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Copyright 2002 Gerri Gribi ||| Email ||| Updated 1/4/15
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Speakers & Performers

A note to program planners: Always request references and check other sources to determine if a speaker/performer is appropriate for your needs. Contact your local library for additional speakers in your area.

Listings are open to anyone who gives performances or presentations related to African American history and culture. Click here to learn how you can be listed .


Association for the Study of African American Life and History ASALH

Our organization sets the national theme that the President of the United States recognizes each year.

Black History Event Speakers are available to speak on the Annual National Black History theme, as well as any history topic tailored to your audiences specific interests. Speakers are also available for National Women's History Month, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Juneteenth Day Celebrations.

In addition, when you book one of our Black History Event Speakers for $1,500 or more, you receive a complimentary Black History Theme Kit complete with an event planning CD-Rom (customizable letterhead, save the date, and invitations), theme magazine (The Woodson Review), and theme posters. With select presentations,we provide your entire audience with their own copy of The Woodson Review. So, their experience will not end when the presentation is over. They will be able to expand their knowledge and share it with others.

American Anti-Slavery Group

"If you think slavery ended in 1865...think again." Slaves around the world are still producing many items we take for granted, such as chocolate. The American Anti-Slavery Group has been spreading the word for years, and has speakers available, including Mr. Francis Bok, a 22-year-old who escaped from slavery in the Sudan, and Mr. Jay Williams, a Harvard student who helped liberate thousands.

American Program Bureau

One of the world's leading speakers bureaus, they represent a list of exclusive speakers including Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Jesse Jackson, Juan Williams, Herman Boone, Kevin Powell, Alvin Poussaint, Julian Bond, Manning Marable, Jeffrey Johnson, Kweisi Mfume, Susan L. Taylor, Michael Eric Dyson, Paul Rusesabagina, Johnnetta Cole, and Lou Gossett, Jr.

Class Acts

Bringing quality performing artists to the DC, Virginia, Maryland area. In addition to Sparky Rucker, their roster includes: Kayaga! of Africa East African Music and Dance, Namu Lwanga of Uganda East African Stories, Dance and Song.

The Truth Institute

"Committed to the creation of a free, justified and equal society." Speakers specialize in a variety of topics: Media, Leadership, Politics, Historical Perspectives, Women's Issues, Native American Issues and more.



Founding member of Saffire ~ the Uppity Blues Women and W.C. Handy Award winner, Adegbalola has toured and performed around the world. She has recorded 7 CDs with Saffire, two solo CD's, "Bitter Sweet Blues" and "Neo-Classic Blues" and one instructional video, "Learn to Sing the Blues." Adegbalola, former Virginia State Teacher of The Year, also presents workshops about The History of Women in the Blues. Classic blues women of the 1920's and 30's provide the only documented history of black working class women ~ women who were unashamed to lay their souls bare and unafraid to give advice. Adegbalola incorporates video clips, audio clips, live performance and lecture into this dynamic presentation that can be crafted to fit any group or any length. Additional programs include "Civil Rights and Wrongs" and "Gay Rights vs. Civil Rights ­ The Similarities and the Differences

For more information, please contact Suzanne at Hot Toddy Music.

Rudy Barker (313) 506-1280
The Dream Lives - Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For over 25 years, Barker has performed as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He has taught, lectured, and performed across the country and abroad, assisting in keeping Dr. King's Dream alive. A master impressionist who can imitate over 100 voices, Barker captures the cadences and inflections of Dr. King and audiences have claimed that when he performs "you get the feeling that Dr. King was still alive." This award-winning actor has received critical acclaim for his powerful portrayal of Dr. King in the international play production, "Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame", based in London, England.

Barker would like to assist your particular organization in keeping the dream alive by performing for the 50th anniversary (2013) of Dr. King's most noted and historic speech, "I Have A Dream!" Barker is based in Detroit, MI. , but he travels all around the country and abroad. This production is available to colleges and universities, schools, libraries, museums, conferences and churches.

