2016 Black New England Conference - Presenter Biographies
Politically In-Correct: Humor, Satire and Black Consciousness
Samuel James is an artist and all around raconteur based in Portland, Maine. He is a seasoned and celebrated blues musician. His writing about race has been featured in the Phoenix and a story about him growing up in foster homes was featured on the popular radio program The Moth. Born in Biddeford, the great-grandson of a slave, James came into the world with music etched firmly in his DNA. His grandfather was a blues guitarist. His African-American father was a session musician from Tucson, Arizona. Mom, the white daughter of a church pianist, was a dancer. These days, James carries a well-stamped passport, having played shows in Poland, France, Spain, Scotland, and Wales. But Portland is still the place he calls home.
DonJuan Clark is the CEO of The Don Entertainment. He started out his career as a budding songwriter. His work landed him finalist placement in Def Jam's Rep Yo City Contest. He also had songwriting performances at Madison Square Garden by the time he was eighteen. DonJuan had his first major product of a fan website for Kandi Burruss ("Housewives of Atlanta") which soon became the go to stop for online information about Kandi. He later connected with Platinum Songwriter Shamora Crawford who has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Monica, and Angie Stone. Shamora commissioned him to work as her Show Manager. He then added experience by working with music producers Donvito, Ladi Drew and DeVyne Stephens of Upfront Records.
Comedy veteran and world traveler, Louis Ramey loves what he does for a living, performing stand-up comedy over the past 20 years. Louis can be seen currently hosting TV Land Prime Movie Block's. Other recent TV appearances include TBS Presents: A Very Funny Festival: Just For Laughs, and TBS Promo's Bitcoms. He has been all over TV and the Net. You have seen him as a finalist on NBC's "Last Comic Standing," NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," ABC Daytime's "The View" and NBC's "Last Call with Carson Daly" among many other television appearances in the U.S., Canada and abroad. Voted by students as "Campus Performer of the Year," Louis Ramey is a strong headliner who is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
He is currently filming "Cleared for Standup" for the Travel Channel airing later this year.
Delia Konzett is Associate Professor of English and Cinema/American/Women's Studies at The University of New Hampshire. She is the author of "Ethnic Modernisms" and is currently working on WWII Film and Orientalism.
Her research includes exploring the representation of nation in America, WWII films, and examining the changing concept of race propagate from within the genre. She has co-edited a collection of essays on the topic of global significance, ranging from African, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, American, European, Latin/American film/media. Konzett's research continues to explore the cinematic representations of various 20th and 21st century wars and conflicts since WWII including the Cold War, Vietnam, the Cambodian Civil War, the Somali Civil War, the Kosovo War, and America's Global War on Terrorism and the complex relations among war, technology, globalism, globalization, and the economy.
Alex Simmons is an award-winning freelance writer, comic book creator, playwright, teaching artist, and educational consultant. He's written for Disney Books, Penguin Press, Simon and Schuster, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. Simmons is the creator of the acclaimed adventure comic book series, "Blackjack." He has also helped develop concepts and scripts for an animation studio in England. As a teaching artist Simmons has created and taught creative arts workshops for students and educators in the US, West Indies, Africa, and Europe. Simmons has served on panels, and delivered lectures on children's entertainment mediums, as well as empowering young people through the arts. Simmons founded the annual family event, Kids Comic Con, as well as three comic arts exhibits, which have traveled abroad. He is currently developing a comics and creative arts program for children in the U.S., Europe, and Africa.
Sean McGhee's personal mantra comes in the form of a quote from the 20th century African American writer James Baldwin: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
As director of the University's Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA), McGhee has been facing some of the most important issues regarding life at UNH for more than sixteen years, helping to work toward a community where students of diverse races, cultures, genders, and sexual orientations are included and valued. By helping to bring greater visibility and synthesis to the campus's diversity efforts and expanding the definition of multiculturalism to be more inclusive, McGhee has played one of the leading roles in advocating for a more diverse UNH student body over the past 10 plus years.
Comedian and social activist Dick Gregory's got his start in comedy in the army where he first performed as a standup comedian, entering and winning several U.S. Army talent shows. After his military service ended, Gregory worked at the United States Post Office by day, and by night performed as a comedian in several small black nightclubs.
In 1961, Gregory was hired by adult magazine mogul Hugh Hefner to work at the Chicago Playboy Club. Hefner was impressed by Gregory's ability to perform successfully for a white audience. Soon after, Gregory received national acclaim, and in 1964 released an autobiography entitled "Nigger," which sold seven million copies.
