Carnegie Mellon University

CAUSE sponsors an annual Post-Doctoral Fellowship designed to facilitate and sustain a vigorous program of graduate and post-graduate student training, research, and writing on the African American urban experience.

Halimat Somotan (2021-2022)

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Dr. Halimat Somotan is a scholar of colonial and postcolonial Africa specializing in the histories of cities and urban planning. Her teaching interests include the history of housing, decolonization, and African cities. Her current book project, Decolonizing the City: Popular Politics and the Making of Postcolonial Lagos, examines how ordinary Lagosians experienced and contested Nigeria’s transition from colonial rule to independence. It shows how landlords, tenants, and female traders challenged and sought to reform governmental policies concerning slum clearance, rent control, state land acquisition, and sanitation. The manuscript argues that Lagosians went beyond supporting nationalist movements but consistently pushed for urban reforms under both civilian and military regimes to ensure their longevity in the city and improve urban policies. The research has implications for understanding contemporary megacity urban development and residents’ everyday challenges against displacement.

Somotan’s committed to excavating unknown voices in order to show the competing approaches undertaken by individuals and collectives to create different futures. Therefore, she draws on wide-ranging sources from oral interviews, newspapers, petitions, Yoruba songs, to novels. She’s currently preparing part of her research for publication in historical journals, which will highlight the popular voices that challenged urban displacement in late colonial Lagos.

Born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria, Somotan received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 2020. Before arriving at CMU, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate/Lecturer at Princeton University, where she co-taught an African Studies course and co-organized the African Urbanism (s) Series. Her research has been funded by organizations such as the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, the University of Virginia, the Council on Library and Information, and the Mellon Foundation.

Ezelle Sanford (2021-2022)

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Dr. Ezelle Sanford III earned his Ph.D. in History and History of Science from Princeton University in 2019.  He specializes in the history of modern medicine and public health, African American history from emancipation to the present, and twentieth-century United States history.

His scholarship sits at the intersection of African American, medical, and urban histories. He is particularly interested in histories of race, science, and medicine from the 19th century to the present.  He is currently working on a book project, Segregated Medicine: How Racial Politics Shaped American Healthcare, which utilizes the case of St. Louis’s Homer G. Phillips Hospital, America’s largest segregated hospital in the mid-twentieth century, to trace how the logic and legacy of racial segregation established structures of healthcare inequality that persist to this day. His work has been featured in popular and academic publications and has received several fellowships and awards.

Aishah Scott (2020-2021)

Dr. Aishah Scott received her Ph.D. in Twentieth-Century American History at Stony Brook University. She specializes in Public Health and African American History. She is currently working on her book manuscript entitled, “Respectability Can’t Save You: The AIDS Epidemic in Black America.” This work focuses on the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community and the role of “respectability politics,” or moral policing, on state and community leaders from 1980-2010. In particular, her work addresses how several forces shaped the national, local, and community responses—or lack thereof—toward the African American HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially in New York City. These forces include: the influence of the Black Church, the impact of respectability politics on federal and local government policies, class dynamics and gender relations. In excavating how the aforementioned forces profoundly shaped responses to HIV/AIDS among African Americans, she tells the story of a community silently ravaged by the epidemic. Unraveling these forces also illuminates how white supremacy pushed back against the legislative successes of the Civil Rights Movement through racially coded policy reform to preserve its autonomy. Through an exploration of HIV/AIDS, she argues that the history of African American public health has largely been shaped by the imposition and resistance to respectability politics of the state. HIV/AIDS is a vehicle, a placeholder of sorts, for understanding the ways in which respectability politics have been used to systemically racialize socioeconomic disparities that inherently leave the African American community vulnerable to health disparities. She shows this vulnerability is historical and reflects an intentional avoidance of systemic root causes (access to affordable housing, employment, quality education and healthcare) that was justified through racialized manipulations of respectability. Refusal to treat poverty as a trigger for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African American community is a contemporary manifestation of medical racism at best and genocide at worst.

She previously earned her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Stony Brook. She is an advocate for social justice and closing gaps in healthcare for underrepresented communities. Her efforts in research, mentorship and community building were recognized by Stony Brook’s Center for Inclusive Education with the 2017 Scholar Award for Excellence and the 2019 Stony Brook Alumni Life Member Award. She has also taught specialized courses on AIDS, Race, and Gender in the Black Community as well as The Evolution of Black Politics.