Let Freedom Ring!!!

Dr. Ysaye Marie Barnwell

A member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Ysaye leads several workshops, including "Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition." Her website includes information about booking as well as her publications. I have attended two of her workshops and recommend them highly. She's based in Washington DC but travels widely.

Bijan C. Bayne 1300 Monroe St., N.E., Washington, DC, 20017 (202) 832-5562.

Bijan C. Bayne writes travel features, book reviews, editorials, sports history and profiles of historical figures. Bayne co-wrote the chapter "Not Just Black" in the book Between Race and Empire. He will speak on Black semi-pro baseball in Boston and New England (1920-1950)at the national conference of the Society for Baseball Research (SABR)in Boston June 2002.
Bayne has taught feature writing courses at Prince George's Community College's Continuing Education program,and at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Md. His chapter on early Black baseball in North Carolina appears in the new book Baseball in the Carolinas. In July 2002 he will speak on the struggle of the Latin American ballplayer at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Beyond Black History Month: The African American Studies Toolkit An Internet Workshop for Educators, with Gerri Gribi

Using the Internet students can travel the Underground Railroad, listen to the "Negro National Anthem," explore art work by African American painters and even find a recipe for traditional yellow raisin rice.

Gerri Gribi is the creator of BEYOND BLACK HISTORY MONTH: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES TOOLKIT featured in NEA Today and selected as School Library Journal's "Site of the Week." She'll take you on a tour of the best sites for history, visual arts, music, language arts, math and science, and will help you connect with lesson plans, activities and resources appropriate to your grade level.

BluesWorks , Judy Luis-Watson & Paul Watson     Contact Judy for more information

Founded in 1991 and based in the DC Metro area, BluesWorks' music is a tasty gumbo of a variety of American blues with a dash of jazz and world rhythms. Co-founders Judy Luis-Watson & Paul Watson are touring musicians with a passion for playing music that is rooted in the blues and for sharing the cultural stories behind the music. Paul is a virtuoso on the harmonica and is one of the rare blues mandolin players performing today, drawing inspiration from the legendary Howard Armstrong. Judy puts fire and soul into her mastery of the piano. Seasoned teachers and workshop leaders, they perform as a duo and as a larger ensemble with renowned area musicians. BluesWorks also offers special programs for a wide range of audiences, from school children to college students and general audiences that include: the interactive Blues Songs and Rhythms, the multimedia Blues Connection: The Music, Stories, and Pictures of Legendary Blues Artists, and a Tribute Concert to Thomas A. Dorsey featuring his hokum blues and gospel music.  

AMY FREEMAN, Keynote Speaker, Educator, Poet

Amy Freeman is an educator, writer and motivational speaker who has enlightened audiences across the country. Whether it's encouraging students to complete their education, inspiring your workforce or just a positive word, she's an uplifting addition to any event. Her multi-faceted background includes a M.S. degree in Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Workforce Education. Dr. Freeman currently serves as Assistant Dean of Engineering Diversity at Penn State University, and as President of the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA). Her educational presentations and common sense will leave your listeners smiling seeing their own positive potential.

Harlem Gospel Choir on Tour, Inc. Contact Allen Bailey, Founder (917) 696-3067

I've had the joy of hearing the Harlem Gospel Choir fact, I even got to join them on stage for a song! The choir was founded in 1986 by Allen Bailey, and is first and foremost a ministry. They strive to bring about a better understanding of the African American culture as it relates to the Black Church and the inspirational music called Gospel. Believe me...if they can get a crowd of 300 people on their feet singing and shouting in Green Bay Wisconsin during -9 degree weather, they can do it anyplace! They have several CDs of live performances, and you can also find their tour schedule at the Harlem Gospel Choir Web Site.

Haverford Singers Contact: Mr. Barrington C. Davidson (215)879-1814.

