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Department of African American Studies

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    Looking Back at the Celebration

    Fall 2021 - Spring 2022

Fifty Years of Consciousness and Community

Our 50th anniversary event series highlighted the cultural and historical importance of the African American experience throughout the academic year.

Fall 2021


Gambrell Rooftop Patio (3rd Floor)  
Registration (Faculty, Students, Staff Only)  


Presented by the School of Music in collaboration with the Auntie Karen Foundation 
Reserve Tickets via the Koger Center  

Thursday, September 9 at 7:30pm
UofSC School of Music Alumni & Colour of Music Festival Octet  
USC School of Music Recital Hall  

Friday, September 10 at 8:00pm  
Auntie Karen Foundation All-Star Band/Vanessa Williams  
Koger Center  
Saturday, September 11 at 7:30pm  
20th Anniversary September 11th Memorial Concert   
Koger Center  

50th Anniversary Launch
Register to Attend

"Creating Crescent: On Black Studies, Black Girls, and Personal, Passionate, Participatory Inquiry"
Free and open to the public  

Gambrell 153
Panelists: Dr. Bobby Donaldson (Professor of History, UofSC); Jazmyne McCrae (Project Coordinator, Collaborative on Race, UofSC); John Monk (Journalist, The State newspaper); Former State Senator Maggie Wallace Glover
Moderator: Lyric Swinton (UofSC alumna) 
Free and open to the public
Register to Attend via Eventbrite
The documentary Downing of a Flag  "tells the story of the Confederate Battle Flag and its inglorious relationship with the state of South Carolina and how this relationship has reflected and impacted its image in American society for nearly six decades." It is a film by SCETV, South Carolina Public Radio, Strategic Films, and Susie Films.


“In Search of My Grandparents’ Gardens: Musings on How Family and Community Informs Curatorial Practice” 
Williams Courtroom, University of South Carolina School of Law
Free and open to the public
Visit Eventbrite for more information and to register to attend.

Cosponsored with Richland Library and African-American History and Cultural Events Committee (AAHCE)
Free and Open to the Public

South Carolina ETV Lobby
(Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Only)
Join us in the Telecommunications Lobby of South Carolina ETV for a homecoming tailgate. Refreshments will be provided. This is a 21+ event. Please note: Parking for tailgate guests will not be available at ETV.

Russell House Patio and Stage
Join the Department of African American Studies for an evening celebrating student artists and creators. Students are encouraged to share their artwork, music, poetry, dance, and more.

Theme: Researching Performance – The Black Dancing Body as A Measure of Culture 
All Events are Virtual
Dr. Brenda Dixon Gottschild is a Professor Emerita of Dance Studies at Temple University. She is the author of Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance: Dance and Other ContextsWaltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era (Winner of the 2001 Congress on Research in Dance Award for Outstanding Scholarly Dance Publication); The Black Dancing Body: A Geography from Coon to Cool (Winner, 2004 de la Torre Bueno Prize for Scholarly Excellence in Dance Publication); and Joan Myers Brown and The Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina - A Biohistory of American Performance.
Wednesday, October 27 at 6:30pm  
“Dance as Social Practice – Protest, Purpose, Performance” Lecture
Free and Open to the Public
Thursday, October 28 at 6:30pm  
The Black Dancing Body: Open Student Forum  
(Faculty and Students Only)
Friday, October 29 at Noon  
“Dancing Minds, Thinking Bodies: Dancer-Scholar-Choreographer-Educators Talk About Past and Present Futures”: Roundtable
Panelists: Dr. Brenda Dixon Gottschild (Professor Emerita of Dance Studies, Temple University); Dr. Halifu Osumare (Professor Emerita African American & African Studies, University of California, Davis); Dr. S. Ama Wray (Professor of Dance at the University of California, Irvine); Professor Tanya Wideman-Davis (Associate Professor of Dance and African American Studies, University of South Carolina); and Professor Thaddeus Davis (Associate Professor of Dance and African American Studies, University of South Carolina)
Free and Open to the Public
Register to Attend  


Created by two of the country’s most esteemed artists, composer Michael Abels and poet Nikky Finney, and brought to life by the most legendary ensemble in contemporary classical music, the Kronos Quartet, “At War With Ourselves - 400 Years of You” is a major, evening-length work about the African American experience in the New World.

