Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, on The Marc Steiner Show

On Monday, May 19, WEAA’s The Marc Steiner Show hosted a panel discussion remembering the life and legacy of Malcolm X. The day would have been his 89th birthday. American Studies Assistant Professor Kimberly Moffitt participated in the discussion and shared her thoughts on why Malcolm X might not play as significant a role with young learners as other activists during his time.

“A lot of that has to do with him not fitting the paradigm of what we consider to be acceptable activism,” Moffitt said. “At that point in time, even in the midst of a very radical period in our country’s history, he was seen as an extremist by many.”

Other panelists in the discussion included Karsonya Wise Whitehead, an assistant professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland and Ray Winbush, Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University.

To listen to the full segment that aired on The Marc Steiner Show, click here. Moffitt is co-editor of Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities.

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, on The Marc Steiner Show and in The Baltimore Sun

On Saturday, April 26, Kimberly Moffitt participated in a panel discussion at Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre as part of its World of the Play series. The event, called “Race and Representation: Our Greatest Accomplishment. Our Greatest Shame,” featured panelists who shared their commentaries on race, theatre and film, drawing from the current production at Everyman, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage. The discussion was broadcast May 2 on The Marc Steiner Show. Moffitt, an assistant professor of American studies, discussed how the play applies to present day society.

“What I thought was most interesting about Lynn Nottage’s work is that it makes the evolution of black women in film a contemporary issue,” Moffitt said. “Even though it is set in the 1930s, for us to watch what Vera Stark’s experience was in the 30s trying to be a Hollywood star…we’re still dealing with so many of those issues in present day.”

Moffitt also co-authored an op-ed that appeared in The Baltimore Sun on May 2 entitled, “Building strong children.” The column focused on the importance of educational opportunity for young black men in Baltimore. Moffitt, who is a founder of Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a public charter school in Baltimore City, wrote the article with Betsey Swingle Hobelmann and Jack J. Pannell Jr. Pannell Jr. and Hobelmann are also founders.

You can listen to the full segment on The Marc Steiner Show here. You can read the full column in The Baltimore Sun here.

Garden Gala: Bringing the Green Back to Filbert Street (5/18)

Students in the departments of American studies and Visual Arts are working with Jason Reed, the director of a non-profit community garden and educational space, to host a fundraising event to support the Filbert Street Community Garden of Brooklyn-Curtis Bay on Sunday, May 18 from 4:00-9:00 p.m. It will take place at 2640 Space in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore (2640 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21218).

The organizers invite you to join them for an evening of food, music, history, art, silent auctions, raffles and more. The Filbert Street Community Garden is a conservation project, educational space, and food farm located in the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore. Curtis Bay residents are in need a garden because the area is a food desert, which means there is limited access to fresh produce locally. In the past two years the garden has held 24 community workshops, logged 10,000 volunteer hours, provided 500 garden classes both during and after school, served more than 600 local students, and produced and distributed more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce in the community.

Students in Professor Nicole King’s “Preserving Places,” American studies course and Professor Steve Bradley’s “IRC Fellows,” visual arts course worked together on various aspects of programming for the event. The work is funded by a UMBC BreakingGround grant and illustrates how the successes and failures of urban industrial development contribute to our understanding of historic places and the creation of social space. You can find more information on the event by clicking here.

Michelle Stefano, American Studies, in City Paper

In the latest in a series of articles for the “City Folk” section of City Paper, American Studies Folklorist in Residence Michelle Stefano writes about a former steelworker who recently was awarded a prestigious poetry prize. Stefano’s profile of Afaa Michael Weaver titled, “Working-Class Hero,” was published April 23.

In the column, Stefano traces Weaver’s journey from working at Sparrows Point Steel Mill to becoming a full professor in the English department at Simmons College, where just last month he was awarded the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a $100,000 prize given by Claremont Graduate University each year for an outstanding published collection. She writes, “he says he feels ‘perpetually displaced': the tension of belonging both to his roots in skilled labor and to the academy.”

To read the full column in City Paper, click here.

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, to Participate in Everyman Theatre Panel (4/26)

On Saturday, April 26, Kimberly Moffitt, an assistant professor of American studies, will participate in a panel at Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre as part of the next Marc Steiner World of the Play discussion. This latest World of the Play discussion is called “Race and Representation: Our Greatest Accomplishment. Our Greatest Shame.” The goal of the event is to examine the impact of racial stereotypes within the entertainment industry and the effect on communities and greater culture.

Kimberly Moffitt will serve on the panel along with Dramaturg and Playwright Jacqueline Lawton and Otis Cortez Ramsey-ZoeAssociate Artistic Director at banished? productions and Lecturer of Theatre Arts at Howard University.

The discussion is scheduled for 5 p.m. For more information on Saturday’s event, click here.

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, on The Marc Steiner Show

Kimberly Moffitt, an assistant professor of American studies, participated in a panel discussion on The Marc Steiner Show on April 10 that focused on what the true meaning of “happiness” is in the context of WEAA’s Happiness Spring Membership Drive.

