Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre at Brown

Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre at Brown


China and Taiwan in Africa: The Struggle for Diplomatic Recognition and Hegemony
Sabella O. Abidde, Ph.D. (Editor)

The relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC/China) and the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan) is one of the most sensitive, complex, and contentious in the modern era. Central to the contest and contestation between Beijing and Taipei is the decades-old question: “Should Taiwan be recognized by the United Nations as a sovereign nation-state with all the duties and responsibilities accorded member states, or is Taiwan a province of China and must be seen as such?” Many countries seem to support Taiwan’s independence but dare not say so publicly or act on it because of China’s economic might and its political and cultural influence. No nation is willing to cross China because none is willing or ready to bear the economic and political cost. Principally, it boils down to self-interest: access to the Chinese market, unemployment numbers, loans, and investments.

There are one hundred and ninety-three member states of the United Nations. Of these, only 20 recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign state. Historically, Taiwan has seen better days -- days when she was not this isolated. For instance, up until the later part of the 1960s, Taiwan, as opposed to China, enjoyed greater acceptance and diplomatic recognition in Africa. But since 1971 when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution upholding China’s supplication, Taiwan has struggled for a role, a place, and relevance within the comity of nations. This is especially the case on the African continent where, by mid-2018, only one African country (Eswatini) recognized Taiwan as a sovereign nation while China has gone on to become a hegemon.

The struggle for diplomatic recognition between China and Taiwan is not confined to the African continent; nonetheless, the struggle has been politically nastier on the continent than anywhere else. The brutish nature of the contest could be attributed to the fact that the stakes are higher in terms of access to natural resources. To allow Taiwan a firmer and deeper foothold would have delimited China’s unlimited access and influence. Furthermore, China seems wary of African countries that tended to switch sides. This cross-carpeting may have forced China to adjust its tactics in terms of the iron-clad agreements African governments were compelled to sign.

How was China able to accomplish this diplomatic coup? How did she prevail in this cloak-and-dagger-like political environment? What were the strategic and tactical planning and ex*****on involved in the Struggle for Diplomatic Recognition and Hegemony? These and other questions necessitated this project. It for these reasons that we seek to examine what brought the two countries to Africa; second, we seek to examine their overt and covert activities vis-a-vis Africa’s decolonization efforts; we seek to survey the last seven decades of China-Africa-Taiwan relations; we also seek to understand how Taiwan responded to China’s gain. Also, of value is “how and why” countries that had earlier recognized Taiwan switched their position in favor of China.

This project is useful for international political economy and geopolitical reasons, but largely because it fills the gap in our knowledge and understanding of seven decades of China-Africa-Taiwan relations. Many unknowns need to be known by scholars and those outside of the academy. Hence, we invite scholars, former diplomats, and members of governmental and non-governmental organizations to submit chapters that address the suggested topics or other topics that fit the theme of this project:

1. Case Studies: The Switching of Sides by the Gambia and Burkina Faso
2. Case Studies: The Switching of Sides by Senegal and Nigeria
3. China’s Foreign Policy Towards Africa, 1949-1970
4. China’s Foreign Policy Towards Africa, 1971-2020
5. China-Africa-Taiwan relations in the post-Cold War Environment
6. Diplomatic Isolation: China’s Strategy, Taiwan’s Reaction
7. The Implication of Eswatini’s (Swaziland’s) Continuing Recognition of Taiwan
8. How Taiwan “lost” Africa
9. Japan and the Political status of Taiwan
10. Nationalism and the Question of Independence
11. Sovereignty and International Recognition
12. Taiwan and Apartheid South Africa
13. Taiwan: A State or a Province of China
14. Taiwan’s Foreign Policy Towards Africa, 1949-1970
15. The Betrayal of Taiwan by States and Societies in Africa
16. The Scope and Dimensions of the Contest/Contestation Between Beijing and Taipei
17. Taiwan’s Foreign Policy Towards Africa, 1971-2020
18. The 1971 UN Resolution
19. The Aftermath of the Chinese Internal Politics, post-1949
20. The Outcome of the Chinese Civil War
21. The Cold War and the China-Taiwan Impasse
22. The Economic and Political Implication of Recognizing Taiwan
23. The history of China and Taiwan’s foray into Africa
24. Taiwan’s Investments and Contributions to post-Independent Africa
25. The OAU/AU Policy Toward China and Taiwan
26. The Political and Economic Inducements Africa Countries Succumbed to
27. Case Studies: The Switching of Sides by Ghana and Mozambique
28. China’s Binding Documents (Secret Agreements Between China and African Countries)
29. Nelson Mandela, the ANC, China, and Taiwan
30. The UN and State Formation
31. China’s “One State, Two Systems” Policy: Implications for Africa
32. The Probable Reemergence of Taiwan in Africa

