Africa and the Global Atlantic World Conference

This event already has occurred.

Friday, April 10, 2020 (All day)

Oscar Ritchie Hall


The Department of Pan-African Studies at Kent State University will hold its fifth biennial Africa and the Global Atlantic World Conference (AGAWC) on April 9 and 10, 2020. The conference will focus on the leadership and activism of university/college students and the militarized violent responses they faced. The conference will occur at a time when the city of Kent and Kent State University will recognize and honor the lives of four students who were killed, and nine students who were wounded, on Kent State’s campus during a student protest held on May 4, 1970. Situating the May 4 massacre within national and international contexts, we aim to capture the leadership and collective action of students during the late 1960s and early 1970s and how their increased activism has historically and currently pushed their nations toward change. Prior to the May 4 killings at Kent State, hundreds of students in Mexico City (1968) were gunned down at the hands of the military. Similarly, students were killed on other university campuses including Orangeburg (1968, now South Carolina State) and Jackson State (1970, Mississippi). In Quebec, Canada, students were jailed after the Sir George Williams uprising (1969); in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (1970) and the University of the West Indies, students formed the National Joint Action Committee (1969) and began a radical movement toward social change. Students were massacred in 1976, in Soweto, South Africa and in Gwang-ju, South Korea in 1980. Further student uprisings occurred in China’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, and, more recently, across Africa and the Middle East, in the "Arab" Spring of 2010/11.

Since the major gains of a global Civil Rights Movement have been increasingly challenged, weakened, or eroded by various political administrations and inefficient or ill-intended public policies, it is imperative to revisit the history and legacies of activism that led Peoples of African descent and other marginalized communities worldwide to stand against exploitation and state violence. Re-examining and safeguarding this history through the prism of student protests from the 1960s to the present will enable us to center the resistance of Peoples of African descent, Indigenous Peoples, and other Peoples of Color in national and international debates on civil rights, individual and communal liberties, freedom, equality, upward mobility, and other measurements of democracy.

The Keynote Speaker, Dr. Akinyele Umoja, is an educator, scholar-activist and author. Currently, he is a Professor of the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University (GSU). Dr. Umoja’s writing has been featured in scholarly publications including The Journal of Black Studies, New Political Science, The International Journal of Africana Studies, Black Scholar, Radical History Review and Socialism and Democracy. He is the author of We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in The Mississippi Freedom Movement (New York University Press, 2013).

The AGAWC is particularly interested in highlighting the lives of Peoples of African descent, Indigenous Peoples, and other Peoples of Color. Topics and themes of paper presentations/artistic works include: 

  • National and international histories of Black activism
  • Leadership and Black activism
  • Past and current forms of militarized violence
  • Activism and Black Lives Matter #webelonghere #sayhername
  • Revisiting the May 4 Massacre
  • Legacies of Black activism of university/college students
  • Educators as activists
  • Public policy and Black communities
  • Police brutality 
  • The prison industrial complex 
  • Immigration policy
  • Black bodies
  • Black sexualities and gender identities 
  • Activism in Black communities
  • Race, class, and gender
  • Critical race theory and marginalized communities Activism in
  • Black art, music, performance, and theatre
  •  1960s and 1970s nationalist movements/activisms across Africa
  • Political/social mobilization as strategies against state violence
  • State violence and democratic decay  
  • Witness as testifying
  • Peace and healing