KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Robyn Spencer

DR. ROBYN C. SPENCER is a historian and expert on social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. She teaches survey and seminar courses on African American Heritage, Civil rights and Black Power, and Black women’s history as an Associate Professor of History at Lehman College, City University of New York. 

Professor Spencer’s Master’s thesis, “Contested Terrain: The Mississippi Flood of 1927 and the Struggle to Control Black Labor,” explored the flood’s impact on almost 300,000 displaced African Americans. Her thesis was published in the Journal of Negro History and featured in the documentary “When Weather Changed History” on the Weather Channel. Her writings on the Black Panther Party have appeared in publications such as The Journal of Women’s History, Souls, and Radical Teacher. Spencer’s article, “Engendering the Black Freedom Struggle: Revolutionary Black Womanhood and the Black Panther Party in the Bay Area, California” was published in the Journal of Women’s History and won the 2008 Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Article Prize by the Association of Black Women Historians. Her first book, The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, was published by Duke University Press in December 2016. Dr. Spencer received a Mellon fellowship from Yale University to work on her second book, To Build the World Anew: Black Liberation Politics and the Movement Against the Vietnam War, examining anti-imperialist consciousness among working class African Americans that influenced their engagement with the anti-Vietnam War movement. Dr. Spencer is also working on a short biography of Angela Davis for Westview Press’ Lives of American Women series.

As a writer, teacher, and public speaker Dr. Spencer educates others about the contributions of urban, working-class African Americans, especially women, to the Black freedom movement. Dr. Spencer has partnered with the New York Public Library on  public events preserving local history; worked with New York State’s Department of Education on professional development on women’s history; and served as one of the co-editors of the Radical Teacher special issue on “Teaching Black Lives Matter.” Dr. Spencer has contributed essays connecting history to current events to The Washington Post, Black Youth Project blog, Vibe Magazine, ColorlinesTruthoutMs. Magazine blog, Zinn Education Project blog, Duke University Press blog and Black Perspectives, the blog of the African American Intellectual History Society. She appeared on “Democracy Now,” in March 2018 after one of her self-published blog posts, “Black Feminist Meditations on the Women of Wakanda,” went viral.

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CHILDREN’S EVENTS (Sponsored by Hard Ball Press)

TIMOTHY SHEARD, veteran nurse, is a writer, a mentor to writers, an organizer with the New York Chapter of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981), and founder of Hard Ball Press, a progressive publishing company.

After writing seven acclaimed mystery novels featuring hospital custodian-shop steward Lenny Moss, Timothy retired from hospital duty and launched Hard Ball Press in order to help worker writers find their voice and publish their stories. He also offers low-cost editing and self-publishing services for writers who want to produce their own books.

Timothy has offered many writing workshops at colleges, universities, libraries, and unions. He finds the “gold” sparkling in a story or essay and helps the writer identify and polish that prose so that it touches the reader’s heart and informs the mind.  The proud father of two fine sons, he lives with his wife Mary in Brooklyn, NY. 

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