College hosts Symposium on the Black Power Movement

New studies that challenge the old narratives of Civil Rights and Black Power will be discussed in-depth at a week-long International Black Power Studies Symposium at Sarah Lawrence College from Monday, February 15 through Saturday, February 20.

The program will feature more than 50 authors, experts, and scholars from around the country and as far as Japan and the Caribbean. Groundbreaking work by leading historians and awards for pioneers in their fields will be featured during the week.

The Symposium will present discussions and lectures on a range of topics including three groundbreaking books: From Toussaint to Tupac: the Black International Since the Age of Revolution, richly documented in the recent scholarship that aims to fashion a new paradigm, edited by Michael West; Hasan Kwame Jeffries’ powerful narrative, Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama's Black Belt on the history of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization and the transformation of Civil Rights into Black Power; andWant to Start a Revolution? Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, a rethinking of Rosa Parks, as well as of a range of women leaders who enriched the strategy and leadership in the Black Revolt: locally, nationally and internationally, edited by Jeanne Theoharis, Komozi Woodard and Dayo Gore.

Awards named for historic leaders of African and African-American freedom movements, created to honor pioneering scholars and activists whose work has advanced the civil rights and black power movements, will be given to:

  • Jim Haughton, founder of the Harlem Fight Back organization that brought together Black, Latino and White women and men for the dignity of labor, will receive the Hubert Harrison Award, named for the “Black Socrates” of the Harlem Renaissance in the early 20th century.
  • Elombe Brath, graphic artist and political leader, saluted by such figures as South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, will receive the Patrice Lumumba (hero of Congolese independence in central Africa in the early 1960s) Award. A film by Harlem filmmaker and Sarah Lawrence College film faculty member Rico Speight will be shown.
  • Kwaanza founder Maulana Karenga, professor at California State University at Long Beach, who, by founding the African-American holiday, developed a ritual of social cohesion in the midst of the turbulent 1960s, encouraging African American identity and culture in the throes of a black cultural crisis, will receive the Marcus Garvey Award, named for the Jamaican leader who built one of the largest international movements of the 20th century. 
  • Sam Anderson, a Harlem educator, will receive the Malcolm X Award for his work in founding Africana Studies at Sarah Lawrence College in the 1960s. Considered to be a “renaissance man,” Anderson is a poet, mathematician, author and educator.
  • Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi, a master teacher of African Literature, who helped establish Africana Studies at Sarah Lawrence, will receive the Ngugi Wa Thiong’o Award, named for the renowned novelist and theorist of post-colonial literature.

Symposium session highlights include:

  • The founder of Kwanzaa, Maulana Karenga, will explain the Los Angeles 1966 origins of the holiday. (Wednesday, February 17)
  • A discussion of the white Milwaukee Catholic Priest, Father Groppi, and a Cambridge, Maryland middle aged mother, Gloria Richardson who led young Black Power groups in the 1960s. (Tuesday, February 16)
  • The story of how Black Power unfolded on the Campus of Columbia University and how it emerged in the Caribbean and in Africa in 1968 (Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20)
  • The story of the Black Arts Renaissance that built more than 800 theaters in the USA. (Saturday, February 20.)
  • Maulana Karenga on “The Life & Legacy of Malcolm X” (February 18)
  • Michael Simanga on “Detroit Black Arts and Black Power: Identity & Struggle” (February 20)
  • Hasan Jeffries on “Bloody Lowndes and the Roots of Black Power” (February 19)
  • Scot Brown on “The Black Congress and Roots of the Los Angeles Black Power Movement” (February 19)
  • Guest poets, to be featured for an evening of poetry on Friday, February 19, include Sonia Sanchez andMichael Simanga.

The program is organized by Sarah Lawrence College History faculty member, Komozi Woodard. For more information, visit the symposium site or call (914) 395 2412.