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Program

Abolition Democracy Fellows Program

We take the name of the fellowship program from W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction, a canonical text in African American Studies. Du Bois argued that in order for equality to be fully realized after the abolition of slavery, it had to be paired with a simultaneous investment in a robust democratic structure that could deliver racial and economic equality — hence, true freedom — for Black Americans. Humanistic work towards abolition democracy requires researching and making sense of our histories in imaginative ways. It also means having the audacity to envision alternative presents and futures. This often necessitates commune and collaboration. During the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years, we envision a core group of 12-15 fellows all of whose research is located within the humanities and appropriately intersects with the mission of the Black Studies Collaboratory. The cohorts will be comprised of: an Elder in Residence, Artist Fellowships, Activist/Community Scholars in Residence, Postdoctoral fellows, and Dissertation fellows. We will provide fellows a convening space, a living stipend, research funds, and workshops on how to make their work more visible in this changing world. Participants will be required to attend weekly meetings which will focus on workshopping and experimentation, as well as present their work in a public forum one time during their tenure. 


2022-2023 Abolition Democracy Fellows


Daphne Muse in the living room of her former Oakland home by Brant Ward. 2012

Ms.Daphne
Muse

Returning Elder in Residence 

Ms. Muse is an unflagging caretaker and activist, who has dedicated herself to the intersections between education, neighborhood organization, public exhibitions, and literature.

Shortly after arriving in the Bay Area, she became the secretary of the Angela Davis Legal Defense Team. During those years, Ms. Muse also advocated for the founding of the African American Studies department at UC Berkeley and later became a teacher at UC Berkeley under Dr. William (Bil) Banks and also taught for several years at Mills College. Ms. Muse saw herself as an ambassador between the university and the lives of the nearby marginalized (then referred to as Third World communities). She often organized large scale public programs and thoughtfully curated exhibitions in order to bring these communities into conversation.

Together with the UC Berkeley African American Studies department she organized events with James Baldwin, Shirley Graham Du Bois, and Gwendolyn Brooks and curated exhibitions related to their respective publications. Ms. Muse was and continues to be professionally and personally close with prominent figures in the Black Feminist movement as it evolved through the UC Berkeley African American Studies department. She worked closely with Dr. Barbara Christian and became a longtime friend of Dr. VèVè Clark and current professor Dr. Ula Taylor. Over the years. Ms. Muse amassed and preserved an exceptional collection of ephemera, including over 5,000 letters and related materials that intimately document Black life and history. 


Cat Brooks
Cat Brooks

Cat
Brooks

Activist in Residence 

Cat Brooks is the KPFA co-host of UpFront and a long-time performer, organizer, and activist.

She played a central role in the struggle for justice for Oscar Grant, and spent the last decade working with impacted communities and families to rapidly respond to police violence and radically transform the ways our communities are policed and incarcerated. She is the co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) and the Executive Director of The Justice Teams Network. Cat was also the runner-up in Oakland’s 2018 mayoral election, facing incumbent Libby Schaaf.


Photo of Antoine Hunter
Antoine Hunter by Mark Kitaoka

Antoine
Hunter

Purple Fire Crow – Artist Fellow 

Antoine Hunter, also known as Purple Fire Crow, is a Bay Area native and an award-winning African, Indigenous, Deaf, Disabled, Two Spirit producer, choreographer, film/theater actor, dancer, dance instructor, model, poet, speaker, mentor, and Deaf advocate.

Mr. Hunter received his training in dance and acting at Skyline High School in Oakland, CA; the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts); and the Paul Taylor Dance School in NYC. The founder and artistic director of Urban Jazz Dance, Hunter has performed with Savage Jazz Dance Company, Nuba Dance Theater, Alayo Dance Company, Robert Moses’ KIN, Man Dance, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theater, among others. He has performed throughout the Bay Area and the world including in Cuba, Rome, Hawaii, Peru, and London. Hunter is a faculty member at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Shawl-Anderson, Youth in Arts, and Dance-A-Vision. He is known as the former president of the Bay Area Black Deaf Advocate and Director-at-Large for the Northern California chapter of the California Association of the Deaf. His projects have been awarded funding by both CA$H Theater Bay Area and the Zellerbach Family Foundation.