For a full list of events, visit the Kronos Quartet and Michael Abels Residency main page.

Wednesday, November 3 at 7:30-9:00pm
A Night to Celebrate and Thank Poetry
featuring Nikky Finney and UofSC Students
The Big Apple, 1000 Hampton St.
Attendees are invited to share a poem.

Thursday, November 4 at 7:00-9:00pm (Seating at 6:30 p.m.)
Screening of the film Us
Film Screening, Nickelodeon Theatre, 1607 Main St.

Thursday, November 4 at 9:05-9:45pm
Post-Screening Discussion with Composer Michael Abels
Nickelodeon Theatre
Talk and Q&A about Abels' music for the films Get Out and Us, hosted by Dr. Birgitta Johnson, UofSC Professor of Ethnomusicology and African American Studies

Purchase tickets at the Nickelodeon. You must see the film in order to attend the post-screening discussion.

Sunday, November 7 at 2:00-2:30pm
Pre-Concert Conversation with Nikky Finney and Michael Abels
Koger Center for the Arts
Led by Michael Harley, Artistic Director of Southern Exposure New Music Series.

Sunday, November 7, 2021 at 3:00pm 
At War With Ourselves Featuring Kronos Quartet
Koger Center

Theme: “Black Creativity as Black Thought”   
Wednesday, November 10, at 8:00pm  
“Queer Performance and Black Expression” Lecture  
The Big Apple, 1000 Hampton St.
Free and Open to the Public  

Thursday, November 11, at 4:25pm  
“Sankofa: Afropessimism, Afrofuturism, and Black Thought”    
Williams Brice Nursing Building 125  
(Students and Faculty Only)     
Friday, November 12, at 7:00pm  
“Where We Danced: Sites of Black Materialization”  
Public Performance by Thomas F. DeFrantz,  Professor Tanya Wideman-Davis and Professor Thaddeus Davis  
Talk by DeFrantz to follow performance. 
Gambrell 153
Free and Open to the Public 
Register via Eventbrite 

“Dance Theatre of Harlem: Radical Black Female Bodies in Ballet” 
Free and Open to the Public

Explore the history, culture, and climate of Pearl Fryar’s legendary garden on a day trip with topiary artist Mike Gibson and the African American Studies program at UofSC. The trip includes:

• Shuttle transport to and from Bishopville

• Screening of the documentary, A Man Called Pearl

• Tour of Pearl Fryar’s Garden

• Hands-on Topiary Art Workshop

• Open to UofSC students, faculty, and staff. Transportation, lunch, and workshop will be provided free of cost. Participants must bring their own gloves and safety glasses.

About Pearl Fryar

Pearl Fryar is a self-taught topiary artist who created and nurtured his three-acre garden for nearly forty years. Fryar's evergreen garden is located at his home in Bishopville. In 1998, the SC General Assembly declared June 27 Pearl Fryar Day for his "humanitarian ideals and artistic influence."

About Mike Gibson

Mike “GibbySiz” Gibson is a self-taught property artist, topiarist, and entrepreneur, who has spent over 20 years beautifying residential and community spaces. He was recently featured on the Discovery+ TV series, “Clipped.” With the support of the Central Carolina Community Foundation and McKissick Museum, Gibson is working to restore and preserve Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden.

This event is presented as part of the AFAM 50 Celebration and the Climates Theme Semester in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Booker T. Washington Auditorium
This event will feature the film, Mossville: When Great Trees Fall, followed by a conversation with Michelle Lanier, Executive Producer.
Free and open to the public. 
Cosponsored with Institute for African American Research and McKissick Museum

Spring 2022



Free. Open to the Public 

Register via Eventbrite  

This event will feature reflections on the creation of Invisible No More: The African American Experience at the University of South Carolina and two roundtable discussions with contributors to the volume. 

Cosponsored by the African American Studies Program, the University of South Carolina Press, and the University of South Carolina Black Alumni Council. 

The African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina is pleased to host visiting scholar and poet Fred Moten in the Spring semester. Dr. Moten's events are now postponed for March 2022.


Free. Open to the Public. 

Register via Eventbrite 


Columbia Museum of Art  

Free. Open to the Public. 

Hosted by the McKissick Museum. 

