Jan 04

New Perspectives on the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King


A virtual conversation offering new perspectives on the lives and legacies of Coretta Scott King & Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


  • Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons

    University of Florida

    Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons is currently an Assistant Professor of Religion and affiliated faculty in the Women Studies Department. Simmons received her BA from Antioch University in Human Services and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion with a specific focus on Islam from Temple University as well as a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. Simmons’ primary academic focus in Islam is on the Shari’ah (Islamic Law) and its impact on Muslim women, contemporarily. Simmons spent two years (1996-1998) living and conducting dissertation research in the Middle East countries of Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. The areas of focus for her teaching at this time include Islam, Women, Religion and Society; Women and Islam, African American Religious Traditions, and Race, Religion, and Rebellion.

    In addition to her academic studies in Islam, Simmons was a disciple in Sufism (the mystical stream in Islam) for seventeen years (1971-1986) under the guidance of Sheikh Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyadeen, a Sufi Mystic from Sri Lanka, until his passing. She remains an active member of the Bawa Muhaiyadeen Fellowship and Mosque and student of this great Saint’s teachings.

    Simmons has a long history in the area of civil rights, human rights and peace work. She was on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker peace, justice, human rights and international development organization headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa. for twenty-three years. During her early adult years as a college student and thereafter, she was active with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and spent seven years working full time on Voter Registration and desegregation activities in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960′s.

  • Brandon Terry

    Harvard University

    Brandon M. Terry is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and the co-director of the Institute on Policing, Incarceration, and Public Safety at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. In addition to these main appointments, Brandon is a Faculty Affiliate of American Studies, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and the Center for History and Economics.

    Terry earned a PhD with distinction in Political Science and African American Studies from Yale University, an MSc in Political Theory Research as a Michael von Clemm Fellow at Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford, and an AB, magna cum laude, in Government and African and African American Studies from Harvard College.

    A scholar of African American political thought, Brandon is the editor, with Tommie Shelby, of To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Harvard University Press, 2018) and the editor of Fifty Years Since MLK (Boston Review/MIT 2018). He has published work in Modern Intellectual History, Political Theory, The New York Review of Books, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Boston Review, Dissent, The Point, and New Labor Forum. For his work, Brandon has received fellowships, awards, and recognition from the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics, the Center for History and Economics, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon-Mays Foundation, the American Political Science Association, the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, and Best American Essays.

    His next book, The Tragic Vision of the Civil Rights Movement: Political Theory and the Historical Imagination (Harvard University Press) interrogates the normative and political significance of different narratives of African American history in liberalism, radicalism, and Afro-pessimism through an original synthesis of methods drawn from the philosophy of history, literary theory, and political philosophy. Following this, he will release a book on the political thought, praxis, and judgment of Malcolm X, tentatively titled Home to Roost: Malcolm X Between Prophecy and Peril (Penguin/Random House) and an edited collection of essays on African American political thought in the 21st century. My broader academic and advising interests include Black intellectual and political thought, Africana philosophy, contemporary political theory (especially questions of resistance, protest, dissent), African American history, racial politics, poverty, crime, incarceration, and the aesthetics and sociology of hip-hop and “black” youth cultures.

  • Traci Parker

    UC Davis

    Traci Parker is a specialist in African American history. Her work focuses on the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, labor, consumer capitalism, gender, and sexuality. Her first book, Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement: Workers, Consumers, and Civil Rights from the 1930s to the 1980s (University of North Carolina Press, 2019), was named a 2019 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. She is the co-editor of The New Civil Rights Movement Reader: Resistance, Resilience, and Justice (University of Massachusetts Press, 2023). Her current book project, Beyond Loving: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Black Freedom Movement, explores activists’ romantic relationships in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Prior to coming to UC Davis, she worked in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


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