Welcome to Black History Month

White text that reads Black History Month on black background. Right side contains repeated text that reads Black History and runs from the top to the bottom of the graphic.

The College of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with other units across campus, kicks off the spring 2021 semester with Black History Month. Throughout the month of February, the College is offering a student-centered calendar of events and programming that honors the histories and achievements of peoples of the African diaspora.

The College community recognizes the importance of taking a globalized approach to our celebration of Black intellectual and cultural life. At the same time, we acknowledge that the need for awareness and education about Black experiences doesn’t begin and end in February. Here, we present our Black History month 2021 calendar as a starting point for year-round programming as we continue our work to advance racial equity and inclusion on our campus.

Black History month also marks an occasion to offer our gratitude to the faculty and staff of the African and African American Studies Department. The College of Arts and Sciences has been the home of African and African American Studies since its inception in 1969. For over five decades, African and African American scholarship, teaching and community-engagement has made transformative contributions on our campus and to the world at large. The past year especially has proven that Black studies and direct action is a powerful force and vehicle for change. This work has brought new levels of critical thought and analyses of systemic racism and white supremacy to the forefront of public consciousness, mobilizing the masses across the globe to stand up for equality and justice. The College of Arts and Sciences is committed to a significant expansion of Africana and American Studies over the next several years.

Event Dates:

Additional Black History Month student programming 

2021 Black History Month Schedule

Friday, February 5

Illuminating the Role of Black Pioneers in Canada’s Journey to Multiculturalism

Cecil Foster with host Akolisa Ufodike

7 - 8 p.m.

Professor Cecil Foster from the Department of Africana and American Studies will be speaking about his newly released, award winning book, "They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada."

Sponsored by York University

Tuesday, February 9

Discussion of Caroline Randall Williams’s “My Body is a Confederate Monument”

11:10 a.m. - 12:25 p.m.

Hosted by HIS 420: Monuments, Markers and Memory with Professor Carole Emberton, Open to UB students and community members.

Wednesday, February 10

UB Distinguished Speaker Series 45th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr Commemoration Keynote Speaker

Patrisse Cullors, Social Activist, Best-Selling Author, and Co-Creator of the Viral Twitter Hashtag and Movement, #BlackLivesMatter
7 p.m.

Artist, activist, educator, public speaker and Los Angeles-native Patrisse Cullors is the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and founder of the Los Angeles-based grassroots organization Dignity and Power Now. For the last 20 years, Cullors has been on the frontlines of criminal justice reform and led Reform LA Jails’ “Yes on R” campaign, a ballot initiative that passed by a 71% landslide victory in March 2020.

Thursday, February 11

Vanessa M. Holden, Digital Footprints: The Freedom on the Move Project

1 - 2:30 p.m.

Freedom on the Move (FOTM) is an open access crowdsourced database project aimed at transcribing and coding thousands of advertisements placed by enslavers and jailors for fugitives from American slavery. Often called runaway ads, these important primary sources are a rich record of enslaved people’s resistance and American slavery’s cruelty. Based at the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research (CISER), FOTM’s lead faculty include Ed Baptist (Cornell), Vanessa M. Holden (UB Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Center for Diversity Innovation), Hasan Kwame Jeffries (Ohio State), Molly Mitchel (UNOLA), and Josh Rothman (Alabama). Holden will speak about these fraught sources and the ethical implications of cataloguing them.  

Sponsor: UB Digital Scholarship Studio and Network; co-sponsors: Departments of Africana and American Studies; Global Gender and Sexuality Studies; History and the UB Center for Diversity Innovation

Thursday, February 11

Cecil Foster, Black Canada: Multiculturalism and Social Justice

Hosted by the University of Alberta’s Department of Political Sciences, UB Professor Cecil Foster will be giving this nationally and internationally promoted presentation on his work. Professor Foster is a leading author, academic, journalist and public intellectual. His non-fiction works include "They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada."

Sponsors: University of Alberta, KIAS and the CRC in the politics of citizenship and human rights.

Monday, February 15

Hope, Resist, Healing: A Listening Workshop with Michael Mwenso

4 - 5 p.m.

Internationally acclaimed musician, singer and dancer, Michael Mwenso, leader of Mwenso and The Shakes. continues his work, "Hope, Resist, Healing" and delves into classic Black artists and songs that have propelled time and change. Included is a curated playlist for this workshop.

In partnership with the UB Arts Collaboratory.