Photo of Bryant Terry
Bryant Terry by Adrian Octavius Walker

Bryant
Terry

Artist Fellow 

Bryant Terry is a James Beard and NAACP Image Award-winning chef, educator, and author renowned for his activism to create a healthy, just, and sustainable food system.

He is the founder and editor-in-chief of 4 Color Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House and Ten Speed Press, and he is co-principal and innovation director of Zenmi, a creative studio he founded. For the 2022-2023 academic year Bryant will be an Artist Fellow/Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley as a member of the second cohort of Abolition Democracy Fellows. Since 2015 he has been the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco where he creates public programming at the intersection of food, farming, health, activism, art, and culture. San Francisco Magazine included Bryant among 11 Smartest People in the Bay Area Food Scene, and Fast Company named him one of 9 People Who Are Changing the Future of Food. In regard to his work, Bryant’s mentor Alice Waters says, “Bryant Terry knows that good food should be an everyday right and not a privilege.”


Headshot of Lisbet Tellefsen
Lisbet Tellesfen by Lewis Watts

Lisbet
Tellefsen

Archivist in Residence

Lisbet Tellefsen (she/her) is an Oakland, California based community archivist, curator, producer, and publisher who has been documenting and creating culture in the Bay Area’s black, queer, and women’s communities for the past 4 decades.

As the publisher/co-founder of Aché: a Black Lesbian Journal, which served as a nexus for black queer organizing in the late 80’s/early 90s, she was an active participant during the renaissance that saw an explosion in black queer cultural production internationally. A prolific event producer, her production credits range from drag king shows to film series’, Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride: the East Bay pride march and festival that ran for 10 years in Oakland, to “Sister Comrade,” an historic tribute honoring two of her personal mentors, poets Audre Lorde and Pat Parker.

Her current work focuses on documenting movement history and preserving community memory. Tellefsen’s extensive archives and collections are used frequently for exhibitions, research, and media projects. As an archival consultant she has worked on numerous film projects including the documentaries Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Free Angela and All Political Prisoners. As a curator her most recent exhibitions include “The Black Panther Party: 1966-1982” at the West Oakland Mural Project, “Angela Davis OUTspoken,” and “From Feminists to Feministas” at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) History Museum in San Francisco.

Her collections have been exhibited internationally, most recently: “Angela Davis: Seize the Time” at the Zimmerli Art Museum (2021-22); “1 Million Roses for Angela Davis” at The Albertinum in Dresden, Germany (2021); “Get with the Action: Political Posters from the 1960s to Present” at SFMOMA (2017-18); and “All Power to the People: Black Panthers at 50 and Black Power” at the Oakland Museum of California (2016 and 2019) and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Over 200 objects from the Tellefsen collection now reside in the permanent collections of SFMOMA, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Smithsonian NMAAHC. An exhibition, “Angela Davis: Seize the Time,” inspired by the Tellefsen Collection and featuring over 200 pieces from her archive, opened at the Zimmerli Art Museum in September 2022 at Rutgers in New Jersey and will be traveling to the Oakland Museum of California in late 2022. The exhibition catalog Angela Davis: Seize the Time was published in 2020 by Hirmer Verlag.

A former board member of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, she is currently an Advisory Board member of The Bay Area Lesbian Archives (BALA) and a personal archivist to several movement luminaries, including musician Esperanza Spalding. In 2012, the Lisbet Tellefsen Papers were acquired by Yale University and are permanently housed at Yale’s Beinecke Library.


Peace And Love El Henson

Peace
And Love
El Henson

Returning Postdoctoral Fellow

Peace And Love El Henson is a black feminist urban ethnographer and critical porn studies analyst whose research and teaching lies at the intersection of Black Studies and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies.

