Dr. Amanda Kemp blends activism and spirituality, theatre arts and history. A survivor of the New York City foster care system, Dr. Kemp has been a lifelong poet-performer and advocate of racial justice and equality since her first anti-apartheid march in 1983. She earned her B.A. from Stanford University where she helped to lead the Stanford out of South Africa divestment movement and the successful struggle to revamp the University’s Eurocentric humanities requirement. Awarded Stanford’s prestigious Gardner Fellowship for Public Service, Dr. Kemp apprenticed with the Honorable Maxine Waters and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. For her work in organizing statewide student movements, including a 10,000 strong March on Sacramento, CA for educational rights, Rainbow/PUSH awarded Kemp their 1989 Citizenship Award.
A poet and playwright, Kemp left politics to pursue a doctoral degree in Performance Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. After two years of doctoral work, Dr. Kemp traveled to South Africa to work with the Ford Foundation where she consulted and co-authored on a report on the complex and dynamic women’s movements during the transition to democracy. While in South Africa Dr. Kemp also consulted with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights South African Elections project which hosted U.S. elections observers. Coordinating assignments and real time report-in’s, Dr. Kemp also experienced Nelson Mandela’s joyful victory dance when the ANC swept the national elections. While there, Kemp also debuted her play “Sister Outsider” in the Johannesburg Arts Festival and formed “Intimate Dread,” a trio of women performance poets.
Enriched by her South Africa experiences, Dr. Kemp completed her dissertation on African American and South African ties in the 1920s and 1930s. She has since published articles about South African politics as performance and performed a one-woman show on being Black but not African in South Africa.A master teacher, Dr. Kemp has taught at Cornell University, Dickinson College, Millersville University, and Franklin & Marshall College where she served as the chair of Africana Studies. She has keynoted Martin Luther King programs at colleges, high schools, and in elementary school settings. Kemp is currently a Visiting Scholar in Africana Studies at Franklin & Marshall College and continues to publish on race, performance and freedom.
In 2007 Dr. Kemp founded Theatre for Transformation, a performance method and theatre company whose mission is to create a world of forgiveness, abundance, and peace. Dr. Kemp has earned awards from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has authored several plays including “Emancipation Sweet,” “Hoodwinked,” “Show Me the Franklins! Remembering the Ancestors, Slavery and Benjamin Franklin” and “Sister Friend: Phillis Wheatley and Obour Tanner on Love, Freedom and the Divine.”Dr. Kemp is now touring Inspira: The Power of the Spiritual.In addition to creating dynamic interactive performances about the legacy of slavery, Dr. Kemp leads workshops and makes keynote presentations that blend, poetry, song, and stories from her life to inspire others to connect with their ancestors, forgive and create new possibilities. She has presented at faith conferences, women’s gatherings, and schools for ages 6 and up.
Dr. Kemp resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband violinist Michael Jamanis, five teens, a guinea pig, and a chocolate lab named Jake.