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Press Releases

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hollis Keynotes SU African-American History Month Celebration February 16

SALISBURY, MD---When Oxford, MD, native Waters Edward Turpin penned his first novel, These Low Grounds, in 1937, he likely had little idea it would be the start of a career that earned him a reputation as the “Father of the African-American Family Saga.”

Dr. Burney J. Hollis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Morgan State University, where Turpin earned his B.A. and later taught, discusses the popular writer during his keynote address for Salisbury University’s African-American History Month celebration. Hollis’ presentation is 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 16, in the Wicomico Room of the Guerrieri University Center (rescheduled from Tuesday, February 2, because of inclement weather).

Turpin earned acclaim for his novels, which also included O Canaan!, which followed farm workers during their migration from the South to Chicago, and The Rootless, which depicted slave practices of 18th century Maryland.

Several of his works, including These Low Grounds, were set on his native Eastern Shore. Among his noted plays was St. Michael’s Dawn, a dramatic biography of Frederick Douglass.

Like Turpin, Hollis is also an Eastern Shore native, born and raised in Vienna, MD, who earned his undergraduate degree from Morgan. He has served as a dean at the university since 1984. He earned his Ph.D. in English with a concentration in colonial and 19th century American and African-American literature from the University of Pennsylvania.

Admission is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-548-4503 or visit the SU Web site at

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