Scholar-Activism Sparked

Dr. Terry Kershaw

The Late Dr. Terry Kershaw, previous head of the Africana Studies department, coined the term “scholar activist” and used it to encourage students to get involved, and make a positive difference in the community with their education.

His passion was sparked from his own experience in college, when he learned that his hometown was considered a ghetto.

He thought, “Well, if I’m going to college, what can I do to make things better? What’s the point of me getting educated just to keep things as they are?”

This is the crux of being a scholar-activist, and we welcome you ojoin us as we recognize the accomplishments of the following alumni, faculty, and staff in the College of Arts & Science who are making a difference!

Dr. Paul Eric Abercrumbie ‘87

Dr. Abercrumbie, an A&S alumnus and professor, was the Director of the African American Cultural and Resource Center (AACRC) and is also a member of the Diversity and Community Relations committee on campus at UC. Through these groups and his connections with students, he promotes cultural and racial understanding in higher education.

Bleuzette Marshall ’92, CECH ’01, ‘09

Marshall is the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and has worked at UC for nearly 21 years. In April, she will be presented with the Mosaic Award for her demonstrated leadership through cultivating collaboration, championing the cause of the underrepresented and promoting greater equity and opportunity for others. She also received the Donald and Marian Spencer “Spirit of America” Award in 2016 in recognition of her enduring contributions to creating greater inclusion and for promoting diversity in the community, the King Legacy Award in 2014 for leading the implementation of UC’s five-year diversity plan as well as building strategic partnerships in the community, and the Glass Ceiling Award in 2014 presented by the Ohio Diversity Council.

Littisha Bates

Bates is a newly tenured Sociology Professor, whom was awarded the Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence in 2016. The award is part of a partnership between the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research that recognizes exceptional contributions to respective colleges and to UC. She is known to use innovative teaching models to push students to understand the inequities in the education system and how they can be part of a positive change in the future. Bates and James Mack, Professor of Chemistry, also co-founded The Black Faculty Association. She acts as a mentor to students, sparking interest in sociology and social justice both in her department and in UC’s African American Culture and Resource Center (AACRC).

Christina Brown ‘10

Brown graduated from A&S with a B.A. in Africana Studies and Political Science and has become an activist for social justice in Cincinnati. She founded the Cincinnati chapter of Black Lives Matter and was featured on news station WLWT as the face of a new generation of civil rights leaders in the city. She was also awarded the Emerging Leader Award from UC, an annual award that honors alumni who are “blazing the trails toward becoming our future leaders.”  She continues to lead by example, through organizing peaceful protests, writing op-eds for local news outlets, delivering TED talks and working as the president of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation Board.

Mario Jovan Shaw ‘12

Shaw, a champion of diversity in education, graduated with a B.A. of Communication and Africana Studies. He was recently named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017 for social entrepreneurship due to the success of the education-focused nonprofit he co-founded, Profound Gentlemen.

A Timeline of A&S Activism

March 20, 2017

Celebrating the African American Cultural Resource Center (AACRC), 5:30- 8pm, TUC Great Hall.

March 10-19, 2017

UBUNTU Spring Break Tour. Each year over 30 students join the staff of the African American Cultural and Resource Center and travel to various areas of the southeast United States over Spring Break.

March 10-19, 2017

Spring Break Trip to The National Museum of African American History with Professor Holly McGee #getonthebus

February 24, 2017

Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies is co–sponsoring the Creating Black Feminist Futures symposium on Feb. 24th. Featured will be Dr. Tanisha Ford from the University of Delaware.

February 18, 2017

A&S is a Red & Black Sponsor of The Ruby and Onyx Gala, an awards gala to recognize and celebrate the many contributions and overall excellence of UC alumni, faculty, students and community partners. Four A&S alumni are being honored with awards this year.

