U.Va.’s Carter G. Woodson Institute Celebrating its 25th Anniversary

April 19, 2007-- When the University of Virginia established the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies in 1981, it was the first such research center at a southern university. Now approaching its 25th anniversary, the institute will be recognized at a symposium to be held on April 20 and 21, “Celebrating the Legacy, Scholarship and Future of the Woodson Institute.” Featuring a series of panel discussions and a keynote address by economist and professor William A. Darity, the symposium is free and open to the public. Events will be held in Newcomb, Maury and Minor halls.

The panels will comprise U.Va. faculty, students and former Woodson Institute fellows, who will talk about the history of the institute, African-American studies at U.Va. and several academic topics, including civil rights, the African diaspora and trends in African-American studies. The participants “highlight the breadth and quality of scholarship produced at the institute over the last quarter-century,” said Cindy Hoehler-Fatton, a former institute fellow and now associate professor of religious studies who is serving as interim director this year.

Participants include Paul Gaston, professor emeritus of history, who worked with the founding director, the late Armstead Robinson, to get the institute established; William Jackson, professor emeritus of German, who served as the first associate director; and Norfolk State University history professor Cassandra Newby-Alexander, a U.Va. alumna who was active in the late 1970s pushing for more emphasis on black studies.

Several years before the institute was founded, debate centered on whether to create a department or a center of African-American studies.

“The Woodson Institute became one of the nation’s premier centers of research and writing in Afro-American and African studies almost from its beginning in 1982. … Its creation culminated a long struggle at the University to integrate the black experience fully into the life of the academy,” Gaston said.

The institute Web site says the reason for naming it after Carter Woodson was to honor the Virginia-born founder of African and African-American Studies, and of black history week (which is now black history month), and to challenge the historically white University to place the African-American experience at the center of its teaching and research programs.

In addition to overseeing undergraduate majors and minors, the interdisciplinary institute offers pre- and postdoctoral fellowships and a visiting scholars program. About 120 residential graduate students have benefited from the fellowships.

Keynote speaker William A. “Sandy” Darity currently holds faculty appointments at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where he is the Boshamer Professor of Economics and director of the Institute of African-American Research, and at Duke University, where he is research professor of public policy studies, African-American studies and economics at the Terry Sanford Institute. Darity’s research focuses on inequality, social psychology effects of unemployment, history of economic thought and political economy, and the Atlantic slave trade and the Industrial Revolution. He is the co-author of “Persistent Disparity: Race and Economic Inequality in the United States Since 1945” (forthcoming) and “The Black Underclass: Critical Essays on Race and Unwantedness.”

Below is a complete schedule. For more information, contact Cindy Hoehler-Fatton at chh3a@virginia.edu or Octavia Phillips at op2j@virginia.edu.

For more information, see www.virginia.edu/woodson/.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute’s 25th Anniversary Symposium

 “Celebrating the Legacy, Scholarship and Future of the Woodson Institute”

April 20-21, 2007

FRIDAY, April 20

4-6 p.m. Panel: “25 Years of the Woodson Institute: Roots and Route”
Newcomb Hall Commonwealth Room
Chair: Deborah McDowell, professor of English, U.Va.
Cassandra Newby-Alexander, associate professor of history, Norfolk State University
Paul Gaston, professor emeritus of history, U.Va.
William Jackson, associate professor emeritus of German, U.Va., and former director, Woodson Institute
Scot French, associate professor and director, Virginia Center for Digital History, U.Va., and former acting director, Woodson Institute

7:30-9 p.m. Panel: “African-American and African Studies at U.Va. Today: Student Perspectives”
209 Maury Hall

Chair: Alwin Jones, graduate student, English, and instructor in AAS
Anique Downes, AAS major and undergraduate researcher at the Woodson Institute
Solome Paulos, AAS major and participant in the Woodson Institute’s Brazil program
Josephine Mwaura, AAS major, leader of the African Studies Initiative

SATURDAY, April 21 -- All panels and keynote address will be held in 125 Minor Hall.

9-10:50 a.m. Panel: “Africa and the Diaspora Across the Disciplines”
Chair: Marlon Ross, professor of English, U.Va.
Kandioura Drame, associate professor of French, U.Va.
Melvin Butler, assistant professor of music, U.Va.
Milton Vickerman, associate professor of sociology, U.Va.

11 a.m.-1 p.m. Panel: “Civil Rights: Where Do We Go From Here?”
Chair: Sandy Alexandre, assistant professor of literature, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and former Woodson Fellow
Mildred Robinson, professor of law, U.Va.
Patricia Sullivan, associate professor of history and African-American Studies, University of South Carolina and W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Harvard University; former Woodson Fellow
Waldo Martin, professor of history, UC-Berkeley, and former Woodson Fellow
Kim Forde-Mazrui, professor of law and director, Center for the Study of Race and Law, U.Va.

1-2 p.m. Luncheon at the Carter G. Woodson Institute, 108 Minor Hall 

2-3:50 p.m. Panel: “Trends in African-American Studies: New Directions”
Chair: Claudrena Harold, assistant professor of history, U.Va.
Julie Saville, associate professor of history, University of Chicago, and former Woodson Fellow
Tejumola Olaniyan, professor of African languages and literature, University of Wisconsin, and former Woodson Fellow
Corey Walker, assistant professor of Africana studies Brown University

4-5 p.m. Keynote Address: William A Darity, professor of economics, UNC-Chapel Hill, and research professor of public policy studies, Duke University. “Reconstructing Southern History and Reconstructing the South”

Media Contact