The James Baldwin Lecture
The James Baldwin Lecture addresses issues connected to social, economic, and political justice and underpinnings in institutional racism. The lecture honors the late James Baldwin, who taught at UMass for several years. It was established by and made possible with generous support from History Department alumnus Dr. Allen J. Davis '68. The lecture is co-presented by the Department of History, the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.
James Baldwin sitting indoors, ca. 1986. University Photograph Collection (RG 120_2). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.
2023 Baldwin Lecture by Bill Fletcher Jr.
None of Us Is Free Unless All Are Free: Anti-Imperialism and the Black Radical Tradition
From joining with First Nations peoples to contest European settlement to protesting the annexation of foreign territory, the political struggles waged by African Americans have fostered a vibrant Black Radical Tradition consistently opposed to U.S. imperialism. Those drawing on this tradition have not only protested U.S. invasions of other nations as a matter of principle, but also highlighted the interconnections between injustices waged abroad and oppression at home. In doing so, this tradition has often served as the basis for solidarity with those struggling against U.S. imperialism, a solidarity that has helped to inform radical movements here against patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalist exploitation. Delivered by scholar activist Bill Fletcher Jr., the 2023 James Baldwin Lecture explored this history from the 1600s through the 1970s. View the Recording.
Bill Fletcher Jr visited the W.E.B. Du Bois Collection at the Robert S. Cox University Archives and Special Collections during his visit to UMass Amherst. February, 2023. Photography by Jason Kotoch.
2021 Baldwin Lecture by Vanessa Nakate and Varshini Prakash '15
Young People Fighting for Climate Justice
Young people have transformed the climate movement. Youth of color and youth from the Global South have been especially central in this process. Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, executive director of the Sunrise Movement Varshini Prakash ‘15, and other leading climate organizers reflected on their personal experiences in the movement and shared their organizing strategy, insights, and visions for the world they’re fighting to win. February 1, 2021,12pm.
This event was offered in partnership with the 2020-2021 UMass Amherst History Department Feinberg Series, Planet on a Precipice: Histories and Futures of the Environmental Emergency. View the event.
Vanessa Nakate and Varshini Prakash.
2018 Baldwin Lecture by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
Another World Is Possible Feinberg Series Keynote Address
In September 2018, the inaugural James Baldwin Lecturer was Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. In an event that drew some 1300 people to the Fine Arts Center, Barber, who is co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign and a MacArthur Genius Award winner, discussed the history of Reconstruction that followed Emancipation and the “second” Reconstruction of the 1960s. He then made the case for a “third” Reconstruction in the twenty-first century, entailing “a profoundly moral awakening of justice-loving people united in a fusion coalition powerful enough to reclaim the possibility of democracy.” Listen to speech.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II delivers the inaugural address. September 2018. Photography by Jason Kotoch.