The Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship was initiated in 1981 to foster multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The professorship brings renowned scholars and artists of distinction to MSU Denver to conduct classes, seminars, performances and lectures for students, faculty and the larger Denver community.
Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Professors have included such luminaries as Princeton Professor Cornel West, pianist Billy Taylor, author Iyanla Vanzant, former president of Spelman College Johnetta Cole, jazz singer Diane Reeves, the late actor and civil rights activist Ossie Davis and executive editor of Ebony magazine Lerone Bennett Jr.
2017 Visiting Professors
Aishah Shahidah Simmons
Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, activist, cultural worker, writer and international lecturer. An incest and rape survivor, her internationally acclaimed shorts videos, Silence…Broken and In My Father’s House explore issues of race, gender, homophobia, rape, and misogyny. She is the creator of the 2006-released JustFilms Ford Foundation-funded, internationally acclaimed and award-winning feature length film NO! The Rape Documentary. Subtitled in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, NO! explores the international atrocity of heterosexual rape and other forms of sexual violence through the first person testimonies, scholarship, spirituality, activism and cultural work of African American women and men. NO! also explores how rape is used as a weapon of homophobia. Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, says, “If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would save itself, it must complete the work that [NO!] begins.”
Simmons is a 2016-2018 Just Beginnings Collaborative Fellow where she is developing her multimedia project #LoveWITHAccountability, which examines how accountability is a powerful and necessary form of love needed to address child sexual abuse (CSA). #LoveWITHAccountability also examines how the silence around child sexual abuse in the familial institution plays a direct role in creating a culture of sexual violence in all other institutions—religious, academic, activist, political and professional. Previously, she was the 2015-2016 Sterling Brown Professor of Africana Studies at Williams College, an Adjunct Professor in the Women’s and LGBT Studies Program at Temple University, an O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at Scripps College, an Artist-in-Residence at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and an Artist-in-Residence at Spelman College’s Digital Moving Image Salon.
Simmons is an Associate Editor of the online publication The Feminist Wire (TFW) where her published, curated, and edited articles focus on archiving and documenting Black women’s herstories and contemporary realities. Her essays and articles have also been published in several anthologies including the recently released Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement anthology edited by Jennifer Patterson (Riverdale Avenue Books 2016) and Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence anthology edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers (AK Press 2014).
Simmons’ cultural work and activism have been documented extensively in a wide range of media outlets including Ms., ColorLines, The Root.com, Forbes, Crisis, Alternet, Racialicious, Left of Black, The Philadelphia Weekly, In These Times, Peace X Peace, The Chronicle of Higher Education, HuffPost Black Voices, National Public Radio (NPR), Imagine Otherwise, Pacifica Radio Network and Black Entertainment Television (BET).
Simmons has screened her work, guest lectured, and facilitated workshops and dialogues to racially and ethnically diverse audiences at colleges and universities, high schools, conferences, international film festivals, rape crisis centers, battered women shelters, community centers, juvenile correctional facilities, and government sponsored events across the United States and Canada, throughout Italy, in South Africa, France, England, Croatia, Hungary, The Netherlands, Mexico, Kenya, Malaysia, India, Switzerland, St. Croix U.S.V.I, Germany, and Cuba.