The cultural climate in museums is currently facing a reckoning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as racial unrest and protest. One of the voices calling for museums to address matters and movements pertinent to the moment is Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham. She will present the vision for Museum Hue, the sector at large, as well as outline ways museums can help shape, define and preserve today for the future. In this discussion, she will shed light on museum practices that boldly respond to the needs of their community and current issues through their narratives, programs, exhibitions and services. Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham has worked as a United Nations Human Rights Fellow, and in 2019, she received the American for the Arts, American Express Emerging Leader Award. 

Booker T. Washington Auditorium
Cosponsored with the Humanities Collaborative
Webcast available 
Free and open to the public 

Critically-acclaimed author and Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University Imani Perry will discuss her latest book, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation (2022), a narrative journey through the American South, positioning it as the heart of the American experiment for better and worse. 

Perry’s work reflects the deeply complex history of Black thought, art, and imagination. It is also informed by her background as a legal historian and her understanding of the racial inequality embedded in American law. Her latest book, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, is a narrative journey through the American South, positioning it as the heart of the American experiment for better and worse. In looking at the South through a historic, personal, and anecdotal lens, Perry asserts that if we do indeed want to build a more humane future for the United States, we must center our concern below the Mason-Dixon Line. A “rich and imaginative tour of a crucial piece of America” (Publishers Weekly) it was named one of TIME‘s most anticipated books of 2022. 


Free. Open to the Public. 

Talk Title
"Giving Space: Spotlighting Black Males Who Operate In and Beyond the Academy" 

Talk Description
"We have to create a kind of critical culture where we can discuss the issue of blackness in ways that confront not only the legacy of subjugation but also radical traditions of resistance, as well as the newly invented self, the decolonized subject." -  bell hooks 

At 3%, Black men are a minoritarian identity inside the academic structures of predominantly white institutions. Associate Professor Thaddeus Davis shares the spotlight with University of Virginia's Associate Professor of Sociology, Dr. Brian Foster, and Brooklyn College's Assistant Professor of Sculpture Eto Otitigbe, in a conversation exploring artmaking and scholarly practice as radical modes of engagement. 

Patdro Harris is an award-winning director, Broadway choreographer, and writer. Harris has directed at distinguished theaters including The Alliance Theater, Sacramento Theatre Company, Round House Theatre, Liberty Theatre Cultural Center, San Diego Repertory Theatre Company, Penumbra Theatre, and the Tuskegee Repertory Theatre. He choreographed the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit, “A Raisin in the Sun” with director Kenny Leon starring Sean Combs and Phylicia Rashad. Harris has also traveled the world as choreographer and lead dancer for Stevie Wonder. Learn more about Patdro Harris and his work here.

Registration details for Harris' class visits to follow.

February 28 at 3:50-5:10pm
AFAM202: Introduction to African American Studies (Arts and Cultural) Visit

Jones Physical Science Center Room 104  

Topic: “African American Theatre Practices”  

Open to UofSC Students and Faculty 

 March 1 at 6:00-7:15pm

Theatre and Dance Class Visit 

Band/Dance Building (324 Sumter St.) 

Topic: “African American Theatre Practices” 

Open to UofSC Students and Faculty 

 March 2 at 3:50-5:10pm

AFAM202: Introduction to African American Studies (Arts and Cultural) Visit 

Jones Physical Science Center Room 104  

Topic: “African American Theatre Practices”  

Open to UofSC Students and Faculty



Free and Open to the Public.

Register via Richland Library

Join us as we honor A Year of Black History with a candid conversation with the American philosopher, political activist, Grammy-award winner, artist, actor, author and intellectual. Moderated by Dr. Todd Shaw, UofSC African-American Studies Program.

This program is in partnership with the South Carolina Humanities Council. UofSC African-American Studies Program, UofSC Institute for African-American Research, and the Richland Library African-American History and Cultural Events Committee (AAHCE).


Free. Open to the Pubic. 

Gambrell Hall 3rd Floor Patio

The African American Studies Program is excited to partner with the creative team of The Backbone documentary to highlight and celebrate the contributions of Black women to the University of South Carolina and beyond. Stay tuned for more information about the film premiere in March and how to register to attend.

Capstone Campus Room

Free. Open to the Public. 


Free. Open to the Public. 

This even was postponed from March 4 to March 25.

The African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina is pleased to host visiting scholar and poet Fred Moten in March 2022. 