• Please submit a 300-350-word abstract plus a 150-250-word “About the Author” along with your contact information by 15 July 2020 to [email protected]
• You will be notified of acceptance or rejection of your abstract by 30 July 2020. You will also be informed of the publisher and information regarding formatting/citations
• Your completed chapter -- if your abstract is accepted -- should not be longer than 30-double spaced pages (including the tables/figures, maps, endnotes, and bibliography) and would be due 30 November 2020

Sabella Ogbobode Abidde is a Professor of Political Science and a member of the graduate faculty at Alabama State University. He earned his Ph.D. (2009) in African Studies, World Affairs, Public Policy and Development Studies from Howard University. He is the author/editor/co-editor of numerous publications including Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean: The Case for Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation (Lexington Books, 2018); Africans and the Exiled Life: Migration, Culture, and Globalization (Lexington Books, 2018); and Nigeria’s Niger Delta: Militancy, Amnesty, and the Postamnesty Environment (Lexington Books, 2017). An upcoming book on “Migrants, Refugees, and the Internally Displaced” is due in fall 2020. Dr. Abidde is a member of the Association of Global South Studies (AGSS); the American Political Science Association (APSA); the African Studies and Research Forum (ASRF); and the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).
Xenophobia, Nativism and Pan-Africanism in 21st Century Africa
Sabella Abidde and Emmanuel Matambo (Editors)

The purpose of this project is to examine the mounting incidence of xenophobia and nativism across the African continent. Second, it seeks to examine how invidious and self-immolating xenophobia and nativism negate the noble intent of Pan-Africanism. Finally, it aims to examine the implications of the resentments, the physical and mental attacks, and the incessant killings on the psyche, solidarity, and development of the Black World.

According to Michael W. Williams, Pan-Africanism is the cooperative movement among peoples of African origin to unite their efforts in the struggle to liberate Africa and its scattered and suffering people; to liberate them from the oppression and exploitation associated with Western hegemony and the international expansionism of the capitalist system. Xenophobia, on the other hand, is the loathing or fear of foreigners with a violent component in the form of periodic attacks and extrajudicial killings committed mostly by native-born citizens. Nativism is the policy and or laws designed to protect the interests of native-born citizens or established residents.

The project intends to argue that xenophobia and nativism negate the intent, aspiration, and spirit of Pan-Africanism as expressed by early proponents such as Edward Blyden, W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, George Padmore, Léopold Senghor, Jomo Kenyatta, Aimé Césaire, and Kwame Nkrumah. In South Africa, for instance, periodic violence against fellow Africans from within and outside of the southern African region is prompted by fears of African immigrants usurping the economic space of previously disadvantaged South Africans and flouting domestic laws of their host country. But isn’t criminality and illegal migration to be attended to by the government and its agencies?

Other African countries have laws and legislations that target Others and outsiders who are mostly Africans. In these countries, there are immigration-restriction measures to thwart settlement or full participation in the economic, political, and social affairs of the country. One of the ironies of these measures is that non-Africans foreign nationals enjoy more civil liberties and human rights than Africans. In South Africa, when Africans are being killed and brutalized, the non-Africans have nothing to fear from the marauding assailants. This phenomenon has opened the narrative that what is often characterized as xenophobia in Africa is, in fact, “Afrophobia:” disdain for Africans by fellow Africans. From this backdrop, what are the prospects of Pan-Africanism in 21st century Africa? Do Africans still appreciate the need for Pan-Africanism?

The scope of the issues to be addressed is expansive as the suggested list below shows. The 21st century is currently gripped in new international dynamics characterized by the rise of some powers of the developing world, the popularity of insular politics in the West, and immigration. For this reason, contributors are welcome to address the issue of xenophobia and nativism between Africans and non-African residing in the African continent.