Andrew Pope (2018-2019)

Andrew Pope is the CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow 2018-2019. He studies African American history, with a focus on how race, gender, and sexuality affected social movement organizing in the 20th century.
His dissertation, “Living in the Struggle: Black Power, Gay Liberation, and Women’s Liberation Movements in Atlanta, 1964-1996,” examines the activism of poor and working class people after the Civil Rights Act made Jim Crow illegal. Andrew’s research indicates that a diverse set of activists collaborated to assert control over federal antipoverty programs. This collaboration led to thousands of residents forming coalitions across racial, gender, and sexual lines to continue what they called “the struggle”: a decades long effort to make Atlanta a more just place.
He has taught “Race & Riots in American History, 1600—present” as the History Prize Instructor at Harvard University. He also taught Introduction to African American History in the African & Afro-American Studies Department at Brandeis University. He is a member of the Graduate Tutorial Board in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and have led WGS junior tutorials on a range of topics including the gay liberation movement, Afrofuturism in literature, and HIV/AIDS treatment in Europe.
He has a B.A. in African American Studies & History from the University of Rochester and an A.M. in History from Harvard University. Before starting graduate school, he worked for three years at the Legal Aid Society of Rochester.

Waverly Duck (2017-2018)

Waverly Duck is an urban sociologist, Associate Professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, and author of No Way Out: Precarious Living in the Shadow of Poverty and Drug Dealing (University of Chicago Press 2015; Finalist for the 2016 C. Wright Mills Book Award). His research examines the social orders of poor Black neighborhoods, as well as manifestations of race and gender among the upwardly mobile – always with a focus on how meanings are sustained within contexts of inequality (interactional, neighborhood, and organizational) through orderly cooperation. Waverly has also done research on orderly properties of communication in settings troubled by autism, welfare reform and gender. His approach is ethnographic and ethnomethodological – analyzing the social detail through which social orders of inequality are produced and maintained. After receiving his Ph.D. in sociology from Wayne State University in 2005, Professor Duck was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and then held a post-doctoral appointment at Yale University for three years, before joining the faculty at Pittsburgh in 2010. He served as Associate Director of the Yale Urban Ethnography Project, of which he is currently a Senior Fellow. Professor Duck was a visiting professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in 2013-14, in the Waisman Center, a research clinic dedicated to examining childhood psychopathology. His academic areas of interest are urban sociology, inequality (race, class, gender, health and age), qualitative methods, culture, communication, ethnomethodology and ethnography.

Scot Brown (2016-2017)

Scot Brown is an associate professor of History and African American Studies at UCLA.  He is the author of the book Fighting For Us as well as numerous articles on activism, music and popular culture.  Brown is the also editor of the text, Discourse on Africana Studies.   He is completing a book on popular 1970s bands from the funk and soul music hotbed, Dayton, Ohio.  Also a musician and songwriter, Brown is working on a number of recording projects: including a collaborative undertaking with poet Kalamu ya Salaam.   He has also served as commentator for television music documentaries on TV One, BET/Centric and VH1.  Additionally, Brown has appeared in film and TV documentaries on the Civil Rights and Black Power movements -- most recently, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

Stephanie Boddie (2015-16)

Dr. Boddie is a specialist on 20th and early 21st century black social organizations. She works explores the nexus of African American urban life, religion, social policy, and entrepreneurship. She received her Doctorate of Philosophy of Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania. Among her published works is the influential co-edited volume, Faith-Based Social Services: Measures, Assessments, and Effectiveness (Routledge, 2006). In addition to an extensive background of work on community-based projects in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and now Pittsburgh, she will spend her year at the Center researching and writing a book, tentatively titled, Black Religion and the Entrepreneurial Spirit.

Kwame Holmes (2014-15)

Dr. Kwame Holmes received his PhD in 2011 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he specialized in modern U.S., urban, African American and LGBT history. He is currently Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. He is completing a book manuscript entitled, “Chocolate to Rainbow City: Liberalism and Displacement in the Nation’s Capital, 1953-1999.” This project traces the transformation of Washington, DC from “Chocolate City,” a moniker that once spoke to black Washingtonians demographic, cultural and political dominance to what Holmes calls a Rainbow City—Forbes magazine’s “coolest city in America” for 2014—and a multicultural liberal haven that, not coincidentally, has lost 25% of its black population in the last two decades.

Chisato Hotta (2013-14)

Dr. Hotta was the 2013-2014 postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE). She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where she specialized in the comparative history of colonialism and minority issues as well as Afro-Asian relations. She was a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Before joining Carnegie Mellon University, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Hiroshima University of Economics. Chisato spent her time at the center researching and writing her book in progress, Beyond National and Racial Boundaries: Comparative Studies of the Korean Experience in Osaka and the African American Experience in Chicago, 1920-1945.

