Organizer: Jacqueline Toribio
Panelists: Carol Anderson (Emory University), Cynthia Neal Spence (Spelman College), Shanna Greene Benjamin (Grinnell College)


The panel features three scholars— Shanna Greene Benjamin (English, Grinnell College) ; Dr. Cynthia Neal Spence (Anthropology & Sociology, Spelman College), and Dr. Carol Anderson (African American Studies, Emory University). Each has contributed in notable ways to the Black Studies canon and project, through research, civic engagement, and commitment to the growth of the intellectual community. As stewards of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship programs at their respective institutions, the panelists will discuss the role of mentorship in the progression of the field of Black Studies.

Dr. Almeida Jacqueline Toribio (Ph.D., Cornell University 1993) holds an appointment as Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and as Faculty Director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program at the University of Texas. Her research is situated at the intersection of linguistics and the sociology of language. The line of investigation for which she is perhaps best-known focuses on language mixing, addressing the phonetic, morpho-syntactic, and discursive-pragmatic patterning of code-switching and borrowing among diverse populations. A parallel thread of inquiry examines the speech of residents of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and their compatriots in diasporic settings in the U.S. This latter work records the incidence and dissemination of unique structures that serve crucial functions as indices ethnicity, race, gender, and national origin, among other social variables. Dr. Toribio’s studies are elaborated with mixed methodologies, including field and laboratory approaches and ‘big’ data methods of corpus linguistics, and they benefit from consultation and collaboration with scholars and students across disciplines. Her findings are widely published in important handbooks and in notable journals, including Linguistic Inquiry, Lingua, Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, International Journal of Bilingualism, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Probus, and Revista Internacional de Lingüística Iberoamericana. In addition to her sustained scholarly output, Dr. Toribio has distinguished herself as an engaged instructor and mentor, ushering undergraduate and graduate students towards becoming participation-ready scholars and citizens.

Dr. Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor and Chair of African American Studies at Emory University.

She is the author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955, which was published by Cambridge University Press and awarded both the Gustavus Myers and Myrna Bernath Book Awards. Her second book, Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960, was also published by Cambridge.

Her most recent publication, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide, won the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. White Rage has been named one of the best books for 2016 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Globe and Mail and is also a New York Times Bestseller and a New York Times Editor’s Pick. Her newest book One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy was released September 11, 2018.

Her research has garnered substantial fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, National Humanities Center, Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (The Big Ten and the University of Chicago), the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and recently, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Professor Anderson was a member of the U.S. State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee.

She earned her Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University.

Dr. Cynthia Neal Spence is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Spelman College and Director of the UNCF/Mellon Programs. As Director of the UNCF/Mellon Programs, Dr. Spence creates, manages and oversees a suite of future faculty development and faculty career enhancement programs for UNCF (United Negro College Fund) students and faculty. Under her leadership, students are groomed to enter the Ph.D. pipeline and faculty throughout the UNCF consortium are supported in their development as teachers and scholars. The UNCF/Mellon Programs are housed at Spelman College and are funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Her teaching and research interests in the areas of sociology, criminology, law and violence against women support the Law and Criminology concentration in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Dr. Spence has served in the capacities of Assistant Dean for Freshman Studies, Associate Academic Dean and Academic Dean at Spelman College. Her interest in issues of higher education access, service-learning, gender role socialization and violence against women frame her research, writing, community service involvement and public speaking. Her publications include “A Woman’s College Perspective on the Education of Men” (2004) in New Directors for Student Series and “The Spelman College Total Person Commits to Positive Social Change” (2006) in Engaging Departments: Moving Faculty Cultures from Private to Public, Individual to Collective Force for the Common Good, “Does Race Trump Gender? Black Women Negotiating their Spaces of Intersection in the 2008 Presidential Campaign” which is included in the edited volume Who Should Be First? Feminists Speak Out on the 2008 Presidential Campaign (2010) and most recently, “How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? The Missing Kerner Commission Report” (2018).

Dr. Shanna Greene Benjamin, Associate Professor of English at Grinnell College, is a literary critic and biographer who studies the literature and lives of black women. She has published on African American literature and black women’s literary history in MELUS, African American Review, Studies in American Fiction, and PMLA. She joined Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program as a student at Johnson C. Smith University. Benjamin is currently working on a biography of Norton Anthology of African American Literature co-editor Nellie Y. McKay titled Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay.