Terrence Tucker Serves as Panelist at Forum

Drs. Andre E. Johnson and Terrence Tucker

On July 24, 2019, CSJH member Dr. Terrance Tucker served as a panelist for the Theology and Pop Culture Forum at Gifts of Life Ministries. Sponsored by the G’Life Social Justice and Public Advocacy Institute at the church and the Center for Social Justice and Healing (CSJH), Dr. Tucker offered comments and reflections after the viewing part 3 of the film When They See Us. Dr. Tucker took away two points from the film. First, he reflected on how hard it was for the young men to reenter society. He wanted us to focus on how hard it is as a felon in this country. Dr. Tucker second point was how hard it was not only on the ones coming out of prison but the families that were awaiting them as well. He reminded us all of how hard and harsh prison really is. He reflections and comments stirred much discussion around imprisonment and mental health as well.

Sylverna Ford Serves as Panelist at Forum

On July 17, 2019, CSJH member Dr. Sylverna Ford served as a panelist for the Theology and Pop Culture Forum at Gifts of Life Ministries. Sponsored by the G’Life Social Justice and Public Advocacy Institute at the church and the Center for Social Justice and Healing (CSJH), Dr. Ford offered comments and reflections after the viewing of the film When They See Us. After sharing how the film was a tough watch for her, she said that the film is a reminder of what still goes on today. Afterward, she participated in a mock debate arguing over the question, “Should the state ever try a minor as an adult?” Dr. Ford said she enjoyed her time at the forum and appreciated what the institute does.

CSJH Researcher: Beverly Bond

Beverly Bond, Ph.D. is a Professor of African American History in the Department of History at the University of Memphis. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century African-American history, African-American Women’s History and Memphis History, particularly on African American women in Memphis and in Tennessee. She is particularly interested in the ways in which 19th-century African-American women negotiated the boundaries of race, class, and gender in the urban South.

A native Memphian, Dr. Bond received her B.S., first M.A., and Ph.D. – all in History – from Memphis State University/the University of Memphis.  She also earned an M.Ed. from Teachers College at Columbia University (New York City).  In addition to the University of Memphis, her career has included teaching positions with Memphis City Schools, Teaneck (NJ) Public Schools, Shelby County (TN) Schools (at Germantown High School), LeMoyne-Owen College, and Christian Brothers College.  At the University of Memphis, Dr. Bond teaches courses in African American History, African American History, Slavery, Freedom, and Segregation: 19th Century African American History, and graduate seminars in Historical Research, and 19th Century African American History. She was the first permanent Director of the African and African American Studies (2002 to 2012) and has served on several local and state historical committees.  She is currently on the Board of Trustees of Memphis Museums, Inc, the Board of Advisors of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, and the Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board. She served on and chaired the board of directors of Humanities Tennessee and is a past president of the Southern Association for Women Historians.

Dr. Bond’s publications include the two-volume Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times (co-edited with Sarah Wilkerson-Freeman); Memphis in Black and White, Images of America: Beale Street, History of the University of Memphis, and Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers: A Centennial History of the University of Memphis (all co-authored or co-edited with Janann Sherman).  Her forthcoming (2020) publication Remembering the Memphis Massacre: An American Story (co-edited with Susan Eva O’Donovan) is a collection of the essays presented at the 2016 symposium commemorating the 1866 Memphis Massacre.

For more on Dr. Bond, click here.


A New Article on Tyler Perry and the Rhetoric of Madea

CSJH researcher Dr. Andre E. Johnson and Katherine Whitfield, a formation of ministry instructor at Memphis Theological Seminary, co-published in Religions, an article that examined the rhetoric of Tyler Perry’s stage and film character, Madea.  In the essay titled, Tyler Perry and the Rhetoric of Madea: Contrasting Performances of Perry’s Leading Lady as She Appears on Stage and Screen, Whitfield and Johnson explored the variances in Madea’s character and presence on stage and on screen in both productions of Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail: The Play and Madea Goes to Jail. Specifically, they examined the multiple and varying ways in which the character of Madea performs for different audiences by examining how the roles of violence, religion, and wisdom operate on stage and screen. Exploring the subtle—and at times, not-so-subtle—ways in which Madea’s performances differ from stage to screen, they suggested that Madea also performs as a text that Perry then uses to impart different messages to audiences of both stage and screen.

Read the article here

CSJH Researcher: Steven L. Nelson

Steven L. Nelson, J.D., Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Education Law & Education Policy in the Department of Leadership & Policy Studies at the University of Memphis. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the Pennsylvania State University and a J.D from the University of Iowa College of Law. Dr. Nelson earned his M.A.T. (and teaching license) from Xavier University of Louisiana and his B.A. in Political Science from Louisiana State University. He has taught in both private and public (traditional and charter) schools in the New Orleans area. During his teaching career, Dr. Nelson rose to administration as a teacher-leader, focusing on administrative duties related to curriculum design, curriculum alignment, curriculum implementation, behavior intervention and classroom management support, and instructional coaching. Upon leaving the high school building, he joined the staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Project in New Orleans. At SPLC, Dr. Nelson worked on charter school law and policy, special education access and equity, and juvenile justice advocacy.