February 17, 2017

The Third Annual Cincinnati Project Symposium with keynote address “Taking a Stand: Anti-Black Racism and Coalitional Politics” by Patricia Hill Collins, PhD, 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM, African American Cultural & Resource Center

February 16, 2017

"From a Moment to a Movement" - A Workshop with Patrisse Cullors, PhD Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter, 4pm - 5pm TUC

February 16, 2017
February 2017

“Celebrate Black History Month” begins

June 2016

The Black Faculty Association is founded by James Mack, Professor of Chemistry, and Littisha Bates, Professor of Sociology. The association helps to unify and enhance the morale of black faculty across campus.

February 2016

The Chemistry (1st place) and Physics (3rd place) departments were recognized with Provost Diversity Awards. These fields of study took action to increase the diversity of their faculty and strengthen their connections to a wide range of communities.

October 2015

A&S student Ashley Nikadi ‘16 and Business student Tiffany Bibb ‘15 founded the Irate8 in response to the shooting of Samuel DuBose. The group fosters a culture of peaceful activism and open communication between faculty and black students.

July 2015

Professors and students from the College of Arts and Sciences created The Cincinnati Project, an organization that utilizes faculty, student and administrator talents to address social justice and equity concerns through research.

Summer 2011

Dr. Terry Kershaw brought the National Council for Black Studies to the University of Cincinnati. 2011 - The University of Cincinnati introduced a five-year Diversity Plan. UC enhances its commitment to attraction and retention of a diverse array of students and faculty. Established in 1975, NCBS is the leading organization of black studies professionals in the world and is the home of the International Journal of African Studies.


The University of Cincinnati introduced a five-year Diversity Plan. UC enhances its commitment to attraction and retention of a diverse array of students and faculty.


Donald Spencer, a lifetime member of the NAACP and a College of Arts and Sciences graduate, was named a “Great Living Cincinnatian” by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber for his lifelong commitment to civil rights.


UC alumna and civil rights pioneer Marian Spencer '42 was named a "Great Living Cincinnatian" by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. The granddaughter of a freed slave, Spencer’s civil rights activities began early – joining the NAACP at the age of 13 and campaigning for an open college prom while a student at UC in 1938-1942.


Dwight Tillery ‘70, who graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1970, became Cincinnati’s first popularly elected black mayor. Tillery was an organizer of the United Black Student Association during his time on UC’s campus.


The African American Cultural and Resource Center opened its doors at the University of Cincinnati. The center was the result of a proposal by UC’s United Black Student Association requesting a more positive campus environment for black students.


Jeannette Taylor, PhD ’79 became UC’s first female African-American dean when she led the former College of Evening and Continuing Education. She has been a crusader for social justice and a mentor to countless minorities and women for more than 50 years.


Marian Spencer became the first African American female elected to Cincinnati City Council.


Theodore “Ted” Berry ‘28 became the first black mayor of Cincinnati. He also served as a civil rights attorney for the NAACP and played a key role in President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights endeavors.


Students at the University of Cincinnati, including Dwight Tillery, formed the United Black Student Association to advocate for the black community at the university.


Darwin T. Turner, one of the greatest scholars in African-American literature and Charles Henry Turner’s grandson, became the youngest person ever to graduate from the University of Cincinnati when he earned a bachelor’s degree in English at age 16. He earned his master’s degree in English in 1949.


To fight segregation at UC, students like Donald Spencer founded Quadres, an organization that eventually allowed hundreds of black students to participate in activities from whic they were tranditionally excluded.


Charles Henry Turner, a zoologist and scholar, was the first African American to graduate from the University of Cincinnati. He was also the first African American to be granted a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago. He pioneered research techniques in the study of animal behavior and made several important discoveries that advanced our understanding of the natural world. Among his most notable achievements, Turner was the first person to discover that insects can hear and alter behavior based on previous experience.

Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are core values for the University of Cincinnati, and while our College of Arts and Sciences has produced strong proponents of social justice, we recommend that you learn about our extra curricular resources as well. For example, our African American Cultural and Resource Center (AACRC) serves as a source of enlightenment about the Black experience, and the Office of Equity and Inclusion aims to move our Diversity and Inclusion Plan forward through cooperative initiatives, planning and partnerships.

  • Continue to the College of Arts & Sciences Page

  • Attend one of our Black History Month Events

  • Explore our Africana Studies Major

  • Support Equality through the Cincinnati Project