Jonathan Freeman

Hometown: Memphis, TN
College: The Graduate School
Pursuing Degree: Ph.D. in American Studies 

Inspired by his first trip to Cape Town, South Africa as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow in 2011, Jonathan's research examines the role of African-American musical recording artists in the anti-apartheid movement. This fall, he will travel to South Africa on a Fulbright, taking advantage of the numerous archives there to complete his research. Of Jonathan, Director of American Studies, Dr. Rayvon Fouche, comments, “He is committed to producing work that is intellectually meaningful, socially valuable, and culturally significant.” 

Growing up in Memphis, Kansas City, and the Mississippi Delta, Jonathan says, “my childhood experiences were unique, having lived in different regions of the country where local music, soul, histories, and narratives of black life became an integral part of my persona…by age 14, I had become fascinated with social injustices, black liberation struggles abroad, and protest music from the Civil Rights era and post-civil rights era.” 

In addition to his studies, Jonathan serves as the Vice Chair of Development for the Mellon Mays Professional Network. Reflecting on his experience as an undergraduate fellow, he says, “I gained graduate level research training, faculty mentorship, and invaluable experiences conducting research on South Africa and presenting at regional conferences.” He hopes to continue to mentor undergraduate fellows while at the University of Witswatersrand in South Africa.

Jonathan has received numerous awards and grants, including the Howard Zinn Memorial Research Award and a Social Science Research Council Graduate Studies Enhancement Grant. After completing his PhD, he plans to enter the professoriate, bringing his unique perspective to educating others about African American history and transnational social movements while contributing to both transnational scholarship and policy. Bill Mullen, Professor of American Studies at Purdue, says, “Mr. Freeman is a person of tremendous professional integrity…and will indeed serve as a brilliant ‘ambassador’ for Purdue” during his Fulbright year.

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