She primarily focuses on black queer femmes, state violence, pornography, and ethnography. Peace And Love’s research agenda flows in two streams. The first uses black femmes’ theatrical performances from online interracial pornography to read real-life state policing encounters and vice versa. This research aims to denude the unconscious racialized pornographic BDSM (Bondage and Discipline/Domination and Submission/Sadism and Masochism/Sadomasochism) structured into interracial relations across sites of chattel slavery, professional pornography, public schools, universities, neighborhoods, and beyond. The second stream offers ethnographic case studies on black femmes who use erotic performance as a mode of survival, artistry, and pleasure amid genocide of low-income black neighborhoods in Oakland, CA.

Broadly, both streams of research illuminate how these femmes employ erotic mastery and discipline to navigate, negotiate, and rattle the racialized pornographic economy of antiblack policing, captivity, and ultimate genocide in the United States. These projects are deeply invested in centering the pain, pleasure, and power black queer femmes may find in grappling with this vexed economy, its disciplinary structures, and its symbolic or literal materializations across various settings. Peace And Love received a B.A. in African American Studies and a minor in Education at the University of California, Berkeley. She also earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in African & African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Fun fact: Amidst all the fray, Peace And Love is an intergalactic thinker, writer, and creative who enjoys mastering visual arts, music, poetry and performance.


Victoria Netanus Grubbs by Yvan Planet Photography, Rwanda

Victoria
Grubbs

Returning Postdoctoral Fellow

Victoria Netanus Grubbs is a black feminist abolitionist educator committed to developing radical leadership in underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad. She completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University in May 2021. 

Her dissertation, Kumva Meze Neza: Sounding Blackness in Rwanda examines how popular Rwandan music works in the aftermath of genocide to produce a collective social body. Drawing on four years of participant observation amongst Rwandan music industry professionals and their audiences, her work demonstrates how shared investments in the sensory experience of blackness produce formations of togetherness that defy traditional organizing categories.


Photo of Caleb E. Dawson
Caleb E. Dawson by Keegan Houser

Caleb E.
Dawson

Dissertation Writing Fellow

Caleb E. Dawson is a community organizer, dancer, and Black feminist ethnographer from Federal Way, Washington. Caleb indulges in reimagining and redistributing state-sanctioned resources to build life-affirming institutions that sustain state-forsaken peoples.

A Ph.D. candidate in Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender, Caleb engages in humanistic social science research about antiblackness in higher education and the myriad ways Black folk survive and create life amidst antiblack social structures. His dissertation ethnographically investigates what it takes for Black campus leaders to contest antiblackness at the University of California, Berkeley, from 2014 to 2022. In doing so, he analyzes the challenges and supports Black leaders encounter, as well as how gender and organizational status position shape experiences of possibility and, in some cases, more problems. Beyond his dissertation, Caleb’s research agenda addresses the racialized and gendered political economies of for-profit colleges and student loan debt.


Photo of Rashad Arman Timmons
Rashad Arman Timmons. A young, smiling Rashad with the women who gave him life. From left to right: Michele Timmons (mother), Eddie May Attles (great-aunt), Violet Currie (grandmother), and Rashad Arman Timmons.

Rashad
Arman
Timmons

Dissertation Writing Fellow

Rashad Arman Timmons is a community builder, keyboardist, writer, and black feminist educator from Detroit, Michigan. A beloved child of factory workers, urban gardeners, prayer warriors, and musicians, Rashad is a lifelong student of the ways black folk manipulate and adorn the built environment to envision freedom.

A doctoral candidate in African Diaspora Studies and New Media Studies, Rashad’s dissertation explores urban infrastructures as critical sites where the lived social relations that come to define blackness are enacted, visualized, and challenged. He engages how black subjects in Ferguson, Missouri reorder sedimented geographies of power by seizing infrastructures as sites of black political insurgency, wake work, tactical disruption, and sabotage.


2021-2022 Abolition Democracy Fellows


Daphne Muse in the living room of her former Oakland home by Brant Ward. 2012

Daphne
Muse

Elder in Residence 

Since migrating to the Bay Area from Washington, D.C. in 1971, Daphne Muse has been an unflagging caretaker and activist, dedicating herself to the intersections between education, neighborhood organization, public exhibitions and literature.

