The Southeastern Museums Conference 2023 Featured Speakers

Rev. Dr. Kevin W. Cosby - Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

SEMC is excited to announce Dr. Kevin W. Cosby as the 2023 Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker. The keynote speech will incorporate the 2023 conference theme, Truth Builds Community. 

For 44 years, Dr. Kevin W. Cosby has served as the Senior Pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church, the largest African American Church in the state of Kentucky, as well as the largest private Black employer of African Americans in the state. He now precedes his grandfather, Rev. Dr. B. J. Miller, Sr. who was the first pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church, as being the longest serving pastor of the church.

In 2005, Dr. Cosby was inaugurated as the 13th President of Simmons College of Kentucky. In 2007, he led the once fledgling college to reclaim its original campus, lost during the Great Depression, and has since expanded to three campus locations. Under Dr. Cosby’s visionary leadership, the college earned national accreditation from the Association of Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and expanded its degree programs. Dr. Cosby uncovered the rich history of Simmons, established by former slaves, and in 2014, Simmons was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Historically Black College & University. During his first decade there, Dr. Cosby refused to take a salary to stabilize the college and returned more than $700,000.

More recently, the college added more than a dozen new degree programs, including an associate degree in early childhood education, a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Pre-Law, Women and Gender Studies, Martin Luther King Legacy Studies, and Environmental Studies, as well as a Master of Science degree in Medical Science. The master’s degree serves as the first year of medical school and is designed to help prospective medical school students exceed the requisite score on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

He is one of our nation’s most influential leaders: He was inducted into the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians at the Kentucky State Capitol; At the request of Muhammad Ali, he served as one of the eulogists at his Funeral; and he was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College.

Dr. Cosby has authored five books including his most recent release titled: “Getting to the Promised Land: Black America and the Unfinished Work of The Civil Rights Movement.” The book is a Biblical commentary on the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) and is published by Westminster John Knox Press.

He has a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, OH where he was a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. In addition, Dr. Cosby has a second doctorate, a Doctor of Ministry Degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH.

Dr. Cosby is married to the former Barnetta Turner. They have two adult children (Christine Nicole & Kevin Christopher).


The Southeastern Museums Conference is excited to announce that the 2023 Featured Plenary Session Speakers will be Andre Kimo Stone Guess as the session moderator, and Jecorey Arthur, Silas House, and Vian Sora as the session panelists. 

The Dr. Vibe Show™: Live Tonight At 9 P.M. Eastern/6 P.M. Pacific - Andre  Guess "How We Can End The Open Season On Black Men"

Andre Kimo Stone Guess is a native Louisvillian and grew up in the Smoketown neighborhood. He brings over 20 years of experience in the arts sector, working with arts organizations and individual artists. Before leaving Louisville for New York in 2000, Guess served as Vice President for the Lincoln Foundation, Inc. He notably served as the Vice President and Producer of Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) in New York City and as President and CEO of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh. He has also owned and operated his management consulting firm, GuessWorks, Inc., for over 14 years. During that time, he managed the careers of world-class artists and consulted on many projects. He currently serves as the President & CEO for the Fund for the Arts.

Jecorey Arthur - The Louisville Orchestra

Jecorey "1200" Arthur is an award-winning teacher, musician, and activist from the West End of Louisville, KY. He earned his nickname “1200” after teaching himself to produce hip hop on a KORG D-1200 studio at age 12.  A decade later he earned his Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Arts in Teaching at the University of Louisville. He has also founded 1200 LLC, an independent music agency specializing in compositions, performances, and events. He most recently earned the title of Councilman, as the youngest elected official in city history, representing Louisville Metro Council District 4.

As a musician, Arthur has performed at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Big Ears Festival, Forecastle Festival, and Jungfrau Erzähl festival; performed as a soloist with the Stereo Hideout Brooklyn Orchestra and the Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Nashville, Columbus, and Oregon Symphony Orchestras; performed as the first hip hop artist with the Louisville Orchestra including world premieres of folk opera The Way Forth and rap opera The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, where he starred as his hometown hero; and composed music for theatre, film, television, radio, podcast, and studio albums.

