May 16, 2002 – The Politics of Being Both Black and Indian


Melinda Micco
Edward Hohfeld Professor and Associate Professor in Ethnic Studies, Mills College

Don’t Call Us Black . . . We are Seminole Freedman: History and Identity of African and Native Americans

Poetry Reading 

Jennifer Lisa Vest
Poet & Visiting Scholar in the Center for the Study of Women at UCLA

Thursday, May 16 |Oakes College, Mural Room | 4:00 p.m.

Reception afterwards

Melinda Micco (Seminole/Creek/Choctaw) received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on multiracial identity in American Indian and African American communities, primarily in the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma where she is enrolled. She is working with her tribe to secure a multimillion dollar claim against the United States to return assets for tribal members from mineral rights. She has served as historian and consultant for the tribe and for two documentary films about Black Seminoles. Dr. Micco’s other areas of research include: indigenous women; colonial history of American Indians; film portrayals of people of color; and comparative racial theories. She is the author of numerous articles and essays including: “Inside-Outside Stories and Seminole Racial Posture” in the forthcoming book Pretending To Be Me: Ethnic Transvestism and Cross-Writing, which she co-edits; “To Be or Not to be Indian”: Construction of Identity for Native and African Americans” in African Americans and Native Americans: Explorations in Narrative, Place and Identity (forthcoming); “Empire-Building and the Construction of Black Seminole Identity” in Crossing Waters, Crossing Paths: Black and Indian Journeys in the Americas (forthcoming). She is working on a book entitled A Nation Divided: Black Seminoles in Oklahoma which will examine Black and Indian contemporary communities.

Jennifer Lisa Vest is a Mixedblood (Black and Indian) poet born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She received her Ph.D. in Native Studies from UC Berkeley. She has been involved in organizing a number of artists’ collectives including the Berkeley group, Women of Mixed Heritage, and the D.C. groups, Daughters of the Dream (for Black women artists) and Divination (for Black women writers). In 1993 she returned to the Bay Area to form Four Corners Collective, a collective of mixed heritage artists. She has had her poetry published in two journals, The Fire This Time, and Ache and in four anthologies including Testimonies; Fast Talk; High Volume; Out of Many, One; and Face America. She has performed in and produced poetry readings and mixed media events throughout the Bay Area, Washington DC, New York, Connecticut, Boston, and Atlanta and was a member of the 1997 San Francisco Slam Team that competed in the nationals. Names, her first collection of poetry, was published by Indigenous Speak in Berkeley, CA in 1997. She is currently working on a second collection of poetry entitled Ancestor Count.
Sponsored by Native Research Cluster