Professor Halifu Osumare is currently Professor of African American and African Studies (AAS) at University of California, Davis. She was the Director of AAS from 2011-2014, has been a dancer, choreographer, arts administrator, and scholar of black popular culture for over thirty years. She has accomplished many of these roles not only in the U.S., but also in Africa in the countries of Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, and Kenya. Her teaching and writing spans the traditional African to the contemporary African American, to which her 2007 book, The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves, testifies. Her current book, The Hiplife in Ghana: West African Indigenization of Hip-Hop, was published in September 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan, and launched in Ghana and London in October 2012.
Besides her book, Dr. Osumare is a published author of several journal articles and book chapters. Her most recent publication is the book chapter, “The Dance Archeology of Rennie Harris: Hip-Hop or Postmodern,” in Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader by University of Illinois Press, 2008. She has combined her interest in Dance Studies and black popular culture in her current research agenda of exploring the many dimensions of hip-hop culture. Her research during her Fulbright Fellowship will be a continuation of her interest in the globalization of hip-hop by studying the specifics of Ghanaians’ adaptation of the youth culture in their “hip-life” music and dance scene in Accra. As a dancer in the 1970s, she was a soloist with the Rod Rodgers Dance of New York City. She is noted particularly as a Director/Choreographer with the works of poet and playwright, Ntozake Shange. After working with Ms. Shange in her pre-For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf tenure in the Bay Area, she later directed For Colored Girls, From Okra to Greens—A Different Kinda Love Story, Spell # 7, and Boogie Woogie Landscape for university theater departments and community theater groups. She has also choreographed for San Francisco’s American Conservative Theater, including Miss Ever’s Boys in 1988, August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone in 1989, and Pecong in 1993 for which she won the Bay Area Drama Critics Circle Award for choreography. Her vision of the arts, like Miss Dunham’s, is their relevance to and total involvement in the humanities.
When the development of a luxury condominium threatens a local mural depicting the diverse culture of the neighborhood, a community in a rapidly gentrifying city rallies to protect its history, voice, icons, and land.