Shortly after arriving she became the secretary of the Angela Davis Legal Defense Team. During those years, Ms. Muse also advocated for the founding of the African American Studies department at UC Berkeley and later became a teacher at UC Berkeley under Dr. William (Bil) Banks and also taught for several years at Mills College. Ms. Muse saw herself as an ambassador between the university and the lives of the nearby marginalized (then referred to as Third World communities). She often organized large scale public programs and thoughtfully curated exhibitions in order to bring these communities into conversation.

Together with the UC Berkeley African American Studies department she organized events with James Baldwin, Shirley Graham Du Bois, and Gwendolyn Brooks and curated exhibitions related to their respective publications. Ms. Muse was and continues to be professionally and personally close with prominent figures in the Black Feminist movement as it evolved through the UC Berkeley African American Studies department. She worked closely with Dr. Barbara Christian and became a longtime friend of Dr. VèVè Clark and current department chair Dr. Ula Taylor. Over the years. Ms. Muse amassed and preserved an exceptional collection of ephemera, including over 5,000 letters and related materials that intimately document Black life and history.  


Zachary Norris. Photo by Eurydice Thomas

Zach
Norris

Activist in Residence

Zachary Norris champions and imagines emancipated futures made possible through community care. As the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Norris enacts his theories in ways that reduce harm and shift away from (and ultimately replace) police and criminalization.

As the cofounder of Restore Oakland, Norris conceives of a path towards a more just future through a collaboration between the Ella Baker Center and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, where a new center and restaurant becomes a sight for service industry training, collectivity, justice, and economic hope. Much of Norris’s labor also stems from a deep commitment to the promise of restorative justice as framed by a need for truth and reinvestment. He expounds on these ideas in his recent book, Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment.

Born and raised in Oakland, Norris once again lives in the city with his wife and two daughters. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University followed by a JD from New York University Law School. He also studied at the Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles, California. In 2011 Norris was a Soros Justice Fellow and in 2015 he received the American Constitution Society’s David Carliner Public Interest Award. In Fall 2020, he lectured for the UC Berkeley Big Ideas program focusing on his work with the Ella Baker Center and the 2020 election.


Sadie Barnette. Photo: Jeff McLane

Sadie
Barnette

Artist Fellow

Sadie Barnette’s multimodal practice engages themes of surveillance, gentrification, queer kinship, community care, and intergenerational activism. With attention to the intersections between the mundane and the fantastical, she often reinterprets archives to explore modes of recuperating and re-presenting Black histories.

Born and raised in Oakland, where she still resides, Barnette’s deep reverence for Black Bay area communities manifests in artwork that examines the harm of a changing landscape caused by gentrification and the promise of reconstituting ways of being together and loving Blackness. Barnette makes use of color, form, and materials–most frequently pink, floral designs, and glitter–to trouble visual expectations and gesture towards speculative possibilities. Barnette holds a BFA from California Institute of the Arts and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego.

She has been awarded grants and residencies by the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Camargo Foundation in France. Her work is in the permanent collections of institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; California African American Museum; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Oakland Museum of California; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Studio Museum in Harlem; Brooklyn Museum; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She lives and works in Oakland, CA, and is represented by Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles and Jessica Silverman in San Francisco. Her artwork is also featured here, on the Black Studies Collaboratory’s website.


Krudxs
Cubensi

Artist Fellow

Krudxs Cubensi is an AfroCuban queer feminist Hip Hop duo composed of Odaymar Cuesta and Oli Prendes and committed to Black feminist, queer and vegan politics within the Caribbean and beyond.

Central to their mission is the belief that music is medicine for the people and for themselves. Both musicians have extensive formal training – Odaymar Cuesta studied Fine Arts at the Higher Pedagogical Institute in Havana and Oli Prendes at the National School of Music and the Higher Institute of Art in Havana Cuba. They have produced eight independent albums, produced, directed and starred in music and art videos, self-organized several US and international tours, and collaborated with more than three hundred artists and activists on projects around the world. 

Although now residing in the United States, Cuesta and Prendes continue to centralize the experiences of their communities in Cuba including speaking out against authoritarianism. Since their world debut at the International Hip Hop Festival of Alamar in 1998, they have remained connected to Hip Hop communities and political struggles across the world. 