Tuesday, February 16

Black Ecology in a Creole Context

Bénédicte Boisseron, Professor of Afroamerican & African Studies, University at Michigan

4 - 5  p.m.

In ecological terminology, commensalism refers to a class of relationship in which two organisms mutually benefit without affecting each other: there is no contract, no profit, and no need to feel indebted or grateful in a commensal relationship. One takes what is needed with no promise of return. This is often how people in Martinique and Guadeloupe relate to the liminal animal world. One leaves leftover food for the creole (stray) dog behind the house with no expectation of pet companionship in return. In this talk, Bénédicte Boisseron looks at Creole culture through the prism of commensalism, arguing that this ecology applies not only to the animal world but also to humans in a post-colonial context. She argues that, ultimately, commensalism might be the best antidote to the afterlife of slavery.

Sponsored by the Melodia E. Jones Chair of French and the Department of Romance Language and Literatures.

Wednesday, February 17

"Calling In, Not Calling Out," Loretta Ross, Let’s Talk About Race Series

12 - 1:30 p.m.

Loretta J. Ross is an Associate Professor at Smith College in Northampton, MA in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender.

She teaches courses on white supremacy, human rights, and calling in the calling out culture. Since beginning her academic career in 2017, she has taught at Hampshire College, Arizona State University, and Smith College as a professor of clinical practice teaching courses on White Supremacy in the Age of Trump, Race and Culture in America, and Reproductive Justice. Ross is the founder of SisterSong and long-time social justice activist who co-created the theory of Reproductive Justice in 1994. 
She will be speaking on her current book project "Calling in the Calling Out Culture," which was featured recently in The New York Times.

Presented by the UB Office of Inclusive Excellence in collaboration with the UB Gender Institute.

Wednesday, February 17

Era of Slavery, Era of Emancipation: An African American History Reading and Discussion Group with Nicholas Githuku and Vanessa M. Holden

3 - 4:30 p.m. (first meeting)

Nicholas K. Githuku and Vanessa M. Holden, two of the Center for Diversity Innovation’s Distinguished Visiting Scholars, will lead a reading/discussion group on African American history throughout the spring 2021 semester. This is a crucial moment to engage with this urgently relevant, cutting-edge scholarship on race in America, and the UB community is fortunate to have an opportunity to do so in dialogue with such impressive scholars.  

Please contact David Herzberg at herzberg@buffalo.edu with questions.

Sponsor: UB Department of History; Co-sponsor: UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program

Wednesday, February 17

Being a Creative and Crushing Stereotypes: A Conversation with Karen Burthwright

5 - 6:30 p.m.

Karen Burthwright was born and raised in Toronto Ontario and is of Jamaican heritage. She is an accomplished dancer, singer, actress, choreographer, and musical theater performer, Karen, was Favorite credits include: Shug Avery in The Color Purple (Neptune Theatre), Paradise Square (Berkeley Reparatory Theatre), Obeah Opera (Panamania 2015), and Fall (Dance North 2018 - Fleck Theatre), Jesus Christ Superstar (2012 Broadway Revival/Stratford/La Jolla Playhouse), Play Like A Winner (NYMF 2017), Disenchanted (Westside Theatre), Dirty Dancing, Hairspray, and Mamma Mia! (Toronto/1st National Tours), Woman 2 in I Love You...Now Change (George Street Playhouse), Brenda in Smokey Joe’s Café (FST), Nickie in Sweet Charity (Writers’ Theatre), Ragtime, Hot Mikado, and Aida (Drury Lane Oakbrook), Rocky Horror (CanStage/MTC)

Sponsored by: UB Department of Theatre and Dance and the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Inclusive Excellence

Wednesday, February 17

Wading into the African-American Mystery: A Reading from Nickel City Blues & Discussion with Gary Ross

7 p.m.

Retired University at Buffalo professor Gary Earl Ross is an award-winning playwright, novelist, public radio commentator, and occasional actor and director. His plays include The Mark of Cain, The Guns of Christmas, The Trial of Trayvon Martin, The Scavenger’s Daughter, and Matter of Intent, winner of Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award. In addition to the Gideon Rimes mysteries (Nickel City Blues, Nickel City Crossfire, and the forthcoming Nickel City Storm Warning), his books include the short story collections The Wheel of Desire, Shimmerville, and Beneath the Ice, the children’s tale Dots, and the novel Blackbird Rising

Sponsored by the UB Department of Africana and American Studies and the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission. 

