Jess Usher Lecture Series

The Jess Usher Lecture Series features a carefully curated slate of dynamic presentations, drawn from a wide range of disciplines and delivered by distinguished members of the ABAC faculty. Formerly known as the ABAC Lecture Series, this special collection has been renamed in memory of Dr. Jess Usher, a beloved ABAC professor and former lecturer in the series, who passed away in June 2021. Each event is free and open to the public with no ticket required.


Dr. Sandra Giles: Mr. Pete and The Baldwin Story

Thursday, October 7, 2021
7:00 PM

George “Pete” Donaldson took educational leave in 1935 from his position as Professor of English at ABAC. Upon completing his tenure at Ohio State University to earn a Master’s in Rural Sociology, he returned to Georgia to better the recreational and educational opportunities for rural students. Dr. Giles’ lecture will explore his life as a senator, a teacher, and an activist on his path to becoming president of ABAC in 1947.

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Dr. Russel Pryor:
Making the “Alcatraz of the Piney Woods”: Prisons, Power, & Politics in 20th Century Georgia

Wednesday, February 2, 2022
7:00 PM

Crime and punishment have been contentious issues in the U.S. since before its founding. In 1937, officials established a new state prison in Reidsville, dubbed the “Alcatraz of the Piney Woods.” Dr. Pryor’s lecture will illustrate power and politics in southern prisons and explore the successful and unsuccessful attempts at prison reform in our state through the lens of this Reidsville institution.


Dr. Racheal Price:
Rediscovering Georgia Author Sarah Barnwell Elliot

Monday, November 1, 2021
7:00 PM

Georgia native Sarah Barnwell Elliott was a highly-regarded novelist in the United States at the close of the nineteenth century, but her work has since gone out of print and been largely forgotten—until now.  ABAC’s own student-staffed Horseman Press re-published her most famous work, Jerry (1891) in the spring of 2021. Dr. Price’s lecture will highlight the rediscovery of Elliott as a progressive voice in the rural South during a watershed moment in American history.

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Dr. Joesph Njoroge:
China, the United States, and Regional Hegemony in Africa: Implications for Africa’s Democracy and Economic Development

Thursday, March 17, 2022
7:00 PM

The increased Chinese attention to Africa has been one of the region’s big stories during the last decade, not least because it seemed to come just as the United States and Europe were losing interest in the continent. Major investments by China’s state-controlled companies have been accompanied by the arrival of approximately a million Chinese citizens working in Africa today. Dr. Njoroge’s lecture will discuss what these current and future developments will look like for the African continent as it navigates a relatively new relationship with China.

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