Michele Valerie Ronnick

Michele Valerie Ronnick

Distinguished Professor

313-577-6243 (fax)


305 Manoogian Hall

Curriculum vitae

Social media




Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Michele Valerie Ronnick

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Latin literature

  • Classical tradition/ classical reception

  • Classica Africana a.k.a. black classicism

  • History of classical philology

  • Cicero

  • Juvenal

  • Horace


My brief biography of Dr. James I. A. Eezzuduemoi a Nigerian-born scholar who was educated in Greece and who published a comprehensive textbook for ancient Greek in 2009.

Dr. Rhiannon Ash, University of Oxford on my photo installation on Black classicists (PDF) now touring the U.K.

Brown: William Sanders Scarborough, son of a slave who became a Greek scholar

Invited lecture: In Search Of Helen Maria Chesnutt, April 2021


 Invited Seminar:  “Black Classicism 101: Ways to Broaden the Scope of Our Classes in Classics,” sponsored by the Department of Classics, University of California at Santa Barbara, January 20, 2017.


“14 Black Classicists: The Politics of American Learning,” Graham Commons. Sponsored and underwritten by the Humanities Center, the Departments of Language Literature and Linguistics Department, English, History, Religion and African American Studies Program, Syracuse University September 21, 2017.


 “The Making of 14 Black Classicists,” Sponsored by the Community Folks Art Gallery, Syracuse University,  September 22, 2017.


 “African American Intellectuals and the Study of Greek After the Civil War,” The Annual Charles E. Moore Lecture. Sponsored and underwritten by the Department of Classics, Trinity College, Hartford, CT, November 9, 2017.


  “A Look at Black Classicism in North Carolina from Wiley Lane (1851-1885) to Helen Maria Chesnutt (1880-1969),” Sponsored and underwritten by the Department of Classics and the NEH Professorship Fund, University of North Carolina at Asheville, February 8, 2018.


Savannah Classical Academy, Feb 16, 6:00 p.m. Opening address: “A Portrait of Will Scarborough and His Parents, Jeremiah (c. 1828-1883) and Frances Gwynn Scarborough (c. 1828-1912).” February 16, 2018.


Savannah Classical Academy, Feb 17, 10:00 a.m. Round Table Discussion with Shareholders in the School and t Community. February 17, 2018.


“A Brief History of Black Classicism,” Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C., April 27, 2018.


  Invited keynote address: “The Right to Study: Classical Education and the Advancement of Women of African Descent in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century America," Human Rights Day, Sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and the African Student Association,  University of Michigan-Flint, Dec. 6, 2018


 “African American Members of the Society for Classical Studies: A Census of Affiliations  (1875-1938),”   Society for Classical Studies, San  Diego,  CA, January, 2019.


 William Sanders Scarborough's First Lessons in Greek,”  eLitterarae Webinar  for Bolchazy-Carducci,  Chicago IL, February 26, 2019.


 “Black Classicism in North Carolina: From Wiley Lane (1852-1885) to Helen Maria Chestnutt (1880-1969),”  Wake Forest University, Procolloquium, Winston-Salem, NC,  March 1,  2019.


NEWS: Kim McGrath, “Classics Beyond Whiteness, Relevant, Inclusive,”  Wake Forest News, (February 7, 2020).




 “Black Classicism: Concerning the Politics of American Learning,” Loyola -Blakefield School, Mary Creaghan Library, Towson, MD,  February 10, 2020.


“From Trinidad to Canada: Henry A.S. Hartley's  "Classical Translations" (1889), “Black History Month Program,  Detroit Public Library, Detroit, MI, February 29, 2020.


 “A Look at William Sanders Scarborough in 1909, Presidential Panel, President Sheila Murnaghan and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Society for  Classical Studies,  Chicago, IL,  January, 2021.


 KEYNOTE ADDRESS: “In Search of Helen Maria Chesnutt,” Classical Association of New England, 115th Annual Meeting, March 20, 2021.


