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Exploring the Depths: Psychology of the Black Woman

A Panel Discussion


Throughout history, Black women have navigated a complex tapestry of societal expectations, cultural heritage and personal identity. We aim to shine a light on their stories, voices and psychological landscapes. What makes a community leader? What does it take for a woman to step into that role, and to bring other women along the journey with her? Join us for a panel discussion on the psychology and mental health of Black women, as represented by Aunt Ester in August Wilson’s Gem in the Ocean.

Attendance for this pre-show event is FREE; August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean 8PM performance tickets sold separately.


Dr. Djanna Hill

Dr. Djanna Hill is associate dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of Community Development and Social Justice at William Paterson University. Professor Hill is a native New Yorker with over 20 years of experience in higher education. Dr. Hill’s academic degrees are from Howard University and Columbia University. Her doctorate in urban & multicultural education, lead her to teach in the social sciences at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Djanna joined the faculty at William Paterson University in 2001 and taught courses from programs in the College of Education and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and has received several state, private, and federal grants for the university. She directed the university’s first formal adult learner program and was founding chair of the Department of Community and Social Justice Studies. Professor Hill co-authored the university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate Program. Dr. Hill draws upon her background to develop an innovative research agenda and leadership vision that is anchored in womanist/Black feminist theory. Her research explores the experiences of Black women in the academy, policy implications of teacher recruitment and retention, and social justice science education. Dr. Hill lives in Bloomfield, NJ with her son and husband and serves as a civil rights commissioner for the township.

Dr. Hettie V. Williams

Dr. Hettie V. Williams is Professor of history and Director of the Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture at UMass Boston. She is a historian of 20th century U.S. history with a focus on the African American experience and the history of Black women. Williams is also the author/editor of seven books, several book chapters, essays and articles; and former president of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS).

Dr. Danielle M. Wallace

Dr. Danielle M. Wallace is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies and chairperson of the Department of Community and Social Justice Studies at William Paterson University. Her teaching and scholarly interests center on the Black family, gender and sexual politics in the Black community, the gender socialization of Black men and women, the socio-political roots of Africana Studies, and decolonizing teaching and curriculum in higher education. Her current research focuses on Black student leadership and activism on college campuses, and Black male/female relationships, especially the dating, marriage and mate selection ideals of Black men and women.

August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean Tickets

Featured Production Season Show

August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean

JUN 8 – 30 / 2024

Audio Described

Audio Description is available for patrons with vision loss. Using a lightweight headset, with no wires or cables, that operates with a FM system, patrons can hear a live, objective and concise description of the action on stage.

Open Captioned

Open Captioning is available for patrons with hearing loss. This service is useful to those who may not fully benefit from the FM amplification system, or who need help catching particular words. A screen, which projects dialogue as the action occurs live on stage, is placed to the side of the stage.

Citizen Barlow is looking for peace. To get it, he’ll knock at Aunt Ester’s door every day if that’s what it takes. Set in 1904, the opening installment in August Wilson’s The American Century Cycle includes the playwright’s most fantastical journey, where the secrets of the past point towards future liberation.

August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean

Dates and tickets

Two River Theater