In the mid-1960s, Gregory became increasingly involved in the Civil Rights Movement and spoke out against the war in Vietnam and government policy. In 1967, he decided to run against Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. Though unsuccessful, Gregory pursued higher political positions and ran for President of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party. Gregory was eventually defeated, but efforts landed him on the list of President Nixon's political opponents; his experiences in the political arena inspired Gregory to write a book entitled, "Write Me In."
In 2004 Gregory was listed as number eighty-one on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Up Comedians of All Time; has also his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Born in Boston, Bijan C. Bayne is an award-winning Washington-based freelance columnist and critic, and author of "Sky Kings: Black Pioneers of Professional Basketball," which was named to the Suggested Reading List of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004. The book is also cited in "Booktalks Plus: Motivating Teens to Read" by Lucy Schall, and was named a Suggested Book of Interest by the organization Teachers Network, in 2010. Bayne wrote two chapters for the upcoming 2017 book "Race in American Film." He is also the author of a best selling biography of basketball hero Elgin Baylor: "Elgin Baylor: The Man Who Changed Basketball," was named a "Book That Inspires," by the "Christian Science Monitor," and one of the Most 25 Inspiring Books of 2015, by Conversations Book Club. His book "Martha's Vineyard Basketball: How a Resort League Defied Notions of Race & Class," was named a Must Read, by BET. He is a contributor to Paste magazine.
Glenda Carpio is Professor of African and African American Studies and English at Harvard University.
Professor Carpio's book, "Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery," was published in 2008, Oxford University Press. "Laughing Fit to Kill" illustrates how black comedians, writers, and artists have deftly deployed various modes of comedic "conjuring"— the absurd, the grotesque, and the strategic expression of racial stereotypes — to redress not only the past injustices of slavery and racism in America but also their legacy in the present. Focusing on representations of slavery in the post-civil rights era, Carpio explores the use of satire, hyperbole, obscenity and burlesque humor to represent a violent history and to take on issues of racial injustice. With an abundance of illustrations, Carpio also extends her discussion of radical black comedy to the visual arts. Ultimately, "Laughing Fit to Kill" offers a unique look at the bold, complex, and just plain funny ways that African American artists have used laughter to critique slavery's dark legacy. And publication, "Humor in African American Literature, A Companion to African American Literature." (Blackwell 2010)
Sharon McCoy is executive coordinator of the Mark Twain Circle of America, past president of the American Humor Studies Association, and an academic free agent. She has been teaching writing and American literature at UGA since 2004, while researching and writing a book on Mark Twain and post-bellum blackface minstrelsy, "Nothing But Trouble: Blackface in Mark Twain's America." McCoy is the editor of "All Things Twain: An Encyclopedia of Mark Twain's World," forthcoming in 2016 from Greenwood Press.
Her interests focus on the complex and often disturbing interplay of race and class in the literature and popular culture of nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Recent publications include an essay in the "Mark Twain Annual:" "No Evading the Jokes: 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,' Mark Twain, and Male Friendship Across Racial and Class Lines" (2014). Other essays include: "'The Trouble begins at 8': Mark Twain, the San Francisco Minstrels and the Unsettling Legacy of Blackface Minstrelsy" ("American Literary Realism" 41.3 [Spring 2009]: 232-238) and "'I ain' no dread being': The Minstrel Mask as Alter Ego" in "Centenary Reflections on Mark Twain's No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger" (University of Missouri Press, 2009). A video of her 2011 lecture for the Center for Mark Twain Studies can be viewed here, at Quarry Farm.
McCoy revels in American literature's unreliable narrators and trickster figures and in exploring the intricate ironies of American history and literature, relishing the many rich voices that are America. She will cheerfully and relentlessly bend anyone's ear for hours on these subjects. Forewarned is forearmed.
Daryl Cumber Dance, editor and professor of English at the University of Richmond is known by many simply as the "Dean of Folkculture," has collected the writings and traditions of numerous cultures in six acclaimed anthologies. Her most recent anthology, "From My People: 400 Years of African American Folklore" (2002), assembles everything from tales and proverbs to folk songs, recipes, rumor, sermons, music, and art. Its 700-plus pages tell the history of a people who were banned from reading and writing during slavery. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. called the collection "a major contribution to African American scholarship ... destined to be studied, passed on, and cherished for generations to come."