The Haverford Singers, under the direction of Barrington C. Davidson, is a versatile and talented choral group from Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. They have performed in the United States and the Caribbean Islands. They offer an outstanding repertoire, which features Negro Spirituals and traditional choral works from the classical and baroque periods i.e., Vivaldi's Gloria, Bach's Magnificat, Camille Saint Saens' Christmas Oratorio and American contemporary compositions.

The Healing Force

Based in Winston-Salem NC, The Healing Force presents African culture through storytelling, music, dance, and exhibition. Their most popular presentation, "The Rhythm of the Drum" is a lively, colorful (stage props, bright garments, and over 30 instruments) celebration in which audiences become enthusiastic participants! The performances, residencies, and workshops are suitable for schools, churches, festivals, libraries, and more.

Jim Crow Museum - Dr. David Pilgrim

Dr. Pilgrim is best known as the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum-a 5,000 piece collection of racist artifacts located at Ferris State University. The museum uses objects of intolerance to teach tolerance. Dr. Pilgrim's writings, many found on the this Web site, are used by scholars, students, and civil rights workers to better understand historical and contemporary expressions of racism.

M'Zuri Invites You To Learn About Fanny Lou Hamer

mZuri singer, actresss and writer, co-star of the hit film Sankofa stars in a one woman show on the life of Fannie Lou Hamer. The show is one hour and fifteen minutes long. It tells a stirring story of the great civil rights leader in poetry prose and songs from the movement as well as gospel and spirituals.

Kate Clifford Larson, Ph.D., Historian and Author.

Author of Bound For The Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. Ballantine Books, December 2003. Based on years of intensive research in archives, libraries, court houses, and private collections, accessing hundreds of never-before-used letters, diaries, journals, interviews, court and municipal records, Bound For The Promised Land offers a fresh new look at Harriet Tubman, revealing many new details about one of America's most famous women. Bound highlights new information about Tubman's life in slavery, her family, the actual people Tubman rescued from bondage, her John Brown relationship, her Civil War work, and her suffrage and humanitarian activism after the War. Available for lectures.

Love & Unity in the Black Community

Dr. Alfreda Emonya Love is an educator,administrator radio host, writer, motivational speaker and has conducted massive research concerning our youth and at-risk factors.  Our community is suffering from some levels of poverty and academic achievement. Enjoy this powerful year around presentation as I implement sceneries, real life situations and how we can love and unify our community.

Current Project: Running With Fear-An Analysis of our African American Males who die in the streets at a level of 40 percent per year.

Contact Information: 254-744-6616
On Facebook

JOANNA MADDOX 678-522-5915 Fax 770-431-1864

Combining her musical and acting talents, Joanna "truly becomes the characters she portrays." Joanna Maddox actress/singer/storyteller is known for dramatic portrayals of historical Black women, such as Marian Anderson, Wilma Rudolph, Bessie Coleman, Mae Jemison, and Madam CJ Walker. In "Raising a President, the story of Rachel Clark and Jimmy Carter," Joanna portrays Rachel Clark the black woman was one of the most influential people in Jimmy Carter's life. She helped raise the little boy who would become our 39th President.

From "A Journey to Freedom with Harriet Tubman, to "A Bus Ride with Rosa Parks," to "Life Lessons from the Divas," motivational edutainment as Joanna sings, impersonates and pays tribute to Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston. Availability: National

Jolene McLean, Contermporary Gospel Recording Artist Contact: (518) 465-1266

A veteran, professional vocalist, Jolene has worked with a number of Christian and Gospel music greats, recorded with Reverend Timothy Wright, the National AME Zion Convention Choir, and Wayne E.N. Ireland-Cleghorne; and has performed as a background dinger for Vanessa Bell Armstrong, LaShun Pace and Karen Clark-Sheard. Her talent has afforded her the honor of singing the National Anthem for baseball fans at Shea Stadium. She has performed in the US and abroad, travelling to Japan, Cuba and Canada. Jolene recently released her debut CD, I Live for Him. Samples from the CD can be heard at Jolene is a versatile performer who can sing her contemporary gospel songs as well as perform spirituals and hymns.

