Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson

For our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, this scholar is fully booked through 2024. 
However, you may book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information in the “Booking Information” section below.

A thoughtful and passionate artist and speaker, Karen Anderson honors Black women by examining how beauty standards have devalued Black beauty over centuries.

Karen's desire is to share the history of women of African descent to help those impacted by racist standards feel less marginalized. Her presentation examines how women of African descent have been seen in society, art, history, and modern media, and shifts the narrative about beauty.

Fully Booked

More Than a Color: The Marginalization of African Beauty Through History

This presentation takes participants on a walk-through history telling the stories of some women whom many may not know. Anderson will speak about the women of color in 1760 French America who figured out how to legally free themselves from slavery only to be bound by government laws, women like Sarah Baartman who had to choose between being a circus oddity or a slave, and how women like Sarah Breedlove and Ann Malone changed the way women of African descent saw themselves—how these women redefined beauty. Anderson will also reflect on a recent development: our society has started to see women of color as beautiful.

Anderson will illuminate history filled with women of color who refused to view themselves through social limitation. She hopes to inspire others to decide for themselves what beauty is.

Program Logistics

The presentation takes approximately 45 minutes, with extra time at the end for Q&A, making it approximately one hour. Visuals are presented via PowerPoint, which does require a laptop and projector.

Watch Karen Anderson's appearance on CBS2 about the history and marginalization of Black beauty.


Karen J. Anderson is an artist, writer, photographer, publisher, and filmmaker. She uses a variety of methods to uplift, inform and educate African Americans and people of color.

Anderson’s artwork is about life and the people who live it. The images tell stories that can inform to the way of life in the community, uplift with the beauty that comes from the community and educate the rest of the world about the community.

Anderson has an MA in New Art Journalism from the School of the Arts Institute in Chicago. She presented her paper, “More Than A Color: The Marginalization of African American Beauty” at the 2021 National Conference of Black Political Scientists. It was published in the Roots Work Journal. Her article “Best Trip Ever” was published in Chicken Soup For the Soul I’m Speaking Now in 2021.

Learn More and Follow Karen

Book this Road Scholar

Follow the steps below to book a presentation.
  1. Contact Karen to schedule a date and time via email at uppcreative@gmail.com or phone at (817) 228-9968.
  2. Once you and Karen have agreed upon a date and time, complete the online Road Scholars Host Organization application.
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Fairouz AbuGhazaleh
Director of Statewide Programs