Dance's previous collection, "Honey, Hush! An Anthology of African American Women's Humor" (WW Norton & Co, 1998), amasses the vibrant wit and laughter of African American women in both written and spoken manifestations. The collection includes material such as autobiographies, novels, essays, poems, proverbs, comic routines, cartoons, and folk tales. "A dazzling anthology," said "Publishers Weekly." Breathtakingly broad and deep," said the "Miami Herald."
Carolyn Riley is a new comic on the Boston scene establishing herself as a smart and funny new face. She was named The University of New Hampshire's "Funniest Person on Campus" 2016, has appeared on John Fugelsang's "Tell Me Everything" on Siriux XM radio, was chosen to perform at the Hampton Beach Comedy Festival with Jimmy Dunn, and can regularly be found at The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square.
Since graduating from The University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in Communication and Women’s Studies last spring, Carolyn joined the team at Women Online, a boutique digital PR and marketing firm that works primarily with nonprofits, NGOs, and political campaigns. In 2015 she helped incorporate and launch College for Social Innovation, a not-for-profit startup in Boston, MA which provides college students experiential learning opportunities in the social sector.
Carolyn’s academic research focuses on using digital strategy as a catalyst for change. Her piece “Networked Movements & Social Change: The Success of #BlackLivesMatter” was selected to appear in Comm-entary: UNH’s Undergraduate Research Journal, and received the “Award of Excellence” at UNH’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. Upon graduating, Carolyn received the UNH Communication Department’s “Distinguished Service Award” for her position as President of Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association Honor Society.
Darryl Littleton began his comedy career writing sketches for “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” on CBS Radio. During his tenure there, he became a regular at the world famous, Comedy Store and adopted the stage name, “D’Militant” for his slicing and incisive social and political commentary.
Darryl’s crackling wit won him respect and admiration from the industry’s top comics, among them D. L. Hughley, who tapped Darryl to be his exclusive writer during his years as host of BET’s “Comic View.” Darryl’s talent was immediately recognized, and he was hired as writer/producer for the show, where he penned material for Cedric the Entertainer, Sommore and Don DC Curry.
Darryl’s comedic talents also landed him in front of the camera, where he guest starred on Robert Townsend’s WB sitcom, “The Parent Hood” and was a recurring performer on Townsend’s variety show “Townsend Television” for Fox. Darryl also appeared on “The Apollo Comedy Hour," “Uptown Comedy Club”, HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam”, Comedy Central’s “Make Me Laugh,” Telemundo’s “Loco Comedy Jam,” Byron Allen’s “Comic’s Unleashed” and ABC’s “America’s Funniest People;” he was the Grand Prize Winner.
In 2006 he added to his accolades when he won the prestigious Bay Area Black Comedy Competition’s. That same year Darryl was added to National Public Radio’s list of contributing commentators immediately following the release of his first book, “Black Comedians on Black Comedy,” chronicling the history of African-American comedy featuring interviews with 125 of the industry’s biggest stars. This prestigious work is a mainstay in libraries throughout the country and allowed Darryl to produce it along with award winning director Robert Townsend as a full length documentary, entitled, “Why We Laugh,” which made its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and Showtime in February 2010.
The comedian/author is the first African- American on the advisory board of the Comedy Hall of Fame and served as script supervisor, touring host and personal writer for mega-star, Katt Williams. Darryl’s own critically acclaimed comedy CD, “Am I Lying?!” is in stores and online. His second book, “Pimp Down: The Rise & Fall of Katt Williams,” has been optioned for a theatrical film and his third, “Forefathers,” the story of the American Revolution told from a black perspective, is being adapted for the big screen. Darryl’s book entitled “Comediennes: Laugh Be a Lady” was released in the Fall 2012.
Warrington Hudlin, a veteran producer of motion pictures, television, and online media, is a leader in the black independent cinema movement. His achievements span the globe. Hudlin is best known as the producer of HOUSE PARTY, BOOMERRAND, and BEBE KIDS, and television specials, COSMIC SLOP and UNSTOPABLE. He co-founded and has served as president of the Black Filmmakers Foundation (BFF), a not-for-profit organization that has played a pivotal role in the emergence of the contemporary black film movement. BFF is known for its work in fostering audience development and providing financial assistance to black filmmakers.
