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University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst

W.E.B. Du Bois Department

 

Welcome to the official website for the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst.  The Department is an intellectual, professional, and social community that stands at the forefront of global education and research on people of African descent in the United States and the world.  Please browse the site to learn more about who we are and what we do behind the doors of New Africa House on the UMass flagship campus and beyond.

(Photo by Ed Cohen)

 

 

 



DEPARTMENT NEWS


SOS—Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader

A major anthology of readings from the Black Arts Movement. Edited by John H. Bracey Jr., Sonia Sanchez, and James Smethurst

This volume brings together a broad range of key writings from the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, among the most significant cultural movements in American history. The aesthetic counterpart of the Black Power movement, it burst onto the scene in the form of artists’ circles, writers’ workshops, drama groups, dance troupes, new publishing ventures, bookstores, and cultural centers and had a presence in practically every community and college campus with an appreciable African American population. Black Arts activists extended its reach even further through magazines such as Ebony and Jet, on television shows such as Soul! and Like It Is, and on radio programs.

Many of the movement’s leading artists, including Ed Bullins, Nikki Giovanni, Woodie King, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Askia Touré, and Val Gray Ward remain artistically productive today. Its influence can also be seen in the work of later artists, from the writers Toni Morrison, John Edgar Wideman, and August Wilson to actors Avery Brooks, Danny Glover, and Samuel L. Jackson, to hip hop artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Chuck D.

SOS—Calling All Black People includes works of fiction, poetry, and drama in addition to critical writings on issues of politics, aesthetics, and gender. It covers topics ranging from the legacy of Malcolm X and the impact of John Coltrane’s jazz to the tenets of the Black Panther Party and the music of Motown. The editors have provided a substantial introduction outlining the nature, history, and legacy of the Black Arts Movement as well as the principles by which the anthology was assembled.

See University Press for more information.

 


Black Women and the Arts in the 21st Century

View video here (click on flyer)

March 10th, 2014 7:00 -9:30 p.m.

Mullins Center, UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – An event featuring three prominent African-American artists — Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, singer and social activist Bernice Johnson Reagon and poet and playwright Sonia Sanchez.

 

 

 

 


PH.D. ALUMNAE/I

PUBLICATIONS

 

Black Passports: Travel Memoirs as a Tool for Youth Empowerment, by Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans (Ph.D.2003)

A resource guide that uses African American memoir to address a variety of issues related to mentoring and curriculum development.

In this resource guide for fostering youth empowerment, Stephanie Y. Evans offers creative commentary on two hundred autobiographies that contain African American travel memoirs of places around the world. The narratives are by such well-known figures as Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Billie Holiday, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Muhammad Ali, Richard Pryor, Angela Davis, Condoleezza Rice, and President Barack Obama, as well as by many lesser-known travelers. The book addresses a variety of issues related to mentoring and curriculum development. It serves as a tool for “literary mentoring,” where students of all ages can gain knowledge and wisdom from texts in the same way achieved by one-on-one mentoring, and it also provides ideas for incorporating these memoirs into lessons on history, geography, vocabulary, and writing. Focusing on four main mentoring themes—life, school, work, and cultural exchange—Evans encourages readers to comb the texts for models of how to manage attitudes, behaviors, and choices in order to be successful in transnational settings.

“This book provides a new and refreshing way to think about Black youth and issues of empowerment. It will be a useful tool for teachers, parents, scholars, and community organizers, leaders, and activists.” — Valerie Grim, Indiana University Bloomington

 

 


 

Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement: A Fragile Coalition, 1967-1973, by Dr. Christopher P. Lehman (Ph.D. 2002)

Focusing on four major civil rights groups, Power, Politics, and the Decline of the Civil Rights Movement: A Fragile Coalition, 1967–1973 documents how factions within the movement and sabotage from the federal government led to the gradual splintering of the Civil Rights Movement. Well-known historian Christopher P. Lehman builds his case convincingly, utilizing his original research on the Movement's later years—a period typically overlooked and unexamined in the existing ...

 


 

 

 

 

Winning the War for Democracy: The March on Washington Movement, 1941-1946, by David Lucander (Ph.D. 2010)

(University of Illinois Press, September 2014)

Scholars regard the March on Washington Movement (MOWM) as a forerunner of the postwar Civil Rights movement. Led by the charismatic A. Philip Randolph, MOWM scored an early victory when it forced the Roosevelt administration to issue a landmark executive order that prohibited defense contractors from practicing racial discrimination.

Winning the War for Democracy: The March on Washington Movement, 1941-1946 recalls that triumph, but also looks beyond Randolph and the MOWM's national leadership to focus on the organization's evolution and actions at the local level. Using the personal papers of previously unheralded MOWM members such as T.D. McNeal, internal government documents from the Roosevelt administration, and other primary sources, David Lucander highlights how local affiliates fighting for a double victory against fascism and racism helped the national MOWM accrue the political capital it needed to effect change.

