Video featuring Alysia Burton Steele, shot and produced by Red Penn Media, 2015.
Photo by Bobby D. Steele, Jr., 2015
Talking with a Delta Jewel highlighted in my book.
For more than half of my life, I have been fascinated with storytelling.
When I was a teenager, Mom encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming a photojournalist. How blessed was I to have that support? She let me roam the downtown streets in Philly, PA, and gave me enough physical space so that I felt independent and creative. From that love and support, I evolved into a photojournalist, photo editor, and deputy director of photography. Now, I am an associate professor, where I care deeply about my students' successes. I want them to explore the world and get out of their comfort zone.
In 2014, I challenged myself with a personal project that later became a book - "Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother's Wisdom." It was released nationwide in April 2015. I drove 6,000 miles in the Mississippi Delta and interviewed 54 African American church women elders about life in Mississippi during the Jim Crow era, including Civil Rights icon Mrs. Myrlie Evers-Williams. I had the time of my life learning from them.
When not teaching or working on my next two books, I am earning my Ph.D. in U.S. History Since the Civil War, focusing on the Civil Rights Movement. minoring in Gender Studies and African American Studies. My work focuses on women's labor. Expecting to defend in 2023.