Originally from East St Louis, Hudlin's work began with his involvement in an experimental high school affiliated with the legendary artist/scholar, Katherine Dunham. He furthered his studies at Yale University where he was mentored by Melvin Van Peebles and Harry Belafonte. Hudlin began his career making documentary films including "Street Corner Stories" and "Black at Yale." He collaborated with his brother Reginald in forming Hudlin Bros., Inc., and produced music videos for MCA and Polygram Records for artists such as Heavy D and the Boyz, Robert Brookins, Guy, Channel Two, and Blue Magic and the Jamaica Boys.
Hudlin is a founding member of the Media Coalition of Artist of Color, which organizes a monthly networking meeting in New York City to connect film and television executives from major media companies with media arts organization that serve communities of color. For the past ten years, with the generous support of HBO, Hudlin organized the BFF Summit, where the top 100 most influential African Americans, Asians, and Latinos meet the leaders of the film and television industry in a closed-door industry retreat. Hudlin created the BFF Lab, which became the model for similar labs that Hudlin designed and administered as part of diversity initiatives at MTV networks.
Comedian and New Hampshire native Juston McKinney has appeared on many Comedy Central specials including his own one-hour special and multiple appearances on the "Tonight Show" and "Conan O'Brien." Juston McKinney Comedy Central specials include his half hour "Comedy Central Presents" and most recently his one-hour special "Juston McKinney – A Middle-Class Hole," which was released by Warner Bros. on DVD/CD. He has appeared numerous times on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and appeared on the "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien."
Juston was chosen to be part of the "Blue Collar Comedy Next Generation Tour," with Bill Engvall, and his YouTube channel has over a million views for videos including NH favorites such as "Live Free or Die" and "Live Freeze then Die!" His television credits include "The King of Queens," "The Sidney Lumet drama," and "100 Centre Street." Among his film credits are "The Zoo Keeper" and "Here Comes the Boom."
He has been named the Best Comedian in New Hampshire by "New Hampshire Magazine."
Joel Christian Gill™ is the chairman, CEO, president, director of development, majority and minority stock holder, manager, co-manager, regional manager, assistant to the regional manager, receptionist, senior black correspondent and janitor of Strange Fruit Comics. He is the author/illustrator of 2 books from Fulcrum Publishing Strange Fruit vol I Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History May 2014 and Tales of the Talented Tenth Fall 2014. In his sparetime he is the Chair of Foundations at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and member of The Boston Comics Roundtable. He received his MFA from Boston University and a BA from Roanoke College. His secret lair is behind a secret panel in the kitchen of his house (sold separately) in New Boston, New Hampshire where he lives with his wife, four children a 2 talking dog and 2 psychic cats. For more on Joel Christian Gill copy this bio, paste it into an email, send it to yourself, read again, and enjoy.”
Justin Lorts is the former Director of Studies of Whitman College, one of six residential colleges at Princeton University. Prior to Princeton he held administrative appointments at New York University's College of Arts and Science and Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
An American and African-American historian by training, he has taught courses ranging from small seminars to introductory lectures on a wide variety of topics related to race, rights, and popular culture. His scholarly work focuses on the relationship between African-American humor and the civil rights struggle and is currently working on a book-length manuscript on this subject tentatively titled "Black Laughter / Black Protest: African-American Comedy and the Civil Rights Struggle."
Mwalim DaPhunkee Professor (Morgan James Peters) is a multi-award-winning, world-recognized spoken-word artist, essayist, historian, playwright, humorist/ satirist, media artist musician, composer, singer, and educator. Born into a West Indian and Mashpee Wampanoag family, the Black Indian experience and cross-pollination have been the focus of much of his creative and critical work. His poetry, essays, research papers and short stories appear in anthologies and periodicals published throughout the world. A graduate of Music & Art High School, Boston University and Goddard College, Mwalim began his career playing at Carnegie Hall at age 13 and at age 16, became one of the youngest studio session players in EMI Records history. An accomplished playwright, Mwalim is the playwright-in-residence for New African Company and his plays have been presented throughout the USA, Canada, the UK and the Caribbean. A former consultant for the New York Board of Education, Boston Public Schools, Administration on Native Americans and the Smithsonian Institute, Mwalim is a tenured professor of English and Black Studies at UMass Dartmouth; a founding council member of the National Congress of Black American Indians; and songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist for the award-winning Native soul-funk-blues band, The GroovaLottos. He is currently completing production on the band’s debut album, “Ask Yo’ Mama” for LM3; following the band’s WI Blues Chart Topping single, “Do You Mind…?”. You can follow his writings on the website www.daphunkeeprofessor.com.
