Events and Programming

Information about relevant special events and programming…

  • The students of Fall 2022 Africana Studies course 234—Race, Land and Settler (Racial) Capitalism: Ongoing Topics in (Dis)/(Re)possession—taught by Professor Allison Guess, created a final project using original archival research on an important yet nearly unknown historical figure from the White Oaks neighborhood of Williamstown, Massachusetts: Ishmael Titus. Like many other Black and Indigenous people of his time, Ishmael's story has largely been erased from history and thus the students have worked to find ways to rectify this injustice.

    More information as well as articles and the project podcast can be found at this link.

  • Featuring Lynnée Denise and students of the Music Migration, Blues People, and Wayward Women course Fall 2021

    For the fall 2021 semester at Williams College, Professor Lynnée Denise designed a course titled Music Migration, Blues People, and Wayward Women. She introduces students to a range of alternative methods, subversive epistemologies, and sociological interventions that help illuminate how Black people moved from place to place with their rhythms and ideas. Approaching the syllabus as she would a mixtape, DJ Lynnée Denise assigned a semester-long project that required students to create the academic courses that matched their academic interests and courses they'd like to see. In this talk, Lynnée Denise speaks to the main themes in the course and gives students the platform to share their mock course titles and course descriptions for the Williams College community.


    Lynnée Denise is the 2022 Sterling Brown '22 Distinguished Visiting Professor. She's an artist, scholar, writer, and DJ whose work reflects underground cultural movements, the 1980s, migration studies, theories of escape, and electronic music of the African Diaspora. Denise coined the phrase "DJ Scholarship" to re-position the role of the DJ from a party purveyor to an archivist, cultural custodian, and information specialist of music with critical value. Through interactive workshops, lectures, and presentations at universities, conferences, and performance venues, Denise harnesses music as a medium for vital public dialogue on how to transform how the music of the Black Atlantic is understood in its social context and beyond entertainment.

  • During the 2018-2019 academic year, Williams College will commemorate 50 years of Africana Studies, an interdisciplinary field of study that emerged during the 1960s Freedom Movements, and that expands our knowledge of the vast experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. Founded in 1969 as Afro-American Studies in the aftermath of student action and protest, the Department of Africana Studies at Williams College will celebrate the institutionalization of Black Studies on campus while also recognizing the ways that, even in the rural hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Black Lives have always and continue to matter.

    Through intentional, critical reflection on the intersections of the past, the present and the future, the Department of Africana Studies has developed a year-long series of events to commemorate AFR50, and many in collaboration with other campus partners including The Davis Center (who celebrates 30 years at Williams in 2018), Special Collections, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Alumni Relations, and the W. Ford Schumann Faculty Fellow in Democratic Studies.

    Many of these events will be open to the public. For more information, see,, or contact Greg Shook, Director of Media Relations.

    Fall 2018 Programming

    In the Fall of 2018, a slate of programming tied to Afro-Diasporic Environmentalism: Explorations Of Environmental Racism &  Justice considered the national and global intersections of Africana Studies and the study of Environmentalism, and hosted events that centered the expertise of Dr. Rachel Harding (Sterling Brown ‘22 Visiting Professor of Africana Studies), Dr. Beverly Wright, Dr. Robert Bullard, Dr. Walter Johnson, Dr. José Constantine (Assistant Professor of Geosciences) and Dr. James Manigault-Bryant (Associate Professor & Chair, Africana Studies).

    See the full slate of the fall 2018 programming here.

    Spring 2019 Programming

    In the Spring of 2019, programming will be more locally focused, with attention to the impact of Africana Studies at Williams, its influence on student activism, alumni presence, and the Williams College curriculum, and its transformative collaborations with The Davis Center, the Williams College Black Student Union, and The Du Bois Center in Great Barrington, among other partners. Numerous events will take place throughout the term, and will include a walking tour, a living museum, and audio-visual exhibits in Special Collections and WCMA, to name a few. The yearlong commemoration will culminate with a weekend celebration from April 4-7, 2019, which will feature our current students, alumni, staff, and faculty, as well as distinguished guests.

    AFR50 The Weekend, April 47, 2019

    Be sure to visit our event schedule for the full list of events!

    For Such a Time As This: The AFR50 Exhibit

    two people holding hands

    This Spring’s exhibit in Schow Gallery celebrates fifty years of Africana Studies, an interdisciplinary field of study that emerged during the 1960s Freedom Movements, and that expands our knowledge of the vast experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. Commemorating Africana Studies at Williams College is a recognition that, even in the rural hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Black Lives have always and continue to matter.

