Phillip M. Royster Biography

Philip M. Royster (Ph.D., Loyola University of Chicago, 1974; M.A. and B.A., DePaul University, Chicago, 1967 and 1965) has been Interim Director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago (6/98-12/99). He has been a professor of Ethnic Studies at Bowling Green State University (1987-1992). He has also taught in the Department of English at Kansas State University (1981-1987), where he coordinated the development of the intercollegiate American Ethnic Studies Program; in the Department of Afro-American Studies at Syracuse University (1978-1981); in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at the State University of New York at Albany (1975- 1978); in the Department of English at Fisk University (1970-1975), and in the Department of English at Loyola University of Chicago (1967-1968, graduate assistant; 1969-1970, instructor).

Royster has received 38 grants, fellowships, and scholarships for scholarly, creative, and cultural projects.

He has 126 publications of literary and cultural criticism and creative writing. His essays on literature, culture, and language appear in such places as Obsidian II, Black American Literature Forum, Obsidian, CLA Journal, Umoja, First World, and Black Books Bulletin. He has published cultural and literary criticism on black oral traditions, gospel music, rap music, and the fiction of Toni Morrison, Ernest Gaines, Alice Walker, and the Jamaican, Lindsay Barrett. He has published two collections of poetry, The Back Door (Third World Press, 1971) and Songs and Dances (Lotus Press, 1981). His poems appear in four anthologies, A Milestone Sampler: Fifteenth Anniversary Anthology (Lotus Press), Nommo: A Literary Legacy of Black Chicago, Contemporary Black Writers: Celebrating 125 Years of Kansas Statehood, (Cottonwood, 38/39), and Confluence: Contemporary Kansas Poetry. His poems appear also in various other places including Black World, The Black Scholar, The Journal of Black Poetry, Obsidian, Obsidian II, Liberator, Essence, The Journal of Ethnic Studies, Black American Literature Forum, Kansas Quarterly, and Cottonwood Review. His new collection of poems, Plain Brown Wrapper, is in circulation. His newest writing projects are a novel, an autobiography, a collection of essays, and a biography of the late Rev. Dr. Marcus H. Morgan (co-authorship with Phyliss M. Royster, Ph.D.), an internationally known leader in the Church of God reformation movement, and the senior pastor for 42 years of the Emerald Avenue Church of God, Chicago, IL. Royster earned a faculty fellowship at the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (UIC) to continue this writing project. Also, he has published a biographical, encyclopedic entry on the classic gospel great, Roberta Martin.

He is a master drummer who, since 1958, has studied, performed, and lectured concerning traditional African, Afro-Cuban and African-American drumming and drum cultures. His discography of 10 recordings includes the highly praised "Earth Blossom" by the John Betsch Society (Strata East). As a photographer, Royster has published 14 of his photographs of contemporary African-American poets.

Royster's research, creativity, teaching, and lecturing cover African-American, Caribbean, and African literature, musical traditions, and cultures, ethnic and racial relations, and creative writing. His critical and pedagogical approaches emphasize using art forms as means of gaining awareness of text, culture, society, and the self.

As director of the African-American Cultural Center of the University of Illinois at Chicago since 1991, he has supported and nurtured the development and understanding of African-American cultures through sponsoring thousands of programs and events, including curating more than 200 art exhibitions. He initiated, founded, developed, and coordinated the Faculty Institute of the University of Illinois at Chicago, sponsored by the Centers for Diversity. Also, he has served two years as a vice president of the Popular Cultures Association (PCA) and eight years as PCA's area chair for African-American Culture.