The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia

Symposia and Podcasts

Woodson Events 2008 - Present

The Virginia Roots of Today's Radical Right & the Crisis of American Democracy

October 12, 2017

Clark Hall Room 108

In a presentation co-sponsored by the Department of History, the Power, Violence, and Inequality Collective, and the American Studies Program, Nancy MacLean, the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, discusses her new book "Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America."




Meet the Fellows 2017


October 4, 2017

Minor Hall 110

Video from the annual event "Meet the Fellows" to welcome new members of the Carter G. Woodson's distinguished fellowship program. During the 2017 Meet the Fellows event, the Carter G. Woodson Institute also celebrated its new departmental status.



"Keep the Movement Coming On:" A Symposium in Memory of Julian Bond

October 20 - 21, 2016

"Keep the Movement Coming On" is a multi-interdisciplinary symposium organized in remembrance of Julian Bond, honoring the life and legacy of this lodestar in the modern movement for civil rights and social justice. It is altogether fitting that we host this symposium here at the University of Virginia, where Julian Bond taught for twenty years—from 1992-2012—in the Corcoran Department of History. By conservative estimates, over 5,000 students enrolled in his blockbuster course on the History of the Civil Rights Movement, "making his past our present," as one student noted. Indeed, the phrase "making his past our present" captures perhaps one of the major objectives of this symposium, which looks backward and forward simultaneously: backward at the broad arc of Bond’s 50-year career as a legislator, educator, and life-long champion for civil rights and social justice, and forward to what his illustrious career demands of those of us who strive to honor him over the next two days.

Visit the symposium's website for a schedule, full list of participants, and video archive of events

Watch video from the symposium on the Carter G. Woodson Institute's YouTube page



Meet the Fellows 2016

September, 2016

Video from the annual event "Meet the Fellows" to welcome new members of the Carter G. Woodson's distinguished fellowship program. For more information about the current Carter G. Woodson Fellows visit the "Woodson Fellows" page.

Engaging Race: The Race Tax: Economic Predation in Black America

March 24, 2016

Exorbitant rent for inferior housing.  Payday lenders on every block. Police forces that see your neighborhood as a source of municipal revenue rather than a community in need of protection.  In America today, low-income minority neighborhoods suffer not only from a shortage of economic opportunity but also from an abundance of predatory industries and practices.  While forms of economic exploitation have helped cities balance their budgets and businesses and investors amass fortunes, it has compounded the struggles of African American communities and contributed, in no small measure, to the racial wealth gap in America today.   Critics call it the “race tax,” and its roots are buried deep in the soil of America’s segregated cities.  This spring’s Woodson Forum will bring together four of America’s leading scholars on economic predation in Black America’s past and present for an engaging, informative discussion of the devastating effects of often hidden practices.  By shining a light on enterprises and institutions that prey on the urban poor, this event aims to generate greater awareness of the challenges facing many Black Americans today and a deeper understanding of issues informing the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Panelists include:
Devin Fergus, Associate Professor of African American and African Studies at Ohio State University and Senior Fellow at Demos, a policy research institute based in New York. 

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation," published by Haymarket Books in January 2016. 

N.D.B. Connolly, Herbert Baxter Adams Associate Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University and Visiting Associate Professor of History and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University.

Mildred W. Robinson, faculty at University of Virginia Law School and co-editor of "Law Touched Our Hearts: A Generation Remembers Brown v. Board of Education" (2009).

Engaging Race: Black Girls Matter

November 12, 2015

Focused on black girls, the forum is largely inspired by “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected,” a report released by the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia University and the African American Policy Forum. Authored by Kimberle Crenshaw, Jyoti Nanda and Priscilla Ocen, the report, based on a review of national data and on personal interviews with girls in selected regions of the country, is but one in a growing number of such reports, all describing a disturbing national trend: the percentage of girls in the U. S. juvenile justice system is rapidly on the rise. The excessive disciplinary measures they face in schools lead to escalating rates of violence, arrest, suspension and/or expulsion. Girls of color, in particular, face much harsher school discipline than their white peers. For example, Black girls are suspended six times more than their white peers (while black boys are only suspended three times more than white males). 

Engaging Race: On Violence, Citizenship, and Social Justice

August 27, 2015

Anchored by Khalil Muhammad, Executive Director of the Schomburg Center in Black Culture (of the New York Public Library), the forum, titled "Engaging Race:  On Violence, Citizenship, and Social Justice,” is inspired by recent events in Charleston, South Carolina.  But the Charleston massacre is but one catalyst for engaging a range of issues emerging in its wake.  Among these, by no means new to this hour, are:  the underreported escalation of black church burnings over the last several weeks, the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, and the unabated instances of police brutality against black bodies, committed with impunity.  It bears remembering that Reverend, and state senator, Clementa Pinckney, one of those slain, championed legislation making south Carolina the first state to require all law enforcement agencies to use body cameras. Irony of ironies, the governor of South Carolina signed this bill into law on June 10 -- exactly a week before  Pinckney and his parishioners were murdered in cold blood.

