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Department of African American Studies

  • Frederick Harris

23rd Annual Robert Smalls Lecture and Roundtable October 29th

The African American Studies Program is set to host the 23rd Annual Robert Smalls Lecture and Roundtable from 6 – 7:30 p.m., Thursday, October 29. This year’s event will keep with the protocol of the times, and be held as a virtual program, but still uphold its tradition offering a crowd-pleasing talk with a dynamic speaker. Following the talk, a distinguished panel will hold a roundtable audience discussion on the importance of voting.

The speaker for the lecture will be Fredrick Harris, dean of social sciences and political science professor from Columbia University.

The title of his talk is “Anti-Blackness, Contentious Politics and the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Harris will talk about the cyclical nature of anti-black American politics since Reconstruction. “Black progress in the US is often viewed as a steady progress. This cyclical view of black progress accounts for the current crisis of racial conflict in the United States. After over 50 years since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1966 Fair Housing Act, black communities are suffering from economic distress, police violence, and a long-standing health crisis triggered by COVID-19,” Harris said.

Qiana Whitted, director of The African American Studies Program said, “While the Robert Smalls lecture always addresses the issues that matter most to our campus and our community, the insights that Dr. Harris will be offering on the role of race in the upcoming elections is especially urgent this year.” 

Casting 2020 as a “cataclysmic year,” Harris said the economic, social and political eruptions have altered the court of Black life—and the lives of most Americans—for years to come. “The presidential election may be one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. It will determine whether the cycle of reform will start up again, or whether we will continue in dark times,” Harris said.

Following Harris’ talk, he will join a panel discussion titled “Black Voting Matters.” Whitted said, “We are also looking forward to pairing his important talk with a roundtable of local Black political scientists and African American Studies scholars that will extend the conversation about these national debates to our region. 

The panel discussion will be led by Todd Shaw, UofSC political science professor. Panelists include Adolphus Belk, Winthrop University, Lakeyta M. Bonnette-Bailey, Georgia State University and Monique Lyle, UofSC executive director, of the Institute for Public Service and Policy Research 

The Smalls Program will be hosted on the virtual platform Zoom and the audience will be invited to ask questions during the discussion.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.