Lucander details the efforts of grassroots organizers to implement MOWM's program of empowering African Americans via meetings and marches at defense plants and government buildings and, in particular, focuses on the contributions of women activists like Layle Lane, E. Pauline Myers, and Anna Arnold Hedgeman. Throughout he shows how local activities often diverged from policies laid out at MOWM's national office, and how grassroots participants on both sides ignored the rivalry between Randolph and the leadership of the NAACP to align with one another on the ground.

 

 

For Jobs and Freedom: The Speechs and Writings of A. Philip Randolph, by David Lucander (edited with Andrew E. Kersten)

(University of Massachusetts Press, January 2015)

As the head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a tireless advocate for civil rights, A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) served as a bridge between African Americans and the labor movement. During a public career that spanned more than five decades, he was a leading voice in the struggle for black freedom and social justice, and his powerful words inspired others to join him. This volume documents Randolph's life and work through his own writings. The editors have combed through the files of libraries, manuscript collections, and newspapers, selecting more than seventy published and unpublished pieces that shed light on Randolph's most significant activities. The book is organized thematically around his major interests--dismantling workplace inequality, expanding civil rights, confronting racial segregation, and building international coalitions. The editors provide a detailed biographical essay that helps to situate the speeches and writings collected in the book. In the absence of an autobiography, this volume offers the best available presentation of Randolph's ideas and arguments in his own words.

 

Also, see Dr. Lucander's forthcoming chapter in Reframing Randolph: Labor, Black Freedom, and the Legacies of A. Philip Randolph, Edited by Andrew Kersten and Clarence Lang (New York University Press, January 2015).


Unbought and Unbossed: Transgressive Black Women, Sexuality, and Representation, by Trimiko Melancon (Ph.D. 2005)

(Temple University Press, January 2015)

Unbought and Unbossed critically examines the ways black women writers in the 1970s and early 1980s deploy black female characters that transgress racial, gender, and especially sexual boundaries. Trimiko Melancon analyzes literary and cultural texts, including Toni Morrison's Sula and Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place, in the socio-cultural and historical moments of their production. She shows how representations of black women in the American literary and cultural imagination diverge from stereotypes and constructions of "whiteness," as well as constructions of female identity imposed by black nationalism. Drawing from black feminist and critical race theories, historical discourses on gender and sexuality, and literary criticism, Melancon explores the variety and complexity of black female identity. She illuminates how authors including Ann Allen Shockley, Alice Walker, and Gayl Jones engage issues of desire, intimacy, and independence to shed light on a more complex black identity, one ungoverned by rigid politics over-determined by race, gender and sexuality.

 

 

Black Female Sexualities, by Trimiko Melancon (edited with Joanne M. Braxton; Foreword by Melissa Harris-Perry)

(Rutgers University Press, November 2014)

Western culture has long regarded black female sexuality with a strange mix of fascination and condemnation, associating it with everything from desirability, hypersexuality, and liberation to vulgarity, recklessness, and disease. Yet even as their bodies and sexualities have been the subject of countless public discourses, black women’s voices have been largely marginalized in these discussions. In this groundbreaking collection, feminist scholars from across the academy come together to correct this omission—illuminating black female sexual desires marked by agency and empowerment, as well as pleasure and pain, to reveal the ways black women regulate their sexual lives.  The twelve original essays in Black Female Sexualities reveal the diverse ways black women perceive, experience, and represent sexuality. The contributors highlight the range of tactics that black women use to express their sexual desires and identities. Yet they do not shy away from exploring the complex ways in which black women negotiate the more traumatic aspects of sexuality and grapple with the legacy of negative stereotypes. 
Black Female Sexualities takes not only an interdisciplinary approach—drawing from critical race theory, sociology, and performance studies—but also an intergenerational one, in conversation with the foremothers of black feminist studies. In addition, it explores a diverse archive of representations, covering everything from blues to hip-hop, from Crash to Precious, from Sister Souljah to Edwidge Danticat. Revealing that black female sexuality is anything but a black-and-white issue, this collection demonstrates how to appreciate a whole spectrum of subjectivities, experiences, and desires.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



Against Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle against the Colonization Movement
by Ousmane K. Power-Greene (Ph.D. 2007)
(NYU Press, September 2014)

