Daphne Muse Joins the Black Studies Collaboratory as Inaugural Elder-in-Residence

The Black Studies Collaboratory is honored to announce Ms. Daphne Muse as the inaugural Elder-in-Residence. Hosted under the Abolition Democracy Fellows Program, the Elder-in-Residence will take part in a year-long think tank that brings together scholars, students, artists and activists into an intellectual community dedicated to the world building power of Black studies. The Elder-in-Residence fellowship offers us an opportunity to celebrate, learn from and build upon the rich Black activist, artistic, feminist, and intellectual legacy of the Bay Area.

“Daphne Muse has long been a fixture of the Bay Area’s Black activist, cultural and intellectual community,” says Leigh Raiford, inaugural director of the Black Studies Collaboratory. “Her energy and insights have animated our department informally throughout the years. The Elder in Residence Fellow will allow us to acknowledge her contributions to building Black Studies and formalize her participation in our intellectual community.”

Daphne Muse surrounded by some of her favorite photographs in the living room of her former Oakland home. Brant Ward, 2012

Shortly after moving to the Bay area in 1971, Ms. Muse became a passionate advocate for the founding of the African American Studies department at UC Berkeley, specifically bridging local, neighborhood support for the budding program with the student momentum on campus. With a particular passion for African Diasporic history and children’s literature, Ms. Muse taught at the UC Berkeley extension school in 1972, in the UC Berkeley English department in 2000, and lectured for several years at Mills College. Over the decades, Ms. Muse has continued to be closely affiliated with the UC Berkeley African American Studies Department; she often collaborated with the department to champion Black Feminist voices through programming, such as exhibitions, speaker events, and student outreach. She worked with Dr. Barbara Christian and became a longtime friend of Dr. VeVe Clark and current professor and chair of the department Dr. Ula Taylor. These are just a few examples of Ms. Muse’s incredible embodiment of Black feminism in practice and theory; her ability to actively nurture, advocate for, and historicize Black life.

Daphne Muse (center) at an event she co-organized in honor of Rosa Parks (left). Photography by Cathy Cade/Kathy Sloane. 1970s

As an Elder in Residence, Ms. Muse will have the opportunity to continue her core commitments to education and community activism. In this capacity she will once again work alongside, be in dialogue with, and mentor artists, activists, locals, and scholars to amplify the interdisciplinary, political, and intergenerational work of Black Studies. With the support of the Abolition Democracy Fellows Program she hopes she might be able to “publish some of the reams of poems, essays, and manuscripts” she has drafted over the years. She also intends to “secure the placement of [her] collection of correspondence and related ephemera and collaborate with the faculty, graduate students, and other fellows in this program on mutually envisioned projects in the name of abolitionist democracy.” It is an immense privilege for the Black Studies Collaboratory to be able to support Ms. Muse and welcome her back into formal affiliation with the University.

Daphne Muse introduces Shirley Graham Du Bois. 1970s

About the Black Studies Collaboratory
at UC Berkeley

The Abolition Democracy Fellows Program was created as part of the Black Studies Collaboratory, a three year project made possible through a generous grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The BSC is one of 16 recipients of the Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures initiative funding in support of multi-disciplinary, humanities-led teams working to address the deep-rooted racial inequalities in our society and influence a more equitable future.
More on the Mellon Just Futures Initiative...
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