The panelists discussed the pursuit of happiness and what it meant to the founders of the United States, what it means to Americans today and how it’s possible to create a world where everyone has the right to happiness. During the program, Moffitt weighed in on her view of the definition of happiness.

“I think it does mean freedom, and I think that’s what our founders wanted it to mean. I think where we are now is that we see freedom in very different ways,” Moffitt said.

“In some respects I think we’ve moved away from what the original founders wanted to see in terms of this idea of freedom. At the same time of encouraging freedom, we’ve created so many social hierarchies that make it difficult to actually have the freedom to do much of what we’d like to do,” she added.

Other panelists in the discussion included Jeff Singer, Founder and former Executive Director of Health Care for the Homeless and instructor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Alex Bostonformer director of Homeless Services in Baltimore City and Country Director for the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan and Jordan. To listen to the full segment on The Marc Steiner Show, click here.

Remembering Sparrows Point (4/10)

The Creative Alliance is hosting “Remembering Sparrows Point” on April 10, an event that features film screenings and discussions exploring the importance of the Sparrows Point Steel Mill. Recently closed, the mill played a vital role in the lives of hundreds of thousands steelworkers and personnel for more than 125 years.

To keep the mill’s memory alive, Creative Alliance will screen Mill Stories and Life After Steel, presented by Bill Shewbridge, media and communication studies professor of the practice, and Michelle Stefano, folklorist in residence. Deborah Rudacille, author of Roots of Steel: Boom and Bust in an American Mill Town and English professor of the practice, will present a reading followed by a discussion with former Sparrows Point workers.

The event takes place Thursday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Creative Alliance and is sponsored by the BreakingGround initiative. For more information and a complete list of speakers and presentations, click here.

Nicole King and Michelle Stefano, American Studies, in City Paper

In their second article in a series of essays for the “City Folk” section in City Paper, American Studies Assistant Professor Nicole King and Folklorist in Residence Michelle Stefano profile Courtney Speed, a cosmetologist and community leader. The essay, titled, “Days of their lives,” was published March 26.

The article focuses on Speed and her devotion to Turner Station, a neighborhood at the tip of Dundalk in Baltimore County where she has lived since the 1960s. King and Stefano describe Speed’s time working at a barbershop that her husband owned, and later opening the Thomas and Martha Allmond Economic Development Center which trains young people and adults with special needs to run a business. It also serves as an incubator for the Henrietta Lacks Museum.

King and Stefano write that Speed worries about the Turner Station community changing due to developers taking over the neighborhood: “Speed would love to see Turner Station remain the utopian community she recalls from its heyday,” the authors write.

You can read the full essay in City Paper here.

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies, on The Marc Steiner Show

On Wednesday, March 12, The Marc Steiner Show hosted a national news roundup segment covering a wide range of topics, including discussion of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and the death of Jackson, Miss. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba.

Kimberly Moffitt, an assistant professor of American studies, was a guest on the national news roundup panel and weighed in on several topics over the course of the discussion, including news surrounding CPAC.

“There was this rallying around these exciting statements being made, but there wasn’t much depth to it,” Moffitt said. “I think it’s a regurgitation of the same old, same old, as it has been for a number of presidential terms and a number of years. That doesn’t situate itself with just this current administration.”

Other panelists in the discussion included John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and Richard Vatz, professor of rhetoric and communication at Towson University.

You can listen to the full national news roundup segment here.

Miya Masaoka Concert (3/6)

The American studies department is sponsoring a concert featuring experimental musician Miya Masaoka on Thursday, March 6. Masaoka will perform pieces using koto and lasers and will also perform a new piece titled “You’re in My Radar.” A short Q & A session will follow the concert.

Masaoka is a classically trained composer, musician and installation artist who resides in New York City. She has created works for the response of plants, the movement of insects, multi-channel sound installations, and she has designed responsive wearable computer textiles.

Miya Masaoka

Her lengthy list of accomplishments and achievements include the following: Her works have been performed by the Bang on a Can Allstars, So Percussion, VOLTI, the San Francisco Choral Society, Alonzo King, Joan Jenrenaud (formerly of the Kronos Quartet), Ensemble Either/Or, and the La Jolla Symphony. Her works have been presented at the Miller Theater (New York), the Venice Biennale (Italy), IRCAM (France), and the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. Masaoka has worked with Pharoah Sanders, Ornette Coleman, Henry Brant, Reggie Workman, Steve Coleman, Pauline Oliveros, Larry Ochs, Vijay Iyer, and Fred Frith. Toshiko Akiyoshi has written a piece for her, and she has been a special guest of the Berkeley Symphony. She is the recipient of the 2013 Doris Duke Award, the Alpert Award in the Arts, the Map Fund, the NEA, and the Asian Cultural Council’s Japan Fellowship Award. 

The concert takes place Thursday, March 6 at 8 p.m. in the Fine Arts Recital Hall and it is free and open to the public. American studies is sponsoring the event along with contributions from Music, Asian Studies, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Mosaic Center. For more information, contact american.studies@umbc.edu.