Scholarship & Teaching: 

Dr. Nelson’s research and teaching interests are at the intersection of education law, education policy, and the politics of education. In particular, his research and teaching concern how education reform laws, policies, and political dynamics advance and/or retard efforts at achieving educational equity in urban environments. Dr. Nelson’s work has been published in various media including law reviews, education journals, and edited volumes. Dr. Nelson’s work has been covered in the Washington Post and on national blogs, such as Cloaking Inequity. He maintains active memberships in the American Educational Research Association, the Critical Race Studies in Education Association, and the Education Law Association. He fulfills leadership roles in some of these organizations and frequently presents scholarly works and/or professional developments at international and national conferences and research symposia.

Selected Publications:

Nelson, S. L., Ridgeway, M. L., Baker, T. L., & Campbell, T. (2019). Continued disparate discipline: Theorizing state takeover districts’ impact on the continued oppression of Black girls. Urban Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085918805144

Grace, J. E., & Nelson, S. L. (2018, online first). “Trying to survive”: A critical race analysis of Black males’ responses to the school-to-prison pipeline. Leadership & Policy in Schools. https://doi.org/10.1080/15700763.2018.1513154

Nelson, S. L. (2018). Could the State Takeover of Public Schools Create a State-Created Danger? Theorizing at the Intersection of State Takeover Districts, the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and Racial Oppression. National Black Law Journal, 27(1), 1-58.

Nelson, S. L. (2017). Still serving two masters? Evaluating the conflict between school choice and desegregation under the lens of Critical Race Theory. Boston University Public Interest Law Journal, 26(1), 43 – 74.

Nelson, S. L. (2016). Different script, same caste in the use of passive and active racism: A Critical Race Theory Analysis of the (ab)use of “house rules” in race-related education cases. Washington & Lee Journal of Civil Rights & Social Justice, 22, 297 – 356.

Nelson, S. L., & Bennett, H. N. (2016). Are Black parents locked out of challenging disproportionately low charter school board representation? Assessing the role of the federal courts in building a house of cards. Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy, 12(1), 153 – 203.

CSJH Co-Sponsors Film Viewing: “When They See Us”


The Center for Social Justice and Healing along with the G’Life Social Justice and Public Advocacy Institute are co-sponsoring a viewing of Ava Du Vernay’s series “When They See Us.” The series focuses on the lives of Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, and Raymond Santana who New York City prosecutors falsely convicted of rape in the 1989 Central Park Jogger case. They will show the film in four-part on consecutive Wednesday nights starting July 10 and ending July 31, 2019. We will hold the event at Gifts of Life Ministries, located 3381 Raliegh-Millington Road in Memphis, Tennessee. Dinner starts at 5:30pm and the viewing starts at 6pm. After the viewing, a discussion will follow facilitated by Rev. Dr. Andre E. Johnson and Trella Thomas. This is a free event and opened to the public.

Confirmed Panelists:

Rev. Dr. Bowyer Freeman, Senior Pastor, New St. Mark Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland (July 10)

A. Melissa Boyd, Esq., Senior Partner, Boyd Law Firm (July 17)

Dr. Sylverna Ford, Professor, University Libraries, University of Memphis (July 17)

Dr. Idia Thurston, Associate Professor of Psychology and Past Director of the Center for Social Justice and Healing, University of Memphis (July 24th)

Dr. Terrance Tucker, Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of African American Literature, University of Memphis (July 24)

Min. Regina Clarke, Director of Retention & Student Success/Adjunct Instructor at MCUTS and Incoming Graduate Student, Department of Communication, University of Memphis (July 31)

Rev. Thomas Fuerst, Lead Pastor and Instigator, Bluff City Church and Graduate Student, Department of Communication, University of Memphis (July 31)

Rev. Dianna Watkins-Dickerson, United States Air Force Chaplain and Graduate Student, Department of Communication, University of Memphis (July 31)


CSJH Researcher: Artina McCain

Artina McCain

Described by the Dallas Arts Society as a pianist with “power and finesse,” Dr. Artina McCain enjoys an international career throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States as a solo and chamber performer, pedagogue and speaker. Dr. McCain’s solo and chamber performances have been heard on radio shows in Chicago, Austin, Toronto, and Hong Kong. An American Prize winner for her solo piano recordings, she will release an album of works entitled “Heritage: The American Composer” on the MSR label. She has won performance awards from the Austin Critics Table for the “Black Composers” Concert Series and is a three-time Global Music Awards winner for the album I, Too (Naxos), Shades and Trombone Czar with husband and bass trombonist, Martin McCain.

