Dear Campus Community,
This year is the 400th year anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves at England’s Colony of Virginia, marking the beginning of slavery on the North American continent.
Last year the federal 400 Years of African American History Commission Act was signed into law and now, together as a country and a campus, we will acknowledge, study, and discuss the meaning and lasting impact of a despicable chapter in our nation’s history.
Given the significance of this anniversary, we are in the process of coordinating a wide range of programs and events that will honor and celebrate African Americans’ extraordinary intellectual, social, and cultural contributions to our nation; examine the long-lasting impacts of slavery; and explore the roots and consequences of continued discrimination, bias, and inequality in our society.
The planning work is being coordinated by a committee led by Professor Denise Herd and the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, with support from the African American Studies and History Departments; the African American Student Development Center; and the Black Faculty and Staff Organization. We intend to begin our programming with a day-long campus symposium on August 30 featuring scholars from Berkeley and beyond who will explore foundational themes in African American history.
Work is also underway on a year-long program of events, with current plans calling for research seminars and panel discussions drawing on and connecting to a wide range of disciplines, including the humanities, law, health, politics, gender and women’s studies, education and religion. Commemoration activities may also include a film series, as well as artistic performances and exhibitions sponsored by Cal Performances, BAMPFA, and other campus units.
I want to offer sincere thanks to members of the committee for their ongoing efforts in support of a truly important project that has profound connections to our values and our commitments to justice, equity, inclusion, and diversity. (See below for a full roster of committee members.) We will update the campus once more information is available and scheduling details are confirmed.