 Carolivia Herron, host of “Epic City,” a talk show on WOWD 94.3 FM, Washington, D.C. 4:00-5:00 p.m., March 23, 2021.




 “Charles Leander Hill (1906-1956), Black Latinist and Reformation Scholar,”    as part of  the “Freedom Abroad: The History of African Americans in Europe Conference, co-sponsored by New York University, NYC and Case Western University, Cleveland, OH, April 14, 2021.


 INTERNATIONAL:  "What’s in a Name? Dido Elizabeth Belle (c.1760-1804) and William Murray, Lord Mansfield (1705-1793)," Symposium Cumanum at the Villa Vergiliana, Naples, Italy, June 2021.


 “Classical Thought and Early Christianity: African Diasporic Engagements,” in a symposium, Pasts and Futures: Rethinking the Role of Institutional Histories in Humanities, University of Michigan, An Arbor, October, 2021.


“Black Classicists,” Listening to Other Voices, a symposium sponsored by the College of Humanities, the College of Social Sciences and the Department of Religious Studies and Classics,  University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ, February, 2022.


“A Survey of American Black Classicists,” sponsored by St. Gabriel’s, Sandleford Priory, Newbury, Berkshire, UNITED KINGDOM, March, 2022-


 “Recovering the Lives of Black Classicists,” on the panel “Exploring Equity: Facing the Erasure of Black Classicists in America: Highlighting Their Role in Classics and Classical Education,” National Committee for Latin and Greek, American Classical League Institute, Charleston, SC, June, 2022.


 “A Brief Look at the History of Black Classicism,” part of the campus-wide “James Meredith 60th Anniversary Celebrations sponsored by the Department of Classics at the University of Mississippi, November, 2022.


PRESS: https://news.olemiss.edu/visiting-classics-professor-to-discuss-um-exhibition/


  “Black Classicism and Black Physicians,” sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Wayne State Medical School, Mazurek Medical Education Commons, February 7, 2023.


Invited ZOOM Lecture: “Studying Black Classicists,” Dr. Carolivia     Herron’s Class, Black in Antiquity, Howard University, Washington, D.C., March 23, 2023.


Invited ZOOM Lecture:  Discussion of Helen Chestnutt’s The Road to    Latin and Michele Valerie Ronnick’s ”In Search of Helen Maria Chesnutt (1880-1969), Black Latinist,” sponsored by the Anti-Racism Reading Group, Department of Classics, Yale University,  New Haven, CT, March 31, 2023.






  • M.S.L.S., Florida State University, Tallahassee 1977
  • M.A., University of Florida, Gainesville 1986
  • Ph.D., Boston University, Boston 1990

Awards and grants

  • 2021 “Merita Award,” American Classical League

  • 2021 Given Honorary Lifetime Membership in the Classical Association of New England (CANE) for my address on Helen Maria Chesnutt (1880-1969) which inaugurated a new CANE award
  • 2020 Ambassador Award, Inaugural Presentation, Southern Conference on African American Studies, Inc., Shreveport, LA, February 2020.
  • 2017 Life Time Service and Achievement Award, Eta Sigma Phi, National Classics Honor Society, Ann Arbor, MI
  • 2010 Teaching Excellence Award, Wayne State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • 2009-2010 President, Classical Association of  the Middle West and South2012-2014 Vice President Michigan Classical Conference
  • 2008 Honorable Mention, American Philological Association’s Comic Contest, Chicago

Selected publications


  • The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship, edited, introduced and annotated. Forward by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2005,) 16 illus., index, 416 pages. [ISBN 0-8143-3224-2]
  • The Works of William Sanders Scarborough: Black Classicist and Race Leader, edited, introduced, annotated. Forward by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006) index, 560 pages. [ISBN 978-0-19-530962-1]

New: William Sanders Scarborough’s First Lessons in Greek: A Facsimile of the 1881 First Edition, edited, introduced, annotated, Foreward by Ward W. Briggs, Jr., 5 illus.,187 pages (Chicago: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2019) ISBN 978-0-85616-863-3.

