A historian, digital archivist, world traveler, and the founder of "Your Heritage Matters," Rhonda brings you unscripted, engaging storytelling for the rest of us. Tune in to hear conversations with ordinary, yet extraordinary culturally diverse people doing inspirational, uplifting, and amazing things.
Michael Verville is a Public Historian who specializes in historic preservation and restoration. A third-generation drywall and plaster tradesman, Michael learned about building and construction from his grandfather and uncles. In this interview, Michael discusses how, after working several years as a manual laborer, he faced a cross-road about his future and strategized how to improve his work-life balance. With the encouragement of his supportive wife Hilary, he rationalized his educational pursuits by first obtaining his graduate equivalency diploma (GED). Motivated by an interest in History, he enrolled in North Carolina Central University to become a k-12 teacher. Michael was an older student and a committed scholar who quickly acclimated to the academy. His academic success led to his participation in the UNC-MURAP (Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program) summer research fellowship. After earning a bachelor’s degree in History, he enrolled in the graduate Public History program at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where he honed his craft in preservation. After spending five years of marketing and executing programs for the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, in 2018, Michael and Hilary founded Verville Interiors & Preservation. As the lead craftsman, Michael repairs historic cemetery monuments. Michael’s wanderlust and incurable interest in restoring historic environments have led him to study stone masonry throughout the United States and Stirling, Scotland. When not traveling, he spends his spare time at home in Oxford, North Carolina, with Hilary and their five beagles. Currently, he serves as President of Duke Homestead Education & History Corporation and on the Board of Directors of Historic Eagle Lodge Foundation. He is a proud Freemason, member of Eagle Lodge #19 in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and a former Ambassador of the Masonic Home for Children at Oxford.
29-year-old Abdoulaye Samete is a creative, social entrepreneur whose work environmental and business activities impact lives by being a positive change in his community. After making the difficult decision to discontinue his studies in American Literature at Cheikh Anta Diop University he was guided to other avenues to cultivate a more sustainable world. He is the co-founder of PermaSchool, a non-profit ecological organization that plants trees in schools. He also co-founded Teranga Legacy, which promotes academic and cultural exchange programs with students from over 100 American Universities and High Schools with the Council of International Educational Exchange (C.I.E.E). He also owns a fashion brand called Sam_And_Jo, which emphasizes local consumption. Having earned a diploma in business and entrepreneurship at the US embassy Dakar, he had the opportunity to become part of a training session at the American Center Dakar (ACD). That experience led him to his participation in the YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) program, an entrepreneurial leadership training program for young people between the ages of 18 and 35. With more than 60% of the population in Senegal being under the age of 25, the YALI program in sub-Saharan Africa provides in-person and online training, networking, and professional development opportunities.
RJ Ramey is the founder & Creative Director of Auut Studio, which produced the digital project MonroeWorkToday.org. Based in San Francisco, California, the studio was started in 2015 to raise the bar on creating digital resources for history teachers and museums. Highlighting the intellectual history of people of color, Auut Studio is unique for embracing creative new methods that inspire and encourage young people to use media to create and critically analyzed their own interpretations of the past. In 2019 RJ launched "PlainTalkHistory.com" a collaborative umbrella among scholars, history teachers, and digital designers. Guided by a Board of Advisors, Auut Studio voluntarily develops or redesigns websites, lesson plans, and other teaching activities that are accessible via tablet or smartphone. RJ is on a mission with #PlainTalkHistory to eliminate the technical barrier that keeps us from designing the curricula materials we've all been waiting for.
A creative technology professional, Olivia Dorsey Peacock’s varied experiences have given her a broad understanding of what’s possible with technology. Having earned BS and MS degrees in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a minor in African American Studies, Olivia developed a digital community archive for the Marian Cheek Center for Saving and Making History and Culture and "Franklin Memories" a digital archive of historical photos from families in Franklin, North Carolina, which includes her own ancestral line. As a web developer, she specializes in the creation of family history websites and blogs. Her ultimate goal is to minimize obstacles to learning and researching African American [Family] History. Last year, she launched “Digital Black History,” a searchable directory of Black History projects, and “Unlock the Records,” an interactive guide that helps one research African American ancestors. She is also the host of "GenTech," a new YouTube series that shares methods for using technology to help people research, collaborate, and share their family history in new ways. Currently, she is hard at work redesigning "Franklin Memories" and continuing to develop new digital tools to aid in Black History and genealogy research. Learn more about Olivia’s work at OliviaPeacock.com
A dedicated scholar, who is deeply committed to education and language arts, Fatou Diop is a Master's level 2 student specializing in American literature, Pan Africanism, and Caribbean Studies at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in Dakar, Senegal. In the interview, Fatou speaks candidly about Islamaphobia and the challenges of living in a patriarchal society. A masterful polyglot, she works as a study abroad coordinator at the West African Research Center (WARC). In addition to her course work, Fatou covers local stories as a reporter and director at Infoslinetv, an independent television station. Passionate about being a positive role model for her peers, she provides mentoring and serves as an advisor for Queen Sheba Village, a nonprofit human rights organization that empowers women and girls in M'Bour, Senegal. When she's not studying, working, and mentoring, Fatou spends her leisure time learning Spanish, reading literature, and writing poetry,
