LaTesha Velez defends dissertation

Posted: July 12, 2017

Doctoral candidate LaTesha Velez successfully defended her dissertation, "James E. Shepard, The Man and His Message: A Context-Sensitive, Discourse-Historical Analysis of 'God Bless Old North Carolina," on Thursday, June 29. Her committee includes Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Professor Linda C. Smith (chair), Associate Professor Kathryn La Barre (director of research), Dianne S. Harris (dean and professor, College of Humanities, University of Utah), and Safiya Umoja Noble (MS '09, PhD '12; assistant professor, Department of Information Studies, UCLA).

From the abstract:

My research is a historical analysis of information in society that focuses on the radio address “God Bless Old North Carolina” that James E. Shepard, president and founder of the North Carolina College for Negroes (NCCN), presented in 1934. The socio-historical forces that preceded the current information environment in the United States are often researched from a Eurocentric or United States white, middle-class male perspective. When other races, classes or genders are mentioned, the typical line of inquiry still centralizes the white, European, heterosexual male viewpoint. My dissertation focuses on a little known historical figure who is one of the few African American men at the advent of institutions of higher education for blacks who was both president and founder of a university in the South during the early decades of the 20th Century and will contribute to the burgeoning body of work applying critical race theory to library and information science (LIS) history. Reorienting LIS history and using critical theories to study underrepresented populations will help to shed light on recurrent, institutionalized forms of racism still present in LIS systems today. The first step to reversing the detrimental effects of institutionalized racism within LIS is recognizing that it exists. Next, determining antecedents can help shed light on how institutional patterns are reproduced. The social forces that should be foregrounded are those that structurally uphold and reproduce white privilege and include capitalism and the educational system — the idealized versions and actual practice. 

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