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Participant Bios - Spirituality, Morality, and Religion in Hiphop Lecture Series - Spring 2012

Derrick Darby
Derrick Darby.pngDerrick Darby was born in the Bronx, New York and raised in Queensbridge Housing Projects before moving to Manhattan to attend Martin Luther King Jr. High School.  He graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in Philosophy and received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.

His work has connected philosophy with issues and concerns that impact black America.  Rights, Race, and Recognition, his most recent book, draws on the legacy of race and the denigration of black humanity to argue that all rights are products of social recognition.  He is also the co-editor of Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason, which draws on hip hop to introduce students to philosophical problems and to answer perplexing questions.  This book contains a foreword by Dr. Cornel West who says:  "This path-blazing book begins and ends with the language and realities of the streets-especially the mean streets of the downtrodden yet creative demos in postmodern America."

He is currently writing a book that combines the story of his journey from Queensbridge to the Ivory Tower with his knowledge of hip hop, philosophy, and race to defend rap music against conservative and progressive critics that call for the death of hip hop. 

Josslyn Luckett
Josslyn Luckett.pngJosslyn Luckett has a BA in Ethnic Studies from UCBerkeley, an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU and is currently working on her MDiv at Harvard University where she won 2011 Billings Preaching Prize Competition.

Josslyn was an Executive Story Editor/Staff writer for four seasons of the WB comedy "The Steve Harvey Show."  Her screenplay "Love Song" was directed by Julie Dash and aired on MTV. In 2002 Filmmaker Magazine included her in their annual "25 New Faces of Independent Film" issue. Her plays, "Rupture Runnin'  Through Risk Runnin' to Bliss" and "Chronicles of a Comic Mulatta: an oreo/choreopoem" have been performed at the Public Theater, the Walnut Street Theater, and The National Black Theater Festival in North Carolina. Selections from her new solo show "Loving/Imitation" were performed at REDCAT and workshopped recently in a 9 month playwriting workshop at the Center Theater Group/Mark Taper. Company of Angels in LA commissioned and produced her latest play: "Like Her Shanti Doesn't Stink: Black Women Eye to Iyengar" in Feb 2009.  Her essays/poetry have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Konch Magazine, "Voices from Leimert Park Anthology" (Tsehai Press), and "What Your Mama Never Told You:  True Stories about Sex and Love" (Houghton Mifflin). 

Felicia Miyakawa
Untitled.jpgFelicia M. Miyakawa is Associate Professor of Musicology and Assistant Director of the MTSU School of Music. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Musicology from Indiana University and completed B.A. degrees in both music and French at Linfield College (McMinnville, Oregon). She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in both "art" and "popular" music traditions. Before joining the MTSU faculty, Miyakawa taught music history review courses for graduate students at Indiana University and music history and music appreciation courses at West Valley College in Saratoga, California.

The recipient of numerous MTSU research grants, Miyakawa's research areas include Hip-hop music and culture, Black Nationalism, American Popular Music, African-American music and literature, gender and pedagogy, and queer studies. She has presented papers at regional and national meetings of the American Musicological Society, Society for Ethnomusicology, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the Society for American Music, as well as at popular music conferences sponsored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Seattle's Experience Music Project. Her first book, Five Percenter Rap: God Hop's Music, Message, and Black Muslim Mission, was published in spring 2005 by Indiana University Press. Other publications appear in American Music, Popular Music, Journal of Popular Music Studies, The Journal of American Ethnic History, and the new encyclopedia Women and Religion in the World. She is currently at work on her second book, a biography of the spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child."

Jeffrey Ogbar
Jeffrey Ogbar.jpgJeffrey Ogbonna Green Ogbar was born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated with honors and received his BA in History and a minor in African studies from Morehouse College in Atlanta ('91). He earned his MA ('93) and Ph.D. ('97) in U.S. History with a minor in African studies from Indiana University in Bloomington. Since 1997 he has taught at the University of Connecticut's Department of History. From 2003-2009 he served as the Director of the Institute for African American Studies. In 2009 he was named Associate Dean for the Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar's research interests include the 20th century United States with a focus in African American history. More specifically, Dr. Ogbar studies black nationalism and radical social protest. He has developed courses, lectured and published articles on subjects as varied as Pan-Africanism, African American Catholics, civil rights struggles, black nationalism and hip-hop. Prof. Ogbar has held fellowships at Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, where he completed work on his book, Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity. He also held fellowships at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City, and the Africana studies program at the University of Miami where he conducted research for his book Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap. His latest book is an edited volume, The Harlem Renaissance Revisited: Politics, Arts and Letters.

Along with research and teaching, Dr. Ogbar has enjoyed his role as the advisor to numerous student organizations, ranging from the Black Student Association to the Breakdancing Club and United Men of African Descent, as well as working in various community service projects.

Imani Perry
Imani Perry.jpgProfessor Perry is an interdisciplinary scholar who studies race and African American culture using the tools provided by various disciplines including: law, literary and cultural studies, music, and the social sciences. She has published numerous articles in the areas of law, cultural studies, and African American studies, many of which are available for download at: imaniperry.typepad.com. She also wrote the notes and introduction to the Barnes and Nobles Classics edition of the Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Professor Perry teaches interdisciplinary courses that train students to use multiple methodologies to investigate African American experience and culture.

Emmett Price III
Price.pngBorn and raised in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Price received a B.A. in music from the University of California, Berkeley and both M.A. and Ph.D. in music (ethnomusicology) from the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, he is an associate professor of music and African American studies at Northeastern University (Boston, MA) where he also serves as chair of the Department of African American Studies.  A former research fellow of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University, Dr. Price currently is a research fellow of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, where he serves as the lead scholar on the Rhythm & Flow Initiative - a research project studying the various intersections of music and sport. Past honors include and the "African Americans Making History Today: Living Legend Award" from the Boston Renaissance Charter Public School. Dr. Price is the executive editor of the Encyclopedia of African American Music (ABC-CLIO, 2011), author of HIP HOP Culture (ABC-CLIO, 2006) and editor of The Black Church, Hip Hop Culture and the Dilemma of the Generational Divide (Scarecrow Press, 2012).

An ordained minister, Dr. Price serves as Founding Pastor of Community of Love Christian Fellowship (Allston, MA). A nationally recognized expert on the music of the Black Church, Christian Worship and leadership in music ministry, he is the president and founder of the Black Church Music Ministry Project (BCMMP), an organization launched in 2006 to "serve, nurture and develop spiritual leaders in music ministry."  Since 2011, he has served as the Director of the James Abbington Church Music Academy as part of the Hampton University Ministers' Conference & Choir Directors' and Organists' Guild.

Josef Sorett
Josef Sorett.pngJosef (pronounced Yo-sef) Sorett is an assistant professor of Religion and African-American Studies at Columbia University.  He is an interdisciplinary historian of religion in America, with a particular focus on black communities and cultures in the United States. His research and teaching interests include American religious history; African American religions; hip hop, popular culture and the arts; gender and sexuality; and the role of religion in public life. Josef earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies from Harvard University; and he holds a B.S. from Oral Roberts University and an M.Div. from Boston University. In support of his research, Josef has received fellowships from the Louisville Institute for the Study of American Religion, The Fund for Theological Education, Harvard's Charles Warren Center for American History and Princeton University's Center for African American Studies. He has published essays and reviews in Culture and Religion, Callaloo, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and PNEUMA: Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Josef's current book project, That Spirit is Black: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics (under contract with Oxford University Press) illumines how religion has figured into debates about black art and culture.  He is also editing a volume that explores the sexual politics of black churches.

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