Back to All Events

Working the roots - over 400 years of traditional african-american healing

  • UC Berkeley 245 Hearst Gym Berkeley, CA USA (map)

Michele E. Lee

AUTHOR,  Working the Roots: Over 400 Years of Traditional African American Healing

WE ARE STILL HERE!  Resiliency, Ingenuity and Perseverance.

All we have is the spoken word of our ancestors, those who survived the middle passage and breathed life into their descendants, born into a life of unspeakable terror and oceans of love from the community

Michele E. Lee and Yemanya Napue tap into the deep ancestral knowledge and wisdom of how African Americans survived, continued birthing babies, cared for self,  their babies, and were wet nurses for the "masters" baby, and other enslaved babies all the while surviving through slavery and jim crow.... to build a tradition.  Much of the lecture will be based on the recently published book Working the Roots: Over 400 Years of Traditional African American Healing.  First-hand accounts are integrated with the historical realities of this time and birthing and care through the continuing legacy of colonization and slavery. Special guest along with Ms. Lee is Yemanya Napue, a direct descendant and citizen of the all Black and Native town, Nicodemus, Kansas, established after slavery along with their 40 acres and a mule.   

Michele Lee

Michele E. Lee is the author of the recently published book, "Working The Roots: Over 400 Years of Traditional African American Healing."

A journey that took 22 years to produce.  Born into a family of traditional healers from the south, Lee  began documenting the medicinal practice in her family whose legacy reaches back 7 generations in mississippi and louisiana.  Her family tree also weaves in and out of the south eastern Native communities and also includes the Mississippi Chinese.  And then for 4 years, she lived down a dirt road in rural North Carolina  seeking out more knowledge and wisdom from traditional healers and root workers throughout the south. Michele Elizabeth Lee has worked for over 30 years in the integrated arts as a researcher, writer, visual artist, administrator, curator and educator.  She has a MFA from the University of Southern California and a BA from Antioch College. She currently lives and works in her native Oakland where she teaches art in a public school.  She has two adult children, Milon and Nora. 


This presentation is part of a lecture series hosted by an experimental class - Ethnic Studies 199/ Asian American Studies 199: Traditional Postpartum Wisdom: Implications for Contemporary Postpartum Justice.  Come join us.  Public welcome.

(For additional information: or HERE)