Keynote Speakers

Jasmine Guy

Jasmine Guy

Jasmine Guy continues to enjoy a diverse career in the arts. Well-known for the iconic role of Whitley Gilbert on the 1990s hit television series “A Different World,” Guy can currently be seen in “Harlem,” the comedy series from Tracy Oliver for Amazon Prime, and “Vanished: Searching for My Sister,” a movie for Lifetime that premiered in January. She stars in the new feature film “The Lady Makers,” which is currently available on Amazon Prime, and recently completed filming “Not Just Another Church Movie,” and the sequel to “A Wesley Family Christmas,” a holiday-themed feature film that aired in December on BET.

Guy’s long list of television credits include her recent multi-episode role in “Grey’s Anatomy,” Showtime’s “Dead Like Me,” HBO’s “America Me,” BET’s “The Quad,” the CW’s “Vampire Diaries,” NBC’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and the CBS miniseries “Queen” and “Stompin’ at the Savoy.” In 2019, she starred in the Oscar-nominated short film “My Nephew Emmett” and HBO’s short film “Irreconcilable.” Guy’s other film credits include “October Baby,” Spike Lee’s “School Daze,” Eddie Murphy’s “Harlem Nights” and “Diamond Men.”

Guy’s Broadway performances range from The Alvin Ailey Repertory Company to “Grease” (as Rizzo), to “Leader of the Pack” to “The Wiz” to “Chicago” (as Velma Kelly). On stage in Atlanta, Guy starred in the Alliance Theatre production of Pearl Cleage’s “The Nacerima Society,” Theatrical Outfit’s production of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love” (with Kenny Leon), and she has starred in Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre productions of “Miss Evers’ Boys,” “Blues for an Alabama Sky” and “Broke-ology.” She has directed productions of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf,” “Brownie Points,” and the Martin Luther King Jr. opera, “I Dream.”

Guy is author of the book “Evolution of a Revolutionary” (Atria Books), about the life and times of Afeni Shakur, black activist and mother of slain rapper Tupac Shakur.

As a vocalist, Guy has enjoyed performing on Broadway stages in musicals and has toured the country in the one-woman show “Raisin’ Cane,” with the Avery Sharpe Trio. “Raisin’ Cane” explores the literature, music, and political climate of the Harlem Renaissance, the rich decade between World War I and the Great Depression.

In the early 1990s, Guy’s debut self-titled album (Warner Bros. Records) crossed over musical genres with her hit songs “Try Me,” “Another Like My Lover,” and “Just Wanna Hold You.”

Jasmine Guy now travels the country sharing her vast and diverse experiences with people from all walks of life. She speaks at colleges, universities, conventions, and conferences, and leads workshops on diversity, acting, and living out your dreams, your aspirations, and your calling.

Wil Haygood

Wil Haygood

“Melvin Van Peebles: The Visionary Who Dared to Conquer Hollywood”

Wil Haygood is the author of nine books, among them biographies of Sammy Davis Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. His most recent book, “COLORIZATION: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World,” was named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Critics and National Public Radio. He is a Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, and serves as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at his alma mater, Miami University, in Ohio.

A longtime national and foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer finalist, and then a national reporter for the Washington Post, Haygood has told the story of America from the angles of politics, entertainment, race, and sports. His book about White House butler Eugene Allen was adapted into the prizewinning film, “The Butler,” directed by Lee Daniels and starring, among others, Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, and David Oyelowo. Haygood served as an associate producer of “The Butler.”

In 2022, Haygood was awarded the Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, the only international literary prize based in America and given for a writer’s “enduring” body of work.

Simone Drake

Simone Drake

Simone Drake is the Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor in the Department of African American and African Studies and the Department of English at The Ohio State University. Her interdisciplinary research agenda focuses on how people of African descent in the Americas negotiate the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation through the lenses of critical race, gender, and legal studies. 

