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Uncovering the Black Botanical Legacy

January 20, 2021


We have a deep connection to plants. Even if we are not actively aware of it, we are interacting with plants in almost every aspect of our lives. From breathing and eating, to medicines and clothing, we are connected to plants. Botanical knowledge, and cultures and traditions involving plants and the environment is not new. But have you ever heard of Black botanical legacy?

This talk will describe Dr. Williams’ quest to get to know more Black people who love plants, and the online campaign she started that created a movement to highlight and promote Black botanists. Dr. Williams will take you on a journey to discover a forgotten Black history, Black botanical legacy. She will highlight the Black botanists that have paved the way for her to study the impacts of climate change on plants from around the world.

Teacher’s Resources

This lecture comes with a complete lesson plan and accompanying Google Slide deck for you to customize for your class. To make an editable copy of the Google Slides deck for your classroom, click the link and select File > Make a copy.

Tanisha Williams, PhD

Tanisha Williams, PhD

Burpee Post-Doctoral Fellow in Botany Bucknell University, Lead Organizer of #BlackBotanistsWeek

Dr. William’s research seeks to understand how plant functional traits and genetic diversity intersect to influence plant responses to climate change, with a focus on the genus Pelargonium, which displays high diversity in South Africa. Her work has included investigating herbarium records, conducting species distribution modeling and using common garden approaches to elucidate genotype-by-environment interactions as a way to understand plasticity and adaptation, with an eye towards informing the conservation of biodiversity in the face of changing climate. In addition, Dr. Williams has extensive outreach experience, including as a Fulbright US student in South Africa and a Graduate Student Mentor in the Botanical Society of America PLANTS program, among others.

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