Dr. Margena Christian
Senior Lecturer at University of Illinois at Chicago, Author, Editor
HONOREE FOR TORCH FOR JOURNALISM
Margena A. Christian, Ed.D is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where she is a founding faculty member of the Professional Writing major. Her research interests focus on the intersections of the role of the media in education, Black popular culture and historical inquiry.
Currently, she is writing the authorized biography titled It’s No Wonder: The Life and Music of Motown’s Sylvia Moy (Hachette 2025). It is about the iconic record label’s first certified female in-house songwriter and producer, who saved Stevie Wonder’s early career with hit songs such as “Uptight,” “I Was Made to Love Her” and “My Cherie Amour.”
Dr. Christian is the author of Empire: The House That John H. Johnson Built and co-authored Wally, Where’d You Get Those Glasses? My Life Through the Lens of Parliament, Pendergrass and Prince. She also writes about popular culture for Oxford University Press’ American National Biography.
The St. Louis native is a former Senior Editor and Senior Writer with the pioneering, African-American monthly EBONY magazine. She is the only editor in the history of Johnson Publishing Company (JPC) to have written for EBONY, JET, EBONY Man, EBONY South Africa, EBONY Fashion Fair and EBONY.com. She compiled the history for EBONY Fashion Fair, JPC's pioneering traveling fashion show, and was the last editor at JPC to have worked with late publishing magnate John H. Johnson, founder of JPC, before leaving the company in 2014.
Most recently she was a recipient of TheHistoryMakers 2022-2023 Faculty Innovations in Pedagogy & Teaching Fellowship, and she was selected for the 2022-2023 OpEd Project Public Voices Fellowship at the University of Illinois System. In 2021, she was chosen by the UIC Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Blacks (CCSB) as a Black History Maker. Dr. Christian was a 2019-2020 recipient of the UIC Teaching Recognition Program Award. As a 2017 UIC recipient of the Lecturers' Distinguished Teaching Award for English Studies, she is a former Assistant Director of the First-Year Writing Program.
She also teaches in the Honors College where she's instructed, developed and designed a seminar course called Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud: Writing About the African American Media and a core course titled Reporting While Black: Why Who Controls the Narrative Matters. Most recently she developed a course about
Spike Lee and Tyler Perry, titled Ya Dig! Hallelujer! African American Life, Language and Lessons Through the Cinema and Artistic Praxis of Spike Lee and Tyler Perry.
Dr. Christian is proud legacy of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. including being related to the late Dr. Pearl Schwartz White, a charter and founding member of St. Louis’ Zeta Sigma graduate chapter and author of the sorority’s first official history book, Behind These Doors: A Legacy–The History of Sigma Gamma Rho (1974).