Peace And Love El Henson

Peace
And Love
El Henson

Postdoctoral Fellow

Peace And Love El Henson is a black feminist urban ethnographer and critical porn studies analyst whose research and teaching lies at the intersection of Black Studies and Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies.

She primarily focuses on black queer femmes, state violence, pornography, and ethnography. Peace And Love’s research agenda flows in two streams. The first uses black femmes’ theatrical performances from online interracial pornography to read real-life state policing encounters and vice versa. This research aims to denude the unconscious racialized pornographic BDSM (Bondage and Discipline/Domination and Submission/Sadism and Masochism/Sadomasochism) structured into interracial relations across sites of chattel slavery, professional pornography, public schools, universities, neighborhoods, and beyond. The second stream offers ethnographic case studies on black femmes who use erotic performance as a mode of survival, artistry, and pleasure amid genocide of low-income black neighborhoods in Oakland, CA.

Broadly, both streams of research illuminate how these femmes employ erotic mastery and discipline to navigate, negotiate, and rattle the racialized pornographic economy of antiblack policing, captivity, and ultimate genocide in the United States. These projects are deeply invested in centering the pain, pleasure and power black queer femmes may find in grappling with this vexed economy, its disciplinary structures, and its symbolic or literal materializations across various settings. Peace And Love received a B.A. in African American Studies and a minor in Education at the University of California, Berkeley. She also earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in African & African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Fun fact: Amidst all the fray, Peace And Love is an intergalactic thinker, writer, and creative who enjoys mastering visual arts, music, poetry and performance.


Victoria Netanus Grubbs by Yvan Planet Photography, Rwanda

Victoria
Grubbs

Postdoctoral Fellow

Victoria Netanus Grubbs is a black feminist abolitionist educator committed to developing radical leadership in underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad. She will complete her PhD in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University in May 2021.

Her dissertation, Kumva Meze Neza: Sounding Blackness in Rwanda examines how popular Rwandan music works in the aftermath of genocide to produce a collective social body. Drawing on four years of participant observation amongst Rwandan music industry professionals and their audiences, her work demonstrates how shared investments in the sensory experience of blackness produce formations of togetherness that defy traditional organizing categories.


Ra Malika Imhotep by Sasha Kelley

Ra Malika
Imhotep

Dissertation Fellow

Ra/Malika Imhotep is a Black feminist writer and cultural worker from Atlanta, GA currently pursuing a doctoral degree in African Diaspora Studies and New Media Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Imhotep’s creative and intellectual praxis tends to the relationships between queer expressions of Black femininity, Southern vernacular aesthetics and the performance of labor. Their interdisciplinary dissertation project explores the ways Black women (across all gender designations and presentations) and gender non-conforming Black femmes in “the Dirty South” utilize aesthetic practices to make sense of themselves and the histories their bodies carry as they establish, experiment with, and maintain alternative relationships to labor.


Michael J Myers II

Michael J
Myers II

Dissertation Fellow

Michael J. Myers II is from Buffalo, New York. A Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Michael’s dissertation is a multifaceted and multilayered experimental storytelling project in black studies.

Thinking with the writings of Sylvia Wynter, Michael examines the ways in which violent black rebellion intervenes – in the form of a question mark – to challenge our current epistemological socio-politico-juridical order and, simultaneously and concomitantly, to postulate different possibilities and potentialities of being. 


Jared Robinson by Christopher Robinson
Jared Robinson by Christopher Robinson

Jared
Robinson

Dissertation Fellow

Jared Robinson is a poet and critic from Indianapolis, Indiana. In his academic work, he engages the writing of the enslaved in America as a mode for the critique of Enlightenment.

This engagement takes the form of a dual attending to the origins of African American literature and the developing philosophical propositions undergirding Black Studies as a discipline. In his poetry, he makes monuments to the fact that he is allowed to spend time thinking about something other than slavery and its metaphysical apologists. He does not care for this California weather. He is glad to greet you. 



Sadie Barnette: Power
2020
Powdered graphite on paper
Image courtesy the artist and Jessica Silverman