Recent performance highlights include guest concerto appearances with the Oregon East Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Austin Civic Orchestra and the University of Memphis Symphonic Band. Television appearances include features on CSPAN and an inspirational leader on the PBS documentary series “Roadtrip Nation: Degree of Impact.” Primary teachers include Anton Nel, Kathryn Brown and Carol Leone and additional studies with Jerome Lowenthal, Sergei Babayan, Robert Shannon, and John Perry. She has collaborated in recital with renowned artists such as Donnie Ray Albert, Don Lucas, Ritz Chamber Players Series, Valerie Coleman, Gregory Walker, and Christopher Buckholz.

A passionate pedagogue, Dr. McCain won the Austin District Music Teachers Association award for collegiate teacher of the year two consecutive years. She has taught master classes in universities and conservatories throughout the United States and Southeast Asia. Her pedagogical lectures covering arts entrepreneurship to performance injury have been presented at the National Conference of Keyboard Pedagogy, MTNA, and state music teachers conferences. Her article on performance injury and Muscle Activation Techniques was published in Clavier Companion and she is a regular contributor of score reviews for the magazine. She hosts an annual Musicians Wellness Forum which explores the benefits and options for alternative performance injury care and a YouTube series on Musician Career Building with the McCain duo.

Dr. McCain has taught at numerous summer festivals including the Austin Chamber Music Festival, Illinois Summer Youth Music (ISYM) and PRIZM International Chamber Music Festival. Previous academic faculty positions include Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, Texas Lutheran University, University of the Incarnate Word and Huston-Tillotson University. McCain graduated cum laude from Southern Methodist University. She received her Master of Music from Cleveland Institute of Music and completed her Doctoral Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

For more on Dr. McCain, click here.

Black Pain and the Rhetoric of Forgiveness

CSJH researcher Dr. Andre E. Johnson and Dr. Earle J. Fisher, the Dr. Henry Logan Starks Fellow at Memphis Theological Seminary, co-published a journal article that examined the role of forgiveness after Dylan Roof murdered nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church. Published in the Journal of Communication and Religion, Johnson and Fisher examined the rhetoric of forgiveness and how forgiveness, as a trope, performs in public when expressed through Black pain. Further, they maintained that the wider public not only expects a rhetoric of forgiveness when racial ghosts of the past (and present) manifest in ways that cause Black pain but also those grief-stricken black families must offer the forgiveness non-threatening and expeditiously ways that ease public consciences. This led them to examine the rhetoric of (un)forgiveness and how it functions through black pain as well. 

Read the article here.

CSJH Researcher: Andre E. Johnson

Andre E. Johnson

Dr. Andre E. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis. He teaches classes in African American Public Address, Rhetoric Race and Religion, Media Studies, Interracial Communication, Rhetoric, and Popular Culture, and Hip Hop Studies. He is currently collecting and editing the works of AME Church Bishop Henry McNeal Turner under the title The Literary Archive of Henry McNeal Turner (Edwin Mellen Press). He has already published the first six volumes, and the seventh one is set for publication in 2020. Additionally, along with his academic titles, he currently serves as Senior Pastor of Gifts of Life Ministries an inner-city church built upon the servant leadership philosophy. Dr. Johnson also hosts the Rainbow PUSH show on WLOK radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Dr. Johnson was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and after graduation; he attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. He graduated from Memphis Theological Seminary where he took the Masters of Divinity degree and completed the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication at the University of Memphis.

In addition to collecting the writings of Bishop Turner, Dr. Johnson is also the author of The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (2012) that won the National Communication Association (NCA) 2013 African American Communication and Culture Division Outstanding Book Award. He is the editor of Urban God Talk: Constructing a Hip Hop Spirituality (2013) and also, he is the co-author (along with Amanda Nell Edgar) of the book The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. He serves as the curator and director of the Henry McNeal Turner Project (#HMTProject), a digital archive dedicated to the writings and study of Bishop Turner.

Dr. Johnson has presented academic papers at national, regional, and state conferences winning awards at each level, has published essays in the Howard Journal of Communications, Southern Communication Journal, Black Theology Journal, The New York Times, Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric and The Journal of African American History. He holds membership in several national, regional and state associations in the areas of Communication, History, African American Studies, and Religious Studies.

In addition to what many consider groundbreaking work on Bishop Turner, Dr. Johnson maintains an eclectic research agenda. Ongoing research projects explore the nexus between rhetoric, theology and the Bible, religion and politics, the rhetoric of Barack Obama, religion and media, the prophetic rhetoric of W.E.B. Du Bois, Tyler Perry and the rhetoric of Donald Trump. He is currently working on a manuscript tentatively titled, #WhiteChurchQuiet: The Role of Race and the White Church in America.

To see Dr. Johnson’s CV, click here