Published chapters (selected)

  • “Virgil in the Black American Experience,” in The Blackwell Companion to Virgil, eds. Michael C. J. Putnam and Joseph Farrell, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010,:376-390
  • “Saintly Souls:” White Teachers’ Instruction of Greek and Latin to African American Freedmen,” Free At Last! The Impact of Freed Slaves on the Roman Empire, eds. Teresa Ramsby and Sinclair Bell, Gerald Duckworth & Co., 2011, pp. 177-208
  • “Classical Education and the Advancement of African American Women from the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Century,” forthcoming in Unsealing the Fountain: Pioneering Female Classical Scholars from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century, Classical Presences Series, (eds.) Rosie Wyles and Edith Hall (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016): 176-193
  • “Coleman Young as Pericles: Understanding the Imagery of a Poster Dated 1986 by 'Regina',” accepted in Πολυπραγμοσύνη: Homenaje al Profesor Alfonso Martínez Díez, (eds.) Juan Antonio López Férez, Antonio López Fonseca, M. Martinez Hernandez, E. Pandis Pavlakis, Pino Campos, G. Santana Henríquez, J. Viana Reboiro and A. Zahareas (Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas, 2016): 659-668 

Published articles (selected)

  • “Classical Elements of the Warrior-Hero Motif in Clifford Odet’s Golden Boy (1937),” Res Publica Litterarum 31 (2008) pp. 165-167. [published 2010]
  • “African American Classicist William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926) and the 1921 Film of the Oresteia at Cambridge University,” Comparative Drama: Special Issue on 'Translation, Performance, and Reception of Greek Drama, 1900-1950: International Dialogues,” (ed.) Amanda Wrigley, 44/45 (Winter/Spring 2010-2011) pp. 531-532
  • “Black Classicism: ‘Tell Them We Are Rising,’” Classical Journal 106(2011) pp. 359-70
  • “Don’t sit under the apple tree (with anyone else but me)”: A Note on Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice (2002),” Classical and Modern Literature 28 (2008) 1-3. [published 2011]

Invited lecturers – national (selected)

  • “Black Classicism in Texas and Elsewhere,” sponsored & underwritten by Black History Month Celebration, Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, TX, February, 2007
  • “Thirteen Black Classicists,” sponsored & underwritten by the Department of Classical Studies, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, February, 2007
  • "William Sanders Scarborough and the Origins of Black Classicism,” sponsored & underwritten by the College of Humanities, New College, Sarasota, FL, March, 2007
  • “12 Black Classicists,” sponsored & underwritten by the North Sarasota Library, Sarasota County, Sarasota, FL, March, 2007
  • “William Sanders Scarborough, O.C. Class of 1875 and the Origins of Black Classicism,” sponsored & underwritten by the Department of Classics, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, April, 2007
  • “The Role of the African American Episcopal Church in the Preservation of Black Intellectual Life,” sponsored & underwritten by the Classics Lectures Series and the African American Studies and Research Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, April, 2007
  • Writer in Residence, “Who Was William Scarborough?” sponsored & underwritten by the Mentor’s Program of the Bibb County School System, Macon, GA, May, 2007
  • “The Life and Works of William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926),” sponsored & underwritten by the Sarasota Reading Festival, Sarasota, FL, November, 2007
  • “William Sanders Scarborough and the Origins of Black Classicism,” sponsored & underwritten by the Department of Classics and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI, February, 2008
  • “William Sanders Scarborough and the Origins of Black Classicism,” sponsored & underwritten by the Department of Classics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, February, 2008
  • Key Note Address, Ellen Craft Lecture Series: “The Rise of Prominent National African American Leaders in Macon from Reconstruction to the 20th Century,” sponsored & underwritten by the Georgia Humanities Council and the Tubman African American Museum, March, Macon, GA, September, 2008
  • “The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough,” two-part lecture sponsored & underwritten by the Family Heritage House and Manatee Community College, Bradenton, FL, November 25 & 26, 2008
  • “Framing the History of Black Classicism,” Lecture and Round Table Workshop Participant: Colloquium on Latin Pedagogy sponsored & underwritten by University of Maryland- College Park, MD, April, 2010
  • Presidential Address: “Black Classicism: Tell Them We Are Rising, “ sponsored & underwritten by the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Oklahoma City, OK, April, 2010
  • “The Life of William Sanders Scarborough and His Friendship with Frederick Douglass." sponsored & underwritten by the Department of Religion and Classics and the Frederick Douglass Institute, University of Rochester, NY, December, 2010
  • Key Note Address, “A Portrait of Norma Goldman (1922-2012)” at the First Inaugural Classical World and Design Show in Memoriam Norma Goldman, sponsored and underwritten by the Philadelphia Classical Society and Bryn Mawr College, October 2012
  • Keynote Address: "African American Women, Classical Studies, and Emancipation," Women as Classical Scholars Conference: In Honor of Jacqueline De Romilly (1913- 2010), Sponsored and underwritten by King’s College, the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of London, and Notre Dame University, London, UK, March 23-4, 2013
  • “A Mini-Lecture Series on Black Classicists: Who Was Helen Maria Chesnutt?,” via Skype to first and second year Latin Students of Mary Lou Burke, teacher at Deep Creek High School, Chesapeake, VA, March 27, 2013 at 9:45-10:12 a.m. and March 28, 2013 at 11:55- 12:25 p.m
  • “Fourteen Black Classicists,” Annual Cum Laude Lecture, The Cranbrook School and Kingswood Schools, Bloomfield Hills, October, 2013
  • “The Importance of Learning When Learning is Illegal,” The Cranbrook and Kingswood Schools, Horizons Upward Bound Program, Bloomfield Hills, October, 2013
  • “From Richard Robert Wright, Sr. to Romare Bearden: African American Engagement with Greek and Latin," Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA, Jan., 2014
  • “In Search of William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926),” Diversity Summit Week at Carthage College, Dept of Classics, Kenosha, WI, March, 2014
  • “The Mysterious Mr. Hartley,” TWO DAY SYMPOSIUM: Classicisms in the Black Atlantic, March 14-15, 2014, Kelsey Library, University of Michigan, Sponsored by the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, Office of the Vice President for Research, The International Institute, The Institute for the Humanities, The Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, The Modern Greek Program, The Dept. of History, The Dept. of Comparative Literature, The Dept. of Classical Studies, and The Dept. of Afro-American and African Studies in collaboration with Contexts for Classics
  • “Black Carolinians and Classical Education- A Look at the Lives of Six Native Sons: Daniel Payne (1811-1893), Francis Cardozo (1837-1903), Cornelius Scott (1855-1922), William Bulkley (1861-1933) and Edward Porter Davis (1879-1938),” TWO DAY SYMPOSIUM: “Classics, Black Colleges, and Civil Rights: Theodore B. Guérard Lecture Series, Sponsored by the College of Charleston and the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs and African American Studies Department, Charleston, SC, March 23-24, 2015
  • “Black Classicism in the Bay State,” Sponsored and underwritten by the Humanities Center at Boston University and the Department of Classical Studies, November 11, 2015
  • Annual READ-IN Selection: The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship, (Detroit, 2005),” a two day event, sponsored by Jackson State University, Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, Jackson, Mississippi, February 1-2, 2016
  • "A Look at Black Classicism in the United States" University of California Santa Barbara, January 19, 2017 and Invited Colloquium: “Black Classicism 101: Ways to Broaden the Scope of Our Classes in Classics,” January 20 Department of Classics, Department of Black Studies, James and Sarah Agyropoulos Endownment in Hellenic Studies, University of California- Santa Barbara, January 20, 2017