Drake also is the author of “When We Imagine Grace: Black Men and Subject Making” (University of Chicago Press 2016) and “Critical Appropriations: African American Women and the Construction of Transnational Identity” (Louisiana State University Press 2014, Southern Literary Studies Series); co-editor (with Dwan Henderson) of “Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the Twenty-First Century” (Duke University Press 2020); editor of “The Oxford Handbook on African American Women’s Writing” (in progress); and numerous journal articles and book chapters.

Most recently, Drake was the Alisa Mellon Bruce Visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art where she did research on her current book project, “Becoming Educated: A Midwest Story” that is a meditation on the intersection between law, education, visual art, and music in relationship to the desegregation of Columbus (Ohio) Public Schools.

Symposium Presenters

LaShae Boyd

LaShae Boyd was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Cleveland and Columbus. She graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design with a BFA in 2019. Boyd is a professional artist with a focus in painting and sculpture who has exhibited artwork in Columbus, Cleveland and San Francisco. Boyd has been published in 614Magazine and has been featured in Shoutout LA. Boyd is represented at Brandt-Robert Galleries in Columbus, Ohio and was recently included in an exhibition at the gallery.

David Butler

St. Louis native and Ohio-based Artist David Butler has situated himself within the figurative painting tradition. He attained his BFA at the Columbus College of Art and Design, graduated from the The University of the Arts with a MFA in Studio Art and is inspired by the figurative works of traditional narrative painters. Butler's work engages the visual essence of Black Beauty and culture. While his works over the last three years has centered Black Women, his recent focus is making paintings, drawings, installations, and time based works exploring notions of the Beauty of Black Men and their relationships to intimacy, their bodies, and the social construction of masculinity. While Touching various overlapping themes, popular culture, politics, and social justice. His work tells Black stories and showcases Black Existence as a form of power.

Along with his visual arts background, Butler has maintained twenty-year career as an educator, illustrator, and mural painter doing work for clients such as Proctor and Gamble, Google, Price Waterhouse Cooper, and Cincinnati Music Festival. He has illustrated three children’s books, and completed illustrations for multiple editorial publications. David currently works as an educator, at Art Academy of Cincinnati and He lives in Columbus, OH with his wife Erica and children Dea and Emory.

Francine Butler

Francine Butler is a Delaware educator and choreographer. Ms. Butler grew up in New York City, attending the High School of the Performing Arts (Fame) and Purchase College as a dance major. She toured with Dianne McIntyre’s Sounds in Motion Dance Company and the Allen Cathedral Liturgical Dance Ministry. Francine is a SAG-AFTRA member who has appeared in five films: A Place in Time, Hallelujah, Reckless, Beloved, and The Preacher’s Wife. She choreographs for schools, community theaters, and worship experiences. She and her husband, Mark, founded Community Arts Network (CAN), an arts non-profit. They appeared together in Arena Fair Theatre’s production of Love Letters.

Hélène Charlery

Hélène Charlery is an Associate Professor in American and Film Studies at the University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès (France). Her research focuses on the representation of intersectional identities in contemporary film and television series. Her latest publications include articles and chapters on femininity and whiteness in Jordan Peele’s Get Out and the Black murderess in Spike Lee’s Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

Mary Grace Duffy ’24

Born and raised in Delaware, OH, Mary Grace is a junior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying film. Driven by curiosity and artistic expression, she hopes to pursue a professional career in visual activism. As a storyteller and truth seeker, she has chosen photo/video documentation as her pathway to honor, celebrate, and educate those around her. Mary Grace is proud to represent Ohio Wesleyan University and Melvin Van Peebles’ legacy in her video essay and research. She will present the ways in which Van Peebles communicates the complexities of racial identity by analyzing the visual motifs and their paradoxical meanings in his films.