Against Wind and Tide tells the story of African American’s battle against the American Colonization Society (ACS), founded in 1816 with the intention to return free blacks to its colony Liberia. Although ACS members considered free black colonization in Africa a benevolent enterprise, most black leaders rejected the ACS, fearing that the organization sought forced removal. As Ousmane K. Power-Greene’s story shows, these African American anticolonizationists did not believe Liberia would ever be a true “black American homeland.”   In this study of anticolonization agitation, Power-Greene draws on newspapers, meeting minutes, and letters to explore the concerted effort on the part of nineteenth century black activists, community leaders, and spokespersons to challenge the American Colonization Society’s attempt to make colonization of free blacks federal policy. The ACS insisted the plan embodied empowerment. The United States, they argued, would never accept free blacks as citizens, and the only solution to the status of free blacks was to create an autonomous nation that would fundamentally reject racism at its core. But the activists and reformers on the opposite side believed that the colonization movement was itself deeply racist and in fact one of the greatest obstacles for African Americans to gain citizenship in the United States.   Power-Greene synthesizes debates about colonization and emigration, situating this complex and enduring issue into an ever broader conversation about nation building and identity formation in the Atlantic world.



 

The Path to the Greater, Freer, Truer World: Southern Civil Rights and Anticolonialism, 1937-1955, by Dr. Lindsey Swindall (Ph.D. 2007)

The Southern Negro Youth Congress and the Council on African Affairs were two organizations created as part of the early civil rights efforts to address race and labor issues during the Great Depression. They fought within a leftist, Pan-African framework against disenfranchisement, segregation, labor exploitation, and colonialism.

By situating the development of the SNYC and the Council on African Affairs within the scope of the long civil rights movement, Lindsey Swindall reveals how these groups conceptualized the U.S. South as being central to their vision of a global African diaspora. Both organizations illustrate well the progressive collaborations that maintained an international awareness during World War II. Cleavages from anti-radical repression in the postwar years are also evident in the dismantling of these groups when they became casualties of the early Cold War.

 

 


The Esther M. Terry Award: Distinguished Dissertations in Afro-American Studies

Ernest Gibson, Ph.D. 2012

Dissertation Title: "In Search of the Fraternal: Salvific Manhood and Male Intimacy in the Fiction of James Baldwin"

Chair: James Smethurst

James Carroll, Ph.D. 2013

Dissertation Title: "Composing the African Atlantic: Sun Ra, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, and the Poetics of African Diasporic Composition"

Chair: Steven Tracy

Presented on Friday, May 9th, 2014 (See program here).

Past Recipients of the Esther M. Terry Award:

Christopher Tinson, Ph.D. 2010

Dissertation Title: "The Fight for Freedom Must Be Fought on all Fronts: Liberator Magazine and Black Radicalism, 1960-1971"

Chair: Ernest Allen, Jr.

Kabria Baumgartner, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "Intellect, Liberty, Life: Women's Activism and the Politics of Black Education in Antebellum America"

Chair: Manisha Sinha

Jonathan Fenderson, Ph.D. 2011

Dissertation Title: "'Journey Toward a Black Aesthetic': Hoyt Fuller, the Black Arts Movement and the Black Intellectual Community"

Chair: James Smethurst

 


Nadia Alahmed's, Ph.D. candidate, published an article, "Not In Our Name: Against U.S. Aid to the Massacre in Gaza".

 

Flávia Santos de Araújo’s article “Righting/Writing the Black Female Body in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Literature” has been published in the bilingual critical anthology Cuerpo, educación y liderazgo político: una mirada desde el género y los estudios feministas / Bodies, education and political leadership: a gender and feminist perspective (FLACSO, 2014), edited by Sara Poggio y María Amelia Viteri.  Araújo analyzes how the black female body is conceived in the literary works of four contemporary Afro-Brazilian poets: Cristiane Sobral, Conceição Evaristo, Esmeralda Ribeiro and Elisa Lucinda. She argues that these writers defy stereotypical images of black women that have been historically constructed and are part of Brazilian social imaginaries. The volume is available in a PDF version (click here) and individual articles can be downloaded on the editor’s website.

Alex Carter, Ph.D. candidate, celebrated at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies 50th anniversary.

Rosa Clemente, Ph.D. candidate, has been appointed as the first Distinguished Visiting Lecturer for 2014-2015 in the Departments of Pan-African Studies and Latin American Studies at California State University-Los Angeles. Rosa was the youngest Vice-Presidential candidate in U.S. history when she ran with Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney on the first ever women-of-color ticket in 2008. She is also the visionary who co-founded the National Hip Hop Political Convention and a world-renowned revolutionary Hip Hop organizer. This fall she will be teaching Hip Hop as Political Expression, Race, Activism and Emotions and Race in the Americas (focus on Afro-Latino identity). More information can be found at www.rosaclemente.net.

Johanna Ortner, Ph.D. candidate, won the Graduate School's Dissertation Research Grant for 2014-15.