Robert V. Morris, Author and Founder, Fort Des Moines Memorial Park 1-888-828-FORT

Robert V. Morris provides an up-close history on black military officers and soldiers from WWI through today and related socio-economic issues. An author, television producer, and entrepreneur , in 1997 he founded the $20 million Fort Des Moines Memorial Park in Iowa honoring the U.S. Army's first officer candidate schools open to black men in 1917 and women as part of the WAAC in 1942. Been There! See my review of Fort Des Moines Memorial Park

Curtis "Kojo" Morrow

Based in Chicago, Mr. Morrow is a Korean war veteran who served with the all Black Infantry Combat Unit formerly known as the Buffalo Soldiers during its last year of existance. (1869 - 1951) He is the author of a memoir, What's A Commie Ever Done to Black People, a title meant to provoke us to rethink the notion of war. He is one of the early pioneers who helped to reestablished relationships between, Africans on the continent, and African Americans in the Diaspora. He lived in Ghana from 1965 to 1976, during which time he was adopted, lived amongst and was taught the ways of his ancestors by the Ashanti. His book about those experiences is Return of the African American.

He is available for book signings and to speak about his experiences during Black History Month. You can purchase his books at by clicking on the titles.

Reanae McNeal 563-328-4702

Reanae is an international performing artist, award-winning playwright, storyteller, and speaker. She does one-woman plays around African-American women's lives. Ms. McNeal is known for her plays "Don't Speak My Mother's Name In Vain" which deals with the herstory of the sexual assault of African-American women, "Blues Women Don't Wear No Shoes" which deals with social issues and African-American women, and "And Still I Fly" which deals with Breast Cancer and African-American women. She is a powerful storyteller who weaves together African and African-American folktales and stories with singing and the playing of African instruments. Reanae is an awesome lecturer and speaker who interweaves her speaking with stories, poetry, and singing. She has won numerous awards for her art, activism, and speaking around African-American peoples lives

OUTmedia Programs include:

Jewels of the Diaspora: A Concert Celebration of African-American & Jewish Song. Songs of struggle, survival. freedom, and peace from diverse African-American (Gospel, R & B, folk, pop, and jazz) and Jewish sources, sung in english, Hebrew, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), Yiddish andamharic (Ethiopian).

Diversity Meltdown Tour Featuring Sherri Shepherd, Carlos Oscar, and Jason Stuart. Wait for a nuclear reaction as an African-american woman, Latino man, and a gay Jew churn up the cultural comic heat, and your campus tensions dissolve into side-splitting connections.

Rosie Robinson

Rosie is a cultural arts educator whose specialty is one woman historical portrayals, such as the Buffalo Soldier, Sim Webb(Casey Jones fireman) and Big Maybelle Smith. She also conducts children's theater with African Gourd Puppet and does cultural seminars that focus on food and textiles. She lives in Jackson,Tennessee and in 1998 received a Certificate of Merit from the Tennessee Historical Commission.

Roots and Wings - Stories are like Roots to the Past, and Wings to the Future

Denise Valentine offers interactive Storytelling Performances and Workshops for children and families, school assemblies and residencies, teacher/professional staff development, and community events. Her themes include:

Stories of Freedom and Hope from African and African American History. Knowledge of the Past, Awareness of how these events have shaped the Present, Hope and Vision for the Future. Stories & Music exploring the Roots of African American Blues & Jazz , Spirituals, Stomps, Shouts, and Work Songs; and Wisdom of the Ages 'Folk Knowledge' Indigenous or 'Traditional' Wisdom applied to today's dilemmas.

