Black History Month 2020: "In the Wake of 1619: Our Critical Work"


The year was 1619. We are in a season of marking the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of Africans as enslaved peoples to the place of colonial and genocidal enterprise that would become the nation of the United States of America. 1619 is a signal moment in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the Americas and the project of Black Enslavement that would indelibly inscribe, through bodies, social and global relations, geographies and knowledge, a contest over the terms of what it means to be human and non-human, of chattel bondage and freedom, of life and death, and over the reign and justification of forms of violence, violation and terror as structured into our social order. 1619 and its logics of White supremacy, domination, and dehumanization mark our present. We live in and are accountable for what Saidiya Hartman would call its “afterlives.”

Recognizing the pivotal nature of this anniversary as a critical pedagogical occasion for remembering and reckoning, African American Studies invites our Puget Sound campus and communities beyond, to a series of events in honor of Black History Month, February 2020, to reflect on what is the nature of our critical work, to draw on Christina Sharpe’s language, “in the wake” of 1619. Together we will consider and question the imperatives of the “wake work” that are before us: the imperatives of unlearning, resistance, responsiveness, reframing, remaking, re-imagination and transformation.

Thursday, Feb. 6, 12:30–1:30 p.m., Trimble Forum, Trimble Hall

We will screen portions of the 2019 documentary on the work, contribution, and life of Toni Morrison, entitled Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am.


Wednesday, Feb. 12, Noon–1:00 p.m., Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center

A panel of professors from African American Studies and additional departments will consider the question, “What Now is Our Critical Wake Work?”


Thursday, Feb. 13, 12:30–1:30 p.m., Trimble Forum, Trimble Hall

On this occasion, African American Studies Majors, Minors, and interested students will host a “Meet and Greet” under the theme, Students Reflect on the Wake Work of African American Studies and What it Means to be Woke.


Wednesday, Feb. 26, Noon–1:30 p.m., Rasmussen Rotunda, Wheelock Student Center

Students in AFAM 310, African Diaspora Experience, taught by Dr. LaToya Brackett, will reflect on their study abroad experience in Ghana, under the theme "Our Study Abroad Experience: Beyond the Year of Return."


Thursday, February 27, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m., Trimble Forum, Trimble Hall

Students will host a discussion forum on the theme of student action, organization, and leadership in the wake of 1619.


Contact the Race & Pedagogy Institute office at 253.879.2435 or with any questions.

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