March Moments of Influence, Photo of Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina's ninth poet laureate

Moments of Influence You (May Have) Missed

Moments of Influence is a series where we highlight a few, just a tiny few, of the moments where signatories to the African American Women in Defense of Ourselves media campaign continue to make an impact.  In 1991, they used their voices to protest sexual harassment.  Twenty-eight years later, they are still working to impact our society both as individuals and as a group.  It is an honor to share what we learn.

Jaki Shelton Green

Ms. Shelton Green was appointed North Carolina’s ninth poet laureate. She is the first African American and the third woman to serve in this role and plans to focus her efforts on the creation of documentary poetry.  Read the announcement.

Gloria Ladson-Billings

Ms. Ladson-Billings was honored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a three-day conference to discuss her 26- year legacy. During that time she supervised more than 50 dissertations—21 of them by Black Women. She is now the president of the National Academy of Education, which supports research for the advancement of education policy and practice in the United States.  Read the announcement.

Tina McElroy Ansa

Ms. McElroy Ansa reminds us that she is available for speaking engagements: women’s, literary, business and diversity conferences & seminars. She founded DownSouth Press & the Annual Sea Island Writers Retreats on Sapelo Island, Georgia and On the Road to assist emerging and established writers in honing their work and skills. She is a novelist, publisher, filmmaker, teacher, and journalist. But above all, she is a storyteller and cultural icon. You can reach her at

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Dr. Malveaux, or the “Mad Economist,” was profiled in The Heights Magazine. The article, “Truth Be Told: Dr. Julianne Malveaux” tells a wonderful story about events that influenced Dr. Malveaux as well as some of her actions that have influenced others.  Read the article.

Margo Jefferson

Ms. Jefferson will deliver the Keynote lecture on Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess for the Fort Worth Opera Festival. As a board member of the Oakland Symphony, I have been in a few conversations about how complicated arts organizations find navigating race and music classics (or classical music). The Fort Worth Opera Festival made a great choice to have Margo Jefferson deliver the keynote. I love this quote: “Porgy and Bess demands that we, its American audience, live with its contradictions and live up to its complexities. When we do that, it rewards us with its musical glories.” Read the announcement.

Farah Jasmine Griffin

Dr. Griffin, the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies, will lead the newly established African American and African Diaspora Studies Department as its first chair. “The study of black life, in the western hemisphere in particular, is something that Columbia has been engaging in, and has been at the forefront of, since Zora Neale Hurston began her work here,” said Griffin.  Read the announcement.

Elizabeth Alexander

Ms. Alexander was profiled in Time’s article, “How Artists of All Ages Keep Their Creative Spirit Alive”. You may know her as the poet who read her work Praise Song for the Day at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. She is now the president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Read the full article.

Annette Gordon-Reed

Love this pinned tweet photo of Ms. Gordon-Reed on the road signing her book “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination” (for those who prefer the public library) (Liveright, 2016).

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