Sparky & Rhonda Rucker

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker have performed throughout the U.S., singing songs and telling stories from the American tradition. Sparky Rucker has been performing over thirty-five years and is internationally recognized as a leading folklorist, musician, historian, storyteller, and author. Rhonda Rucker is an accomplished harmonica and piano player, and also adds vocal harmonies to their songs. She has developed her own unique style of playing harmonica, which complements their music, whether they are playing railroad songs, Appalachian music, blues, slave songs, Civil War music, gospel, work songs, cowboy music, ballads, or Sparky Rucker's original compositions. I've heard Sparky perform on several occasions - he's great with any age level. Based in DC, Virginia, Maryland area but travels extensively.

Rosemary Sadlier, President,Ontario Black History Society

Author of Leading the Way, Black Women in Canada; Mary Ann Shadd, Publisher, Editor, Teacher, Suffragette, Lawyer; and also Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, her life in the United States and Canada. You can purhcase these books or contact Ms. Sadlier (and other speakers on topics in African-Canadian history) through Ontario Black History Society

Barry Scott (Website under construction: Contact Andy Barton at 615/254-3333)

Scott is the founder and artistic director of the American Negro Playwright Theater located at Tennessee State University in Nashville. He is a scholar/historian of Martin Luther King, Jr. and presents a lecture titled: The Life and Works of Martin Luther King, Jr. In the lecture, Scott recreates several of Dr. King's famous speeches, talks about King's philosophy on nonviolent aggression and assesses the state of race relations today. Scott has also written/directed and starred in a one man play, called "Ain't Got Long To Stay Here" (about King and his life). This play has been performed around the country in performing arts centers.

Velma Maia Thomas

Award winning author, gifted singer, genealogist, and researcher, Velma "Maia Thomas is a sought after speaker on African-American history and culture. She is the author of four interactive books, including the award winning, Lest We Forget: The Passage from Africa to Slavery and Emancipation (1997), and is the creator of the highly acclaimed Black Holocaust Exhibit at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore and Cultural Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Velma has been a lecturer and keynote speaker at conferences, libraries, churches, and universities across the country.

Voices of Africa Choral Ensemble

 "We are an Internationally acclaimed, all women's a cappella and percussion ensemble.  We perform a powerfully unique blend of soul-stirring a cappella harmonies and African Percussions.  The  instruments we play are the Sekere (shay-ka-ray), sakara  and samba drums and agogo (double headed bells).  Our music spans the African Diaspora and brings a powerful message about our culture and tradition as African descendant women who dare to play drums. We are available to bring our culturally rich entertainment to your place of business, school, church, university, community center social and/or cultural programs. " Based in Philadelphia.

Bronson Elliott Woods 713-715-8794, 1919 Smith Street #1180, Houston, TX 77002 or email:

Originally from Indianapolis, IN, is a UNLV pre-law student, United States Air Force member, youth minister and most of all an Humble servant to the community. He has been speaking for 10yrs across the United States of America. He specializes in k-12 motivational speeches, A lecture series entitled " Shut Up and Listen." He has been sent in honor of the NAACP to speak at the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Convention in Chicago, IL 2004 to encourage the 18-25yr olds to register to vote and educate them on the legislative process. Also, he is a recommendable Black History speaker. He currently resides in Houston TX, but can go where ever he is sent to uplift a people.

Bob Zellner, Civil Rights Activist (631) 287-5590

"The son and grandson of Klansmen, Zellner went on to become the first white southerner to serve as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). His life a virtual roadmap of social responsibility, Zellner served the Civil Rights Movement tirelessly and has dedicated his life to protesting on behalf of social change and equal rights. He was among a select group of Americans who were personally recruited by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to serve the civil rights movement. A true scholar, Zellner is an intelligent, articulate and knowledgeable man. He has taught the History of the Civil Rights Movement at Long Island University, lectures throughout the country, and takes an active part in diverse political and social issues."

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