Interests and Expertise
Cassandra Turner was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was one of many African American children, who integrated the public schools after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. She remembers that the first day of school was one of the most frightening moments of her life, because of the facial expressions of white parents would say it all as African American students got out of their cars to enter the school; however, she said that all were able to survive that year without incident. Ms. Turner explained that she knows first-hand what it is like to be discriminated against and treated like a second-class citizen. Prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Act, she lived in all black segregated neighborhoods and attended all black segregated schools. Ms. Turner's activism was fueled by her experiences and the people who greatly influenced her life. While in high school, she joined the NAACP Youth Council. In college, Ms. Turner became a member of the Nation of Islam, because of the messages she heard in regard to self-determination from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey. She said that it was during this period when she met Coleman Young, then state senator before he became mayor of Detroit, and comedian-activist Dick Gregory. These were also the years when she was introduced to Black Studies, and the value of giving back to your community. Therefore, practicing what she was taught, when Ms. Turner went back to her hometown, she became a community organizer for the Concerned Citizens for Justice and the Action Coordinating Council. She was a host and producer of radio and television programs discussing issues on community politics, police brutality, housing and employment discrimination. In 1987, in Chattanooga, the van of the co-host of her radio show was bombed by person or persons unknown would bring civil rights activist C.T. Vivian to the city to investigate, when he was working with the Anti-Klan Network. Willie Ricks (Mukasa Dada), who coined the phrase "Black Power," is also a friend and mentor of Ms. Turner's and encouraged her to travel to Africa. Ricks also introduced her to Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), both were founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As an activist in Jackson Mississippi, Ms. Turner had the honor and privilege of working on human rights issues and participating in protest demonstrations with Chokwe Lumumba Sr. and Charles Tisdale, publisher of the Jackson Advocate Newspaper. She was also a cadre member of the All - African People's Revolutionary Party.
Ms. Turner was the coordinator for the African American Center for Applied Research and Services (AACARS) at EMU, the HUD grant, "Digital Inclusion Project" working in a mentoring capacity with high school students and designing and teaching computer classes for parents in the Ypsilanti community. In 2009 and 2018, she was selected and honored by student athletes at EMU as "Most Valuable Professor." In 2003, she received the Outstanding Student Award from the Department of Technology Studies (Interdisciplinary Technology). In 2001 and 2010, Ms. Turner received the King Chavez – Parks Future Faculty Fellowship. She also worked with Operation Get Down, a community organization in Detroit, and received the Spirit of Detroit Award for her work with the homeless.
Ms. Turner started teaching in the Africology and African American Studies Department at EMU in 2003. She has a B.S. degree in African American Studies and Communication, and a master's degree in Technology Studies (formerly Interdisciplinary Technology) from EMU. She also has an M. A. in History and Archival Administration from Wayne State University. Ms. Turner's research focus has been African Americans and Technology and she has written and presented, "Mammies and Maids in Film During World War I and World War II " at EMU, and has written "A Matter of Race: Getting Black Women Hired and Housed at Willow Run Bomber Plant During World War II.
Ms. Turner firmly believes that there is nothing more satisfying and empowering than sharing one's own knowledge and the history of African Americans to fully stimulate students' intellectual development and curiosity for a positive academic experience.