We encourage scholars, activists, and members of the Civil Society to submit chapters that address some of the issues we have raised or address some of the suggested topics that are listed below. Prospective contributors may also suggest and write on topics that are not listed if the said topic falls within the overall theme of this project:

1. Xenophobia and Emerging Theories
2. Nativism and Emerging Theories
3. The Early History of Xenophobia and Nativism in Africa
4. Pan-Africanism, Nativism, and Xenophobia
5. Domestic Legislations and Nativism
6. The Safety and Security of Citizens of Former Colonial Powers
7. The Chinese, Indian, Lebanese Communities
8. Xenophobia, Nativism, and Nationalism
9. Ubuntu, Pan-Africanism, and the Xenophobes
10. The Psychology and Psychosis of Xenophobes and Nativists
11. Xenophobia in South Africa, 2008-2020
12. Nativism and Xenophobia in North Africa
13. Nativism and Xenophobia in West and Central Africa
14. The Role of the Media
15. The Politics of Race and Color in Southern Africa
16. Assimilation and Acculturation of Recent Immigrants in South Africa
17. How Relevant is Pan-Africanism in Twenty-first Century Africa?
18. The Human and Economic Cost of Xenophobia and Nativism
19. Xenophobia and the legacy of apartheid
20. Afrophobia: Paradigms and Narratives

1. Please submit a 300-350-word abstract plus a 150-250-word biography (About the Author) along with your official contact information by 30 June 2020 to [email protected] and please Cc the co-editor at [email protected]
2. You will be notified of acceptance or rejection of the abstract by 30 July 2020. You will also be informed of the name of the publisher, and information regarding formatting and citations.
3. Your completed chapter -- if your abstract is accepted -- must NOT be longer than 30-double spaced pages (including the tables, figures, maps, endnotes, and bibliography) and would be due not later than 30 October 2020.
Sabella Ogbobode Abidde is a Professor of Political Science and a member of the graduate faculty at Alabama State University. He earned his Ph.D. (2009) in African Studies, World Affairs, Public Policy and Development Studies from Howard University. He is the author/editor/co-editor of numerous publications including Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean: The Case for Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation (Lexington Books, 2018); Africans and the Exiled Life: Migration, Culture, and Globalization (Lexington Books, 2018); and Nigeria’s Niger Delta: Militancy, Amnesty, and the Postamnesty Environment (Lexington Books, 2017). An upcoming book on “Migrants, Refugees, and the Internally Displaced” is due in fall 2020. Dr. Abidde is a member of the Association of Global South Studies (AGSS); the American Political Science Association (APSA); the African Studies and Research Forum (ASRF); and the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA).

Emmanuel Matambo is a Senior Researcher at The Centre for Africa-China Studies, University of Johannesburg. He holds an MA in Social Science, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. His main area of interest is African agency, especially the continent’s relationship with outside states and institutions. He also focuses on Africa’s long overdue role as the principal architect of peace and security on the continent. Dr. Matambo is the author, most recently, of “A choreographed Sinophobia? An analysis of China's identity from the perspective of Zambia's Patriotic Front;” “Constructing China’s identity in Zambian politics: a tale of expediency and resignation;” and “Bystander in my own house: A critique of the African Union’s method and role in ending conflict and establishing peace in Africa.”

The Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre at Brown University in Africana Studies and has one of the leading faculties in the discipline.

Located in the historic Churchill House on the campus of Brown University, the Department of Africana Studies is the intellectual center for faculty and students interested in the artistic, historical, literary, and theoretical expressions of the various cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. Central to the intellectual work of the department is the close collaboration of artists and scholar

Operating as usual


Do you have questions about applying to the Brown Africana Studies PhD program? Want to talk to current students about their experiences?

Join us on Thursday November 16th for a virtual roundtable all about the application process.

Register here:


We welcome you to join us on September 13th at 5:30pm in the McCormack Family Theater in the Perelman Arts District for a Literary Reading with Kwame Dawes.

This is the inaugural lecture in Distinguished Visiting Writers of Africa and the African Diasporas, a series of readings, lectures and related events hosted by Africana Studies / Rites & Reason Theatre and Literary Arts.

More information can be found online:


Africana Studies has grown significantly this year. We've welcomed new professors, postdoctoral fellows, and a lively new cohort of graduate students. Stay tuned to hear more about them all this week.

Timeline photos 11/30/2020

Save the Date! After 32 years and 250 productions and events, Rites and Reason's Senior Managing Director, Karen Allen Baxter, will retire. Join us Dec. 15 at 6PM for an event celebrating the Theatre's 50-year legacy and the woman who contributed so much to it.

Timeline photos 11/22/2020

Karen Allen Baxter, Rites and Reason Theatre's long-serving Senior Managing Director, will retire in December of this year. Join us in celebrating her 32-year legacy by sharing photos and messages of appreciation. Check back here for information on her virtual sendoff event.

