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Speaker Bios

Andrew Aydin

Andrew Aydin, an Atlanta native, was raised by a single mother and grew up reading everything, particularly comic books. After college, he took a job with Congressman John Lewis in Washington, D.C. A year later, while serving as Press Secretary on the Congressman's re-election campaign, he had the idea that Congressman Lewis should write a comic book to tell the story of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Though it took a little convincing, Congressman Lewis eventually agreed on the condition that Andrew write it with him. Andrew became the driving force behind MARCH, which in 2016 became the first comics work to ever win the National Book Award and reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. He is a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Honoree, a Printz Award winner, a Sibert Medal winner, a Walter Dean Myers Award winner, a Carter G. Woodson Book Award winner, a two-time Eisner award winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford and Georgetown University in Washington, he wrote the first history of the 1957 comic book Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story as his graduate thesis. Today, he serves as Digital Director & Policy Advisor to Congressman Lewis in Washington, D.C.


Dr. Sindre Bangstad

Sindre Bangstad is a Norwegian-born social anthropologist and Research Professor at KIFO (Institute For Church, Religion And Worldview Research) in Oslo, Norway. He has a background in ethnographic research on Muslims in Cape Town, South Africa and Oslo, Norway. The author of eight books and edited volumes, including the 2014 Anders Breivik And The Rise of Islamophobia (Zed Books/University of Chicago Press) and the 2017 Anthropology Of Our Times: An Edited Volume in Public Anthropology (Palgrave MacMillan). He was awarded the 2019 Anthropology In The Media Awards (AIME) from the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in recognition for his long-standing contributions to public anthropology. He is a regular contributor to Africa Is A Country, New Frame in South Africa, Open Democracy and the SSRC Immanent Frame. His work has appeared in the Boston Review, the Guardian UK and Al-Jazeera English. He has held invited lectures at Barnard College at Columbia University, the University of Edinburgh, Institute For Advanced Studies in Princeton and at the University of Connecticut. A board member of the Norwegian Centre Against Racism (ARS) from 2015 through to 2020, he is currently working on a monograph about public memories in the aftermath of the 2001 racist and neo-Nazi murder of fifteen-year old Benjamin Hermansen in Norway.


Andrew Beck Grace

Andrew Beck Grace is the co-creator and co-host of the NPR podcast White Lies, which was a finalist for Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting. His nonfiction film work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and on PBS’s Independent Lens. His interactive documentary, After the Storm, was nominated for an Emmy in New Approaches to Documentary. He teaches nonfiction filmmaking and journalism at the University of Alabama.


Josina Guess

Josina Guess is the assistant editor for The Bitter Southerner. Her writing explores the intersections of land, family, race, violence, and gender. She was born in rural Alabama, raised in Washington DC, and she lived in Philadelphia and the Midwest before putting down roots in rural northeast Georgia.  Having lived and worked in and between rural/urban, Black/white spaces she thinks constantly about how our identities are shaped, nurtured, and thwarted by concepts of race and place.


Dr. Sarah Higinbotham

Sarah Higinbotham studies and teaches Shakespeare and early British literature at Emory’s Oxford College. She mentors undergraduate students interested in public service law from Emory, Spelman, Morehouse, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State University. Her scholarship centers around the intersections of literature and law; she has written about the violence of the law, critical prison theory, and human rights in various publications. As a way of exploring the constructive aspects of law, she co-authored a Human Rights and Children’s Literature: Imagination and the Narrative of Law with Jonathan TodresSarah is also the founder and executive director of Common Good Atlanta, a nonprofit that bridges Georgia’s colleges and universities with Georgia’s prisons. The grassroots program has grown from offering college course inside one prison to more than 70 volunteer faculty from six Atlanta universities teaching in four prisons five days a week. Her work is rooted the belief that human dignity flourishes — and communities become stronger — when people have more equitable access to higher education.


Dr. Jane McPherson

Jane McPherson is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Global Engagement at the University of Georgia (UGA) School of Social Work. Her scholarship examines social work through a human rights lens, and she applies human rights principles to research, teaching, and practice. Locally and globally, her research promotes anti-discriminatory, participatory, transparent and rights-based methods in social work practice. As a teacher, she creates spaces where students engage directly with individuals who are marginalized by discriminatory public policy, including undocumented students who are systematically denied UGA admission and noncitizens who are detained at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. As an arts-activist, she helped organize One Million Bones, a national anti-genocide project that ultimately laid 1,000,000 handmade bones on the National Mall in 2013. She is a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years of experience working with individuals and families in public, private, and nonprofit settings.

Dr. Jennifer Morrison

Jennifer Morrison is a Visiting Instructor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She received her PhD from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2020. Her dissertation, Long Revision: Contemporary African American Fiction of the Gulf South examines narratives surrounding Black subjectivity in an area vulnerable to economic and ecological instability. Her research interest includes African American literature, Folklore, Southern studies, Louisiana literature and culture, cultural studies, American literature, colonial and post-colonial theory, and the works of Ernest J. Gaines. She serves as a member of the Ernest J. Gaines Center Board. 


Connor Towne O'Neill 

Connor Towne O'Neill is the author of Down Along with That Devil's Bones: A Reckoning with Monuments, Memory, and the Legacy of White Supremacy (Algonquin Books) and is a producer on the NPR podcast White Lies, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting. He teaches at Auburn University and with the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project.

Dr. Veronica T. Watson

Veronica T. Watson is Professor in the Department of English, Director of Graduate Studies in Literature and Criticism, and Convener for The Frederick Douglass Institute Collaborative (FDI Collaborative) of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

She has a specialization in African American literature and teaches, publishes and presents on a range of topics including Black Detective and Crime Fiction; Southern American literature; Civil Rights literature; Black feminism, and critical race and critical whiteness studies.  She is author of The Souls of White Folks: African American Writers Theorize Whiteness and the co-editor of Unveiling Whiteness in the 21st Century: Global Manifestations, Transdisciplinary Intervention. Her latest project, The Short Stories of Frank Yerby, was released by University Press of Mississippi in May 2020.  She has secured over $600,000 in internal and external funding to advance her scholarship and to support university and systemwide diversity. She completed graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley before earning her MA and PhD in English from Rice University (Houston, TX) in 1997.


Dr. George Yancy 

George Yancy is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Philosophy at Emory University and a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College. He is also the University of Pennsylvania’s inaugural fellow in the Provost’s Distinguished Faculty Fellowship Program (2019-2020 academic year). He is the author, editor and coeditor of over 20 books, including Black Bodies, White GazesLook, A WhiteBacklash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly about Racism in America; and Across Black Spaces: Essays and Interviews from an American Philosopher published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2020.