Thursday, February 18

2020-21 Black Lives Matter Book Club Meeting

Featuring: Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele,
"When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir"

7 - 8:30 p.m.

The UB Gender Institute is proud to host a virtual book club featuring the work of Black feminist scholars, public intellectuals, and activists during the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The Gender Institute is committed to highlighting and supporting Black feminist scholarship, especially during this moment of reckoning with systemic racism, the legacies of slavery in America, misogynoir, and police brutality. Each book club session will be hosted by Gender Institute GA Hilary Vandenbark and a special guest from the community.   
Registration is required to receive the Zoom link. We ask that all participants commit to respectful and open engagement as well as mindfulness of others.

Tuesday, February 23

Queer Collaborations: Practicing Co-Performative Witnessing in Haiti

Mario LaMothe, Assistant Professor of Black Studies and Anthropology, University of Illinois-Chicago

4 – 5 p.m.  

The presentation revolves around Mario LaMothe’s ethnographic collaboration with queer Haitians and queer Haitian performance scholars who journey with their interlocutors through socio-politically charged endeavors. Teasing out the struggle, discomfort, and benefits that emerge from documenting activist responses to the national policing of same-sex desire, LaMothe previews how embodied and artistic testimonials are affective and regenerative only if their makers and chroniclers are not only committed but are also humbly yet dynamically co-present. This method is his self-imposed imperative that extends the temporality of the ethnographic research and which, Dwight Conquergood and D. Soyini Madison term “co-performative witnessing.” LaMothe illuminates how the concept is also applicable to non-researchers such as queer Haitian photographer Josué Azor who pools his resources, knowledge, and abilities with his allies to re-imagine Haitian embodiment and activate of spaces of liberation that stretch themselves and Haitianness beyond social, cultural, and political barriers.

Sponsored by the Melodia E. Jones Chair of French and the Humanities Institute Performance Research Workshop.

Tuesday, February 23

Diversity Spotlight: Changed Lives, Changing Lives

7 - 8 p.m.

Featuring alumni couple Jonathan Beane, MBA, JD '98, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the National Football League and Jodie Roure, JD, PhD '04, Associate Professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice & CEO & President, HMARIA, Inc.

From meeting at UB to shared passions related to diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging, this alumni couple has a compelling story and enlightening advice to share. Alumni, faculty and students, please join us for a conversation with Jonathan Beane and Jodie Roure, PhD, as they share their diversity experiences along professional and personal paths and the motivating impact mentors played along the way.

Wednesday, February 24

Experiences of a UB Chemistry PhD graduate: Road to Academia

12 - 1 p.m.

Featuring Michael Coleman, PhD, School of Chemistry and Materials, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

This speaker presentation is organized by the Graduate Students of Color Club, Department of Chemistry

Sponsored by UB AGEP team.

Wednesday, February 24

It Rests with Her to Pave the Way: Ida Dora Fairbush, Buffalo Educational Pioneer

Barbara Seals Nevergold, PhD, Co-founder Uncrowned Queens and Kings, UB Alumna and past president of the Buffalo Board of Education. 

7 p.m.   

Barbara Seals Nevergold, PhD, is an educator, administrator, community and political activist. A native of Louisiana, Nevergold moved to the East side of Buffalo, N.Y. in 1947 with her parents. She is a graduate of the Buffalo Public Schools and received her doctorate in Counseling Education from the University at Buffalo. In 1999, she co-founded with Peggy Brooks-Bertram, PhD, The Uncrowned Queens Institute, to promote the collection and dissemination of the individual and collective histories of African American women and their organizations.

Sponsored by the UB Department of Africana and American Studies and the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission.

Thursday, February 25

Indigenous Solidarity with Black Lives Matter: A Panel Discussion featuring Andrew Jolivétte

4 - 5:30pm

Andrew Jolivétte, PhD, is a Creole of Opelousa, Atakapa-Ishak, French, African, Irish, Italian, and Spanish descent. He is Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies, and Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. Featuring Dr Jolivétte, this panel will explore the significance of Indigenous peoples’ solidarity and collaboration with the Black Lives Matter movement. It will include a comparative discussion of the impact of state violence on Black and Indigenous histories and current realities, the convergences between Black liberation and Indigenous sovereignty, and the importance of our collective work on dismantling systems of white supremacy.

