Project Members

Dr. Christina Proenza-Coles is the director of this project. She is an Assistant Professor of History specializing in the African Diaspora in the Atlantic World and the coordinator of VSU’s Black History concentration. She has researched and written about the African Diaspora in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America, focusing on free people of color. She teaches world history, early U.S. history, and Atlantic world history to undergraduate and graduate students and has a background in secondary school social studies education. Her most recent publications include "African Americans in the Military" in The Civil War and Reconstruction Era and "The Right to One’s Relatives: The Conventions and Consequences of Denying Paternity for Mixed-Race Children in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia" in Voices from Within the Veil .

Dr. Dirk Philipsen is the initiator of the overall project and the PI of the first phase of the project, a four part lecture and workshop series. He is a Professor in the Department of History at VSU and the founder of the Institute for the Study of Race Relations. As the director of the History Graduate Program, he introduced a focus on “African American History in the Context of the Atlantic World.” Dr. Philipsen’s fields of specialization include race relations, social movements, and economic democracy. He has published and presented in all three fields. His most recent book, Navigating with a Faulty Compass , is scheduled for publication in 2012.

Dr. Paul Alkebulan is an Assistant Professor of History and current Co-Director of the History Graduate Program. His field of expertise lies in the post-World War II civil rights movement with an emphasis on the Black Panther Party. His wide-ranging expertise on the African American freedom struggle has been useful in documenting Petersburg's civil rights movement and in conceptualizing the Petersburg civil rights movement in the context of curriculum development. He is the author of Survival Pending Revolution: The History of the Black Panther Party.

Dr. Richard Chew is an Assistant Professor of History at Virginia State University and current Co-Director of the History Graduate Program. He is a specialist in early American history from the pre-contact period to the early republic and has published in the Journal of the Early Republic . With a research focus that centers primarily on the mid-Atlantic region and the Chesapeake, the early history of Petersburg represents an important component of his teaching and publishing activities. He is currently researching Virginia and the Atlantic world from the late seventeenth century to the mid-eighteenth century when Petersburg served as a vital entrepot for the expanding tobacco economy and the growing backcountry trade.

Lucious Edwards is the chief archivist at Virginia State University and on the faculty in the VSU Department of History. He serves on the steering committee of the Virtual Library of Virginia, a consortium of academic libraries in Virginia that has worked since 1993 to create a network of shared electronic resources for students and faculty and to facilitate cooperation among its members. He has a number of publications on Petersburg. Mr. Edwards has served on a number of boards and commissions, such as the Architectural Review Board of Petersburg, Virginia, as trustee of the Historical Petersburg Foundation, and the Archives Advisory Committee of the national Trust for Historic Preservation. He is past chair of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference.

Dr. Wesley Hogan is has served as the Co-Director of the Institute for the Study of Race Relations and runs the VSU Oral History Program with Drs. Philipsen and Alkebulan. She is the liaison to the Petersburg Civil Rights Oral History Project, a community-university collaborative group she chairs with City of Petersburg Special Projects Director, Dulaney Ward. She also runs the Petersburg Algebra Project.  Her book, Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC and the Dream for a New America, received three awards in 2008. Her areas of expertise include oral history, civil rights history, and women’s history.

Dulaney Ward is Consultant for Special Projects for the City of Petersburg. In 1979, he married his interests in story-telling, history, architectural history, tourism, and city-building in the program of a not-for-profit he founded and directed for four years, Richmond-on-the-James, which helped Richmond to refocus its attention on the power of public history. For the last two decades, he has been in Petersburg, where he first directed the Petersburg Museums and the tourism program, and has since explored Petersburg’s history and architectural history, always with an eye to story-telling and city-building. His intensive research of the community's history has led to widespread recognition as one of the principal experts on Petersburg’s history. He is currently playing a leadership role in the Petersburg Civil Rights Oral History Project and in the Pocahontas History Project, as well as writing a series of ground-breaking walking tours of area Underground Railroad history and other subjects.

Kristina Patterson is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has served as an instructor in the History Department at the Appomattox Regional Governor's School and as adjunct faculty in the History Department of Richard Bland College of William and Mary. She specializes in developing instructional materials and pedagogical approaches for the secondary school level. A lifelong Petersburg resident, a graduate of the VSU History Masters Program, and an former instructor in a secondary school that serves Petersburg, Ms. Patterson is a valuable resource for this project.

Wayne Crocker is the director of the Petersburg Public Library System. He has conributed to numerous projects on Petersburg history including the Petersburg Voices of Civil Rights Oral History Project and African Americans of Petersburg published in 2009. He is currently overseeing the expansion of Petersburg Public Library including state of the art archives. The Petersburg Public Library is a key intitutional collaborator in the Petersburg and the Atlantic World project.

Dr. Lauranett Lee is the founding curator of African American history at the Virginia Historical Society.  Dr. Lee has extensive experience locating, verifying and interpreting historical documents in Virginia and has served as a consultant on numerous historical projects. In addition to her research and collaboration in community projects, Dr. Lee has substantial university teaching experience and has worked with a range of learners from elementary students to Monticello visitors.

Dr. Stephen Rockenbach is an assistant professor of history at Virginia State University who enjoys teaching courses on the American Civil War and military history only a few miles from the Petersburg National Battlefield and historic Old Towne Petersburg.  His publications include “A Border City at War: Louisville and the 1862 Confederate Invasion of Kentucky,” in Ohio Valley History and seven entries in Gale Library of Daily Life: American Civil War . Dr. Rockenbach participates in local and regional efforts to develop educational resources for students, teachers, and researchers, including the education workgroup of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

Francine Green-Archer has a broad background in the private, public, and non-profit sectors including the Tredegar National Civil War Center Foundation where she served as Community Outreach and Development Coordinator. Ms. Archer has a Masters degree in History from Virginia State and had served as a political appointee at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources managing the historical highway marker program.

Emmanuel Dabney serves in the National Park Service as a ranger and guide at the Petersburg National Battlefield. He began conducting guided tours of the battlefield at age 16. He has been a Civil War living historian since 1997, is a member of the Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society, and has published three articles in The Citizens' Companion . His main interests in the antebellum and Civil War eras are social issues such as slavery and politics, the lifestyle of Southerners in the slaveowning classes, and the actions during the nine-and-a half month Petersburg Campaign.

Laura Willoughby is the curator of collections for the Petersburg Museums, a municipal museum system located in Petersburg, Virginia. Ms. Willoughby has over fifteen years of museum experience in the fields of collections management, exhibition development, grant writing, programming and historic site preservation. Ms. Willoughby has served as curator for exhibits on diverse topics including decorative arts, fashion history, military history, and photography.  She has also overseen the development of brochures, activity guides, and walking tours for museum audiences of all ages and is the author of two books, Petersburg: A Postcard History and Petersburg: Then and Now.

Shayla Nunnally is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut.  She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from Duke University.  She received her B.A. in political science (Summa Cum Laude) in 1998 from North Carolina Central University.  During 2004-2005, she was an Erskine A. Peters Dissertation Fellow at the University of Notre Dame.  Her research focuses on American politics, African-American politics, and public opinion.  She has a special interest in black public opinion, interracial and intra-racial attitudes, racial socialization, political socialization, and trust.  Her book, In Whom Do We Trust? Black Americans, (Dis)Trust, and the Vestiges of Race , is forthcoming with New York University Press.  She is from the City of Petersburg, Virginia and is a proud graduate and valedictorian of Petersburg High School.
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