Pedro Oliveira Figueiredo ’26

Pedro Oliveira Figueiredo was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and grew up in Salvador, Brazil. He is a current Freshman studying Film Studies and Theatre at Ohio Wesleyan University. Pedro was one of the founders of the incredible Film Club (the first film club at OWU) and serves as Vice President of the organization. At OWU, Pedro has previously been involved in “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” (Assistant Stage Manager) and “One-Acts 2022: Dynamic Duos” (Stage Manager) and is currently part of the Ensemble of the production of “Xanadu”. Fantasy, sci-fi, and drama are among Pedro’s favorite movie genres, and he aspires to be a film director, writer, producer, and animator. While not making movies, he spends his time talking about them; for three years, he ran Cinemagos, an Instagram account about cinema, and he is excited to enter the world of video essays to analyze movies. He is very excited to be part of the Melvin Van Peebles Symposium and hopes that everyone will learn more about this iconic filmmaker and pioneer of black cinema.

Vaunita Goodman

Vaunita Goodman is an interdisciplinary artist and instructor who has been invited to present her work at The Library of Congress, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Baltimore Kissa Society, and Liberty Hall in Kingston, Jamaica. Her latest artistic endeavors have focused on the distribution, exhibition, and preservation of vinyl recordings. Goodman received commissions from both Baltimore School for the Arts and Center Stage theater to teach classes in their youth programs division. Her passionate approach caught the attention of The Making Vinyl Conference in Detroit in 2018. And in 2020 she was featured in Furnace Pressings’ Women in Vinyl blog for her cultural contributions to music preservation.

Clayton LeBouef

Clayton LeBouef is an actor best known for his roles as Colonel Barnfather in NBC’s ground-breaking series Homicide: Life On The Street; Scoogie in HBO’s miniseries The Corner; and Wendell “Orlando” Blocker in HBO’s The Wire. 

LeBouef portrayed Harold Thomas in HBO’s Something The Lord Made; portrayed Benjamin Hooks in HBO’s Show Me A Hero and received “Best Actor” honors at the San Diego Black Film Festival for his performance in Dante James’ film adaptation of Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Doll. 

In 1987, Clayton wrote, directed & co-produced Tied-Apart: A Story of Students, Singers & South Africa. The production was recognized by the ANC, other anti-apartheid groups and theater professionals. Subsequently, Clayton was invited to join the prestigious Arena Stage acting company.  Since then he’s performed Off-B’way; overseas, and at several top regional theaters.

His latest work for the stage/screen is RS/24.

Delphine Letort

Delphine Letort is a Professor of Film Studies at the University of Le Mans (France). She is the author of The Spike Lee Brand: A Study of Documentary Filmmaking and has published on a wide range of topics in Black cinema. She is the Director of the 3L.AM Research Center and an advisory member on Black Camera (Indiana Univ.).

Alex Lozupone

Alex Lozupone is a freelancer based in New York City. Lozupone worked computer programming jobs for a decade at places like DEC, Intel, Bloomberg LP, and Google, where among other things Alex learned a good deal about media and data preservation, and then, for the following decade, Alex devoted himself to more varied projects, including developing a system for doing multitrack audio recording of live music with little overhead. Alex currently leads his band Eighty-pound Pug, a band that performs his “on the fly compositions”, touching on the jazz and heavy metal genres, with a constantly changing set of players, and no rehearsals. Alex also shoots and edits multicamera video footage of local NYC music shows, has digitally archived and restored several audio and video recordings, and written occasional essays and papers. Alex has collaborated with science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany, jazz musicians Marc Edwards and Percy Jones, filmmaker/musician Rachel Mason, poet Steve Dalachinsky, and Melvin Van Peebles.

(Photo by Peter Gannushkin)

Ann Matsuuchi

Ann Matsuuchi is an instructional technology librarian and professor at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY. Research projects involve science fiction, queer theory, comic books, technology, gender, and online cultures. Ann works with educational projects that utilize Wikipedia, increasing visibility and access to archival collections, allowing public history to be collaboratively built as an open-access educational resource. Published work focuses on Samuel R. Delany’s comic book/graphic novels, a co-authored chapter on teaching Octavia E. Butler with Wikipedia for MLA’s Teaching Octavia Butler, and on Japanese American internment for Asian American reference books. Ann has also presented on topics such as the work of Samuel R. Delany, the comic book Wonder Woman, tv shows such as Doctor Who, and Asian American pop culture. Ann currently co-teaches ENG101/intro to internet studies, and manages a student project on LGBTQ history in New York City with the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.

