It was my great privilege to be named as the inaugural Robert A. Corrigan Visiting Professor in Social Justice in the College of Ethnic Studies during the academic year of 2016-2017. Honored by the recognition of my scholarship in African-American art history and visual cultural studies, I embraced the opportunity to actively shape my pedagogical and research agendas to the ethos of San Francisco State University’s dynamic community.
I designed and taught two undergraduate classes— “Black Art History Matters” and “Mighty Real: Writing the History of Black San Francisco Artists”—each relevant to Africana Studies Department majors and to students across the campus interested in critical thinking skill-building and writing-intensive humanities coursework. It was my pleasure to engage with traditional and non-traditional students in pursuit of self-empowering knowledge about the histories and contemporary experiences of people of color—locally, nationally and internationally. They brought curiosity to the classroom and to museum and art gallery field trips, and they distinguished themselves in conversations with artists, curators, and scholars with whom we met on and off campus.
Throughout the Corrigan year, I was grateful for my colleagues in the College of Ethnic Studies, for they generously incorporated me into their ranks and invited me to participate in the College’s programming. Vigorous discussions in lunchtime seminars, over coffee and tea, and in our offices fueled my thinking and informed my writing, which I was able to do in an airy, light-filled space generously provided by the César Chavez Institute. In this felicitous environment, my productivity exceeded my expectations as I significantly added to my publication record.
In sum, the Corrigan Professorship has been both a career milestone and career engine, and its benefits to my professional advancement and trajectory have been many.