn from the audience). Her original song, "Somebod's Hurting My Brother" is a rallying cry to break the silence of pain and fear caused by harmful legislation and to speak and sing truth to power; other original songs, "We Don't Want War (We Want Justice)" and "Micah 6:8" are also embraced by the movement.
For her dedicated service in movement building and the arts, Yara is a 2016 Auburn Seminary "Lives of Commitment" award honoree. She continues to work to ensure that artists understand the importance of raising their moral voices and laying their gifts on the arc so that it continues to bend toward justice. She is currently working on her first book, "Open Up Your Mouth," a collection of poems, songs, reflections and nuggets of wisdom from her years as an artist/activist.

Guha Shankar Guha Shankar

Guha Shankar

Guha Shankar is a Folklife Specialist in the American Folklife Center, at the Library of Congress.  At the Center, he serves as Director of the national Civil Rights History Project. His other responsibilities at the Library involve multi-media production, developing public programs for educational outreach (symposia, lectures and events), developing standards for digital media creation and preservation, and teaching cultural documentation methods for academic and community-based initiatives. His research interests and publications include indigenous intangible cultural heritage, diasporic community formations in the Caribbean, ethnographic media, visual representation, and performance studies. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin (2003), from the Department of Anthropology, with a concentration in Folklore & Public Culture and a B.A., from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1982), in Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures and Political Science.

The Reverend Dr. Liz THeoharis The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis

The Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis

Dr. Theoharis is the Co-Director of the Kairos Center and a Founder and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. She has spent the past two decades organizing amongst the poor in the United States, working with and advising grassroots organizations with significant victories including the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Vermont Workers Center, Domestic Workers United, the United Workers Association, the National Union of the Homeless and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union. She has led hundreds of trainings, Bible studies, and leadership development workshops; spoken at dozens of conferences and keynote presentations across the US and globally; and published several articles and book chapters sharing her vision that poverty can be ended and that the poor can be agents of social change. Dr. Theoharis received her BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania; her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in 2004 where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her PhD from Union in New Testament and Christian Origins. She is the author of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor (Eerdmans, 2017). Liz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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