Professor Barbara Ransby is an historian, writer and longtime community activist. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her M.A. and Ph.D in History from the University of Michigan. Barbara Ransby is currently a Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies (director, 2008-2013), and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where she directs the campus-wide Social Justice Initiative. She previously served as Interim Vice Provost for Planning and Programs (2011 -2012). Her highly acclaimed biography, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision received eight national awards and recognitions. Professor Ransby is also winner of the prestigious Catherine Prelinger Prize for her contributions to women’s history. Her most recent book is Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson (Yale University Press, 2013).
Ransby has also published in numerous scholarly and popular publications and lectures widely. She serves on the editorial boards of The Black Commentator, (an online journal); the London-based journal, Race and Class; the Justice, Power and Politics Book Series at University of North Carolina Press; and the Scholar’s Advisory Committee of Ms. Magazine, as well as the National Advisory Board of “Imagining America”. In the summer of 2012 she became the second Editor in Chief of SOULS, a critical journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society published quarterly since 1999. In addition to her scholarship, Professor Ransby is a public historian who works with many community based and activist organizations.
Emily is an educator with a background in curriculum and program design in community settings. She has taught on the U.S.-Mexico border in Reynosa, Mexico and in the U.S. public school system. Additionally she coordinated the Community Service Scholarship program at DePaul University. Emily is involved with the Chicago Girl Talk Collective, the Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce, and the U.S. Africa Network. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Beloit College and an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University.
Charlotte Jackson, Assistant to the Director. Charlotte is the Business Manager for SJI. She received a B.A. in History from University of Illinois at Chicago. Having assisted with the West Side Women in Action project several years ago, Charlotte is interested in examining the legacy of Chicago’s west side Lawndale Community in the aftermath of the King Riots of 1968. After a leave, Charlotte will return to working on a M.S. in Library and Information Science at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, concentrating in Community Informatics.
Monique focuses on positive social impact by designing purposeful events and supporting community engagement initiatives. While working at DePaul University she produced the annual Service Speaks conference growing it to over 300 attendees she also led a program aimed at developing and mentoring community involved students throughout their journey through higher education. Her attention to providing space for nonprofits, grassroots organizations, students and community members often finds her at the intersection of connecting people and participating in critical conversations around topics such as race, gender, leadership and much more. She teaches a course on Multiculturalism, Social Justice and Identity in Chicago at DePaul University and is currently serving as a program coordinator for The Social Justice Initiative. In addition, Monique is the owner of Forté Events Collective, which produces socially responsible events Chicago. She earned a BA in Communication Studies and a Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on critical hospitality and community engagement. In her spare time she volunteers as secretary for the William E. Merritt Jr. Scholarship Fund, which is aimed at providing college scholarships for students pursing careers in creative spaces.
Jennifer Scism Ash is a graduate student in the Ph.D. program in History and Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She earned a BA in History from Western Carolina University and an MA in U.S. History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Focusing on African American and women's history, her research interests are centered on race, gender, and notions of respectability during the second half of the twentieth-century. Before embarking on her journey as a doctoral student, she was a faculty member at Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, for nearly six years, and has experience teaching both history and gender and women's studies courses. Jennifer is currently a fellow with the Black Metropolis Research Consortium at the University of Chicago, and was also recently awarded the 2015 Archie K. Davis Fellowship from the North Caroliniana Society. Self-identifying as a scholar-activist, she also has ten years’ experience as an organizer both on and off college campuses.
Sergio Cueto, is an undergraduate student majoring in Latin American and Latino Studies with a minor in Sociology. For SJI, Sergio is a Student Coordinator helping out with administrative tasks. Prior to joining SJI, Sergio worked at the UIC Gender and Sexuality Center and at Erie Neighborhood House. In the fall of 2014 Sergio studied abroad in Costa Rica, his coursework had an emphasis on Social Justice. During his spare time Sergio is a volunteer for the Chicago Latino Film Festival.
When I was a child I enjoyed “rummaging” through my Grandmother’s purse and treasure hunting in my parent’s den. My father was an antique collector with an eye for the obscure. He collected late 19th and early 20th century furniture, oil and pastel paintings, books with African-esque focused subjects including photography books and personal relics---clothes, jewelry and other folks’ family photo albums. It was the search, research and lack of discovery that has lead me into my various “callings” as a fine art photographer, curator, special collections librarian and archivist. In my primary line of work as an archivist, I am excused for my nosey practices, praised for not tossing “stuff” and champion for the unknown, often unsung community, cultural and societal contributors often from African American and other marginalized backgrounds.
My professional journey began in 2006 with the Katherine Dunham Digitization Project in the Special Collections Research Center at Morris Library (SIUC) and has included a plethora of amazing encounters from working with acclaimed librarians, archivists, scholars and artists to completing and collaborating on projects at the University of Turabo in San Juan, the Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature (Chicago Public Library), the Institute for Museum and Library Services/The HistoryMakers, Inc., Never-the-Same Chicago Ephemera Archive, the South Side Community Art Center and currently with the UIC Social Justice Initiative and UIC Library-Special Collections. I hold a Master of Science in LIS with a Special Collections certificate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; a Bachelor of Art in Mass Communications and Media Arts with a minor in Black American Studies (currently Africana Studies) from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale; and an AGS from Harold Washington City College of Chicago.
Marco Durce Roc received his B.A. in Sociology and African American Studies from Temple University and his M.A. in Sociology from University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is currently a doctoral student. His dissertation project critically explores how community-police partnerships address community violence. He is also currently part of a research team that focuses on the experiences of youth who trade sex. His research interests also include anti-Black racism, social control, and state violence. In addition to his role with the Social Justice Initiative, he has also been active on campus. He was member of the Student Advisory Group on the DSTP Committee, has been an assistant for IRRPP’s writing accountability group program, and a Black History Month Planning Committee member. He is currently president of Mojo’s Pen, which is a student organization that hosts open mics and gives artistic expression to the African Diasporic experience. He is also a member of the Illinois Campaign to End the New Jim Crow.