Millington Bergeson-Lockwood (2012-13)

Dr. Bergeson-Lockwood specializes in United States and African American, urban, political, and legal history. Millington was the CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow for 2012-13. He is currently completing his book manuscript, Union Among Ourselves: Race, Party and Urban Politics in Boston, Massachusetts, 1865-1903. His project focuses on how black men and women forged new understandings of freedom and how they shaped the meaning and terms of American citizenship through urban political activism. In the manuscript, he argues that African Americans formed a public political identity grounded in racial pride and partisanship. By exerting electoral leverage within party structures, black Bostonians hoped to transform national politics and force political parties to focus on African American interests. At the turn of the twentieth century, as mainstream political parties abandoned the interests of African Americans, partisanship was replaced by a stronger sense of racial nationalism influencing the formation of organizations like the Niagara Movement and the NAACP.

Richard Purcell (2009-2010)

Richard Purcell is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Carnegie Mellon University. He served as our postdoctoral fellow for 2009-10. Professor Purcell spent part of his time at the Center completing research and writing for his first book, Race, Ralph Ellison and American Cold War Intellectual Culture (Palgrave 2013). Richard’s first book is based upon substantial archival research as well as readily accessible published literary sources. His study contributes to our understanding of the heretofore little understood relationship between Ellison, the United States Cold War Central Intelligence Agency, and the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Richard is now exploring the broader intellectual, cultural, and political implications of UNESCO’s expert statement on the “race problem,” first released in 1950 and later revised in 1951 and 1952. Focusing specifically on the largely ignored or forgotten role of Brazilian born anthropologist Arthur Ramos (1903-1949), this study promises to revamp our understanding of the complicated intersections of race, genetics, culture, and politics in global perspective.

John Wess Grant (2008-09)

John Wess Grant is the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2008-09, and an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies, The University of Arizona. His publications include, “Stranded Families: Free Colored Responses to Liberian Colonization and the Formation of Black Families in 19th-Century Richmond, Virginia,” in A. Jalloh and T. Falola, ed., The US and West Africa (2008). Dr. Grant is currently at work on his first book, Liberty Revised: The Trans-Atlantic Limitations of Free Black Community Development in Richmond, Virginia and Monrovia, Liberia, 1820-1870.

G. Derek Musgrove (2007-08)

G. Derek Musgrove, Ph.D. in U.S. History, New York University, is the 2007-8 CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow and an assistant professor of history at the University of the District of Columbia. Prior to working at UDC, Dr. Musgrove worked as an organizer for the Children’s’ Defense Fund and the Graduate Student Organizing Committee of the United Auto Workers, and as a legislative assistant in the office of Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL). He is currently working on a manuscript entitledThe Second Redemption: The Repression of Black Elected Officials and Voters in the Post-Civil Rights United States, 1965-2006 which examines “the harassment of black elected officials” and “vote suppression” and their role in the Republican ascendance of the post-civil rights period. Upon completion of this project, he will commence a short study of contemporary Black Nationalist politics by examining the New Black Panther Party and its relationship to the history and living former members of the Black Panther Party.

Lisa Gayle Hazirjian (2007-08)

Lisa Gayle Hazirjian, Ph.D. in history, Duke University, is a visiting assistant professor of history and CAUSE research associate for 2007-08. She was previously a visiting assistant professor of history and SAGES postdoctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University, and brings extensive oral history background as well as public history experience with the Western Reserve Historical Society, and Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library. Dr. Hazirjian’s research and teaching reflect lifelong interests in social movements, public policy, and political culture in the modern U.S. She is currently completing her first monograph, Negotiating Poverty: Economic Oppression and Working-Class African American Politics in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, an examination of how material insecurity shaped the long civil rights movement in eastern North Carolina. Additionally, she is editing The War on Poverty and Struggles for Racial & Economic Justice: Views from the Grassroots, a collection of essays that re-evaluate the most controversial piece of the Great Society by exploring how the War on Poverty and grassroots social movements influenced one another.

Luther Adams (2006-07)

Luther Adams, Ph.D. in history, University of Pennsylvania, was the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2006-07. He is on leave from the University of Washington-Tacoma, where he is an assistant professor in the department of Interdisciplinary Arts and Science. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled, “Way Up North in Louisville,” which examines African-American migration in Louisville, Kentucky during the era of the Second Great Migration.

Johanna Fernandez (2005-06)

Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D. in history, Columbia University, was the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2005-06. She was previously a visiting professor at Trinity College, where she taught in the Department of History and in the American Studies Program. She is currently working on the manuscript for her book, entitled When the World Was Their Stage: A History of the Young Lords Party, 1968-1974. Her research explores the ways in which the structure and economy of the city was transformed in the years following WWII and the consequences of these changes for African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and other urban dwellers.

