Dr. Zoe Spencer
Professor of Sociology, Virginia State University
Dr. Zoe Spencer is an Emmy* Award winning Writer, Scholar-Activist, and a Professor of Sociology at Virginia State University. She received her Ph.D in Sociology., Master’s of Social Work (M.S.W.), and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Administration of Justice with a minor in Spanish from “the Mecca,” Howard University in Washington D.C., and later, her Master’s of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) from the Washington University St. Louis School of Law. Her extensive experience as a licensed clinical social worker/psychotherapist (Li.C.S.W) combined with her doctoral concentration in race, class, and gender studies and urban sociology prepared her for her work and purpose.
As a staunch “freedom fighter”- she has unapologetically dedicated her life to addressing all forms of oppression and disparity, no matter the construct. In such, she has: served as a family advocate and civil rights strategist for numerous families of victims of state sponsored violence; been certified as an expert witness in numerous Administrative Due Process hearings and Juvenile and Domestic Court in the area of special education/education discrimination, implicit bias and institutional racism, trauma informed responses, and psycho-social assessments; organized direct actions and protests, one of which was featured in Ava Duvernay’s Netflix Documentary 13th, and served as a regular speaker, presenter, and educator for both women and men who have been confined to juvenile facilities, local jails and Level II, III, and IV correctional facilities in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.
She has conducted program assessments, developed and facilitated training programs on *Cultural Actualization, Intersectionality, and Bias for numerous organizations and institutions, including the Chesterfield Police Department, G-Meo Study Abroad at Sichuan University in Chengdu China, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Most recently, she was commissioned by the President of Virginia State University to organize a Leadership Taskforce of Regional Police Chiefs in Central Virginia in order to engage actualization and bridging work between police and urban communities, in response to the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breona Taylor.
She is a highly sought after presenter, lecturer, and speaker with hundreds of professional and community presentations and keynote speeches to her credit. She has presented her research on race relations, state sponsored violence, and criminal justice at notable professional conferences, like the American Criminological Society (ACS), the American Sociological Association (ASA), the Association of Black Sociologists (ABS), and the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), and at Universities such as the University of Virginia, Ohio State University, Stockton University, Sarah Lawrence College, and William and Mary to name a few. Both her critical and creative work is dedicated to addressing “neo lynching” and state sponsored violence in America and includes, her spoken word piece “Say Her Name”- for which she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writer and a Recognition Award for her contribution to the Emmy for Outstanding Public Service Announcement. Her scholarly publications on the subject matter include: Sassy Mouths, Unfettered Spirits, and the Neo-Lynching of Korryn Gaines and Sandra Bland: Conceptualizing Post Traumatic Slave Master Syndrome and the Familiar “Policing” of Black Women’s Resistance in Twenty-First-Century America, published in the renowned feminist journal Meridians and Re-conceptualizing Historic and Contemporary Violence Against African Americans as Savage White American Terror (SWAT) published in the prestigious Journal of African American Studies, where she was lead author and her sole authorship of Why Welcome Back Jim Crow: Jim Crow, Neo Lynching, and the Criminalization of the Right to Resist in 21st Century America published in The Criminal Justice Journal and Law Review, Special Edition, to name a few.
In addition to her Emmy Award, she takes most pride in the honors and awards that she has received for her activism and teaching, which include numerous awards from the NAACP, including the Foot Soldier in the Sand Award from the NAACP of Chesterfield County, and her Pioneer Award from the NAACP of Virginia State University,
But most importantly to her divine purpose, she is “Ma” to her beautiful Black Son (Sun), Grandma to her future freedom fighter granddaughter, Islah Sevyn Kemet, “Auntie” to her beautifully brilliant HBCU students, who are on the front lines of this resistance movement; comrade and an ally to the Queens and Sistars from all races who confront violence and oppression on the front lines, and “an unapologetically Black Z” to any power structure that is oppressive to the people.