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Founding Members

Dr. Stephen Chukumba and Mrs. Bridget Chukumba dancing at a party.

Dr. Stephen Chukumba

In 1972, Dr. Stephen Chukumba arrived at Trenton State College, where he structured the African history program and became one of the founders of the Afro American Studies department alongside Don Evans and Gloria Dickinson. After coming to the United States as a diplomat from Mbaise Nigeria, Chukumba sought out to develop the history aspect of African American studies and educate African Americans about their history. The first time he taught African American history was at Gallaudet College, a school for the deaf, where he stayed for two years. He was also a member of a number of civic and cultural organizations, including the Ummuna Club, American Federation of Mbaise Associations of Ummuna, Chokoneze Improvement Union and Knights of Columbus. Dr. Chukumba retired from the college, leaving the department in 1999, where Christopher Fisher then took over as Chair of the department. Dr. Chukumba sadly passed away on October 15th, in 2012. He will always be beloved by the Trenton State community and will forever be remembered for his large contributions to the current African American studies department.

Headshot of Mary Lehr-Furtado.

Donald Evans

Donald Evans had been working at the college since 1972. He was the Director of the Minority Executive Council, and was tasked with evaluating and implementing programs related to the needs of minority members of the college community. In 1973 he became the department chair of the African-American Studies (AAS) department. As a professor he taught courses in English, African American Literature, playwriting, drama and jazz. Evans is one of the founding members for the AAS and is a crucial figure in TCNJ history for breaking down racial barriers and helping everyone have a better understanding of African American culture. Outside of the college Evans, was a known playwright and an important contributor to the Black Arts movement of the 1970s. Evans won several fellowships in playwriting from the National Endowment for the Arts and other organizations.

Headshot of Mary Lehr-Furtado.

Gloria Harper Dickinson Ph.D.

She was a founding member and past chair of TCNJ’s African American Studies Department, she worked at TCNJ for over 30 years. Before this, she spent several years teaching in public schools in Camden, NJ. In 1978 she joined the African American studies faculty at TCNJ, or as it was known back then Trenton State College. Dr. Dickinson arrived at the College in 1971, teaching in the English department before joining the African-American studies faculty, where she would chair at various times throughout her tenure. She was president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History from 2001-3, and was also the former secretary and international director of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Dr. Dickinson’s interests were in Africana women, African diaspora cultures, new media pedagogies, and in strengthening and modernizing African American civil society.

Headshot of Mary Lehr-Furtado.

Kim Pearson M.A.

She started out in the English Department of TCNJ in 1990. Her magazine journalism has appeared in Black Enterprise, Emerge, and the Quarterly Black Review of Books, among other outlets. She was named the New Jersey CASE Professor of the Year in 2000. She received a B.A. from Princeton and a M.A. in journalism from New York University.