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  • Contributing Authors Volume 2 Issue 1 (2014)

Valerie Adams is a Cornell Cooperative Extension associate director and the New York State 4-H Program leader. She earned her Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies in human development from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She spent the early part of her career working with urban African American and Latina/o adolescents, resulting in her research interests of racial socialization, civic engagement, gender, and media influences on youth. She served as a volunteer teacher for Africa in Katima Mulilo, Namibia, teaching educational theory in practice, which influenced her research interests and perspective on racial socialization. Dr. Adams was the 2007 Shaw CDF Freedom school coordinator featured in the GSE Freedom School documentary that aired on PBS stations and was awarded a 2010 Telly. In 2008, she also served as a Rotary International ambassador scholar, in which capacity she studied at the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Center for Critical Research on Race and Identity. Her research interest and experience resulted in her being awarded a Ruth Landes Memorial Fellowship for 2010–11 to complete her dissertation and to extend her research with black adolescents and media.

Juan Battle is a professor of sociology, public health, and urban education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is also the coordinator of the Africana Studies Certificate Program. With over 60 grants and publications—including books, book chapters, academic articles, and encyclopedia entries—his research focuses on race, sexuality, and social justice. Among his current projects, he is heading the Social Justice Sexuality initiative—a project exploring the lived experiences of black, Latina/o, and Asian lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the United States and Puerto Rico. [End Page 101]

Keisha Bentley-Edwards’s research examines the processes by which young people understand their cultural selves and how this meaning making influences relationships, academic achievements, well-being, and a sense of social responsibility. Bentley has a strong belief that research should provide the theoretical framework and empirical evidence to guide practice and intervention. Using an action-research approach, she explores resiliency and cultural competence in the context of (1) the processes of racial socialization for black and white youth, (2) racial cohesion in the black community, (3) risk and protective factors in coping with racism, (4) academic and social outcomes, and (5) class and upward mobility.

Alfred W. Defreece Jr. is an assistant professor of sociology at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where he serves on the advisory board for the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and teaches African American Studies courses as a faculty affiliate of the St. Clair Drake Center for African and African American Studies. His research is conducted under the broad umbrella of cultural sociology and focuses on multiple substantive areas, including racial attitudes, youth development and activism, urban education, and perceptions of health among diverse vulnerable populations. Continuing his primary research on black youths’ constructions of racial inequality, a chapter based on a preliminary analysis of his dissertation data recently appeared in Reading African American Experiences in the Obama Era, edited by Ebony Thomas and Shanesha Brooks-Tatum (2011) and School Sucks: Arguments for Alternative Education, edited by Rochelle Brock and Greg S. Goodman (2013). He currently is developing projects around black male retention in higher education and place-based education as a means of promoting critical political engagement among urban youth. He holds a B.A. from Hunter College-CUNY and received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan (2011).

Randal Maurice Jelks is an associate professor of American Studies and African and African American Studies. He is the author of the two award-winning books: African Americans in the Furniture City: The Civil Rights Struggle in Grand Rapids, Michigan (2006) and Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography (2012).

Lashawnda Pittman is an assistant professor in the American Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. in sociology at Northwestern University in 2010, an M.A. in sociology from the University of Connecticut, and a B.S. in urban government administration from Georgia State University. In 2012...


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