The Beacon - September 2019 Edition

Spotlighting Inclusivity at JMU

The Beacon

SUMMARY: The Beacon celebrates diversity and inclusion at JMU by spotlighting upcoming engaging opportunities, highlighting campus initiatives, and featuring individuals at the forefront of creating an inclusive community at JMU. Explore inclusion at JMU through the shining light of The Beacon.

In this issue:

Collaborating to Enrich Our Commitment to Diversity

David Owusu-Ansah On 1 March 2019, I assumed the position of Associate Provost for Diversity. While I continue to hold on to my role as Executive Director for Faculty Access and Inclusion, the new designation demonstrates Academic Affairs’ full engagement with our institutional diversity conversations.

Coincidentally, also in the March issue of The Beacon, our colleague Dr. A.J. Morey discussed the subject of implicit bias as a challenge to diversity. However, she concluded her observations on the benefits of diversity not only to underrepresented and underserved students, but to the whole university community.

As we move forward, it is my hope that we will all work together with ideas that can positively influence what we do in our classrooms, our research, and the community. I am open for collaborations. Events that are highlighted in this issue of The Beacon show what others are doing, but let us also know how best we can collaborate to enrich our commitment to diversity in academic affairs.

David Owusu-Ansah, PhD

Professor of History & Associate provost for Diversity,

Executive Director, Faculty Access & Inclusion

Broadening Horizons: upcoming events, lectures, and more

Photo of Delegate RoemWorking Towards a More Inclusive Commonwealth

Dominion Lecture Series

Delegate Danica Roem (D, HD13)

After winning a historic election in 2017 to become the first out-and-seated transgender state legislator in American history, Del. Roem joined a bi-partisan coalition of state lawmakers in 2018 to expand Medicaid to 400,000 uninsured Virginians and raise teacher pay throughout the commonwealth. She continues to advocate for expanding access to quality, affordable health insurance, increasing government accountability and making Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth.

Monday, September 9th 7:00 p.m., Festival Ballroom B/C

Edge Walkers posterEdge Walkers


This group exhibition will feature artwork that skirts the fine line between fine art and design, including that of Tanya Aguiñiga. Influenced by her upbringing in Tijuana, Mexico, Aguiñiga’s work builds communications and examines identity in the U.S./Mexico border regions. Her work uses craft as a vehicle for community empowerment by generating conversations about identity, culture and gender while promoting awareness during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Artist talk by Tanya Aguiñiga with opening reception to follow Monday, September 9 from 5:00 p.m.

Exhibit from September 10 – October 13, Duke Hall Gallery

Purity and Power exhibit imagePurity and Power: The Art of Russian Icons 

To the followers of the Eastern Orthodox Church, images of holy people or events, called icons, are considered windows into the heavenly realm. This exhibition highlights the finest icons in the Madison Art Collection, presenting never-before-seen works of art. Visitors will explore not only the artistry of icons, but also the history of Russia itself.

Exhibit from September 9 – November 22, Lisanby Museum, Festival

Photo of Jon MeachamJohn Grisham hosts Jon Meacham at Writers Hour

Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has studied and written about the leaders of this country during a variety of political climates. Most of the subjects within Meacham’s biographies were practicing civic engagement, a value JMU works to bestow upon its students. Coincidentally, Meacham is currently working on a biography of James and Dolley Madison.

Thursday, September 12th at 6:00 p.m., Wilson Hall Auditorium

TitleKonnichi wa: Japanese Culture Event

Want to learn more about Japan and Japanese culture? Students from Hiroshima University will be showcasing their culture, language and experiences during this fun and interactive event.

