Howard Rambsy II, Ph.D.“I want to be a force for real good.” —John Coltrane
W.W.J.C.D? What Would John Coltrane Do? It’s a question I have asked myself for years now, and discovering answers has guided my endeavors. For Coltrane, creativity, consistency, practice, and eclecticism were central to his vision and life’s work. In order to emulate Trane, I have had to find ways to become “a force for real good” in my activities as a scholar, writer, and curator of mixed media exhibits.
I am an associate professor of literature and director of the Black Studies Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I earned my B.A. in English and history at Tougaloo College in Mississippi in 1999, and completed my Ph.D. in literature at Pennsylvania State University in 2004.
I have covered a range of subjects in my research, including Richard Wright, African American poetry, Gayl Jones, Colson Whitehead, and the comic strip and cartoon The Boondocks. My writings have appeared in African American Review, The Southern Quarterly, Black Issues Book Review, The Crisis magazine, and Mississippi Quarterly. My book The Black Arts Enterprise (The University of Michigan Press) focuses on a defining African American literary and cultural movement of the 1960s and 1970s that involved figures such as Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and Nikki Giovanni.
Over the last several years, I curated several visual and audio exhibits featuring African American poetry and photographs from the extensive Eugene B. Redmond Collection. The exhibits have appeared in East St. Louis, Illinois, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, New York City, New York, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Ibadan, Nigeria.
As the director of the Black Studies Program, I have collaborated with talented crews of designers, writers, lyricists, and scholars to produce more than 100 public arts and humanities projects. I blog about literary art, cultural events, technology, and ideas on our black studies blog.