These scholars will join a panel along with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed.


Sharron Wilkins Conrad is a Postdoctoral Fellow at SMU’s Center for Presidential History. She holds a BA in History and Anthropology from Penn State University and an MA in Public History from Howard University. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas, she was Director of Education and Public Programs at The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. Her career has included appointments at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, the Greenwich Historical Society, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Maryland Historical Society, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Dr. Conrad is a member of the American Historical Association, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and the National Council on Public History. Her book manuscript, The Trinity: John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Their Civil Rights Legacies in the African American Imagination, mines a wide range of African American source material to recover the story of how the black community thought about and remembers the civil rights legacies of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.


A longtime Fellow at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, Dr. Donna McBride earned her Ph.D. in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. She has taught at both the University of Texas at Dallas and at Southern Methodist University. For many years, Dr. McBride was a faculty member and the Head of the Upper School at Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, Texas. Currently, she leads the popular monthly book discussion group, “The Historians,” at the Dallas Institute. Dr. McBride is also a member of the Dallas Institute’s Louise and Donald Cowan Center for Education Board, and she is a consultant for the Cowan Academies’ teacher training.


Kenton Rambsy is Assistant Professor of African American Literature at the University of Texas at Arlington and is an affiliated faculty member of the Department of History. He received his Ph.D. degree in English from the University of Kansas in May 2015 and is a 2010 Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College. His areas of research include 20th and 21st century African American short fiction, Hip Hop, and book history. His ongoing Digital Humanities projects use datasets to illuminate the significance of recurring trends and thematic shifts as it relates to Black literary artists. Dr. Rambsy is a 2018 recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship. He is the author of the #TheJayZMixtape and co-editor of the edited collection Lost in the City: An Exploration of Edward P. Jones’s Short Fiction (2019). His forthcoming book project, The Geographies of African American Short Stories, illuminates an important, though often understudied, mode of literary art by interpreting writers’ depictions of characters navigating distinct social and physical environments.


Dr. J. Larry Allums is Executive Director Emeritus of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. He earned his M.A. in Literature and his Ph.D. in Literature and Political Philosophy from the University of Dallas’ Institute of Philosophic Studies. He came to the Dallas Institute in 1998 from the University of Mobile, where he was Professor of English and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He has edited a volume of essays on epic poetry, The Epic Cosmos, and published articles on ancient Greek and Roman literature, Dante, and writers of the American Southern renascence, including William Faulkner, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, and Caroline Gordon. Under his leadership, the Dallas Institute continues to emphasize its commitment to urban issues and its longstanding work with pre-K through 12th grade elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and superintendents. During his tenure, he has directed the creation of several new Institute programs, including the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Symposium, and The Dallas Festival of Ideas in partnership with The Dallas Morning News.



A dramatic reading of poetry from the Harlem Renaissance

Jamal Sterling is an actor and voice over artist based out of Dallas, Texas. A native of Detroit, Michigan he graduated from Southern Methodist University’s MFA Acting Program in 2002. After years working on projects in Los Angeles and New Orleans, Jamal permanently relocated to Dallas where he continues to perform in a variety of productions on stage and screen.


Opening the symposium with her singing

Denise Lee is the Founder and CEO of Visions For Change, Inc. (formerly Change the Perception) a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to building bridges between communities through conversation, activities and programs. She established 'Community Conversation' through this initiative five years ago, after the Dallas Police Shootings. These monthly gatherings bring people from all walks of life together for respectful open honest dialogue in order to heal racial and community tension. She has been awarded the Rudy Eastman Diversity Award by the Live Theater League of Tarrant County and a Special Citation of Recognition by the DFW THEATER CRITICS. In August, Ms. Lee received the 2019 Hero of Hope Award for her courageous stand for the rights of all people without regard to gender race, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

In addition to her work with Visions For Change, Denise Lee is an award-winning actress, singer whose performance style has charmed theater, nightclub and television audiences for more than three decades. Lee is based in Dallas, but she has also delighted international crowds at clubs in Shanghai, Beijing, Switzerland and France.

She is the founder and Executive Producer of the Denise Lee Onstage Cabaret Series and the Dallas Cabaret Festival featuring the best in Dallas based and National Cabaret Artists.

You can find more information about upcoming events at www.deniseleeonstage.com and www.visionsforchange.org.