Friday, March 4, 2005

C. V. Starr Center Creates Frederick Douglass Fellowship Program To Support Research In Minority Studies

Visiting Fellow Marlon Saunders to Give Music Workshop, March 15

Chestertown, MD, March 3, 2005 — Washington College's C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is pleased to announce the creation of the Frederick Douglass Fellowships, established through a generous gift of Maurice Meslans and Margaret Holyfield of St. Louis, Mo. Named in honor of African-American author, activist, and diplomat Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)—who was born in Talbot County, Md., about 30 miles south of Chestertown, and retained a deep attachment to the Eastern Shore until the end of his life—the Fellowships will fund grants to Washington College students who are working on projects related to African-American, Latino, gay and lesbian, and other minority American studies. The grants will allow students to take research trips, purchase books, and work on their projects in lieu of part-time or summer jobs; each recipient will be paired with a faculty mentor who will supervise his or her work.

In addition, the fellowships will fund short residencies at the C. V. Starr Center by scholars and artists in the field, who will teach and lecture during their stay. The first of these, with musician and teacher Marlon Saunders, a Kent County native now living in New York City, will be held March 12 through March 19. Saunders has toured internationally and recorded with such artists as Sting, Bobby McFerrin, and Dianne Reeves. His solo debut album, Enter My Mind, was released in 2003 and rated “exceptional” by Vibe magazine. His music blends soul, gospel, and jazz traditions with the rhythms of hip-hop.

During his weeklong residency, Saunders will give a free lecture and workshop, “The Singer Meets the Ear,” on Tuesday, March 15, in the College's Norman James Theatre at 3:30 p.m. The public is invited.

A professor of voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Saunders is currently at work composing a three-part suite that will evoke, through music and words, the African-American heritage of Kent County, scheduled to premiere at Chestertown's Prince Theatre in February 2006. During his residency at Washington College, Saunders will work on the project, meet informally with students, and speak about his work as a composer and performer.

The C. V. Starr Center is also pleased to announce the student winners of its inaugural Frederick Douglass Fellowships: Paula Potter '06 and Alyse Shelton '06. Potter, a junior American studies major from Joppa, Md., will use her fellowship to develop a teaching unit for elementary school students that will educate them about the Civil Rights Movement and segregation using primary-source materials such as photographs, music, and speeches. Her faculty mentor for the project is Peggy Donnelly, assistant professor of education. Shelton, a junior sociology major from Bladensburg, Md., will study the impact, positive and negative, on Chestertown's African-American community of the move to integrate public schools in 1968. She will conduct interviews as well as documentary research. Her faculty mentor is Steven Cades, professor of sociology. Each student will receive a grant of $1,000, and each faculty mentor will receive an honorarium of $500.

The next group of Frederick Douglass Fellows will be chosen in the fall of 2005 for the spring semester of 2006; the deadline will be announced early next semester. For more information about applying for the fellowships, please contact Adam Goodheart,, or Alisha Knight, assistant professor of English and American studies,

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