September 12th 7:00 p.m., Madison Hall CGE Room 2001

White Fragility book coverWAKE UP Reading Group

The new reading group WAKE UP, White Accomplices Knowing Experiences Underlining Privilege, is designed to support growth and development in understanding white identities and experiences in order to become better allies to People of Color and to support racial inclusion and justice efforts at JMU. NOTE: response has been overwhelming and currently there is a waitlist to join. Waitlist Registration

photo of Bergis JulesToward Building Community-Based Archives of Activism

Bergis Jules, project director of Documenting the Now, will discuss his advocacy work on behalf of community-based archives and his efforts to document Black history on the Web, especially social media content covering the work of Black American activists.

Thursday, September 12th 4:00 p.m., Roop Hall Room 208

Photo of Paul HanebrinkAntisemitism and the Judeo-Bolshevik Myth:

The History and Legacy of a Stereotype

Democracy in Peril Series

Paul Hanebrink

Professor of History, Rutgers University

In recent years, we have witnessed a resurgence of antisemitism in the United States and across the globe.  Dr. Hanebrink will discuss the history and legacy of antisemitism over the last century, focusing in particular on the Judeo-Bolshevik myth that linked Jews with socialism and was used to justify disenfranchisement, persecution, and genocide.  Hanebrink will discuss the historical causes of antisemitism and the reasons for its recent resurgence.  An open discussion with audience members will follow the presentation.

Monday, September 16th 5:00 p.m., Madison Hall Room 1001

Poster for The History of Lynching in Virginia eventThe History of Lynching in Virginia: Community Dialogue

In 2019, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution acknowledging with profound regret, the existence and acceptance of lynching within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The resolution was drafted and put forth by the Virginia Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission and the History of Lynching in Virginia Work Group to shed light on the long and painful history of lynching in Virginia.

The work group will hold in Harrisonburg the first of several community conversations to create awareness of past racial terror. Of particular relevance to Harrisonburg is the lynching of Charlotte Harris and the Community Remembrance Project to memorialize her life.

Monday, September 16th 6:00 p.m., Memorial Hall Auditorium

Photo of Delegate Carroll FoyWomen Breaking Barriers: Toward a More Just and Equal Democracy

Constitution Day 2019 featuring Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy

2019-2020 marks the 100th anniversary since the passage and ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although there have been many advancements since the passage of the 19th amendment, there is much to be done to improve the status of women. Join us for a discussion with Delegate Carroll Foy (D, DH2) about what we can do to achieve a more fully representative and equal democracy and society.

Tuesday, September 17 at 5:30 p.m., Festival Ballroom A

Afghanistan postcardPostcards from Afghanistan:

Forging a National Identity through Visual Culture 

Dr. Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, Professor of History

This lecture is organized around JMU’s recent acquisition of a set of 1920s photograph-postcards from Afghanistan, a country that gained independence from British India in 1919.  These postcards circulated globally and are discussed as elements of a re-branding strategy that deployed photography in pursuit of national distinction and international recognition.

Wednesday, September 18th 4:00 p.m., Carrier Library Room 301

Photo of Wajahat AliFighting Fake News without Killing Our Truths

Wajahat Ali

CGE International Week Keynote

The Center for Global Engagement is thrilled to bring Wajahat Ali – journalist, writer, lawyer, and award-winning playwright – to address the multifaceted American experience, covering our growing need for cultural unity, racial diversity, and inclusion.

Monday, September 23rd 7:00 p.m., Forbes Center Concert Hall

skelton of hand on tarot cardEverybody 

What happens when Death comes knocking? A 2018 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama, Everybody is a modern riff on the 15th-century play Everyman about Christian salvation and how to achieve it. Featuring students from JMU’s School of Theatre and Dance. Get Tickets

Tuesday – Saturday, September 24-28, Forbes Center, Mainstage Theatre

Furious Flower Anniversary logoFurious Flower Welcomes Swazi Poets for an Evening of Poetry

Five poets from Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) will read from their own works during this special evening of poetry. These poets are committed to using their art to advance positive social change in their country. Their JMU visit is a continuation of the Department of State’s Art Envoy program.