Fred Moten is a Professor of Performance Studies and Comparative Literature at New York University. He is interested in social movement, aesthetic experiment and black study. Moten's books of poetry and criticism include In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical TraditionHughson's Tavern, B. Jenkins, The Feel Trio, The Little Edges, The Service Porch, consent not to be a single beingand  All That Beauty.

Monday, March 28 at 4-5:30pm
Graduate Student and Faculty Seminar with Fred Moten 

Gambrell Hall 429 

Free. Open to UofSC Students, Faculty, Staff. 

Visiting Scholar Fred Moten of New York University will discuss his work in progress with UofSC graduate students and faculty. Reading will be precirculated to participants before the event.

Tuesday, March 29 at 7:00pm
Black Study, Here and Now: Fred Moten in conversation with Seulghee Lee

The Big Apple (1000 Hampton Street, Columbia) 

Free. Open to the Public.  

Visiting Scholar Fred Moten of New York University joins AFAM Studies' Seulghee Lee to discuss the current and future state of Black Study. 

About the Event

What is the current state of Black Studies? Where is Black Studies headed? This community-facing event will be an open discussion with Dr. Moten that engages the prospects of several of his theoretical keywords -- including the undercommons, fugitive aesthetics, partial education, and black study -- for thinking about the relationship between Black Studies, the academy, and Black community.



Free. Open to the Public. 

Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo has spent over twenty years in dance as a performer and choreographer. She holds a BFA from the State University of New York at Purchase and an MFA from Hollins University. She is now an Associate Professor and current Chair of the Dance Program at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). Prior to her academic career, Rosalynde was a member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (1993-1999), Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project (1999-2002), and the Liz Gerring Dance Company (2003-2006). In addition to performing the work of various independent choreographers, Rosalynde has also danced in various opera productions, including productions with New York City’s Metropolitan Opera and for the 250th Mozart Celebration in Salzburg, Austria. She has had her writing published in the leading international dance periodicals, Dance Magazine and Ballettanz, and her choreography has been presented in venues around the country. 

Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo is the co-director and producer of the documentary Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters. Learn more about Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo here. 

April 11, 2022    
Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo Class Visits  

10:15 – 11:30am   

Lecture in Dance History ll     

Band/Dance Building (324 Sumter St.), Room 123  

Free. Open to UofSC Students and Faculty.  

3:55 – 5:10pm  

Lecture on Bill T. Jones in AFAM 202 Class   

Jones Physical Science Center, Room 104   

Free. Open to the Public. 

April 12, 2022 from 6:00-8:00pm
Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters Screening and Lecture

Gambrell 153   

Free. Open to the Public. 

Documentary Description: Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters is a feature documentary that traces the remarkable history and legacy of one of the most important works of art to come out of the age of AIDS –choreographer Bill T. Jones’s tour de force ballet “D-Man in the Waters.” In 1989, D-Man in the Waters gave physical manifestation to the fear, anger, grief, and hope for salvation that the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company felt as they were embattled by the AIDS pandemic. As a group of young dancers reconstructs the dance, they learn about this oft forgotten history and deepen their understanding of the power of art in a time of plague.” 

Learn more about the documentary here. 

April 13, 2022 from 3:30-5:30pm
Artist Talk by Rosalynde LeBlanc Loo

Band/Dance Building (324 Sumter St.), Room 123

Free. Open to the Public.

Pastides Alumni Center

Free. Open to the Public. 

The African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina is pleased to welcome activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis as the featured speaker for the Annual Robert Smalls Lecture.
This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. We anticipate tickets will sell out. At the request of our guest speakers, masks will be required during this event.
Cosponsored by the African American Studies Program and the College of Arts & Sciences, the Institute for African American Research, the Center for Civil Rights History and Research, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

This story was updated on April 18, 2022, to reflect a new location for the event.

Hollings Library Program Room, Thomas Cooper Library  

Join scholars from UofSC, Clemson University, College of Charleston, Allen University, Claflin University, and more for in-depth discussions about the growth of Africana Studies programs in South Carolina. Hosted in conjunction with the Annual Robert Smalls lecture at the University of South Carolina, panelists will explore current research, concerns, and debates within the field in the Hollings Program Room of the Thomas Cooper Library at UofSC. This inaugural symposium is organized by the South Carolina Higher Education Africana Studies Marketing (SCHEASM) Committee.

View the full conference schedule here.  


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.