Sponsored by the forthcoming UB Department of Indigenous Studies and the UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholars

Friday, February 26

"House of Mlungula—'Norms in the Margins and Margins of the Norm:' Of Computer 'Glitches,' Moving Human Fingers and Illicit Financial Flows," with Nicholas Githuku

2 - 3:30 p.m.

The East African nation of Kenya is patently a house of mlungula—that is, a kleptocracy where both the government and society are imbued by corruption and runaway greed. Indeed, corruption so permeates society like an unavoidable hydra that scarcely leaves anyone untouched or unaffected. The unwritten code is expressed in the African proverb, “the goat eats where it’s tethered.” It is, therefore, not surprising to find corruption and the “trading of favors,” bakshish, among lawmakers; among revenue collection officials; among parents, teachers and students in schools and universities; among doctors, nurses and staff in hospitals; in corridors of justice among judges and magistrates; and even in the so-called “disciplined armed forces” including the police etc. Be that as it may, this paper examines the zenith of the complete or gross disregard of African norms of kinship, mutuality, and reciprocity because of wanton greed and corruption. Seldom is there any human progress and technological advancement that does not alter society. Whether one talks about printing in the sixteenth century which rocked Europe with the spread of Protestantism; or various machines behind the Industrial Revolution; or historian John Lonsdale’s ng’ombe na mkuki (cow and spear) and the njembe na kalamu (hoe and pen) revolutions in Africa, technological advancement has always transformed and/or forged societies. Although this is not a phenomenon confined to Kenya and Africa, this paper is a reflection of how the combination of “itchy” human fingers and the rapid development of digital technologies—such as mobile banking, electronic money transfer, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and online banking and gambling services all of which are quite popular in Kenya— have facilitated or contributed to illicit financial flows ranging from corruption, illegally earned, or transfer of, money and cybercrime (read: fraud) among others such as tax evasion and tax avoidance, organized crime, human trafficking, and “many other forms of crime … associated with these illegal activities….” The proliferation and establishment of digital technologies. in the twenty-first century as an acceptable way for transacting business and money transfer has encouraged financial chicanery ensuring that universal ethical norms such as accountability and responsibility have not only been pushed to the outer margins, but has also meant that the margins of the norms have been pushed to the limit and, more often than not, been ruptured with impunity.

Sponsored by the Department of History

Saturday, February 27 – March 28, 2021

Àdápé, Victoria-Idongesit Udondian

Location: The Space In Between at 431 Ellicott, Buffalo, N.Y.

The Space In Between at 431 Ellicott will be subverted into an art media lab/studio where immigrants, first-generation Americans are invited to collaborate in the process of creating Àdápé while sharing their stories. Àdápé is a part of an on-going project, The Republic of Unknown Territory. This multimedia installation/performance project interrogates notions of border control and immigration.

At a time when immigrants are vilified and nationalistic biases increasingly divide developed nations, we begin to consider how this situation is impacting immigrant populations and communities mostly during a pandemic. “The Republic of Unknown Territory,” asks us to consider the global migration of people and questions the state of society without the contributions of immigrant populations. Please join us in this collaboration.

Victoria-Idongesit Udondian, Interdisciplinary artist and 2020-21 UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Department of Art, is a Nigerian born artist who lives and works in New York. Working across disciplines, Udondian creates multimedia installations and large-scale sculptural projects that draw from her experiences growing up in Nigeria. She engages with textiles and repurposed materials to investigate how fundamental changes in fabric can affect one’s perception of his or her identity, and ultimately a nation’s psyche.

In association with the UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar Program

Monday, March 8

Conversation with Joseph Hill, PhD, on "Signing Black in America"

1-1:50 p.m. 

Professor Joseph C. Hill, PhD, will present a brief presentation and then be available to for a Question and Answer session about the new documentary “Signing Black in America," the first documentary about Black ASL, the unique dialect of American Sign Language (ASL) that developed within historically segregated African American Deaf communities. The documentary is available to be streamed for free on YouTube for a limited time, and attendees are encouraged to view the film before the Question and Answer session. The session will be moderated by Prof. Andrew Byrne, Director of the University at Buffalo American Sign Language Program.

Tuesday, March 9

In the Mode of the ‘You,’ or Opacity’s Relation: Anti-Racism and the Culture Industry, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Raoul Peck, and Igiaba Scego

Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken, Research Coordinator and Senior Researcher,

Research Center for Material Culture at the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

2 - 3 p.m.

Sponsored by the Melodia E. Jones Chair of French and the Department of Romance Language and Literatures.