Timeline photos 11/17/2020

Our friends at Stages of Freedom and The Providence Athenæum are hosting an event on Thursday: Frederick Douglass arrived in Newport as a fugitive slave as early as 1838. Time and again, he would return to Newport from his home in New Bedford and stay with the Rice Family at 23 Thomas Street, a station on the Underground Railroad, while giving lectures throughout Rhode Island. John Rice shares the thrilling story of his family's special friendship with Douglass, reveals a recently discovered letter from him, and connects us to the unique legacy of an African American family living in the same house for more than 200 years. Register here:

Timeline photos 11/02/2020

The entire Africana community grieves the passing of our dear colleague, mentor and friend, Professor Anani Dzidzienyo. Professor Dzidzienyo was among the first faculty appointments to the Afro-American Studies Program, which later evolved into the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre, and has been a tenured member of faculty for some thirty-four years. He was also appointed in the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. Dzidzienyo was a memorable scholar, teacher and mentor, who nurtured generations of students at Brown, including many who themselves went on to become leading scholars in the fields of African Literature, Latin American Studies, and Afro-Brazilian Studies. Many of these now renowned academics were students in his Afro-Brazil and the Brazilian Polity course which he was still teaching this semester.

Anani Dzidzienyo was born in Sekondi in what was then the British colony of the Gold Coast, where he grew up and went both to primary and Mfantsipim secondary school, choosing to study in the United States with a scholarship to Williams College. He graduated from Williams in 1965, then went on to the United Kingdom to study international relations at Essex University, for what he thought would be a career in the diplomatic service. He grew up in the time of the seminal African nationalist political visionary, Kwame Nkrumah and was deeply inspired by his leadership of the Ghanian independence movement.

His horizons, however, shifted from international relations and diplomacy to West African literature and politics, then further expanded to South America, with him becoming the first African scholar to work consistently on Brazil. Anani, in his classic 1978 essay “Activity and Inactivity in the Politics of Afro-Latin America,” introduced the idea of “Afro-Latin America” to the United States, a concept that brought visibility to the significant Black population in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Americas and helped to shape a field of study. Dzidizienyo was also one of the earliest scholars in the United States to focus on Afro-Brazilian questions and the struggle there against anti-Black racism. His work on the Afro-Brazilian intellectual and cultural figure, Abdias Nascimento was groundbreaking and remains an invaluable resource. In the 1980’s, Anani was a key participant in the Third Congress of Black Culture in the Americas. The conference, held under the banner African Diaspora: Political Consciousness and Culture of Liberation, marked a key moment in Afro-Latin cultural and intellectual growth. Professor Dzidzienyo was recognized by his peers as a pioneer in the study of Afro-Brazilian culture when in 2019 he was awarded the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Brazilian Studies Association.

Anani’s work was lauded by generations of Brown students and parents. He loved teaching and he loved his students, past and present. It is a standard highlight each year at Commencement that alumni visit Churchill House to greet faculty who taught, advised or nurtured them. However, and consistently, by far the greatest number came to meet Professor Dzidzienyo in order to recall and share joyous memories of their times with him. He was our friend, confidante, mentor and griot. As Anani Dzidzienyo would often say to us, quoting a famous Ghanian proverb on the death of important personalities, “A great tree in the forest has fallen.” Our great forest tree has fallen. We will not forget him. Our heartfelt condolences are extended to Rose-Ann and all the family.

As soon as we have information to provide, we will update you all regarding events to honor and celebrate Anani's life. Until then, we invite you to share your messages of condolence, memories, and other notes on our memorial page, linked here.

Brian Meeks
Chair, with the Faculty and Staff, Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre

Timeline photos 10/30/2020

Congratulations to Africana's first Ph.D. program graduate--Michael Sawyer--for his recent tenured appointment to Associate Professor of African-American Literature and Critical and Cultural Studies at University of Pittsburgh's Department of English. Great news!

New series of discussions, performances and podcasts will focus on the migrant experience 10/27/2020

The Department is excited to announce a new grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, shared with Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown University and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, funding the creation of a new center to study migration, race, and ethnic policy in Latin America. Read more here:

New series of discussions, performances and podcasts will focus on the migrant experience A Sawyer Seminar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will fund a series of Brown University-based events and community partnerships focused on migration from and within Latin America and the Caribbean.