Invited lecturers – local

  • The Classical Education of William Pickens (1881-1954): NAACP Field Director,” Wayne State University Humanities Center, Brown Bag Colloquium Series, February, 2007
  • “The Life of William Sanders Scarborough,” underwritten by the Detroit Public Library, African American History Month, February, 2007
  • “Revisioning History: The Life of William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926),” Friends of the Bloomfield Township Public Library, September, 2008
  • “ 'Sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere': Arthur O. Lovejoy and Intellectual Freedom,” Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church, October, 2008
  • “Willam Sanders Scarborough and the Talented Tenth,” Southfield Public Library, February, 2008
  • “Gallery Talk: ‘12 Black Classicists,’” Detroit Public Library, March, 2008
  • "Gallery Talk: William Bulkley: Black Latinist and National Urban League Founder," Detroit Public Library, February, 2009
  • “William Lewis Bulkley: Black Latinist and Educator,” Undergraduate Library, sponsored by Wayne State University Library System, Humanities Center and the Office of Student Affairs, Black History Month, February, 2009
  • “Black Classicists, Black Lawyers and Their Detroit Connections," Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, Wayne State University, Law School, April, 2010
  • Invited Address to the WSU Board of Governors Meeting, “A Look at Black Classicism” May 6, 2016. 

Refereed lectures

  • “’Give ‘Em Your Greek, But Study Cotton:’ W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911), ” American Philological Association, San Diego, CA, January, 2007
  • “Early, Talbert, Henderson and Hill: Four Black Classicists at Wilberforce University,” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Cincinnati, OH, April, 2007
  • “A Brief History of First Lessons in Greek (1881) by William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926),” Southern Conference on African American Studies, Atlanta, GA, February, 2008
  • “Stitches in Time: Sarah C.B. Scarborough and a Quilt Top Associated with Elizabeth Keckley and Mary Todd Lincoln,” College Language Association, Charleston, SC, April, 2008
  • “Latin Mottoes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Asheville, NC, November, 2008
  • “The Quinquennium Mirabile of Cicero’s Paradoxa Stoicorum, 1541-1546,” American Philological Association, Philadelphia, PA, January, 2009
  • “Classical Titles in Frederick Douglass’ Personal Library at Cedar Hill,” College Language Association, Princess Anne, MD, March, 2009
  • “A Brief History of Cretan Cypress,” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Minneapolis, MN, April, 2009
  • “William Lewis Bulkley William Lewis Bulkley (1861-1933): The First African American to Earn a Doctorate in Latin, ” American Philological Association, Anaheim, CA, January, 2010 [paper read in absentia by Stephen Hinds]
  • “Classical Elements of the Warrior-Hero Motif in Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy (137),” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Richmond, VA, October, 2010
  • “Classical Elements in the Life and Work of D. Augustus Straker (1842-1908), Black Lawyer from Detroit, Michigan,” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Grand Rapids, MI, April, 2011
  • “‘Libros non Liberos Pariens:’ A 17th Century Latin Pun and Feminist Symbol” American Philological Association, Philadelphia, PA, January, 2012
  • “Interrogationes, Interrogatiunculae and the "Pointless" Argument in Seneca's Epistle 82,” Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Tallahassee, FL, November, 2012
  • “Helen Maria Chesnutt (1880-1969): Pioneer African-American Latin Teacher,” Classical Association of the Atlantic States, October, 2013
  • “A Look at Thebes's Place in American Fiction (1962-2010),” American Classical League Panel, The Matter of Thebes, Society for Classical Studies, New Orleans, LA, January, 2015
  • “An Overlooked Poem by Frances E. W. Harper: ‘The Rich Ruler,’ College Language Association, Dallas, TX April, 2015
  • “Do Something Addy Man”: Herbert Marshall’s Black Alcestis," Society for Classical Studies, San Francisco, January, 2016

Courses taught by Michele Valerie Ronnick

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022