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College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Lecture Series

“Black Women, Serial Murder and Reckoning with Home”

College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Lecture Series

In 2003 and 2004, nine black women from the small midwestern city of Peoria, Illinois, either disappeared or their bodies were found discarded in rural areas surrounding the city. A local man eventually was convicted of killing eight of the women and is serving a life term in prison. In this talk, Black feminist scholar Terrion L. Williamson, PhD, JD, will discuss how this series of murders impacted her hometown and has continued to shape the course of her work almost 20 years later. She will use the Peoria case as an illustration of the need to place the lives of marginalized Black women and girls at the center of ongoing struggles for social justice and black liberation. 

Williamson researches and teaches in the areas of Black cultural studies, feminist theory, media studies, contemporary African American literature, midwestern studies and racialized gender violence. She serves as the director of the Black Midwest Initiative. Her current book project, We Cannot Live Without Our Lives, is a study of Black women and girls who have been the victims of serial murder throughout the industrial Midwest since the late 1990s.

Admission is free.

For more information, contact the College of Arts and Sciences at 805-493-3015 or

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College of Arts and Sciences