Timeline photos 10/26/2020

Have you seen The Stand? This Wednesday, join Brown Track and Field for a film screening and a panel featuring Francoise Hamlin on the iconic moment at the 1968 Olympics. Register at this link:


Ready for more? Join us at 3PM today for a live folkthought discussion with the cast, crew, and inspiration of Songs of a Caged Bird. Meeting link:

Join our Cloud HD Video Meeting Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems. Zoom Rooms is the original software-based conference room solution used around the world in board, confer...

Timeline photos 10/23/2020

11 Days to Election Day! Join the Graduate Students of Color for a Voting Town Hall with current students and local voting advocates. Register (and submit questions!) at

Timeline photos 10/23/2020

Today at 3! Tune into a virtual panel on Black Women and the Vote hosted by Pembroke Center at Brown University. The discussion will focus on Black women’s political engagement and activism, including efforts to secure and protect voting rights. Register through Eventbrite:

Timeline photos 10/22/2020

It's opening night! Stream Songs of a Caged Bird tonight at 7PM from our virtual theatrespace.

Timeline photos 10/21/2020

In Songs of a Caged Bird, Playwright Christopher Lindsay asks us: "When do oppressed people, who have been told that they are worthless, make the decision to believe in their worthlessness? When do they stop singing?" Stream the show on the microsite beginning tomorrow at 7PM.

Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: Political Concepts: Racial Justice in the Age of Pandemic. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar. 10/19/2020

Africana Alum Michael Sawyer, Asst. Professor of Race, Ethnicity & Migration at Colorado College hosts a symposium this week with 20+ scholars to discuss how COVID-19 reveals society's injustices. Register here:

Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: Political Concepts: Racial Justice in the Age of Pandemic. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar. Welcome! You are invited to join a webinar: Political Concepts: Racial Justice in the Age of Pandemic. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the webinar.

Timeline photos 10/16/2020

"Artists bring hope through performances that engage, entertain and, even if momentarily, distract from the darkness we are currently experiencing."

Songs of a Caged Bird's Director, Jackie Davis on the role of theatre today. Learn more about our upcoming show:

Timeline photos 10/05/2020

Calling all students! Introducing Rites and Reason Theatre's newest initiative--RIOT, or Response in Our Time. Click here to learn more.

Timeline photos 10/02/2020

Even though we cannot convene in Churchill House, we can still stay connected! Follow us here and on Twitter () to learn about our new faculty members, get updates on our upcoming events, and be a part of Rites and Reason's digital productions this year.


Understanding the present means learning about the past. Begin (or continue!) your journey with an AFRI 0090: Introduction to Africana Studies, taught this Fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Visit Courses@Brown for more.


Statement from the Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre, Brown University on the Continuing National and Global Demonstrations against the Slaying of George Floyd, Institutional Racism and Police Brutality

The tragic final minutes of the life of George Floyd, captured in graphic detail as he begged for his life on the streets of Minneapolis, neck pinned to the ground by a white police officer, pleading that he couldn’t breathe, have been indelibly imprinted on the consciousness of this nation and the entire world. The response rippled from coast to coast, with spontaneous marches, demonstrations and rallies--tearful, angry, and for the most part, peaceful.

Unfortunately, this pattern of anti-black policing is nothing new. In the weeks, years and decades before Floyd’s death, untold numbers of Black people have died at the hands of the police or vigilante violence. Trayvon Martin, Freddy Gray, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor--the list goes interminably on, with public memory often only focused on those few whose tragic ending was captured on film, through the medium of the smartphone.

Half a decade ago, in response to an earlier upsurge of recorded murders, Black women formed the Black Lives Matter hashtag/movement and gained significant popular support. They were met with the inane counter-claims of “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter”--essentially attempts to erase the historical specificity of institutional state brutality directed against Black people. The Black Lives Matter Movement, however, and other acts of solidarity like Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem, established without question that the bucket had overflowed and a new generation of Black people and their allies from across the country refused to mourn quietly, instead publicly confront the police’s institutional racism and its accompanying hatefulness and egregious abuse of human rights.

The massive, persistent, and growing demonstrations of the past week, in tribute to Floyd and all those slain, vindicate the efforts of the BLM, Kaepernick, and all who took a knee and suggest the beginnings of a national and global mass movement against institutional and structural racism. The sheer scale and reach of the protests, from Minneapolis to Miami, New York to Los Angeles, Houston and Denver to Washington DC, despite the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and in the face of a hostile, gaslighting and recalcitrant administration, points to a national (and increasingly global) inflection moment and a new political situation, in which racism in any form will no longer be tolerated.

