"A Minute With....Sundiata Cha-Jua" Regarding the Film "Selma"

Posted Wed, 14 Jan 2015

Just say the name “Selma,” and anyone who knows the history of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s will know what you mean. It was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in that Alabama city almost 50 years ago (March 7, 1965) that peaceful marchers were beaten back with billy clubs wielded by state and local lawmen. Captured on network television news, it would become known as “Bloody Sunday.” The movie “Selma,” which opened nationwide last Friday (Jan. 9), tells the story of that day and events before and after, which would prompt passage of the Voting Rights Act that summer. Sundiata Cha-Jua, a professor of history and of African-American studies at Illinois, teaches courses on both the civil rights movement and African-Americans in film. He talked about the film and the history with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

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Charles Ogletree to Speak at UIUC

Posted Wed, 03 Dec 2014

As one of the leading civil rights lawyers in the U.S., and founding Executive Director of Harvard’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Professor Ogletree has been involved in many noteworthy legal issues both here and abroad. He has served as a public defender in the District of Columbia, represented Anita Hill and Henry Louis Gates, among others, actively supported the movement for reparations, and campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty. Ogletree taught President Obama and Michelle Obama, and is a long-time friend of outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. The University of Illinois continues to grapple with such issues as declining enrollment of under-represented students, curriculum and faculty diversity, faculty governance, and freedom of speech. Professor Ogletree will share his reflections on the past 50 years of civil rights activity, and his thoughts about the road ahead in 2015 and beyond, especially in the aftermath of the Ferguson decision.

Franklin Receives HPCwire Editors' Choice Diversity Award

Posted Thu, 20 Nov 2014

HPCwire, the leading publication for news and information for the high performance computing industry announced the winners of the 2014 HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards at the Supercomputing Conference (SC14) taking place this week in New Orleans, LA. Tom Tabor, CEO of Tabor Communications Inc., unveiled the list of winners just before the opening gala reception. This year, for the first time, an Editors’ Choice Award recognizing the efforts being made to increase workforce diversity in high performance computing will be presented by HPCwire. The inaugural Workforce Diversity Leadership Award will be given to Dr. Kevin Franklin, Executive Director, I-CHASS, for his commitment to diversity that transcends ethnic and gender issues to include cultures, disciplines, and organizations at the global level. “There were several very deserving candidates for our first HPCwire Workforce Diversity Leadership Award,” said Tom Tabor. “Dr. Franklin’s achievements and commitment to global diversity stood out among the crowd. His involvement dates back to his founding of the Diversity Network nearly 20 years ago. His commitment transcends ethnic and gender issues to include cultures, disciplines, and organizations. His grassroots work with OAS-ARTCA, which brings together the Americas to share HPC, illustrates his dedication to global inclusiveness. His work at UCHRI and as one of the founders of HASTAC speaks of his awareness of the need to cross discipline lines and include the humanities and social sciences at the technology table. And now his leadership at I-CHASS really brings his work full circle. Dr. Franklin has worked tirelessly to be all inclusive, making us all aware that diversity is the cornerstone to innovation. More information on these awards can be found at the HPCwire website ( or on Twitter through the following hashtag: #HPCwireAwards.

"The Information War on Ebola"--Merle Bowen

Posted Wed, 19 Nov 2014

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been met with much reaction in the College of LAS, where the prevailing attitude is that the virus can be kept under control by people with information and the proper perspective. Merle Bowen, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Director of the Center for African Studies, is working to provide that information and perspective.

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ENGL 274/AFRO 298: Slavery and Identity, A Study Abroad Course offered in Spring 2015

Posted Fri, 07 Nov 2014

The Departments of English and African American Studies will be sponsoring a Study Abroad course to Benin, Africa, during the Spring 2015 semester. ENGL 274/AFRO 298: Slavery and Identity will explore the experience of slavery in the U.S. through its representation in literature and film. The course will focus on the enslaved, the enslavers, and the middle merchants who participated in the slave trade. We will also examine the economic, political, religious, and scientific justifications used to maintain slavery. Students will travel to Benin, formerly known as "The Slave Coast" for two weeks in May. Partnering with Beninese students, we will visit historical sites throughout the country to explore West African cultural traditions. We will pay particular attention to the aspects of these traditions that the enslaved Africans retained to create a new African-American (and, later, U.S.) cultural identity. Enrollment in this course is restricted to students who have been accepted for the May 17-31 study abroad program. Application deadline for Study Abroad is 12/1/14. There will be an information session for those interested in the course on Wednesday, November 12, at 4pm in Lincoln Hall, Room 1060.

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Center for African Studies Receives DOE Title VI Grant

Posted Tue, 07 Oct 2014

Merle Bowen has received word that the Center for African Studies has been awarded the Department of Education Title VI grant for both the NRC (National Resource Center) and FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies Program). Additional details are found at The awards total approximately $2.7 million in funding support. As Professor Bowen has stated, “This is the first major grant bestowed on our newly formed consortium between CAS and the Program in African Studies (PAS) at Northwestern University. We are excited about working together with our partner institutions on many of the fabulous programs detailed in the proposal.” In addition, we are pleased that one of the project’s outreach initiatives includes work with Malcolm X College, one of Chicago’s community colleges, a priority which has been of interest to African American Studies. The Department of African American Studies extends our warm congratulations and we look forward to working with our colleagues in the Center for African Studies to realize the goals of this important initiative.

"Blackness, Gender, & Contemporary African Dance: African Gallery Community Forum II"

Posted Thu, 09 Oct 2014

Please join us for African Gallery Community Forum II: Blackness, Gender, and Contemporary African Dance, featuring C. Kemal Nance, lecturer in Dance; with Anne Lutomia, doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership; Erik McDuffie, associate professor in African American Studies; Sam Smith, engagement director of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Social Work; and Rory James, director, Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center. This engaging, interactive discussion and performance will take place in the Krannert Art Museum African Gallery and Gelvin Noel Gallery. It is free and open to the public.

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Faye Harrison Featured in Inside Illinois "New Faces 2014"

Posted Mon, 06 Oct 2014

Faye Harrison, Professor in the Department of African American Studies, is featured in the October 2 issue of Inside Illinois as one of several "New Faces" on campus this fall.

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Christopher Fennell Named University Scholar

Posted Mon, 29 Sep 2014

Christopher Fennell, Associate Professor of Anthropology, is one of 14 faculty members across the three campuses to receive the University Scholar Award. Faculty members were nominated and selected by peers. University Scholars are recognized for exceptional achievements across the many fields of research fundamental to the University. The award acknowledges the excellence of their accomplishments while symbolizing the University's commitment to fostering outstanding faculty. Professor Fennell also holds appointments in the Department of African American Studies, the College of Law, and the Department of Landscape Architecture. Congratulations!

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Posted Thu, 11 Sep 2014

The Department of African American Studies has issued the following statement regarding a vote of "no confidence" in Chancellor Phyllis Wise, President Robert Easter, and the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

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Posted Tue, 09 Sep 2014

In late August, the Department of African American Studies issued the following official statement regarding the hiring of Steven Salaita, the death of Michael Brown, and the events affecting the residents of Ferguson, Missouri. The statement has been sent to the Board of Trustees, University administration, and campus administration.

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