Toshi Reagon named Joseph McKeen Visiting Scholar

Along with Abigail Killeen, professor of drama, Barry Logan, Bowdoin’s Samuel S. Butcher Professor of Natural Sciences, and Sarah Seames, director of the McKeen Center for the Common Good, Casselberry is bringing together faculty, staff and community activists to coordinate offerings campus-wide programs and activities that contribute to Parable Path Maine.

“Toshi’s focus on the themes raised in Octavia Butler’s prophetic text provides the Bowdoin community with a profound opportunity to address our own belief systems and systems of interaction,” Casselberry said.

“Our students thrive in a world of unfettered violence, climate disasters and attacks on bodily autonomy, all symptoms of humanity’s failure to put love, health and wholeness above all else. . Toshi’s brilliance as a musician and warrior of love is the perfect joyful antidote to discouraging times.

The Reagon McKeen Fellowship includes four community meetings. The first was a working group in June with faculty, staff and community partners. For subsequent meetings, Reagon will engage community partners across Maine in conversations based on the themes present in parable of the sower.

“We are beyond excited about this collaboration,” said Samaa Abdurraqib, executive director of the Maine Humanities Council. “Bringing these kinds of generative and dynamic humanities-based conversations to every corner of Maine is a key part of our missionary work, and we’ve seen firsthand the lasting impact these conversations have had in Maine communities. .”

Sarah Seames, Director of the McKeen Center for the Common Good, said, “The opportunity for our students to learn from Toshi and the incredible community partners invested in social change in Maine is incredible. We look forward to building on the impact of Parable Path Maine well beyond this year.

The fellowship culminates with a performance of Toshi and Bernice Reagon’s operatic adaptation of parable of the sower. This one-night-only event will be presented by Indigo Arts Alliance and Portland Ovations in association with the College, and will be performed at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine on April 14, 2023. Portland Ovations, a Maine nonprofit organization has brought live entertainment to Greater Portland since 1931.

Reagon has received an award from the New York Foundation for the Arts for Music Composition, OutMusic’s Heritage Award, the Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Award Merit for Achievement in the Performing Arts and the 2021 Herb Alpert Prize in Music. In 2022, she received an honorary doctorate from Emerson College.

The Joseph McKeen Visiting Fellow initiative expands the exploration of the common good by engaging with a prominent distinguished visitor in public discourse. Through a series of on-campus visits during the fall and spring semesters, the fellow will participate in a formal presentation, student and faculty meetings, class visits, and community events to train networks that link the College and the wider community.


Indigo Arts Alliance (IAA) is a black-led organization dedicated to the professional development and amplification of black and brown artistic vision and practice. Founded in 2018 and officially launched in 2019, IAA is an incubator space whose mission is to create global connections by bringing together black and brown artists from diverse backgrounds to engage in a creative process through a artist-in-residence program. Visit to learn more and support their work.

The Maine Humanities Council (MHC), a statewide nonprofit, uses books, poetry, and big ideas to bring people together to discuss important issues and create positive change in Maine communities. Their programs and grants encourage critical thinking and conversations across social, economic and cultural boundaries. The MHC is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and houses Maine’s Center for the Book through the Library of Congress. Visit to learn more about MHC programming and how they support our work.

Portland Ovations, a Maine non-profit organization founded in 1931, is Portland’s presenter of all performance disciplines – Broadway National Tours, dance, theater and several musical genres. Ovations mission is to contribute to the cultural, social and economic well-being of our communities by showcasing an array of high-quality artists from around the world and creating diverse educational experiences that bring fun, energy and excitement. enrichment of the arts at all. Ovations connects artists and audiences through the magic of live performance.

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