Two UMass AfroAm affiliates win fellowships in the newly inaugurated Mellon Program in  African American History at the Library Company, Philadelphia!

Kabria Baumgartner, UMass Afro Am alumnus and Assistant Professor of  History at the College of Wooster, Ohio won the Mellon Post Doctoral  Fellowship in African American History.

Doctoral student Emahunn Raheem Ali Campbell won the Mellon  Dissertation Fellowship in African American History.


*See facebook link for photos of “Black Women and the Arts in the 21st Century”event featuring Toni Morrison, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Sonia Sanchez.


Kelli Morgan, Ph.D. candidate, is the second Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in African American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art. She will begin her position in late May. Kelli's interests include nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty first-century African American Art, particularly representations of the Black female body in various contexts.   Kelli also received the Ford Foundation Fellowship for 2014-2015. She is the first one in our department to be awarded the fellowship.

Thank you to Ph.D. student Kelli Morgan for her thoughts on African American women's bodies in art, and their opportunities in the art world through a biography of renowned artist Elizabeth Catlett. This is the fifth in a series that pays tribute to Black History Month.
Read along with us! http://umasshistory.wordpress.com/

 


Dr. David Lucander (Ph.D. 2010) received tenure and was promoted to Assistant Professor at Rockland Community College in the Pluralism and Diversity Department. Look for his upcoming book, Winning the War for Democracy: The March on Washington Movement, 1941-1946 this fall on University of Illinois Press.


Professor John Bracey, Chair, Afro-American Studies

WPFW Interview on Wednesday, May 21st at 11 a.m.

Click here to listen!

Visit their website at www.wpfwfm.org.


Dr. Christopher Lehman (Ph.D. 2002) quoted in NY Times!


Professor Manisha Sinha was invited to the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014. See link: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-11-2014/exclusive---the-weakest-lincoln?xrs=playershare_fb

Also, Professor Manisha Sinha's latest on "12 Years a Slave" in the NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/untold-history-beneath-12-years-article-1.1706946


National Council for Black Studies Presidential Award Given to Shabazz

Amilcar Shabazz, professor of Afro-American Studies and faculty advisor to the chancellor for diversity and excellence, has received the National Council for Black Studies’ Presidential Award, conferred at its 38th annual conference on March 8 in Miami. Click here for details.

 


New England Regional Student Program (NERP)

Afro-American Studies Majors Qualify from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The NERP allows students from the six New England states, who are enrolled in certain programs not offered by their home-state public college or universities, to pay a reduced tuition rate. Not all programs are available in the NERP at UMass.

See the Registrar's Office for details.


Check out our Department News & Events Page for more....

On the evening of January 4, 2013 William Cronon, President of the American Historical Association, awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies with the AHA's Institutional Equity Award for its training and placing of minority historians in the academy. Manisha Sinha, Graduate Program Director and the Jobs Placement Officer of the department for its History-Politics track accepted the award on behalf of the department.

Established over 40 years ago, the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the oldest African American Studies departments in the country. In 1996, this department established a pioneering doctoral program in African American Studies, emphasizing solid disciplinary training in history.  As one of the referees highlighted: "Not only was this doctoral program one of the first in the country but it has since its founding graduated a record number of minority students who have gone on to tenure track positions in history throughout the country."  As one graduate of the department noted, "I learned how to think like a historian and how to be a historian in the academy....Not only did I receive great mentorship, but the graduate program also encouraged me to mentor others, including undergraduate students whom I taught."


This prize is given to recognize individuals and institutions that have achieved excellence in recruiting and retaining underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the historical profession.  The Department will be recognized during the awards ceremony at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans. You can find information on the AHA's web site, at www.historians.org/annual


 

The November 2012 newsletter of the Organization of American Historians has a brief article, accompanied by a pie chart,  that begins as follows: "African American history topics were the most popular for the OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program during the 2011-2012,accounting for nearly a quarter of all lectures given."  We are glad that there is such an interest in African American history. We also must acknowledge that the need for scholars in this field is not being met by the full time faculty at many of the institutions requesting guest lecturers. Our department  will continue to do our part in producing first rate graduates who will be available as openings occur.    Professors John Bracey, a Life Member of the OAH since 1964, and Manisha Sinha have served as Distinguished Lecturers for several years.  

*Click on chart for pdf version.


 

Department Links:

UMail     

Spire

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

Faculty Presentation Grants (CHFA)

ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst Afro-Am Collections

Afro-Am Librarian-Isabel Espinal

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Studies

eBlackstudies.org

H-Afro-Am

NCBS Online

The African Studies Review

 

 

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W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

329 New Africa House
180 Infirmary Way, UMass Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003
Phone: (413) 545- 2751
Fax: (413) 545-0628