People

The Scarlet and Black Research Center convenes researchers and practitioners across the humanities to examine the global dimensions of anti-Black racism. The center is an arm of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice (ISGRJ) at Rutgers University.


Director

Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Erica Armstrong Dunbar is the Charles and Mary Beard Distinguished Professor of History and the inaugural New Brunswick Campus Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice. She leads the Scarlet and Black Research Center as her signature project at ISGRJ. Dr. Dunbar holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is a scholar of African American women’s history, urban slavery, and emancipation studies with a specialization in late 18th-century and early 19th-century history. She is the national director of the Association of Black Women Historians.

Digital Archivist / Research Project Manager

Jesse Bayker

Jesse Bayker serves as our Digital Archivist and Research Project Manager. He curates the Scarlet and Black Digital Archive and manages our research projects and cross-institutional collaborations through the Universities Studying Slavery consortium, including the New Jersey Slavery Records digital portal. He is a digital humanities practitioner and a scholar of 19th-century gender, LGBT history, and African American history in New Jersey. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Rutgers University.


Scarlet and Black Postdoctoral Fellows

Adam Biggs

Adam Biggs is a historian of race, medicine, and civil rights. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Harvard University. His current book project, Strange Cures: Black Doctors, Harlem Hospital, and the New Negro in American Medicine, 1919-1935, examines the desegregation of Harlem Hospital and explores how early twentieth century Black doctors used professional medicine to advocate for racial improvement.

Khemani Gibson

Khemani Gibson earned his Ph.D. in history from New York University, with a focus on the African Diaspora. His research examines conceptualizations of freedom and citizenship in the late 19th and early 20th-century Caribbean. He is an academic and community organizer who works to bridge the gap between the academy and marginalized communities.


Affiliated Scholars

Deborah Gray White

Deborah Gray White is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She is a scholar of African American and American women’s history, with a focus on issues of identity and the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality. From 2016 to 2021, she co-directed the research for the three-volume Scarlet and Black book series about the history of race at Rutgers University, laying the cornerstone for the creation of the Scarlet and Black Research Center in 2021. She is now a Distinguished Faculty Fellow at ISGRJ where she continues working with the Scarlet and Black Research Center, particularly with a focus on building a deep and healthy relationship with Black alumni of Rutgers.

Kendra Boyd

Kendra Boyd is an Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University–Camden. She is a scholar of African American history, focusing on 20th-century racial capitalism, Black business, urban history, and migration. She is the co-editor of Scarlet and Black, Volume 2: Constructing Race and Gender at Rutgers, 1865–1945, and has been working with the Scarlet and Black research project since its inception. She is currently leading the Black Camden Oral History Project in collaboration with the Scarlet and Black Research Center and the Rutgers Oral History Archives. She holds a Ph.D. in History from Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

Kristin O'Brassill-Kulfan

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan is Assistant Teaching Professor and Coordinator of Public History at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She is public historian and scholar of early American social and legal history, with a focus on poverty, mobility, crime, and punishment. She contributes to the public history aspects related to Scarlet and Black, including our historical markers for campus landmarks. She helps create opportunities for undergraduate students to contribute to our work, and we encourage undergraduate students to contact her to discuss the Public History Internship Program. Dr. O’Brassill-Kulfan holds a Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Leicester.

Yesenia Barragan is Assistant Professor of Latin American History at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. She specializes in the transnational histories of race, slavery, emancipation, and social movements in Afro-Latin America and the African diaspora in the Americas. She holds a Ph.D. in Latin American History from Columbia University. She is the co-convener of the Slavery + Freedom Studies Working Group at ISGRJ.


Graduate Research Assistants

A.J. Boyd

A.J. Boyd is a doctoral student in African American history. She earned her B.A. from Indiana University Bloomington in History and African American & African Diaspora Studies. Her current project examines Black women’s community-making in the 1940s Women’s Army Corps.

Sarah Coffman

Sarah Coffman is a doctoral student who studies the history of housing and African American organizing for equitable housing in Philadelphia during the twentieth century. She received her B.A. in History and African American studies from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois in 2021.

Ashley Council

Ashley Council received her B.A. in English from Kennesaw State University and her M.A. in African American studies from Morgan State University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in African American history. Her research focuses on nineteenth-century black women and questions of intimacy and autonomy.

Lindsey Dixon

Lindsey Dixon is a doctoral student in the history program, studying Black women’s history and racial violence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She earned her B.A. in political science from Howard University in May 2022.

Isaac Guzmán

Isaac J. Guzmán is a doctoral student in the Department of History. His research explores enslaved drivers in the early Black Atlantic. Guzmán received a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University in 2021. 

Adam McNeil

Adam Xavier McNeil is a Ph.D. Candidate in Early African American Women’s History focusing on Black Tidewater women’s labor during the American Revolutionary Era. McNeil previously earned degrees in African American History from Florida A&M University and Simmons College.

Shirley Paxton Fofang

Shirley Paxton Fofang is a doctoral student studying 19th century African American history. She graduated with a B.A. from Yale University in History and Ethnicity, Race, & Migration. Her research interests include gradual emancipation, African American emigrationist movements, and the aftereffects of the Haitian Revolution. Shirley is also interested in public history and museums.