Campus News

Stone Center welcomes 4th director

Author, filmmaker and Africana religious studies scholar LeRhonda S. Manigault-Bryant leads the Black culture and history center.

LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant
LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant (Photo by Tariq Nasir Grissom)

LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant, an acclaimed scholar of Africana religious studies and filmmaker, joined Carolina in January as the fourth director of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

Manigault-Bryant was a faculty member in the department of Africana Studies at Williams College since 2011. She joins the faculty of the African, African American and diaspora studies department within the College of Arts and Sciences.

An interdisciplinary scholar, Manigault-Bryant engages the profound questions that inform our understandings of gender, race, culture and religious expression in her work. Notably, her research and teaching center the ways that Black women throughout the diaspora engage religion and spirituality to navigate the contours of life.

Manigault-Bryant has authored and co-authored numerous works for academic and general audiences, including her first book, “Talking to the Dead: Religion, Music, and Lived Memory among Gullah/Geechee Women,” which has been featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. She also produced and directed the film “death. everything. nothing.” which garnered numerous awards and was an official selection at multiple Academy Award nominating festivals for documentary shorts.

Manigault-Bryant said she anticipates bolstering the Stone Center’s already stellar reputation for intellectual rigor and academic excellence, ensuring the fullest implementation of its mission and championing all the elements that make the Stone Center a vibrant cultural center, learning space and hub for Black life within and beyond Carolina.

“The directorship of the Stone Center allows me to remain centered in scholarship, service and teaching that foregrounds Black women’s experiences, undergirded by my work as a documentary creative,” she said.

A proud native of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Manigault-Bryant received her bachelor’s degree in history from Duke University, a Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and her doctorate in religion from Emory’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In recent years she completed a certificate in the documentary arts from Duke University and is the founder of ConjureGirlBlue Productions, a small media company celebrating nonfiction storytelling.

For her creative endeavors, Manigault-Bryant has been the recipient of independent and national grants from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Fund for Theological Education, the Ford Foundation, the Louisville Institute, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology, Emory University, Wake Forest University, Williams College and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Manigault-Bryant succeeds Joseph F. Jordan, who currently serves as vice provost for academic and community engagement, and who formerly led the Stone Center for 22 years.