As an activist, Arthur has produced multi-media educational content about the state of Black America, organized hundreds of events hiring thousands of regional artists, and used the arts to advocate for policy change. In 2020 his activism led him to being elected to represent Louisville Metro Council District 4, representing downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. As a member of the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) Foundation—he writes policy, organizes campaigns, and trains activists across the U.S. Arthur has been featured on Al Jazeera, PBS, BET, BBC, CBC, NPR, NYT, and more.

Arthur is a professor at the Historically Black College and University—Simmons College of Kentucky, an artist roster member of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), and an endorsed artist with Salyers Percussion. In 2019 he became a BMe Genius Fellow, using his reward to help open the Parkland Plaza, an outdoor green space, community venue, and natural playground in his childhood neighborhood. Since joining Louisville Metro Council, he has legislated dozens of policies focused on abolishing poverty. You can follow Arthur's work online at @jecoreyarthur, @1200llc, and @parklandplaza.


Silas House is the nationally bestselling author of the novels—Clay's Quilt, 2001; A Parchment of Leaves, 2003; The Coal Tattoo, 2005; Eli the Good, 2009; and Same Sun Here (co-authored with Neela Vaswani) 2012, and Southernmost (June 2018)—as well as a book of creative nonfiction—Something's Rising, co-authored with Jason Howard, 2009; and three plays.  His new novel, Lark Ascending, was published on September 27, 2022. 

House is a former commentator for NPR's "All Things Considered".  His writing has appeared recently in TimeThe AtlanticEcotone, The AdvocateGarden and Gun, and Oxford American.  House serves on the fiction faculty at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Creative Writing and as the NEH Chair at Berea College.  

He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the recipient of three honorary doctorates, and is the winner of the Nautilus Award, an EB White Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Storylines Prize from the New York Public Library/NAV Foundation, the Lee Smith Award, and many other honors, including an invitation to read at the Library of Congress. Southernmost was a longest finalist for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and appeared on several Best of 2018 lists including The AdvocateBooklistPasteSouthern LivingGarden and Gun, and others.  The book was given the Weatherford Award as well as the Judy Gaines Young Award.

Vian Sora - Artists - Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq during multiple wars, Vian Sora’s paintings are informed by her life. Sora’s works, infused with emotional tension and based on confronting destruction and decay, challenge the boundaries of life through intentional color contrast within abstract landscapes. Sora’s visions fuse her own experiences with Iraqi history, cultural identity influences, and painterly abstraction. Though they are largely abstract, Sora’s paintings suggest figures and places, including gardens and war zones, landscapes of lush fertility and terrible decay, cycles of life and death.

She is a first-generation immigrant painter addressing the effects of war and displacement. The foundations of her paintings utilize dark stains and clashing surface textures, which she often disrupts with vibrant paths of color that weave throughout the compositions, reflecting a journey to find harmony within the chaos. The figures and faces that emerge in her frenzied arrangements are references to the bodies, collective and individual, who have been devastated in the ongoing hostilities that besiege her home country.

Sora prides herself in being a self-taught artist, currently working in Louisville, Kentucky, who has received degrees in computer science and an MBA. She studied printmaking under the tutelage of Suleyman Tekcan at the Istanbul Museum of Graphic Arts (IMOGA). Sora’s exhibitions have been held in Louisville, Baghdad, Istanbul, and Dubai, including at Dar El Cid Museum, Kuwait, IMOGA, and the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul. She recently participated in the KMAC Triennial and has participated in the International Art Festival, Baghdad, and the Sharjah Biennale. Her work has been collected by the Speed Art Museum and KMAC.

The Keynote Address will take place at the Galt House Hotel on Wednesday, November 15 at 9AM EST following the SEMC Annual Business Meeting. The Plenary Session will take place on Monday, November 13 at 9AM EST. The 2023 Keynote will be live-streamed and available for all SEMC members to view online in real time.

SEMC is thankful to Solid Light, Inc., 2023 Keynote Sponsor 

Solid Light - Moving Hearts. Moving Minds. Moving Experiences.