    The exhibit theme, FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS, celebrates the formal presence of Africana Studies at Williams from 1969 to 2019 while denoting cyclical time in our history, where tides of student, staff, and faculty have had unique impacts upon the study of the Black Diaspora. The exhibit is designed to do five things: 1) to note the ways in which the “souls of Black folk” have left a permanent imprint on this particular Berkshire space; 2) to reveal Africana Studies’ role in helping to make that imprint; 3) to account for a work of building community that requires continuous tending; 4) to recognize the at time thorny relationship Black Williams (and Africana Studies) have had with this institution; and 5) to remember the people and moments that have been instrumental to the life of Africana Studies at Williams College.

    For such a time as this: Fifty years of Africana Studies at Williams College is on view in the Schow Gallery (Sawyer 455) during regular Special Collections hours from January through June. You can also access the exhibit brochure.

    —Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Exhibit Curator

    Afro-Diasporic Environmentalism Series, Fall 2018

    Poster for Afro-Diasporic Environmentalism Series Fall 2018

    “Nkisis, Orixás and Ancestors: The Role of Religion, Creativity and Environmental Ethics in the Afro-Atlantic Diaspora” 

    A Symposium Curated by Rachel Harding, Sterling Brown ‘22 Visiting Professor in Africana Studies 


    • "Afro-Brazilian Religion and Environmental Ethics," public lecture by Makota Valdina Pinto (Tuesday, September 18, 2018)
      • Makota Valdina Pinto is an ethicist, environmental justice activist and an elder inthe Congo-Angola tradition of the Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé.  Ms. Pinto is also a specialist in the ritual pharmacology of the Afro-Indigenous religious traditions of northeastern Brazil.  She travels widely – throughout Brazil and internationally – as an eloquent and esteemed spokesperson for devotees of African based religious traditions.  Ms. Pinto has received numerous honors and recognitions for her work, including a “Grassroots Wisdom Master” award from the Gregorio Mattos Foundation of Brazil, the Clementina de Jesus Trophy and the Maria Quiteria Medal awarded by the Salvador, Bahia city council.
    • Ancestors, Art and Black Ritual Diasporas, a public conversation with artists Junior Pakapym and Daniel Minter (Wednesday, September 19, 2018)
      • Antonio dos Santos Cerqueira Junior (aka Junior Pakapym) is a digital artist and painter whose work draws on the rich iconography of Afro-Brazilian religious and cultural imagery.  Mr. Cerqueira is a Candomblé initiate and member of a family with a longstanding tradition of racial and environmental justice advocacy. His art has been the basis for posters, banners and pamphlet covers related to grassroots organizing efforts in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.  As a millennial, Junior represents a generation of young Afro-Brazilian artists who are approaching ancestral traditions of ritual art with the tools and sensibilities of anime, graphic art and contemporary digital modes.
      • Daniel Minter is an award-winning, Maine-based painter, sculptor, illustrator and assemblage artist whose work is profoundly influenced by his roots in southern African American culture and his decades of exploration of artistic and religious traditions of the African diaspora.  Minter’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally at galleries and museums, including the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Bates College, Hammonds House Museum, Soren Christensen, Northwest African American Art Museum, Museu Jorge Amado and the Meridian International Center.  In 2004 and 2011, Minter was commissioned to design the Kwanzaa stamps for the US Postal service.
    • Block Printing Workshop for students and community members, led by Daniel Minter and Junior Pakapym (Thursday, September 20, 2018)
    • “Healing, Sovereignty and Activism: Perspectives from Candomblé and the Mohawk Nation,” a conversation circle with Candomblé and Mohawk elder/activists, Makota Valdina Pinto and Louise Herne (Thursday, September 20, 2018)
      • Makota Valdina Pinto (see description above) will be joined by Louise Wakerakatse Herne, a Clan Mother of the Mohawk Longhouse of Akwesasne.  Ms. Herne, is a respected ceremonial leader, counselor and community organizer responsible for protecting and passing on traditional spiritual and cultural teachings.  She is also an activist whose work combines organizing for environmental and gender justice and advocating for the rights of indigenous people in North America. 
    • The Water Mothers: A daylong retreat for self-care and community wellbeing (Saturday, September 22, 2018)
      • Drawing on resources and rituals from indigenous Afro-Latin, African American and South Asian traditions, this workshop encourages participants to apprehend healing in its broadest connotations – as both personal and societal/environmental; physical and psychological; material and spiritual.  The workshop offers approaches that acknowledge the sacred feminine in various forms – particularly in aspects of the natural world like water, wind and earth. Workshop facilitators, Gloria Rodriguez, Lakshmi Nair and Rachel Harding share activities with participants that include physical movement that balances our energies (dance and yoga), guided meditation, plant wisdom from Candomblé and southern African American traditions, theater and intergenerational storytelling.  Gloria Rodriguez is a psychologist, workshop facilitator and tenured professor at Bronx Community College in New York.  She is also an initiate in the Yoruba/Lucumi religious tradition and director of DeAlmas Women’s Institute. She specializes in developing seminars and workshops focused in Afro-Indigenous spirituality and social justice advocacy.  Lakshmi Nair is a 4th-generation yogi and founder of the Satya Yoga Teacher Training Program in Denver. Ms. Nair teaches yoga not primarily as a form of physical exercise but as a resource for activism and healing. Satya Yoga is one of the nation’s first yoga teacher certification programs designed specifically for people of color who are committed to teaching yoga in Black, Latinx, Asian and Native communities.  Rachel Harding is the Sterling Brown visiting professor at Williams. She is also co-director of the Veterans of Hope Project where she regularly develops workshops at the intersection of a spirituality of compassion and social justice activism. 
    • The 2018 Davis Lecture with Dr. Beverly Wright

