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Featured Speakers: The Shame Tree Dead

Thursday, 12:15–1:30 p.m.
JW Marriott, Grand Ballroom V, Third Floor

The Shame Tree Dead

Chair: Rhea Estelle Lathan, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 

Elaine RichardsonIt's a cliché that experience is the best teacher, yet experience is a teacher from whom many fail to learn. This panel features Elaine Richardson discussing her compelling and honest book, Phd to Phd: How Education Saved My Life. Richardson's "Bio-edu-ography" demonstrates more than simply struggling through freshman English courses at Cleveland State University or having a professor humiliate her writing.

Education is how she had to learn who she was and turn that into victory over the shame, which attempts to "mark" women in our culture. Mostly, this panel is about women's literacy. Presenters include real women living in Atlanta, Chicago and Jacksonville. They are women who take our classes, and fill our faculty appointments, but who are deeply aware of their own processes of learning and development; and the obstacles educators' use to shame them. It is not, then, about the literacy of abstract, theoretical women, or of African American women, or even of women who are or have had substance abuse issues—though the women here fall into those categories.

Because much of what we call education is still concerned with passing on conclusions rather than facilitating the process of discovery, this panel facilities a discussion on what it takes to look at the familiar and then to go on to say "this is not the only possible way" or "this is not how it has to be". Participants will account for circumstances where literacy experiences—negative and positive—are converted to wisdom and commitment, and translated to forms whereby they can be an open source of pride not shame. Ultimately this panel will attempt to dismantle the traditional hierarchies of higher education that work against this kind of openness, adhering to the obsolete notion that academics "should" work only with objective fact and without personal involvement.

A multidimensional personality, Dr. Elaine Richardson (Dr. E) is living out all of her dreams. She shares her story of recovery from addiction, abuse and sexual exploitation to renowned Professor of Literacy Studies at The Ohio State University, in her urban educational memoir PHD (Po H# on Dope) to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life. An accomplished vocalist and performer, Dr. E's forthcoming CD, Songs For the Struggle is the musical counterpart to the book.

In addition to being a recording artist, educator and author, Dr. E performs a One Woman Show based on excerpts from her book. She speaks and performs around the country to inspire love, hope and empowerment. She began writing songs, after graduating from Cleveland State University in 1993. She earned a Ph.D. in English and Applied Linguistics from Michigan State University in 1996. She has held academic posts at the University of Minnesota, as well as Pennsylvania State University before joining the faculty at The Ohio State University. She is a graduate of the Cleveland Public Schools, East Technical High, Class of 1978. She is a mentor to youth and young scholars and belongs to a network of Hiphop educators, promoting empowered education for social equality.


Elaine Richardson
The Ohio State University, Columbus
(Pictured above)

Walonza Lee
(Photo not available)

Hope Ealey
Hope Ealey
Dekalb Community Service Board, Decatur, GA 
Ronda DeShields 
Ronda L. DeShields
Veterans Health Administration, Jacksonville, FL
Rhea Lathan
Rhea Estelle Lathan,
Session Chair,
Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 


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