Section Menu

African & African-American Studies


The Africa & African-American Studies program hosts lectures throughout the academic year that features both Rollins faculty and visiting scholars.



This year, the Africa and African-American Studies program considers the importance of the GENESIS.

Inherent to the mission that inspires ethnic studies programs is an examination of how established patterns shape contemporary experience. Whether communal knowledge or institutional practice, the transformations (or lack thereof) linked to identity dominates discourse both public and private. As the United States approaches a majority minority reality, this new moment requires us to rethink our assumption and renew our commitment to fostering community. This genesis must draw on the liberal arts tradition of valuing cultural awareness and intellectual engagement for the betterment of civil society. Through our efforts in and outside the classroom the  Africa and African-American Studies program contributes to the college’s mission of fostering global citizenship and responsible leadership with the knowledge this commitment is crucial to our collective success.

Fall 2015

Presented by the Africa and African-American Studies Program and the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Funded by the Thomas P. Johnson Distinguished Visiting Scholar and Artist Fund.

The AfroDixies Listening Party
“Dixieland,” the anthem of the Confederacy, acts as a representative voice for southern heritage, white pride, and a lost cause. This iconic tune occupies an important space for defending southern white notions of “freedom” and affirming black marginalization. Arguing that the African-American experience is central to any notion of Southern heritage, John Sims was inspired to confront this song by remixing and remapping it to produce a collection of 14 tracks infused with black musical traditions. The AfroDixie Remixes listening party will be the first public performance of this unique project. This event will include an audience response session with Sims.

Event Details
September 14, 2015 @ 7 p.m.
Rollins College - Cornell Fine Arts Museum
John Sims, Thomas P. Johnson Visiting Scholar

Recoloration Proclamation
First he recolored the Confederate Flag in a SoHo gallery. Then he hanged the Rebel flag in Gettysburg. And recently, for both Memorial Day and July 4th, before and after the Charleston Church murders, multi-media artist John Sims organized Confederate flag burnings and burials across the southern United States as a part of his 15 year Recoloration Proclamation project. In this artist talk Sims will discuss the social and political narratives linked to this multiyear project about the Confederate flag.

Presented by the Africa and African-American Studies Program and the Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

Event Details
September 15, 2015 @ 7 p.m.
Rollins College - Bush Auditorium
John Sims, Thomas P. Johnson Visiting Scholar


This year, the Africa and African-American Studies program considers the importance of the SYNTHESIS.

Why synthesis? At its heart, our effort to raise awareness around the African Diaspora represents an attempt, through study and analysis, to correct distortions that hamper society. Synthesis in this context refers to "a complex whole formed by combining."  Thus, our goal is to bring a synthesis of ideas to our community that promotes a more balanced understanding of the Africa and African-American experience. 

Spring 2015

Africa's Third Act: Why the Continent Matters More Now than Ever"

From August 4-6 2014, the largest gathering of leaders from Africa gathered in Washington for the Africa Leaders Summit. This attempt to strengthen U.S. ties with Africa and encourage investment in the continent is part of a changing view of the world's fastest growing region. What's behind the new global 'scramble for Africa?

Event Details
January 27, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.
SunTrust Auditorium
Jon Gosier, Thomas P. Johnson Visiting Scholar

Dragons in Lion Territory: China’s business relations with Africa
Africa is generally perceived as a region plagued by chaos and poverty, mostly needing aid in various forms. However, China is actively developing high-level and grassroots business relationships with many countries on the continent. Are these relationships smart and sustainable? What might the current business activities in Africa mean for international business in the next few years? This talk will explore the interesting interactions between China and several African countries, and examine what these exchanges might imply for other countries on the sidelines.

Event Details
February 10, 2015
6:30 p.m.
SunTrust Auditorium
Dr. Emmanuel Kodzi, Department of International Business

"A Historian's Forgotten Past: Howard Zinn and the Red Scare in the American Veterans Committee"
How did Howard Zinn, a 30-something Jew from New York City, end up in the leadership of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee? My research demonstrates that Zinn's own account of his political itinerary is incomplete in important respects. In his autobiographical writings, Zinn never mentioned that he had been a leading figure in the American Veterans Committee – a national, interracial organization of progressive war veterans – in Brooklyn during the 1940s. This is strange, for it was during the upsurge of protest immediately following World War II that Zinn honed his skills as an orator and organizer: he regularly spoke at AVC meetings and rallies, and he was responsible for coordinating the activities of dozens of local chapters. I contend that Zinn "forgot" his role in the AVC because he was traumatized by the purge of leftists – including himself – from the group during the late 1940s. This research draws on a wide range of primary sources, including personal interviews conducted with Zinn shortly before his death.

Event Details
March 17, 2015
6:30 p.m.
SunTrust Auditorium
Dr. Matthew Nichter, Department of Sociology

Past Lectures

Fall 2014

The Heist

Community, Identity, and Meaning in the New Millennium

Exploring the tension between community, identity, and meaning in the modern experience, The Heist is a thematic program designed to stimulate discussion and prompt reflection on the ways the U.S. experience blends, sometime effortlessly, sometime with trauma, myriad voices to create a diverse whole. The strength of our diverse experience serves as the foundation of national success, yet those differences also cause conflict.   At the edge of a fundamental demographic shift to a majority minority society, the United States nonetheless struggles to reconcile the many voices that form the whole.  This program will weave together activities in and out of class in an exploration of community, identity, and meaning with the goal of creating a greater understanding of the dynamic tensions shaping contemporary society.

Continuing the Africa and African-American Studies Program emphasis on interdisciplinary practice, this program borrows from an observation made by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. that film’s aesthetic distance from history reveals the aesthetic nature of historical discourse.  The cinematic tropes of the U.S. film industry are not separate from history and culture; they provide a common language that can be used to learn more about those subjects. In adopting the heist film as a thematic trope, these events provide the public a mode of communication and tool for dialogue about the larger issues we seek to explore.   Thus, every event in The Heist will correspond to a trope of the crime film genre.  These headings represent stylistic cues that the programmatic content may reflect, reform, or refute in a search for a broader meaning.

Past Lectures

Spring 2013


The Making, Un-Making, and Re-Making of the African Diaspora

FUTURES investigates the cultural preoccupation / concern / obsession with an imminent state whereby economic, social, and political anxieties linked to the African Diaspora will be resolved.  Of course, the fascination with the future is a reflection of a contested past. At once real and imagined, a fascination with the future acknowledges contemporary deficits while promising progress achieved through some undetermined means.  

Forever linked to a narrative of past reclaimed and present contested, the future becomes what Hayden White described as “a realization of projects performed by past human agents and a determination of a field of possible projects to be realized by living agents...”1 Continuing the Africa and African-American Studies Program emphasis on interdisciplinary practice, FUTURES calls attention to the assumptive power linked to the framing and reframing of the African and African-American experience to understand the ideas and actions that construct and constrict our vision of the African Diaspora.

1 Hayden White, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (JHU Press, 2009), 149.  

Past Lectures

Spring 2013
Fall 2013