The African-American Historical & Cultural Museum of the SJV
Museum · Community · Private Non-Profit Organization
Trailblazers 2023 Honoree:
Professor Thomas-Whit Ellis
Thomas-Whit Ellis. is a professor of Theatre Arts at California State University, Fresno and most recently served as department chair of Africana Studies.
Professor Ellis has directed dozens of plays for the University Theatre program including Native Son, Colored Girls and Carmen Jones. He also directed numerous productions throughout the region including God’s Trombones at the Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla. He was appointed Fulbright Scholar at the National Taiwan University where he directed the university’s first main stage production, David Henry Hwang’s Golden Child, (performed in English and Mandarin).
The first black professor of theatre at the University of Georgia and Theatre Arts at California State University, Fresno. The first black professor to present at an American college/university production at the National Theater of Nigeria and at the Van Troi Theater, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. The first Black Professor to direct a major production for the Theatre Arts Department at the National Taiwan University and the first Fulbright Scholar to be assigned to the National Taiwan University.
Thomas is the only professor of Theatre to direct an all African American Musical at California State University, Fresno. The first professor of Theatre to direct a major all Latino production at California State University, Fresno. The first and only professor of Theatre to direct a major all Asian American production at California State University, Fresno.
He currently serves on the boards of The Fresno Arts Council, Valley Public TV Community Advisory, Arte Americas, the William James Association, Santa Cruz. Professor also served two stints on the African American Museum board of directors and served as board chair for 4 years.
Professor Ellis completed his bachelor of arts degree at California State University, Sacramento and his master of Fine Arts degree from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.