Attendees who register in advance will be sent samples of any work our guest presenter has shared.

In this talk, Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken considers the relationship between and among recent popular cultural texts and their relationship to anti-racist activism, especially among those who are white (with all the complexities brought to the term). In a 2020 episode of Code Switch (September 16), Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji mention that an increased participation in Black Lives Matters protests among those who understand themselves and/or are understood as white has taken place perhaps, thanks to well disseminated books and films that have brought attention to BLM among those who used to neglect, ignore, or be unaware of the movement. Dembi and Meraji’s statement beckons the questions: What is at stake when white readers read Black authors? When through readings and screenings do they become more active allies, involved in BLM protests? Who stands to gain from such allyship? In particular, in this talk, Alessandra reflects on the popularity of specific works by four creators and public intellectuals—James Baldwin, Raoul Peck, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Igiaba Scego—as related to what it means when a Black author deploys the ‘mode of the you.’ How does the use of the second person in their work “mis/interpellate” (in the words of James R. Martel) white audiences? In her deliberations, Alessandra thinks through Glissantian calls for Opacity and Relation, alongside recent academic work of Rich Blint, Christian Flaugh, Kaiama L. Glover, Kwame Nimako, Sandra Ponzanesi, and Michael Rothberg.

Bio: Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken is Research Coordinator and Senior Researcher at the Research Center for Material Culture at the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen in the Netherlands. Headed by Wayne Modest, the role of the RCMC is to critically interrogate the historical legacies of ‘the ethnographic museum.’ Alessandra has publications in Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature, Journal of Haitian Studies and the collection, Raoul Peck: Power, Politics, and the Cinematic Imagination (2015). She is the author of Spirit Possession in French, Haitian, and Vodou Thought: An Intellectual History (2015), and has co-edited “Revisiting Marie Vieux Chauvet,” a special issue of Yale French Studies (2016), and The Haiti Exception: Anthropology and the Predicament of Narrative (2016). Alessandra currently holds an affiliation with Gender Studies at Utrecht University, and was formerly Associate Professor of Caribbean and Postcolonial Studies and French at the City College of New York, and the Graduate Center (City University of New York). She is also Series Editor for Brill’s Caribbean Series, Book Reviews Editor for the Journal of Haitian Studies, and member of the FACE Foundation’s French Voices selection committee.

Wednesday, March 10

The 2021 African American Studies Endowed Lecture

A Conversation with Barbara Smith

7 p.m. 

The Department of Africana and American Studies is pleased to announce that Literary Critic, Feminist and Social Activist Barbara Smith will deliver the 2021 Endowed African American Studies Lecture. Barbara Smith is an author, activist, and independent scholar who has played a groundbreaking role in opening up a national cultural and political dialogue about the intersections of race, class, sexuality and gender. She was among the first to define an African American women’s literary tradition and to build Black Women’s Studies and Black Feminism in the United States. She has been politically active in many movements for social justice since the 1960s.

Sponsored by the UB Department of Africana and American Studies, the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission and the UB Gender Institute

Thursday, March 11

"From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century"

William Darity Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen

3 - 4:30 p.m.

In their highly praised new book, From Here to Equality, William Darity Jr., PhD, and A. Kirsten Mullen confront racial injustices head-on and make the most comprehensive case to date for economic reparations for U.S. descendants of slavery. After opening the book with a stark assessment of the intergenerational effects of white supremacy on black economic well-being, Darity and Mullen look to both the past and the present to measure the inequalities borne of slavery. Using innovative methods that link monetary values to historical wrongs, they next assess the literal and figurative costs of justice denied in the 155 years since the end of the Civil War. Finally, Darity and Mullen offer a detailed roadmap for an effective reparations program, including a substantial payment to each documented U.S. black descendant of slavery.

Sponsored by the UB Center for Diversity Innovation, the College of Arts and Sciences. Co-Sponsors: Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy and the UB Office of Inclusive Excellence.

Visit the Center for Diversity Innovation website for more information.  

Wednesday, March 17

Black Women in WWII

Professor Brenda Moore

7 p.m.

Brenda Moore, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University at Buffalo, receiving her PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Moore has numerous publications, including several journal articles and a book entitled To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African American Wacs Stationed Overseas During World War II. She has completed research for a forthcoming book, entitled Serving Our Country: Japanese American Women in the Military During World War II. Moore enjoys a wide range of scholarly interests, and served as a contributor to the edited book, African Americans and the Rise of the Post-Industrial City, writing a chapter on the class status of Blacks in Buffalo.