Thursday, September 26th 7:00 p.m., D-Hall Hall of Presidents

Furious Flower 25th Anniversary Celebration

Be part of the celebration in Washington DC. This special weekend includes a benefit gala Friday night and day-long event on Saturday featuring a diverse set of rich programming at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Friday – Saturday, September 27-28th, Washington, D.C.

photo of Ranky Tanky bandRanky Tanky 

The acclaimed quintet from South Carolina will bring to life the soulful songs of the Gullah culture—spirituals, dance music, and children’s rhymes—by mixing Lowcountry traditions with large doses of jazz, gospel, funk, and R&B. The Gullah are descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia. Ranky Tanky is a Gullah expression that translates loosely as “work it” or “get funky.” Get Tickets

Saturday, September 28th at 8:00 pm, Forbes Center Concert Hall 

Photo of Seamus Egan Project band membersSeamus Egan Project 

Legendary Irish musician, multi-instrumentalist and composer Seamus Egan has inspired multiple generations of musicians and helped to define the sound of Irish music today. Don’t miss this unique journey through Irish songs old and new! Get Tickets

Friday, October 4th at 8:00 pm, Forbes Center Concert Hall

artist rendering of Jennings HallPaul Jennings Hall Dedication

Please join us for the official ribbon cutting ceremony for our newest residence hall.  The event will include remarks from President Alger as well as tours of the building and a historical display dedicated to Paul Jennings.

Friday, October 11th at 1:00 p.m., Paul Jennings Hall

photo of JMU visitors to MontpelierFaculty/Staff Trip to Montpelier

Please join Access & Inclusion on a complementary trip to James Madison’s home: Montpelier. Tour the home and grounds including featured exhibit: The Mere Distinction of Colour.

Bus limited to first 20 reservations. Email Kim Moubray to reserve your seat.

Tuesday, October 15th, Bus leaves from Godwin at 9:30 a.m. and returns around 4:00p.m. Lunch included.

NOTE: JMU students receive free admission to Montpelier. Complete a form and plan your visit today!

Photo of Amande JohnstonAmanda Johnston

Furious Flower Poetry Reading

Furious Flower is pleased to present Amanda Johnston. Amanda is a widely published poet who has presented at numerous literary conferences and events. She was named one of Blavity’s 13 Black Poets You Should Know.

Thursday, October 17th 5:30 p.m., Festival Center Highlands Room

photo of Harlem 100 performersHarlem 100  

This multimedia extravaganza captures the magical sights and sounds of the Harlem Renaissance when legendary artists like Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Ethel Waters and Billie Holiday made Harlem the cultural capital of the country. Come celebrate 100 years of this momentous movement in American history! Get Tickets

Friday, October 18th at 8:00 p.m., Forbes Center Concert Hall

Spotlighting Student Events

CGE logoInternational Student Career Day: September 20th 3:00-6:30 p.m., Festival Ballroom B/C

International Week: September 23-28

Building Understanding, Breaking Down Barriers: 40 Years of Global Engagement at JMU 

Join the Center for Global Engagement in an array of opportunities that include:

  • International Bazaar
  • Photo Contest Reception
  • Building Bridges through Story Exchange
  • DEEP Impact Dialogue: Breaking Down International Barriers
  • Study Abroad Fair
  • Harrisonburg Annual International Festival

SOGIE logoSexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) events         

Lavender Lounge Open House--Come grab a snack, meet SOGIE Program volunteers, and visit the Lavender Lounge! Wednesday, Sept. 18th, 11am-1pm

Puppy Pride--Hang out with the Counseling Center therapy puppies in the Lavender Lounge: Thursday, Sept. 19th, 1-1:45pm

The ABCs of LGB--Learn more about different sexualities in the LGBTQ+ community: Madison Union 309, Wednesday, Sept. 25th, 5-6pm

Out on Campus--Hear student experiences of being LGBTQ+ at JMU and learn to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community: SSC 1079, Wednesday, October 2nd, 6:30pm