    EVENT“Environmental Justice and Equity in the Face of Climate Change”
    DATE: Thursday, October 25, 2018
    TIME: 7:00pm-8:30pm

    LOCATION: Paresky Auditorium
    The Environmental Justice movement grew out of community activism and advocacy for better standards for protecting the health of people of color and low income communities. Although there were existing laws and regulations designed to protect human health, these protections were not afforded to all communities equally. Minority communities were left to languish in the shadow of industrial facilities inundated with toxic chemical pollution.  It was their struggle for justice and equal protection under the law that; (1) changed the culture of an agency; (2) shifted a research paradigm with the creation of a new approach and methodology that embraced community involvement (Community Based Participatory Research); (3) motivated the development of citizen science as a credible discipline; and (4) produced science that was more protective of communities. This presentation will review this transformation and analyze its impact on vulnerable communities.

    •  Quest for Environmental and Climate Justice with Dr. Robert Bullard

    EVENT“The Quest for Environmental and Climate Justice: Why Race and Place Matter”

    DATE: Friday, October 26, 2018
    TIME: 3:00pm
    LOCATION: Griffin Hall 3

    Referred to as “the Father of Environmental Justice,” Dr. Robert Bullard has been the leading voice against environmental racism for decades, including the Flint water crisis and hurricane recovery in Houston and Puerto Rico. Dr. Bullard is the recipient of numerous awards, including: the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award,  the Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, the Building Economic Alternatives Award from Co-op America, and named one of thirteen “Environmental Leaders of the Century” by Newsweek. He is the author of eighteen acclaimed books demonstrating his expertise in sustainable development, environmental racism, urban land use, industrial facility siting, community reinvestment, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and regional equity.

    This event is organized by the Departments of Africana Studies and Geosciences as part of the Afro-Diasporic Environmentalism Series: Explorations of environmental racism and justice. It is co-sponsored by the Class of 1963 Sustainability Fund, the Lecture Committee, the Center of Environmental Studies, the Justice and Law Program, the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Phi Beta Kappa, the Davis Center. With support from W. Ford Schumann ’50 Program in Democratic Studies as part of a yearlong series on Race and Democracy.

    • Afro-Diasporic Environmentalism, Reconsidered with James Manigault-Bryant and José Constantine

      EVENT: “Afro-Diasporic Environmentalism, Reconsidered” with James Manigault-Bryant and José Constantine

      DATE: Friday, November 9, 2018
      LOCATION: Griffin 7
      TIME: 3:00pm-4:30pm

      Professors José Constantine and James Manigault-Bryant will consider the numerous insights and wisdoms gained from the fall lecture series on “Afro-diasporic Environmentalism: Explorations of environmental racism and justice.” The series has included talks by Drs. Robert Bullard, Beverly Wright, and Walter Johnson, as well as a symposium on the Role of Religion, Creativity and Environmental Ethics in the Afro-Atlantic Diaspora.

      José Constantine is Assistant Professor of Geosciences. James Manigault-Bryant is Associate Professor of Africana Studies. Sponsored by Africana Studies, Geosciences, and the Davis Center.