Sponsored by the UB Department of Africana and American Studies and the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission

Tuesday, March 30

French but not (Q)White: Race and the Republic

Mame-Fatou Niang

Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Carnegie Mellon University

4 - 5 p.m.

Sponsored by the Melodia E. Jones Chair of French and the Department of Romance Language and Literatures.

Attendees who register in advance will be sent samples of any work our guest presenter has shared.

Black French studies are at an embryonic stage compared to that of Great Britain and the United States. The field has increasingly attracted interest since the 2000s, and the publication of Pap Ndiaye’s La Condition Noire. As an area of scholarly inquiry, Black French studies focus on the emergence of Black identity politics within the universalist tenets of French republicanism, the rise of Afro-French intellectualism, and constant circulations between mainland France, Africa and the African diaspora. This talk is a series of reflections from the perspective of an Afro-French scholar-artist: What is it to be Black in France? Black and French? How do we talk about race in a country that struggles to see it? How do we navigate a field marred by invisibility, the lack of statistics, and the lack of words anchoring Blackness in the French language? How did the 2020 “racial spring” affect the field?

Mame-Fatou Niang is an Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Carnegie Mellon University, and the author of Identités Françaises (Brill, 2019). Her recent research examines the development of Afro-French identities. Her work has been featured in edited volumes and academic journals among which Contemporary French Civilization, Présences Francophones, and “Racismes de France” (out 10/12/2020 @ La Découverte). Mame is also a photographer and the co-author of a photo series on Black French Islam. In 2015, she co-directed “Mariannes Noires: Mosaïques Afropéennes,” a film in which seven Afro-French women investigate the pieces of their mosaic identities, and unravel what it means to be Black and French, Black in France. Dr. Niang is currently working on a second manuscript tentatively titled “Mosaica Nigra: Blackness in 21st-century France.”

Wednesday, March 31

Black Abdiel: James Monroe Whitfield vs. The Fillmore Faction (1853)

7 p.m. 

Jim Holstun, UB Department of English

Jim Holstun has lived in Buffalo since 1991. He teaches in the Department of English, mostly English Renaissance literature until about twenty years ago, but more recently, world literature, proletarian literature, and Afro-American literature, including courses on Black Buffalo, on nineteenth-century Afro-American literature, Reconstruction, and (next fall) Black Socialism. He has published two books: A Rational Millennium: Puritan Utopias of Seventeenth-Century England and America, and Ehud’s Dagger: Class Struggle in the English Revolution, which won the 2001 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize. He has recently published essays on Soha Bechara (a communist Lebanese activist and political prisoner), Joseph Conrad, Leo Tolstoy, Iraq War fiction, and the Buffalo proletarian novel (Connie Porter and Leslie Feinberg). He is working on a book on the global proletarian novel, and another on nineteenth-century Black Buffalo. His paper will be on the Buffalo barber, poet, and radical abolitionist, James Monroe Whitfield (1822-1871), who tangled with Millard Fillmore, Daniel Webster, and the Buffalo supporters of the Fugitive Slave Act.

Tuesday, April 20

Senegalese Stagecraft: Decolonizing Theater-Making in Francophone Africa

4-5 p.m.

Brian Valente-Quinn, Assistant Professor of French University of Colorado Boulder

Sponsored by the Melodia E. Jones Chair of French and the Humanities Institute Performance Research Workshop.

Attendees who register in advance will be sent samples of any work our guest presenter has shared.

Western-style theatrical performance was first introduced to the French-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa by way of French colonial pedagogy, most notably in the 1930s at the selective École normale William Ponty. This talk will explore the impact of such a colonial stage heritage on an enduring national performance tradition in Senegal. Senegalese stage artists have, since the interwar colonial performances, crafted an array of decolonizing stage spaces that implement alternative Sufi ontologies, adopt new forms of media, and embrace Global South activism in order to reclaim theater as a Senegalese invention.

Brian Valente-Quinn is an assistant professor of French at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses primarily on Francophone African literature, theater and performance. Valente-Quinn’s work has appeared in Politique AfricaineResearch in African Literatures, and Theatre Journal, and his forthcoming book, Senegalese Stagecraft: Decolonizing Theater-Making in Francophone Africa will be published in July 2021 as part of the “Performance Works” series by Northwestern University Press.