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).
Professor 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.
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. Jennifer's dissertation research is focused on the history of gender and sexuality at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) during the post-World War II era. 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 a 2015 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.
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.