Celebrating 50 Years of Africana Studies: Reckoning the Past, Present, and Diasporic Futures

To watch all of the sessions please visit our YouTube Channel


For printed program click here


Thursday, April 22, 2021 

6:30 p.m. - Opening Program and Welcome - Chancellor Douglas A. Girod, Dr. Peter Ojiambo & Dr. Elizabeth MacGonagle

  • Performance - West African (Ghana) Drumming: Dr. Megan Arns and Emily Miclon, University of Missouri School of Music            

7:00 -   AAAS Chairpersons Speak -  Dr. Dorthy Pennington, Moderator

  • Dr. Jacob U. Gordon, Founding, Former chair
  • Dr. John Janzen, Former Chair
  • Dr. Peter Ukpokodu, Former Chair
  • Dr. Shawn Alexander, Current Chair

* Former Chairs Dr. Arthur Drayton, Dr. Clarence Lang, and Dr. Cécile Accilien unable to attend.

  • Performances
    • Poem: “أنا لكل الناس (I am for all people)- Owen Strite, Shayan Mateen, Ehi Wickramasundara, Kailyn Alani, Halie Powell
    • Poem: “Miaka Hamsini twasheherekea” (We celebrate 50 years)- Alisha Sadik, Atlee Myers, Aron Finholt, Jean Banzhaf, Maggie Wilcox, Eric Splavec, Tarik Aginar

* Over the course of the two days there will be language skits between each session, highlighting our African & African Diasporic Language program. These performances were coordinated by Dr. Brenda Wawire, Dr. Peter Ojiambo, & Dr. Amal El Haimeur.


Friday, April 23rd 

 9:45 a.m. – Welcome - Dr. Dorothy Hines

  • Performances
    • Song: “Malaika” (My Angel)- Catherine Timkar
    • Song:  “Ayiti Cheri” (Darling Haiti)-  Suzzanne Thompson

10:00- 11:30- “Tilling the Soil”- Former KU Student Activists Panel - Dr. Shawn Alexander, Moderator 

  • Walter Bgoya
  • Dr. Alferdteen Harrison
  • Darryl Bright
  • Dr. Linda Loubert
  • John Spearman, Jr.
  • Brenda Vann


  • Performances
    • News Report : Radhia Abdulrahman; Zack Fesen
    • Skit: “Waajal tukki Senegal waaye Jangoro Coronavirus! Massa waay! (Planning a trip to Senegal then Covid-19 hit!)- Heather Snay and Eva Fisk

11:45 – 1: 30 – "Black Struggle and Black Studies from 'More Relevant Education' to Black Liberation" -  Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly- Keynote Speaker

 Moderator - Dr. Amal El Haimeur               Respondent – Dr. Abel Chikanda


  • Performances
    • Skit: Who wants to be a Swahilionnare?- Curtis Quinn, Catherine Timkar, Greta Jackson, Caroline Wainaina, Lucy Whittington.
    • حيوانها (I Am Her Animal)- Cynthia Volinic

1:45 - 2:30  – Art and Activism: 50 Years of Africana Studies at KU - Dr. Jessica Gerschultz, Moderator [View Exibit Here]

  • Tyler Allen, AAAS and Museum Studies, MA Student
  • Jenny Welden, Visual Arts, MFA Student
  • Angela Watts, Collection Manager, Spencer Museum of Art
  • Cassandra Mesick Braun, Curator of Global Indigenous Art, Spencer Museum of Art


  • Performances
    • Narration: “Sama jaar-jaar” (My daily life)- Amber Mikkelsen
    • Skit: News by two journalists from the Arab world on literature, history, popular music, public health and economy- Cynthia Volinic,  Tylor Gynther

2:45 - 3:30  – What AAAS Meant and Means to Me - Current and Former AAAS Students - Dr. Tony Bolden, Moderator

  • Maria Beg, JD (BA 2010)
  • Azja Butler (Current AAAS Major)
  • Dr. Derrais Carter (BGS 2008)
  • Jacoby Hawkins (Current AAAS Major) 
  • Owen MacDonald (MA 2019)
  • Niya McAdoo (Current AAAS Major)                            

3:30 - 3:45  – Closing Remarks – Dr. Shawn Leigh Alexander & Dr. Randal M. Jelks


For a copy of the 50th Anniversary program flyer click here

Support AAAS with a donation to The Spearman Family Student Research and Support Fund


For a brief history of the Department, see Dr. Dorthy Pennington interview Dr. Jacob Gordon here.


Intellectual Vision & Mission
What is Africana Studies?
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Some of what you should know about AAAS


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