News and Notes

Black American Experiences in Nature

We’ve been working on our reading list to make sure that students are aware of the diversity of voices and perspectives in biodiversity science and the conservation movement. We would LOVE your suggestions for our growing list of great reads, listens, and videos.

Cover Author: Camille Dungy

Among many outstanding authors and leaders who identify as Black American, Drew Lanham, Deja Perkins, Camille Dungy, and Lauret Savoy are exceptional nature writers. Camille Dungy’s has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship for her poetry. In addition to being an outstanding writer, she’s editor of the amazing collection, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Native Poetry.

Featured Author:  J. Drew Lanham

Dr. Lanham is Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, admired for his teaching and research, and very well-known as an advocate and proponent of diversifying the bird-watching community. His memoir The Home Place references Rachel Carson and E.O. Wilson, and is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing on the meaning of land and the biodiversity it nurtures since Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac.

Dr. Lanham is also active on social media, sharing his humorous take on the challenges faced by black birders, in conversation with young black birders during the first BlackBirders Week, and appearing with Jason Ward in the series Birds of North America. Jason’s entire series is well worth viewing to see an up and coming birder and conservationist in action.

Featured Author:

Lauret Savoy is Professor in Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College. Like most Americans, Professor Savoy contains multitudes of identities, including Black American and Native American. In her book Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape, she uses her own family’s multigenerational history to explore the American landscape to reveal how racial and environmental imbalance permeates the very names we give places.

Up and Coming: Deja Perkins

Deja Perkins of NC State is another up and coming leader in the Black American conservation community who also participated in BlackBirders week. Her research focuses on documenting patterns in urban biodiversity, and community engagement with nature. Here’s a recent talk she gave for Audubon. Visit Deja’s personal website to learn more about her work as an urban ecologist.

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