Mugga is an actress, known for "Precious" (2009), "Orange Is the New Black" (2013) and "The Suicide Clause" (2008).
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Mugga’s career in comedy began on a dare, kind of. After attending The High school of Fashion Industries she took a Job at The Body Shop. She soon met and befriended an up and coming Comic named Wil Sylvince. They struck up a friendship and he coaxed her into giving Stand Up a try. She didn’t give it much thought and went on to study communications at Medgar Evers College. However, the desire to give it a shot never dissipated. After attending a few comedy show’s she decide to give comedy a shot at Harlem’s Uptown comedy club. And the rest, as they say, is history.
She soon began working the New York Comedy club circuit. And received several opportunities to perform overseas at comedy clubs and theatres. Her comedy crosses color lines, age lines and the international dateline. She has worked at venues in Great Britain, Holland, Canada and throughout the Caribbean. She has entertained U.S. service men and women in Germany, Italy and South Korea.
Hard work and being in the right place at the right time would eventually paid off. She auditioned for the talent coordinator for Russell Simmons’ "Def Comedy Jam" and earned a spot on the show. Soon after her appearance on the show, she was invited on The Def Jam tour with Comics such as Cedrick The Entertainer and Mike Epps. Followed by several appearances on BET’s "Comic View."
Gabrielle Greaves is a junior at UNH majoring in English and Women's Studies with a minor in Italian. This semester she attends the College for Social Innovation in Boston where she works as the intern to the Executive Artistic Director at the Theater Offensive, an LGBTQ+ organization. When on campus, Gabrielle works as the Co-Discussion Coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. She is also a member and former secretary of UNH's Black Student Union. She has introduced Bernie Sanders during his Presidential campaign, and within the past year she has debated politics on CNN twice and appeared on CBC, a Canadian news network. She is currently working on a book of poetry which will be published early next year.
Raised in West Hartford, Connecticut and educated at Dartmouth College and Brown University, Professor David Watters teaches courses on New Hampshire and New England literature, history, and culture. He coedited The Encyclopedia of New England and has written books and essays on literature and about New England's old gravestones. He has served on the executive committee of the UNH faculty union. David is frequently heard on New Hampshire Public Radio as consultant for Granite State Stories and the Immigration Project. Deeply concerned about preserving our history, culture, arts, and environment, David served eight years as a trustee of the New Hampshire Historical Society, and on the board of directors for the New Hampshire Humanities, the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, Pontine Movement Theatre, Strawbery Banke Museum's Center for the Study of Community, and the Robert Frost Farm. He has visited hundreds of local libraries and historical societies to give talks.
Cait Vaughan is a Class of 2008 UNH Alumna who earned a BA in English Literature and Africana & African American Studies. She then went on to administer academic programs in Ethnic Studies under the UNH Center for the Humanities, and has been a core member of the BENC planning committee ever since. She has presented and published scholarly work focused on critical race and gender analyses of Harriet E. Wilson's 19th century novel Our Nig. Cait lives in Portland, Maine where she manages a residential program for asylum-seekers and co-parents two elementary aged boys. She devotes her free time to community organizing that seeks to transform her neighbors and collective narratives of race, class, and citizenship.
Greg Boggis is a New Hampshire based standup comic, actor and writer. He has performed in comedy clubs and on film, television, radio and web based media for over 20 years.
Greg also hosts his own TV show, The Boggis Hour which airs in Nashua, Concord and on You Tube.
He is also interested in world history, current events, politics and frequently contributes to The Atlas Obscura.
As the Chief Officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism (CODM), Dr. Dottie Morris is a member of the Keene State College President's Cabinet. Her main foci are providing support and direction to the Executive, Academic, Student Affairs, Advancement and Finance and Planning divisions of the college as the institution works to fulfill its commitment to diversity and multiculturalism.
For years, Dottie has worked with undergraduate and graduate students in the capacity of counselor, teacher, academic advisor, and advisor of student groups. She has demonstrated a consistent and persistent dedication and devotion to diversity, inclusion, multiculturalism and social justice over the past two decades. Prior to her position as Chief Officer for Diversity and Multiculturalism at KSC, she served as the Associate Dean for Student Learning at World Learning School for International Training Institute (SIT) in Brattleboro, VT, the Director of Student Affairs for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Antioch University New England in Keene and staff counselor at the Colorado State University Counseling Center and the Coordinator of the Employee Assistance Program.