Master Drummer of Sangbarala, Guinea, West Africa


Namory Keita, Master Drummer, is a sought after teacher and performer with a unique style and a wealth of traditional knowledge very rare to find outside the villages of Guinea. His resources include not only his wonderful ability to engage any audience but also his relationships with dancers and drummers locally and around the world.


Drums of West Africa

Namory's presentation builds bridges of understanding and acceptance through engaging audiences in the musical art forms of the Humana region, West Africa.

Executive Director, H.O.M.E., Inc.


Tracey is the Executive Director of H.O.M.E., Inc., a non-profit organization serving homeless and low-income families where she has worked for the last eighteen years. Homeless for most of her childhood, she was raised by her mother, who was a sex worker with a serious addiction. Tracey came to Maine as a teenager from Australia twenty-seven years ago where she met her spouse. She has spent decades working towards citizenship and advocating for fair treatment for LGTBQ+ couples under immigration law. Now a citizen, Tracey is a member of boards across Maine advising on challenges impacting the daily lives of people in poverty.


Impossible Choices

The Unites States is peopled by the displaced and divided by belonging. Who it accepts and who it rejects have been basic questions throughout the country’s history—the ramifications reach into our homes and relationships. This talk offers a lived perspective of an LGTBQ+ woman at the intersection of two marginalized communities and shares her two-decade long journey through the family-based immigration system. The talk unpacks a system that presents impossible choices for LGTBQ+ families at every turn and examines what has been done and what work is still needed to achieve immigration equality.

Homelessness and Poverty

Tracey is a survivor of homelessness and an active witness to poverty. This talk offers insight into her experience of homelessness and work as a homeless services provider, covers the homeless response system, and tells her personal journey out of violence and trauma into safe, stable housing.

Domestic Violence and Its Impact on Children

By the time she was 13, Tracey had gone to twenty-three schools—following the domestic violence shelter system up and down the East coast of Australia. This talk focuses on her journey—being raised by a single mother who worked as a sex worker—and covers impacts of domestic violence on children and traumas carried into adulthood. Tracey's talk allows audiences to understand the system of domestic violence from the 1980s until today and highlights the role women and mentors play in this important work.

George Lincoln Skolfield, Jr. Professor of Religion, Bowdoin College


Robert Morrison is George Lincoln Skolfield, Jr. Professor of Religion at Bowdoin College in the United States. A scholar of science in Islamic societies and Jewish cultures, he is currently finishing a book on cultural exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean. His teaching includes courses on astrology, Islam, Judaism, science and religion, and religion and the environment.


Decolonizing Nature in Afrofuturism

Nature often seems to be a good thing. Mother nature deserves our respect and natural foods are better than processed foods. Nature can often be a refuge from the crazy world around us. Yet ‘nature’ is not a neutral or universal term.

In the New Testament, homosexual sex is condemned as contrary to nature. In the United States, the history of the national parks is far from pristine. This talk focuses on the Afrofuturist film Space is the Place as a source for an alternative refuge, space, and Octavia Butler’s alternative, challenging presentation of the non-human world in Parable of the Sower.

Religion and Nature in Parable of the Sower

In Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower, natured is portrayed as being harsh. While day still follows night and food sometimes comes forth from the ground, precipitation is unpredictable and animals are even more emboldened to attack humans.

This talk explores how a breakdown of natural order coincides with a breakdown of human society and a re-evaluation of morality. We will also investigate how Butler’s protagonist, Lauren Olamina, theorizes a new God for the dystopian world she lives in. Her challenging ideas empower her and her younger, previously marginalized companions.

Professor of Literature, University of Maine-Farmington


Michael K. Johnson teaches courses in American literature, multicultural literature, and African American literature. He is the author of several books, including a biography of Montana-born African American singer Taylor Gordon, "Can’t Stand Still: Taylor Gordon and the Harlem Renaissance," published in 2019.

Along with Kalenda Eaton and Jeannette Jones, Johnson is the co-editor of “New Directions in Black Western Studies,” a special issue of the "Journal of American Studies." Most recently he is a co-editor (with Kerry Fine, Rebecca Lush, and Sara Spurgeon) of "Weird Westerns: Race, Gender, Genre.” Johnson has been living in Maine for 22 years and is originally from Tennessee.


James Weldon Johnson and the Spirituals Revival of the 1920s

Civil rights activist and poet James Weldon Johnson was also a major figure in early twentieth-century music. Co-writer with brother J. Rosamond Johnson of the enduring anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Johnson also helped bring about a revolution in the understanding and reception of African American spirituals in the 1920s as a serious and distinctively American contribution to world folk music. My talk examines the impact of The Book of American Negro Spirituals, an anthology of spirituals collected and arranged by the Johnson brothers and promoted nationally and internationally by a series of concerts featuring tenor Taylor Gordon.

Afrofuturist Westerns

Afrofuturism looks both backwards and forwards, taking into account the realities of the African American past as it also maps out the African American future. My talk looks at the way Afrofuturist texts use the science fiction convention of time travel to reexamine an often forgotten element of American history: African American experience in the American West. Time travel adventures to the historical West help us remember Black western heroes (such as U. S. Marshal Bass Reeves) and offer new perspectives on the tragedies of Black western history (such as the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921).

Life Writing and the Recovery of African American History

Biographical writing has often replicated social hierarchies, telling the stories of famous figures and “great men” and ignoring the life histories of women and people of color. Drawing on my own biographical writing about the African American Gordon family (who were pioneer settlers in Montana), my talk argues for the importance of biography as means of recovering historical African American figures whose stories have been neglected. The stories of siblings Taylor and Rose Gordon, respectively a nearly-forgotten singer and a contributing writer to a Montana newspaper, reveal the value of listening for the voices that biographical writing too often doesn’t hear.