(Photo by Paula Henderson)

Damon Mosley

Damon Mosley is a Columbus, Ohio-based writer, producer, and photography buff.

He began his writing career by submitting articles to his favorite publications while studying at Columbia University. In 1995, his first story appeared in SLAM magazine.

From there he switched gears to cartoons, authoring a comic strip called “Mosley” that was picked up for development by Universal Press Syndicate in 2005.

In 2008, Damon self-published the children’s book “l’ve Got to Have Those Shoes!” and after reading about the work of Samaritan’s Feet—a charitable organization based in Charlotte, N.C.—he pledged a portion of the proceeds from the book to support their cause. He later joined the group as they distributed thousands of pairs of shoes to needy children in Peru.

After years of developing various projects in Hollywood, Damon released a new photo book “Smile For We”—a collection of portraits dedicated to changing the stereotypical image of Black men.

Marshall Shorts

Depending on the room, Marshall Shorts shows up as an artist, designer, brand strategist, cultural organizer, advisor, or all of the above. He is the founder and principal of Artfluential, a brand & design consultancy working with people at the intersection of art, design, cultural strategy, and social justice. He is co-founder of Creative Control Fest, an annual conference centering Black creatives and a founding board member of the Maroon Arts group. He serves on multiple community boards including GCAC (Greater Columbus Arts Council) and Africentric Early College. Marshall has presented two TEDx Talks, spoken at multiple conferences, and won numerous creative and leadership awards. He takes the most pride in loving and being in service to his family, and community.

Sam Smucker

Sam Smucker is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Media School at Indiana University. His dissertation research is on the creative works and life of director and author Melvin Van Peebles during the years he lived in Paris, 1960-1968. He is the recipient of a 2023 Chateaubriand Fellowship for research on Van Peebles’ Paris years.

Shelbi “Shel10” Toone

Shel10 works independently and collaboratively to offer businesses and nonprofits a wide range of services—such as graphic design, brand development, visual strategy and project support. When you work with Shel10 you also have access to the talented members of the Columbus creative community. Serving the community as a full-service creative agency since 2010, Shel10 maintains a high level of resources and successfully works to fulfill the specific objectives of each particular project.

Shelbi “Shel10” Toone (formerly Shelbi Harris-Roseboro) is a seasoned professional with more than a decade of experience as an entrepreneur and project manager. A native of Columbus Ohio, she is known for her commitment to the arts and projects that amplify the voice of the community. Shelbi is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and then went on to earn her Masters in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. In 2010 she launched her own creative services business, Shel10, LLC. Her multifaceted range of skills has allowed her to work in industries and on projects that she is truly passionate about. She is an active community arts educator and had served as the Community Programs Manager for Ohio Alliance for Arts Education since 2014. 2018 Shelbi was brought on as the Executive Director for new south side's art gallery, All People Arts. Shelbi now serves as Project Manager for Poindexter Village Museum & Cultural Center, the 59th site of the Ohio History Connection museums and historic sites. She resides on the near east side with her husband and son.

Kathryn Weill

Kathryn Weill studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology and then completed her bachelor's and master's degrees at Philadelphia College of Art. For 40 years, she taught elementary art, woodworking, and parent education and advocated for social and emotional learning as well as bias-free teaching to decrease discrimination based on gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and family income. Inspired by others who share a commitment to changing the injustices in our society, Weill became one of the founders of the New York Women’s Foundation, a cross-cultural alliance supporting women and girls in economic, gender, and racial justice.

Weill sees and seeks to capture the radiance and light in all that she photographs.

Symposium Contact Info


Ohio Wesleyan University
61 S. Sandusky St.
Delaware, OH 43015

Symposium Co-Chairs

Antron Mahoney
Eva Paris-Huesca