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Reclaiming Our Ancestors: Community Conversations on Racial Justice & Public History

October 21, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 9:30 pm

UB Humanities Institute Conference. Location: The Tewksbury Lodge, 249 Ohio Street, Buffalo. Third (& last) day. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

9:00 a.m. | Coffee

9:15 a.m. | Welcome: Teresa A. Miller, UB Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence and Professor of Law
Session I: University-Community Partnerships

  • Regina E. Mason and William L. Andrews will discuss their collaboration in co-editing the 2008 Oxford University Press edition of Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave (1825). Regina, a California-born descendant of William Grimes, uncovered a wealth of material about her ancestor far in excess of what any academic scholar had been able to locate. Bill, who descended from slaveholders in Virginia, is one of the most influential and prolific critics of African American literature in the world today.
  • Sam Magavern, Executive Director, Partnership for the Public Good, “Amplifying Community Voices in the Making of Public Policy.” Attorney, professor, writer, radio host, and director of a community-based think tank, Sam Magavern will talk about how students and faculty can help community groups win public policy victories for equity and inclusion.
  • Jen Mecozzi, Logistics Coordinator, PUSH Buffalo (People Organizing for Sustainable Housing)
  • Respondent: Elizabeth Walsh, Visiting Asst. Professor, UB Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning

10:45 a.m. | Coffee break

11:00 a.m. | Session II: The Difficult Journey of Justice

  • Tom DeWolf and Sharon Leslie Morgan
    Co-authors of Gather at the Table (Beacon Press, 2012), Tom DeWolf, a descendant of a slave-trading family, and Sharon Leslie Morgan, a descendant of slaves, will describe the difficulties and rewards of interracial dialogue.
  • Julie Buckner Armstrong, Professor of English, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, author of Mary Turner and the Memory of Lynching, will share some reflections about visiting Birmingham’s civil rights memorial complex with her aunt, who served on the 1977 jury that prosecuted Robert Chambliss for the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four girls. This month is the 40th anniversary of the trial.

12:15 p.m. | Lunch and Conversation

1:00 p.m. | Session III: Muslims in America, Past and Present

  • Moderator: Dayatra Hassan, Ujima Company, Buffalo
  • Sylviane A. Diouf Director, Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library
  • Nadia Shahram, Esq., Founder and President of the Coalition for the Advancement of Moslem Women, WNY
  • Gamileh Jamil, Executive Director, ACCESS of WNY (Arab American Community Center for Economic Social Services of Western New York)

2:15 p.m. | Coffee Break

2:30 p.m. | Session IV: Filmmaking and Social Justice

  • Moderator: Lukia Costello, Outreach Coordinator, Buffalo International Film Festival
    A group of filmmakers have teamed up to create A Peculiar Freedom, a 10-part television series documenting the stories of people of color in New England from 1785 to 1885. Each filmmaker comes to the table with a history of activist filmmaking in the fight for social justice.
  • André Robert Lee is a director and producer whose credits include The Prep School Negro & I’m Not Racist…Am I? He is currently directing a documentary feature about incarcerated youth in Richmond who use their personal art creations to fight recidivism. André also directed a film for the Election Effects Project that will air on Spike TV this fall.
  • Rob Koier is an award-winning director. The North Star, a short inspired by the memoirs of fugitive slaves from the 1800s, was an official selection of the PBS Online Film Festival. Strength of the Storm, about the plight of a mobile home community following the wrath of Hurricane Irene in 2011, was distributed internationally by Press TV. He is currently in the pitching phase on a fictional TV drama about global flooding and climate change, called The Underneath.
  • Nora Jacobson is an award-winning filmmaker of documentaries and narrative films whose work has screened at Sundance and the New York Film Festival. She is currently in post-production on a short film about anti-Muslim bigotry, a documentary about poet Ruth Stone, and is distributing The Hanji Box, a narrative film about intercultural adoption.
  • Respondent: Sean Durant, Producer & Director, Your Media II, Los Angeles & San Francisco

4:00 p.m. | Session V: Sisters in Stitches: Weaving Justice

  • Moderator: Gail V. Wells, Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor
  • Susi Ryan, President of Sisters in Stitches, New England’s only African American quilting guild While her ancestor, Venture Smith, narrated one of the first extant slave memoirs (1798), Susi’s work in African American quilting is a quest to make people more aware of the significance of quilts made by slaves and their descendants as vital pieces of history too.  Presenting a historical timeline with Story Quilts moving from Africa the Motherland up to Black Lives Matter and incorporating excerpts from many of the slave narratives written by the Ancestors of those attending the conference, Susi will explain how the quilts reference food, textiles, music, and customs. The quilt, “Dearly Beloved, We Are Our Own Record Keepers,” will be on display.  It is a tribute to 32 people of color aged 7 to 102 across the USA who were killed by state-sanctioned violence, on which Susi collaborated with Prof. Vivian Saleh-Hanna of UMASS Dartmouth and Prof. Julia Jordan-Zachary of Providence College, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Deputy Director of PUSH Buffalo, “Weaving Justice.”
  • Respondent: Cassandra Scherr, PhD Student, UB English Department

6:30 p.m. | Evening of Jazz with Dinner ($30 cash or check, at the door)

Location: Colored Musicians Club, 145 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14203

  • Tour of museum
  • Catered dinner and cash bar



October 21, 2017
9:00 am - 9:30 pm