50th Anniversary of the Africana Studies Program

During November 1–3, 2019, the Larry A. Mamiya Memorial Conference commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Africana Studies program with a conference, “Africana Studies and the Future of Freedom.” The event featured noted scholars, current and former faculty and staff, and current and former students—including some who helped create the program 50 years ago. Read the story about the Larry A. Mamiya Memorial Conference.


Alums, students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered for the Larry H. Mamiya Memorial Conference Celebrating 50 Years of Africana Studies at Vassar College in November 2019. Two alums who participated in the occupation of Main Building in 1969, widely credited for helping to secure support for the college’s Black Studies program (now Africana Studies), talk about the civic action.
Abrianna Harris ’21 interviews Vassar alum and Harvard University Professor Glenda Carpio about her book, Laughing Fit to Kill (2008), and her criticisms of the work of Kara Walker and Robert Colescott.
Part 2 of Abrianna Harris’s interview of Vassar alum and Harvard University Professor Glenda Carpio about her book, Laughing Fit to Kill (2008), and the challenges that come with doing critical work on slavery and its texts.
Kiah Matherson discusses with Syracuse University Professor Silvio-Torres Salliant the need for future work in Africana Studies to correct the lies the colonial period produced about people of African and Indigenous descent.
Keynote remarks by 2019 Macarthur Genius Fellow Saidiya Hartman, author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women and Queer Radicals. Her keynote is followed by a roundtable discussion between her, Professor Diane Harriford (Sociology), Professor Jasmine Syedullah (Africana Studies), and Karina Norton ’21.
Ruby Brown ’20 interviews historian Sherie Randolph about her her work on the life and thought of the black feminist radical lawyer, Florence Kennedy.
In an interview with Saredo Ali ’22, Professor of Philosophy Lewis Gordon discusses the ethical implications of Africana musical styles. He argues here that we can see music as “the great allegory of democratic society.” The interview was filmed by Lena Stevens ’21.
Professor Jasmine Syedullah’s new course, “On Mattering” (Fall 2020) responds to summer conflicts over police brutality and structural racism. Syedullah and her students explore the prospects for coalition building, prison abolition, and producing a community of care.