Sojourner Truth Lecture marks 20 years

Marilyn Mobley

The 2020 Sojourner Truth Lecture will also be a celebration. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the lecture, as well as the 30th anniversary of the creation of Women and Gender Studies Program (WGST) at George Mason University, one of the organizers of the event.

The lecture was started 20 years ago as a collaboration between what was then the Women’s Studies Program and the African American Studies Program, now the African and African American Studies Program. According to Mason School of Integrative Studies professor Wendi Manuel-Scott, the two programs cosponsored the annual event, which bridges Black History Month in February and Woman’s History Month in March.

It is also a homecoming of sorts for this year’s guest speaker. Marilyn Mobley, who will speak on the topic “An Intersectional Mixtape: Lessons Learned from a Black Woman Scholar in the Academy,” helped found the African and African American Program in 1991 and served as its first director while she was an associate provost at Mason.

A Toni Morrison scholar and former president of the Toni Morrison Society, Mobley is currently a professor of English at Case Western Reserve University, where she served as the first vice president for inclusion, diversity and equal opportunity until 2018.

“Dr. Marilyn Mobley embodies the spirit of Sojourner Truth and the best of both programs,” said Manuel-Scott. “She is a powerful example of what it means to embody a bridge pedagogy as an intersectional scholar and transformational administrative leader.”

The lecture will take place Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Harris Theater.

Mobley is not the only “foremother” expected to attend. Angela J. Hattery, director of the Women and Gender Studies Program, said:  “We will be honoring the founder mothers of WGST and all who have served as directors and associate directors and on the faculty.”

Mason Vice President for University Life Rose Pascarell and Paula Ruth Gilbert, Professor Emerita of Modern and Classical Languages and Women and Gender Studies, and Debra Bergoffen, Professor Emerita of Philosophy, are also expected to attend and will be formally honored.

Several years ago, Manuel-Scott and Hattery expanded the event to honor local community organizations that are doing work that is in the spirit of Sojourner Truth. This year, organizers will also be honoring the Virginia-based Women Orthopaedist Global Outreach, which works to transform lives in under-served global communities.