Rhodes Institute Faculty and Staff

2022 Faculty and Staff

Charles McKinney
Director, Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies
Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africana Studies Program
Office: Buckman Hall 213
Phone: (901) 843-3525

Charles McKinney, Associate Professor of History, Chair of Africana Studies, and Director of the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies is a specialist in African-American history and twentieth century U.S. social history, particularly the history of the Civil Rights Movement. He is the author of Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina, which chronicles a movement from the 1930s to the 1970’s. His current research focuses on the impact of local leadership on civil rights activity in Memphis, and his regional interests include the history of segregation, civil rights, and social justice movements in Memphis. Previous Institute mentorship projects have included historical research on Civil Rights activity in Memphis and surrounding communities; research on African American political activity in Memphis; and gender dynamics within the Civil Rights movement.

Tyler Fritts
Adjunct instructor of Music
Archives Manager and Team Lead at the Mike Curb Institute for Music
Office: 101 Hassell Hall
Phone: (859) 585-1097

Dr. J. Tyler Fritts is an ethnomusicologist and ethnographer that has taught classes in African American Music, the blues, American popular music, World Music, and the music of Latin America; he has also taught Music, Myth, and Magic, a course that focuses on the connection between mythology, folklore, and music. He currently serves as the Archives Manager and Writing/Research/Archives Team Lead at the Mike Curb Institute of Music, where he oversees the series Beyond Beale, a student-run podcast that explores Memphis music and music communities through original ethnographic and historical research. Fritts’s research focuses on community, tradition, myth, and identity in American folk and popular music, specifically in the blues and the music of Memphis. He has presented his work at local, national, and international conferences. His article on blues composition can be found in the Winter 2020 edition of the journal Ethnomusicology. His essay and liner notes on Memphis blues musician Furry Lewis will be published as part of the upcoming Memphis Blues: 1914 – 1969 Box Set by Bear Family Records. In 2019, he served as the Visiting Professor of Popular Music and Media at Universität Paderborn in Paderborn, Germany.

Laura Taylor
Assistant Professor of Educational Studies
(901) 843-3986

Laura Taylor is an Assistant Professor of Educational Studies, where she seeks to explore how we can build urban schools that are both humanizing and intellectually challenging spaces for students. This work necessarily also examines the political, economic, cultural, and historical reasons why schools are not always already providing these experiences for students. Her research draws on ethnography, discourse analysis, and critical media analysis and is informed by critical social theories. Past research projects have focused on the effects of neoliberalism (especially high-stakes testing) on teaching and learning in public schools; how new and veteran teachers conceptualize teaching for social justice; and how white supremacy and language ideologies intersect to create linguistic racism within schools (and especially within English classes). Currently, she is collaborating on two research projects exploring recent educational policy changes. The first explores how teachers and parents are responding to a local district policy that will retain second-grade students based on standardized tests of literacy; and the second explores how potential and practices teachers are responding to a new state law prohibiting discussions of race and racism. 

Andrea Jacobo
Visiting Professor, Urban Studies-Health Equity Program, Public Health Director, Health in All Spaces

Andrea Jacobo is currently a Visiting Professor at Rhodes College within the Urban Studies-Health Equity Program. Along with teaching, Andrea is also the Public Health Director for the Health in All Spaces grant, a multi-organization initiative addressing vaccine equity within the Memphis-Shelby County area. With 10 years of community health experience, Andrea has implemented various evidence-based nutrition and physical activity programs across the lifespan, co-led community of practices focused on health equity, and facilitated strategic planning processes for policy, systems and environmental change. She believes that community-centered, people-centered approaches are key to addressing health inequities. She has a passion for community health, culture & arts, and uses design thinking as a tool for community and organizational capacity building. Andrea is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Public Health degree at UC Berkeley. She has a Masters of Public Health from The University of Memphis and Bachelors of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Miami. 

John Bass
Assistant Professor of Music, Director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music
(901) 843-3786
MusicUrban StudiesMedia Studies

John Bass serves as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College. Recently named a “Top Music Business Program” by Billboard, the Curb Institute is an endowed program whose mission is to foster understanding and awareness of the musical traditions of the South and study their cultural influence. Dr. Bass has developed and led innovative courses, created and mentored experiential learning opportunities for students, and produced pioneering and historically significant concerts and events that have been attended by thousands of people over the past decade. He leads numerous community initiatives in Memphis and has been recognized by Shelby County Schools for his work.

Dr. Bass holds two degrees in jazz performance and a Ph.D. in historical musicology. His current research focuses on improvisational practices and pedagogy, as well as under-researched narratives of jazz and Memphis music, and his writing appears in scholarly and public-facing venues. As an active professional guitarist, Dr. Bass has performed and recorded with artists including Bobby Rush, Kirk Whalum, and George Coleman. In 2021, he arranged, produced, and performed on an original recording of “America the Beautiful” that featured blues legends Bobby Rush and Eddie Cotton, along with Memphis professionals and Rhodes students.