In this new configuration, the majority of the nation, but particularly the hundreds of thousands in the streets, are no longer willing to watch and grieve in silence while innocent Black people are murdered, framed, abused and jailed. They assert loudly and without abate “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter.” The Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre at Brown University, born out of the Black Power movement of the 1960s stands united in solidarity with all those who once again are putting their lives on the line for justice and truth. We continue to do our work here on campus to be a visible presence of excellence in diversity and to share Africana knowledges with all those who wish, in their own ways, to be instruments of change.


Congratulations to our concentrators and the entire Class of 2020! We are immensely proud of you, and look forward to celebrating in person as soon as we are able.

Departmental Awards 2020 05/24/2020

The Department of Africana Studies/Rites and Reason Theatre is proud to announce its award winners for Commencement 2020. Congratulations to this exceptional group!

DYSOM 2/26/20: Brown University Professor Françoise Hamlin 02/28/2020

Tune into Associate Professor Françoise Hamlin's recent conversation with Dan Yorke to discuss Black History Month and race in our political environment.

DYSOM 2/26/20: Brown University Professor Françoise Hamlin Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History at Brown University, Françoise Hamlin, joined Dan Yorke to talk about Black History Month, the recent controversy on the House floor involving ra…


DJ Jubilee is a DJ and rapper who pioneered the local New Orleans Bounce music and dance scene which gained national attention in the 1990s and became the foundation of New Orleans’ distinct style of hip hop. Jubilee began DJing at local school parties in the 1980s, where he met other local hip hop entrepreneurs, namely the soon-to-be founders of legendary Take Fo’ Records, Earl Mackie and Henry Holden, who would later release his music. DJ Jubilee first gained major attention and is still most acclaimed for his 1993 single “Do The Jubilee All,” which is credited with the first recorded use of the now
ubiquitous word “twerk.”

In addition to his musical contributions to New Orleans culture, DJ Jubilee has won over 40 football championships as part of his volunteer coaching work with mixed-ability student teams at Annunciation Square.

- Nasir Marumo, Ph.D. Student


Born in 1922 to Jamaican parents in Harlem, Vinnette Justine Carroll approached her passion for performing arts with the rigor of a researcher.

Carroll left her Ph.D. studies in Psychology at Columbia to attend the New School of Social Research in 1946, where she channeled her academic background into intense character studies.

After a successful series of roles both On- and Off- Broadway and on London’s West End stages, Carroll began laying a path to the theatre for young artists in New York. She founded the Urban Arts Theatre in 1967, where her playwriting and directorial skills flourished. She organized actors and technical artists to stage full productions in parks, schools, and plazas, instituting a model for community theatre that was broadly accessible and politically rich.

By 1975, her group’s production “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope” made it to Broadway, earning four Tony Awards and making Carroll the first Black Woman to be nominated for Best Direction.


Dr. Patricia Bath was a pioneering ophthalmologist who shattered boundaries for Black women in the medical sciences. Her dedication to addressing vision impairment and maintaining healthy eyes in her community made lasting impacts on eye care in America's cities and beyond.

Beginning in 1964 at Howard College of Medicine, Dr. Bath’s research into the higher rates of glaucoma and blindness in the Black community culminated in the creation of “community ophthalmology,” a holistic approach to eye health and prevention that greatly benefited New York’s underserved and uninsured.

In 1988, Dr. Bath became the first Black woman to receive a patent for a medical purpose. Her Photo Ablative Cataract Probe is still used internationally to quickly and painlessly dissolve cataracts, restoring sight to many who had been living without the ability to see for decades.


Grassroots leaders often go unnoticed beyond their communities, yet without them, the opportunities for the formal figurehead leaders diminish.

Mrs. Vera Mae Pigee identified herself as a businesswoman, mother, and leader working to build a local and statewide movement in Mississippi long before students came to the state to assist and propel activities forward in the 1960s. A beautician by trade, avid churchgoer, and activist mother, she mentored youth and ensured safety as secretary of the local NAACP branch.

- Professor Francoise Hamlin, African American Studies


On Fridays in February, our students, faculty, and staff will share the leaders, artists, and events they are reflecting on this month. From organizers transforming communities to creatives redefining boundaries, we’re excited to lift up these contributions to the Black past and present.

Check back tomorrow for the first post from Professor Francoise Hamlin.

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Videos (show all)

An Introduction to Africana Studies
Messages for the Class of 2020
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