Patricia E. Harris is a registered architect and the President of The Harris Collaborative, PLLC, located in Durham, North Carolina. A graduate of Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, Pat received a Master of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a builder and master planner, Pat is highly experienced in planning, programming, design, group facilitation, and construction. She has designed and constructed numerous new homes and renovations and served as an advisor to several organizations. Her private homes reflect her belief that buildings are to nurture and uplift the human spirit through judicious use of natural lighting, appropriate materials, and attention to functional relationships. Since relocating to Durham in 1990, Pat joined the Freelon Group architectural firm and served two terms on the Durham City/County Planning Commission. During her tenure, she served on committees to review zoning changes, the development of small area plans and developed the Durham County's 2020 Master Plan. She ended her tenure in 1998 as Chair of the Zoning Committee and Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission. She is also the former State Vice President of the NC Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), of which she was a founding member. In 1995 she founded The New Synergy, Inc. to provide architecture and planning for institutional, municipal, and private clients focusing in the areas of community revitalization, historic preservation, and innovative new construction through appropriate technologies. The firm participated in both private and public planning efforts and performed award-winning full architecture services on several significant endeavors including designing the new Town Hall for Princeville, NC, the first town in the U.S. incorporated by African-Americans; City Place, the first adaptive reuse project for the Durham Central Park area; the award-winning campus-wide restoration and renovation of 15 buildings at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC; and other educational and municipal endeavors. In 2005, Ms. Harris closed The New Synergy, Inc. after ten years of success and receiving over 25 awards including Small Business of the Year award twice in separate categories and inclusion in the National Registry of Peer Professionals. In 2006, Ms. Harris formed The Harris Collaborative, PLLC, to provide consulting services in the areas of planning and architecture. She has performed professional services for the new Durham Performing Arts Center and the new Durham County Judicial Building; programming and schematic design for adaptive reuse of a 100,000 s.f. former school to provide recreation activities, vocational training, and a health clinic; advanced planning for an Enrichment Center which will provide recreation and educational tutoring services; several economic revitalization projects, and other community and municipal based endeavors. Ms. Harris’ community involvement has included service on the Loan Review Committee for the NC Association of Community Development Corporations, the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation Board, the Historic Preservation Society of Durham, the Architectural Advisory Committee for Durham Technical College, and the Downtown Durham, Inc. Board of Directors. She also visits and lectures to various community organizations, colleges/universities, and schools to present information about minorities and women in architecture.
Marcellaus A. Joiner is the Supervising Librarian for the Heritage Research Center for the High Point Public Library as well as the Archivist for the High Point Museum. His main area of focus is to coordinate collaborative efforts between HRC and Museum staff to create and implement digitization initiatives to facilitate online access to local history and genealogy materials in both collections. He holds a BA degree in History from North Carolina A&T State University and a Masters of Library Science degree from North Carolina Central University. Marcellaus is currently a member of the Society of American Archivist, the American Library Association, the North Carolina Library Association, and the Society of North Carolina Archivist. He is currently serving as the chair of the Round Table for Ethnic Minority Concerns (REMCo) section of the North Carolina Library Association. He has served on the State Historical Records Advisory Board (2013-2016), and currently on the Advisory Board for Digital Library of American Slavery at UNCG. Previous experience consists of being the Digital Project Archivist for Thomas F. Holgate Library at Bennett College, Digital Project Manager for the Ensuring Democracy Project for the State Library of North Carolina, and Digital Archivist assistant for D.H. Hill Special Collections at North Carolina State University.
A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Dr. Armondo Collins holds a Ph.D. in English Composition and Rhetoric. With research interests centered on African-American rhetoric and literary studies, he has authored publications about Black masculinity, African American religion, and Black Nationalist rhetoric. Currently serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the African-American and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, he also directs the Digital Media Commons in Jackson library. Adamant about the need to tell one's own story, he recently visited his city to interview his friends and local residents for a mini-doc series that explores the community's response to George Floyd's murder and the history of the over-policing of Black bodies.
Queen Sheba Cisse is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. A native of Mobile, Alabama Queen Sheba's spiritual leanings nurtured her intellectual growth and led to her to find love, personal fulfillment, and her true passion to work on behalf of women and girls. In 2013, she founded Queen Sheba Village https://queenshebavillage.org/, a nonprofit organization that focuses its humanitarian efforts on education, micro-finance entrepreneurship, health & hygiene training, and education. Currently, QSV is constructing an empowerment center to help train women and girls in Mbour, Senegal.
Passionate about creating opportunities for others, Monifa Pendleton has a generous nature. A woman of many talents and gifts, she is a global visionary who believes in living her life to the fullest. Her ambition to live an ex-pat life in France and West Africa was inspired by her mother's sense of wanderlust. Confident, poised, and blessed with refinement she has a radiating smile that garners compliments from everyone around her. Whether it's having an eye for fashion, seeking epicurean delights, or mastering the art of travel Monifa recognizes beauty in everything.
Conversations that reflect the power of personal and communal real-world experiences that transports and connects us to art, history, cultural heritage, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and digital technology.