Chancellor announces plans to honor African Americans’ contributions to the nation

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.

Carol Christ smiling in front of the campus

Last year, the federal 400 Years of African American History Commission Act was signed into law. Today, Chancellor Carol Christ announces campus plans to “acknowledge, study and discuss the meaning and lasting impact of a despicable chapter of our nation’s history.” (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

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 Aug. 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.

Sincerely,

Carol Christ
Chancellor

Members of the Commemoration Organizing Committee:

Denise Herd (Associate Director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Public Health)
john powell (Director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Law and African American Studies)
Ula Taylor (African American Studies)
Waldo Martin (History)
Prudence Carter (Dean, School of Education)
Takiyah Franklin (Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Black Faculty and Staff Organization)
Melissa Charles (African American Student Development Center)
Takiyah Jackson (African American Student Development Center)
Rebecca Ulrich (Black Faculty and Staff Organization)
Mia Settles-Tidwell (Division of Equity and Inclusion)
Erica Browne (Graduate Student Representative, School of Public Health)