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

Back lives matter demonstrations held in 1970 and again in 2020 at KU stadium

To watch all of the sessions please visit our YouTube Channel

For printed program (.pdf)

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 

  • 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

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

For a brief history of the Department, check out Dr. Dorthy Pennington interview Dr. Jacob Gordon's video.

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