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Black Power





On September 21st & 22nd, 2012, the College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture will host a public history symposium and community event on the topic of “The Fire Every Time: Reframing Black Power Across the Twentieth Century and Beyond”.



In his 1963 collection of essays, The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin reflected on the expulsion of African Americans from the “American Dream” of economic opportunity, political equality, and social belonging.   Rather than be daunted by what Baldwin called “the center of this dreadful storm, this vast confusion,” he connected the present and future struggles of Black people to their past:  “I know that what I’m asking is impossible. But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand—and one is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the impossible.”

In our contemporary age, where some have claimed the nation has achieved the “impossible” through the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African-American president, we ask scholars, activists, and artists to re-conceptualize the twentieth century through the lens of past, present, and future struggles for Black Power, which in the words of James Baldwin spread as a “fire” every time.



The conference will feature two plenary panels, two roundtable panels, and fourteen paper presentation panels on such topics as policing, incarceration, higher education, Black arts and cultural institutions, the military, self-defense, images and iconography of the Black Panther Party, inter-racial alliances and “Rainbow” coalitions, religion, nationalism, trans-nationalism and global impact of Black Power, and film and documentary film-making.



PLENARY Session: State of the Field
Yohuru Williams (Fairfield University), Peniel Joseph (Tufts University), Donna Murch (Rutgers University), Hasan Jeffries (The Ohio State University), Rhonda Williams (Case Western Reserve University).

PLENARY Session: Activists Then and Now
Cleveland Sellers (Voorhees College & Scholar Activist), Herman Blake (Medical University of South Carolina & Scholar Activist), Millicent Brown (Claflin University & Scholar Activist), James Campbell (Community Leader and Organizer), Osei Terry Chandler (Community Leader).

ROUNDTABLE: Reframing the Orangeburg Massacre: Protest and Police Reprisals
Cleveland Sellers (Voorhees College & Scholar Activist), Judy Richardson (Director & Former SNCC Activist), Jack Shuler (Denison University), Jack Bass (College of Charleston).

ROUNDTABLE Film Excerpt Screenings: Black Power on Film: Documentaries, Hollywood, and Filmmaking
Portia Cobb (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Marylou Tibaldo-Bongiorno (Director,Revolution ’67), Judy Richardson, (Former SNCC Activist & Film Director, Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968).

ROUNDTABLE: The Longue Durée: Black Power from the Nineteenth Century to the 1990′s
Van Gosse (Franklin Marshall College), Deborah Gray White (Rutgers University), Curtis Austin(The OhioStateUniversity).



We will also feature a special roundtable on the “Orangeburg Massacre of 1968” during which three African American students were killed by state police in Orangeburg during a civil rights protest of a segregated bowling alley.  This event was quite similar to the KentState shooting of 1971, and yet received little national media attention.  We hope to rectify the media’s lack of attention by bringing together Dr. Cleveland Sellers, a protest organizer and now president of VoorheesCollege, with two recent and noted authors on the incident, namely Jack Bass and Dr. Jack Shuler, and a documentary filmmaker, Judy Richardson, who will show her film on the Orangeburg Massacre of 1968.   This promises to be a valuable and important discussion on a pressing matter of South Carolina’s history that has dominated the history books, but not public dialogue.


Although our community conference and gathering considers the history of African American politics and activism in Charleston, the Lowcountry, and beyond, we also consider how these topics have manifested in the contemporary world, a matter of pressing and national importance as the nation considers the reelection of the country’s first Black president.  Importantly, these scholars aim to create a dialogue with the audience that will think about how civil rights organizing and Black Power activism has fundamentally reshaped and broadened American democracy and citizenship for all peoples.


Altogether, we will bring together over 50 of the country’s top scholars on African American history and culture alongside activists and community members.  This represents a seminal gathering and a rare opportunity to create a memorable dialogue.  Far too often historians and scholars are seen as being removed from the general public and we hope to bridge that distance by creating a unique public history seminar and community gathering.  In addition to offering two-days of plenary speakers, roundtable panels, and presentations, this conference also features documentary film and a juried art exhibition. 

Please come join what will be an engaging conference and conversation.


For additional information contact:
Dr. Robert Chase

Conference Registration information

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Hubert Harrison


Karia Press
Presents An “In Tribute” Event
Featuring A Presentation
By Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry
Based on his Biography
Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918

During Discussion he will be able to refer to:
Theodore W. Allen’s works:
The Invention of the White Race …

@ Centerprise
136-138 Kingsland Road
Dalston, London, E8 2NS
Friday, 20th May, 2011
7:30 – 10:00PM
Donations: £3.00

Restaurant on site

Bookings, and other information from: Karia Press:, Tel. 0750 4661 785

Books will be available for sale at the event.

If you wish to order a copy(ies) of the book(s) in advance, please email or call for availability and prices.

To get to the venue:
London Overground: Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction.
Buses: 149, 76, 243, 67, 236.

Background Information on Hubert Harrison

Hubert Harrison, (1883-1927) was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism. Harrison profoundly influenced “New Negro” militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his synthesis of class and race issues is a key unifying link between the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement: the labour and civil-rights-based work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist work associated with Malcolm X.

Harrison played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the New Negro/Garvey) movement of his era. He was the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, the founder of the “New Negro” movement, the editor of the “Negro World,” and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement.

He also helped transform the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture (known today as the world-famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). His biography offers profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America.

About the Author

Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent, working class scholar who was formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia Universities. He was a long-time (33 years) activist, elected union officer with Local 300, and editor for the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (Division of LIUNA, AFL-CIO, CTW).

Dr. Perry preserved and inventoried the Hubert H. Harrison Papers (now at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library) and is the editor of A Hubert Harrison Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001). He is also literary executor for Theodore W. Allen, author of The Invention of the White Race [2 Vols., Verso, 1994 and 1997), and edited and introduced Allen’s Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race.

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