In Focus

Champions for diversity and inclusion create a new course to locate JMU within Black Studies' national history.

photo of Mollie Godfrey and Besi MuhonjaBesi Muhonja and Mollie Godfrey, Coordinators of the African, African American, and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) and professors of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at JMU won the Provost’s Faculty Curriculum Diversity Grant to develop and teach the course, Black Studies and Black Spaces: Black Critical Frameworks and Communities at JMU and Beyond, 1968 to the Present. As the academic discipline, Black Studies (also Africana Studies, Africology, Pan-African Studies, or AAAD Studies), celebrates fifty years, this graduate and undergraduate public and digital humanities course seeks to locate JMU within this national history, while creating a new archive of black voices for JMU’s Special Collections.

The two professors, both respected scholars in their fields, have been constant champions for diversity and inclusion at JMU. Besi Muhonja, who co-chairs the JMU Africa Working Group, founded the JMU AAAD annual academic conference, and the Utu Conference co-produced by JMU and the University of Nairobi. She established and advises the JMU International Model African Union team. She has received several grants and fellowships, and her efforts have attracted awards at JMU including the 2019 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Inclusivity, the Feminist Scholarship Award, and the Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award. She serves on the Provost’s Task Force on Gender and Sexuality and a number of other diversity related committees. She is widely published in academic journals and books, and is author of the books, Performing Girlhood and Womanhood: Rituals of Kenya's Twenty-First Century Middle Class; and Turn Down the Volume on Silence (Forthcoming, 2019). She has co-edited the books Mothers and Sons: Centering Mother Knowledge (with Wanda Bernard Thomas) and Gender and Sexuality in Senegalese Societies: Decolonial Perspectives and Methods (with Babacar M’baye).

Mollie Godfrey has coordinated and received grant funding for numerous curriculum-driven diversity initiatives at JMU, including the national award-winning Celebrating Simms project; the JMU X-Labs-created website for the Furious Flower Archive; and the JMU Special Collections’ archival African American Comic Book Collection, now one of the largest collections of black comic books in the country. She also served as faculty advisor on the recent IVS exhibit, JMU through Living Color, and the Special Collections exhibit, Black & White on Bluestone Hill: JMU’s Racial History in the Archives. She has published articles in many of the top academic journals in her field and edited the books Neo-Passing: Performing Identity after Jim Crow (with Vershawn Ashanti Young) and Conversations with Lorraine Hansberry (forthcoming 2020). Her scholarship on community-engaged pedagogy and racial justice has appeared in Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture and Public: A Journal of Imagining America.

photo of Juliet MoralesBeing Loud and Being Quiet

My name is Juliet Morales and I am an English Major aspiring to be an attorney. I am a junior at James Madison University from Manassas, Virginia. Something that people may not know about me is that I have wanted to be a lawyer since the seventh grade and being at JMU is a big step for me in working towards my future goal.

From my high school experiences to the experiences I’ve had here at JMU, being inclusive of others is something that I consistently strive for. Diversity and inclusion have played a great role in my life for as long as I can remember, having come from a high school mixed with different identities. It especially shows up in my student involvement with organizations, especially as President of the Latino Student Alliance.

Our organization always works to recognize diversity and embrace it. I have been part of LSA since my first year at JMU and being a member has made me more aware of my own values as well as new values that I had not considered. I work with others more mindfully and take care in how I approach people, whether they are within my group or not.  There are also other aspects that have had an influence on me in other organizations that I am a member of, like Group Exercise at UREC. This has allowed me to value that everyone has the capability to be great in different things. I have learned the importance of working differently than others and to appreciate what others bring to the table.

My classes as JMU have also influenced me in how I work with others. I have taken different courses that offer thought-provoking conversations and through this I have recognized that people appreciate some lessons more than others. Not everyone thinks the same. This is something that I try to often remind myself. While I do value the difference in others, it takes work to always be conscious of it in a positive way.

