Online Forum–The Books, Archives, and Monuments That Shaped Me

Children lining up outside of the Albemarle Region bookmobile. (North Carolina Digital Collections)

March 19, 2024 to March 28, 2024 

Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is hosting an online forum on the personal impact seminal books, archives, and public monuments can have on historians who study the African Diaspora. The two-week long online forum brings together scholars to discuss foundational books, historical monuments, and archival documents that have inspired them to be historians and expand the current scholarship in their specialized field. The forum begins on Tuesday, March 19, and concludes on Thursday, March 28, 2024. It features an introductory listicle by Kiana Knight and essays by O.G. McClinton, III; Alexis Cathcart; Anthony Smooth; Marvin Walker; Sabrina Watson; Daphne Calhoun; and James R. Morgan, III.

During the online forum, Black Perspectives will publish blog posts every day at 5:00 AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHS) on Twitter/X or @AAIHS (@AAIHS23) on Instagram; like AAIHS on Facebook; or subscribe to our blog for updates. By subscribing to Black Perspectives, each new post will automatically be delivered to your inbox during the week of the forum.

About the Organizer

Menika Dirkson is an Assistant Professor of African American History at Morgan State University. She received her Ph.D. in History from Temple University. Her research focuses on race, crime, and policing in post-1968 Philadelphia. She is the author of the 2024 book, Hope and Struggle in the Policed City: Black Criminalization and Resistance in Philadelphia.

Featured Writers

Kiana Knight is a PhD Candidate in Africana Studies at Brown University. Her dissertation, “Translating Black Nationalism: Gender, Language, and Internationalist Politics, 1918-1955,” explores bilingual Black women’s activism in the U.S. and Greater Caribbean. Her work has been featured in Ohio State’s Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective and Getty Images’ collaborative blog “Picturing Black History” and the African American Intellectual Historical Society’s award-winning blog, “Black Perspectives.” She received a bachelor’s degree with honors in history from North Carolina Central University and a master’s degree in history from the University of Pittsburgh. Kiana’s scholarly interests include Public History, Black Transnational Feminisms, Black Internationalism, and the African Diaspora. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her family’s history, socializing with friends, and practicing yoga. Connect with her on Twitter @kianamknight.

O.G. McClinton III, originally from Compton, California, is a budding historian currently enrolled in the African American History master’s program at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Specializing in Antebellum Southern Slavery, he is poised to embark on a doctoral journey in the Spring of 2025. O.G. earned his B.A. in African American History: Arts and Literature from California State University, Northridge. O.G. studied Short Story Writing and Playwriting at UCLA Extension and Urban Education at Langston University in Oklahoma. He is an accomplished writer, with works including poetry, plays, and the short story “The Truth About Trees.” Currently engaged in various writing and research projects, he is crafting a memoir and a family history commemorating the 55th anniversary of a significant photograph featuring his father. In addition to his academic pursuits, O.G. is an avid movie-goer and a devoted fan of Black cinema and Blaxploitation films, and a range of film genres including action thrillers, suspense dramas, and horror. Before his return to academia, O.G. ventured into the entertainment industry, touring with En Vogue, featuring in a national Coca-Cola commercial, and making appearances in Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” video and the iconic Whitley and Dwayne wedding episode of “A Different World.” O.G. is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Alexis N. Cathcart is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History, Geography, and Museum Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. They were born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, and earned their bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Their research focuses generally on 20th-century U.S. political and intellectual history and specifically on the bends and curves of dissident political ideologies and anti-radicalism in the U.S. from 1948 to 1991. Outside their studies, you can find them indulging in horror films, astrology, fantasy novels, and indie rock music.



Anthony Smooth is a MA student in History at Morgan State University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in History from Morgan State. For more than 15 years, he has worked as an educator in the Baltimore City Public School System, a coach and swim instructor for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks Aquatics Division, and a Youth Worker at Roca, Inc. His goal as an academic and activist is to combine his passion for art and history to uplift, enrich, and advocate for citizens of underserved communities. Smooth was born, raised, and lives in the City of Baltimore.



Marvin Walker is a Ph.D. student of African American History at Morgan State University. He has over 33 years of teaching experience on the secondary and college level, teaching and writing curriculums for African American History, United States History, and Introduction to Philosophy. Marvin is currently working on his dissertation related to African Americans in Golf and serves as an adjunct instructor at Rutgers University, LaSalle University, and Ramapo College of New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter: @Heruk55.




Sabrina G. Watson is a PhD candidate in History at Morgan State University and a History Instructor at Virginia State University’s History and Philosophy Department. Watson earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in History with a research concentration on comparative studies of indigenous women in American history from Virginia State University. She has worked as an Adjunct History Instructor at Reynolds Community College and was a founding faculty member of the Early College Academy at Reynolds Community College that worked with Richmond City Public Schools to prepare high school students for college with undergraduate coursework. Watson proudly hails from Richmond, Virginia.



Daphne Calhoun is a History PhD student focused on African American Studies at Morgan State University. Her research focuses on the Reconstruction Era and life after the Civil War. She earned her Master of Liberal Arts from Auburn University of Montgomery and a Bachelor of Science from Tuskegee University.






James R. Morgan III is a PhD candidate in History at Morgan State University and a Curatorial Consultant with the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of Howard University where he completed his undergraduate studies in Communications and Africana Studies. He is the recipient of the 2019 Dr. Charles H. Wesley Medal of History, the 2020 Phyllis Wheatley Book Award for Non-Fiction Biography and a 2021 International AAHGS Book Award. He has authored several scholarly writings on African American Freemasonry, fraternalism and genealogy. He is also an Honorary Fellow and Life Member of the Phylaxis Research Society. He is the author of the award-winning book: The Lost Empire: Black Freemasonry in the Old West (1867-1906).

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