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Joanne M. Braxton

Joanne M. BraxtonIn 1980, a young black poet who had been nurtured intellectually by historian Gerda Lerner, the mother of Women’s Studies, and literary scholar Charles Davis, the father of African American Studies, joined the W&M Department of English and for the next two years, she was the only tenure-eligible African American faculty member in the entire university.

Joanne M. Braxton, Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor of Africana Studies and English, director of the W&M Africana Studies Program’s Middle Passage Project, was one of the original “movers and shakers” behind the founding of Black Studies/Africana Studies and other programs and convened the historic May 2000 Monuments of the Black Atlantic: History, Memory and Politics conference co-sponsored by W&M Middle Passage Project and the EU-based Collegium for African American Research and attended by scholars from 56 countries here at William & Mary.

Professor Braxton’s books include Monuments of the Black Atlantic: Slavery and Memory, Sometimes I Think of Maryland (a collection of poetry), Autobiography by Black American Women: A Tradition within a Tradition, Wild Women in the Whirlwind: The Contemporary Renaissance in Afra-American Writing, together with The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, among other works; she has been a recipient of the W&M Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award, the W&M Alumni Association Teaching Award, the Outstanding Virginia Educator Award and the International Black Women’s Congress Oni Award for “uncompromising commitment to uplifting the lives of African people.”