Angela Winand (2004-05)

Angela Winand was the CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for 2004-05; previously she completed an appointment as visiting assistant professor at the Center for Black Diaspora, DePaul University. Dr. Winand also taught at the University of Texas-El Paso, State University of West Georgia, and Spelman College in Atlanta. Based on the lives of selected African American women—including Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Nellie DeSpelder, and Mary Church Terrell—Dr. Winand's research examines the construction of African American, female, southern, and middle class identity during the Jim Crow era. She analyzes "styles of dress" and the ways that middle class black women used consumer culture to influence standards of sexual conduct; she also explores how these women's modes of behavior shaped their social activism.

Robyn Spencer (2003-04)

Robyn Spencer, Ph.D. in U.S. history, Columbia University, was our postdoctoral fellow in 2003-04. Robyn is an assistant professor of African and African American studies and history at Penn State University. Her dissertation, "Repression Breeds Resistance: The Rise and Fall of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, CA, 1966-1982," documents the experiences of rank and file Panther women. Professor Spencer argues that the Black Panther Party aimed to provide an alternative site for black men and women to challenge the inequities of sexism and patriarchy, and to redefine gender roles. She used her year at the Center to revise her dissertation for publication as her first book.

Lisa Levenstein (2002-03)

Lisa Levenstein, Ph.D. in history, University of Wisconsin, was a CAUSE postdoctoral fellow for the 2002-03 academic year. Her fellowship was funded by a grant from the Maurice Falk Fund. Lisa's book in progress, a revised and enlarged version of her Ph.D. dissertation, explores what she calls "the historical construction of racialized urban poverty" by examining the ways that poor women interacted with public institutions like the welfare department, the courts, public housing authorities, and the public hospital. Based upon extensive work in archival sources, Dr. Levenstein shifts the focus of scholarship from men to women and from private sector institutions to public sector services. She convincingly argues that public institutions both "enabled" and "disabled" black women's efforts to deal with urban poverty. 

Eric Brown (2002-03)

Eric Brown, Ph.D. in sociology, University of California at Berkeley, was a CAUSE postdoctoral fellow in 2001-02 and again in 2002-03. Building upon his Ph.D. dissertation on the late 20th century black professional class, Eric's research explores the impact of class and racial discrimination on the development of the black middle class in Oakland, California. During his stay at the Center, Eric made substantial progress toward transforming his dissertation manuscript into a book. Dr. Brown's book will be among the first to look at the rise of what he calls "the first generation" of black professional people to function within "integrated" labor markets as a result of the modern civil rights movement. Professor Brown's study covers the period since the 1960s and 1970s, and helps us to understand how increasing numbers of African Americans reoriented their aspirations from work in the industrial sector to work in the white collar sector. Equally important, as a local case study, his book pays close attention to the interconnections between work, residence, and political change in the lives of black professional people.

Richard Pierce (2000-01)

Richard Pierce, University of Notre Dame, was our postdoctoral fellow for the 2000-01 academic year. Professor Pierce conducted research for his manuscript, Negotiated Freedom: African American Community Life in Indianapolis, 1945-1970. In 2005, Indiana University Press published Richard's book under the title, Polite Protest: The Political Economy of Race in Indianapolis, 1929-1970. Richard Pierce, associate professor of history and chair, Department of Africana Studies, University of Notre Dame.

John Hinshaw (1999-2000)

John Hinshaw, associate professor of history, Lebanon Valley College, completed his Ph.D. in history at Carnegie Mellon in 1995. He came to the Center in 1999 following a year abroad as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. His time in South Africa broadened his insights on the interplay of class and race in international perspective. John used his time at the Center to carry out revisions for his book, Steel and Steelworkers: Race and Class Struggle in Twentieth Century Pittsburgh (State University of New York Press, 2002).

Yevette Richards Jordan (1998-99)

Yevette Richards Jordan, associate professor of history, George Mason University, spent the 1998-99 academic year at the Center. An assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh at the time, Dr. Richards completed research and revisions for publication of her manuscript, Maida Springer-Kemp: A Biography of an International Labor Leader. The University of Pittsburgh published Yevette's first book under the title Maida Springer: Pan-Africanist and International Labor Leader (2000) and her second book, Conversations with Maida Springer: A Personal History of Labor, Race, and International Relations (2004).

Karen Gibson (1995-1997)

Karen Gibson, assistant professor of public policy and urban affairs, Portland State University, was our first postdoctoral fellow. She completed two years at the Center. Dr. Gibson came to CAUSE after completing her doctorate in city and regional planning at the University of California at Berkeley. She also holds an M.S. degree in public management and policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Her dissertation, entitled "A Comparative Analysis of the Effects of Poverty Concentration on White and Black Poor Neighborhoods in the Detroit and Pittsburgh Metropolitan Areas," untangles the effects of race, class, and space, and contributes to our understanding of poverty by widening the analytical lens to include the white and suburban poor.