The W. Allison Davis ’24 and John A Davis ’33 Lecture

Every man, black, white, purple or green, must exercise his faculties with some degree of fullness, if he is to feel any sense of repayment for living.
—W. Allison Davis

The W. Allison Davis 1924 and John A. Davis 1933 Lecture commemorates the remarkable work of the two distinguished scholars for which the Center is named. The Davis Brothers who, throughout their adult lives, made important contributions to equal rights and opportunities in the United States. Allison Davis, the valedictorian of the Class of 1924, was a pioneer in the social anthropological study of class and caste in the American South. John A. Davis pursued wide-ranging political science work on race in both the United States and Africa. The Davis Lecture is delivered each year by a scholar whose work concentrates on some aspects of race, class, or education in the United States.

DR

Dorothy E. Roberts

Policing Black Women: The Urgency of Reproductive Justice

October 18, 2022

Dorothy Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at University of Pennsylvania, with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also Founding Director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society. An internationally acclaimed scholar, public intellectual, and social justice activist, Roberts has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of race, gender, and class inequities in U.S. institutions and has been a leader in transforming thinking on reproductive justice, child welfare, and bioethics. She is author of the award-winning Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (1997); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (2001); and Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (2011), as well as more than 100 articles and book chapters, including “Race” in the 1619 Project. Her latest book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—And How Abolition Can Build a Safer World (2022), culminates more than two decades of investigating racism in family policing and calls for a radically reimagined way to support children and their families.  

Roberts has served on the boards of directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Center for Genetics & Society, Juvenile Law Center, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, and her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Fulbright Program, Harvard Program on Ethics & the Professions, and Stanford Center for the Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. Recent recognitions of her work include 2022 election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; 2022 Juvenile Law Center Leadership Prize; 2019 Honorary Doctor of Law Degree, Rutgers University-Newark; 2019 Voice of Vision Award, New Voices for Reproductive Justice; 2017 election to the National Academy of Medicine; 2016 Society of Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award; and 2015 American Psychiatric Association Solomon Carter Fuller Award.

Dr. Thema Bryant Davis

Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis

Liberation Psychology: Mental Health and Wholeness for Black, Indigenous and People of Color

October 26, 2021

Dr. Thema Bryant completed her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Duke University and her post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical Center’s Victims of Violence Program. Upon graduating, she became the Coordinator of the Princeton University SHARE Program, which provides intervention and prevention programming to combat sexual assault, sexual harassment, and harassment based on sexual orientation. She is currently a tenured professor of psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University, where she directs the Culture and Trauma Research Laboratory. Her clinical and research interests center on interpersonal trauma and the societal trauma of oppression. She is a past president of the Society for the Psychology of Women and a past APA representative to the United Nations. Currently she serves as the elected Vice President and Racial Equity Officer for her neighborhood council in Los Angeles. Dr. Thema also served on the APA Committee on International Relations in Psychology and the Committee on Women in Psychology.

The American Psychological Association honored her for Distinguished Early Career Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest in 2013. The Institute of Violence, Abuse and Trauma honored her with their media award for the film Psychology of Human Trafficking in 2016 and the Institute honored her with the Donald Fridley Memorial Award for excellence in mentoring in the field of trauma in 2018. The California Psychological Association honored her for Distinguished Scientific Achievement in Psychology in 2015. She is the editor of the APA text Multicultural Feminist Therapy: Heling Adolescent Girls of Color to Thrive. She is one of the foundational scholars on the topic of the trauma of racism and in 2020, she gave an invited keynote address on the topic at APA. In 2020, the International Division of APA honored her for her International Contributions to the Study of Gender and Women for her work in Africa and the Diaspora. Dr. Thema has raised public awareness regarding mental health by extending the reach of psychology beyond the academy and private therapy office through community programming and media engagement, including but not limited to Headline News, National Public Radio, and CNN.

Previous Davis Lecturers:

  • Dr. Ruha Benjamin
  • Ned Blackhawk
  • Dr. Beverly Wright
  • Monique W. Morris
  • Sonia Sanchez
  • Donna Murch
  • Ted Shaw
  • Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  • Danielle Allen
  • Robin D.G. Kelley
  • Angela Riley
  • Richard Thompson Ford
  • Charles H. Long
  • Pedro Noguera
  • Dorothy Roberts
  • Patricia Williams
  • Johnetta Cole
  • Frank Wu
  • Richard Rodriguez
  • Manning Marable
  • Michael Dorris
  • Ishmael Reed
  • Charles Joyner
  • David Levering Lewis
  • Lloyd Richards
  • Margaret Wilkinson
  • Toni Cade Bambara
  • Joseph E. Harris
  • Cornel West