Something I would like to share is that while you should be loud when expressing yourself you should remember to also be quiet for the next person that does so. This is what being inclusive means to me and with my student involvement, organizations, and classes, I am able to be held accountable to it.

At the Forefront

Photo of John Ott in libraryJohn Ott wins National Gallery of Art Fellowship:  New Deal Murals and Racial Integration

This summer SADAH professor, John Ott, was in residency at the National Gallery of Art as a Paul Mellon Senior Fellow. Professor Ott was selected for this honor to develop his book – Mixed Media: The Visual Cultures of Racial Integration, 1931-54.  He conducted research on New Deal murals from across the country that feature integration—including one in downtown Harrisonburg. 

photo of exhibitThe 19th Amendment: A History of Women’s Rights at JMU

JMU Libraries presents this display about the Women’s Suffrage movement at JMU from early suffragists to modern day. Visit this continuing exhibit in the historic west wing of Carrier Library and accompanying exhibit website.

photo of Valley scholars graduatingValley Scholars graduates first cohort

As the Valley Scholars program enters its sixth year, members of the first graduating class are prepared to turn their dreams of a college education into reality. We welcome 27 members of the first cohort of JMU’s Valley Scholars program as freshmen. Watch this short video to learn more about the Valley Scholars program.

Photo of BAC award winnersCongrats to the JMU Black Alumni Chapter for receiving the Most Innovative Program Award at the Madison Alumni Conference

This year, while participating in the JMU Diversity Conference, the BAC hosted a panel of six alumni and one current student that chronicled the Madison Experience of black alumni who graduated from the 1970's to today. The BAC continues to preserve and contribute to institutional history and support students and alumni by cultivating a diverse and inclusive campus community.

photo of Universal restroom signInclusive Spaces webpage

Check out the new Inclusive Spaces webpage which lists all Universal restrooms, lactation spaces and baby changing spaces on campus.



photo of Charles MayCharles May joins the JMU Alumni Board

The JMU Alumni Board welcomes Charles May. As a student May was on the football team and heavily involved with the ROTC program and the Black Student Alliance. Learn more about Charles.

photo of two chemists signing in labJMU hosts a REU site with signing emphasis

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at JMU hosts a Research Experience for Undergraduates site that integrates deaf, hearing and sign language interpreting students in chemical research. Participants include students and faculty from JMU and outside institutions that serve deaf students or institutions that do not have extensive research infrastructure. JMU faculty members provide research opportunities in all major sub-disciplines of chemistry. Learn more through this short video.

screenshot of virtual tourArc of Citizenship tour

The Arc of Citizenship is an innovative community learning tour that historically connects James Madison's Montpelier to seven local sites in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The tour uses the power of place to develop participant understanding of the connections between the struggles for freedom, rights, and equality for communities of color, and the contributions of social justice movements to American society and democracy. Learn more and take the virtual Harrisonburg community tour on Google Tour Builder.

logo for American Evolution

JMU partnering with American Evolution

James Madison University is proud to partner with American Evolution as the Western Hub for the 2019 Commemoration. 2019 Marks the 400th anniversary of numerous important historical events for both Virginia and the United States that require our reflection. In 1619, our country experienced the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America, the recruitment of women to the colonies in significant numbers, first representative legislative assembly in the new world, an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the Virginia Colony, and the first official Thanksgiving. 

Three main thematic focuses of the Commemoration are diversity, democracy, and opportunity. In keeping with these focuses, JMU is excited to partner with American Evolution to present public events throughout the year. Learn more about the 2019 Commemoration on American Evolution's website.

... and engaging views since the last revolution of The Beacon

 photo collage of recents events

Above: Alice McDermott and John Grisham, Nikki Giovanni, Adam Ockelford, Alex Lubet, Barbara Schaal, Furious Flower Open Mic, and Take Back the Night flower release.



Back to Top