Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, B.A. 2000

Dan T. Blue Endowed Chair of Political Science, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

2000 Major: Political Science and African & African American Studies

How has being an African & African American Studies graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

The African & African American Studies degree profoundly shaped my professional trajectory. In my second year, I took a class on Afro-Brazilian History and Culture taught by Dr. John French. Before taking the course, I was interested in Latin America and had many opportunities to travel to Latin America to conduct research and engage in community service opportunities. After Dr. French's course, I was committed to research or work in Brazil. After Duke, I pursued a Master of Public Policy degree at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and took an independent study course focused on race and politics in Brazil. After graduating from the University of Michigan, I pursued a PhD in political science at the University of Chicago focused on Afro-Brazilian political behavior. After my doctoral degree I taught at a number of institutions and some of my most rewarding work has been serving as the national co-coordinator (with Dr. Jim Green) of the US Network for Democracy in Brazil. I am also on the Board of Directors of the Washington Brazil Office. I owe much of my trajectory to Duke's AAAS. 

What advice would you give students in Duke's African & African American Studies programs?

My advice is to know that change is possible. Change may not always come at an institutional level but small changes matter and are important. Stay focused on the liberation of Black people and build solidarity and coalitions when possible. Building coalitions throughout the African Diaspora can create small changes that have a significant impact on the lives of African descended people.

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