Race, Wealth, and College Admissions 

October, 2013

The forum, titled “Race, Wealth and College Admission,” will be led by Darrick Hamilton, associate professor at the New School for Social Research in New York City; Tressie McMillan Cottom, research associate at the University of California-Davis; and Sabrina Pendergrass, assistant professor of sociology at UVa. The panelists will explore questions about the roles race and class play – and the roles they should play – in college admissions. They’ll also discuss the fast-growing for-profit college industry, which has attracted millions of students, many of them from low-income backgrounds.

Does Reparations Have a Future? Rethinking Racial Justice in a 'Color-Blind' Era 

Organized by Deborah McDowell (Alice Griffin Professor of English and Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies), Kim Forde-Mazrui (William S. Potter Professor of Law), and Lawrie Balfour (Professor of Politics), the symposium is organized around four sessions—“Reparations in Historical Frame,” “Reparations and the University,” “Reparations and the Nation,” “Reparations around the Globe.” Panelists will examine the range of meanings, questions, controversies, and aspirations the term “reparations” has elicited historically and will explore among other topics, the cultural, legal, economic, and political legacies of slavery and Jim Crow. 

A controversial term provoking a range of meanings and responses, “reparations” has been used most commonly to refer to material compensation in the present as a means of righting the wrongs of the past. In the political arena, the connection between the crimes of the past and the health of the polity has been acknowledged in the recent spate of public apologies, particularly for slavery and Jim Crow. Beginning with the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2007, several states and then the U.S. Congress expressed regret for slavery and segregation and vowed that the lesson of this past history would not be lost. In its 2009 apology, the U.S. Senate observed that "African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow laws—long after both systems were formally abolished—through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty." For many, including the distinguished historian, John Hope Franklin, such apologies cost nothing and carry limited utility as concerns the work of righting wrongs. The next step, he asserted, was “to do something."

Click here for a reproduction of the symposium program 

To listen to audio recordings from the symposium view its YouTube playlist 

Professor Mary Pattillo "Is Public School 'Choice" Good for the Black Community?"

March, 2012

"Choice" has become the buzz word across the policy spectrum, especially in housing, schools, and health care. This talk questions the assumptions, ideology and philosophy undergirding public school choice, using data from two projects. The first focuses on how black community leaders work with whites to bring "choice" schools to a gentrifying black neighborhood in Chicago. The second interviews black parents navigating the landscape of public school "choice." Findings highlight the complicated role black community leaders play in both facilitating and hampering access to high quality public education for low-income African-Americans. Further findings suggest that socioeconomic differences influence, not only who "chooses," but also what black parents hope to gain when they do choose. While there is no definitive answer as to whether public school choice is good or bad for the black community, this research presents important empirical data which contribute to a better understanding of what is at stake in the educational policy of "choice."

Panel: the Politics of the Debt Ceiling Crisis

September, 2012

This panel discussion, "The Politics of the Debt Ceiling Crisis," held at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia was free and open to the public. 

Professor Fredrick Harris"The Price of the Ticket" 

September, 2012

Barack Obama’s success in winning the presidency took a heavy toll on black politics, according to Fredrick Harris, professor of political science at Columbia University and author of the new book, “The Price of the Ticket: Barack Obama and the Rise and Decline of Black Politics.” Harris will speak at the University of Virginia Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Minor Hall auditorium as part of the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African-American and African Studies’ fall open house. Harris will also moderate a discussion following the live streaming of that night’s presidential debate on domestic policy. Harris directs the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the Center on African-American Politics and Society at Columbia University. His research interests include American politics with a focus on political participation, social movements, religion and politics, political development and African-American politics.

His most recent book puts Obama’s career in the context of decades of black activism, showing that his presidency has not addressed the issues and concerns of the very movement that made it possible. An earlier book, “Something Within: Religion in African-American Political Activism,” was awarded the V.O. Key Award by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Best Book Award by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. He is also the co-author of “Countervailing Forces in African-American Civic Activism, 1973-1994” with Valeria Sinclair-Chapman and Brian McKenzie, which received the 2006 W.E.B. DuBois Book Award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the 2007 Ralph Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book on ethnic and cultural pluralism.



"Their Eyes Were Watching God" turns 75!!! 

September, 2012

The Cater G. Woodson Institute will commemorate the 75th Anniversary of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and discuss its impact on American literary and cultural history on Sept. 18 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Minor Hall auditorium.

At the event, which is free and open to the public, panelists will give brief remarks on a range of themes that the novel addresses, then open the floor for larger discussion with the audience. Panelists include:

• Lisa Woolfork, associate professor of English, speaking on the history and context of African-American women’s writing;

• Gertrude Fraser, anthropology professor and vice provost for faculty recruitment and retention, on Hurston as an anthropologist and the implications of that training in her fiction;

• Sabrina Pendergrass, assistant professor of sociology, discussing race and migration;

• Kwame Holmes, a post-doctoral fellow at the Woodson Institute, on love and sexuality in the novel;

• Victor Cabas, associate professor of rhetoric at Hampden-Sydney College, on Hurston’s novel and the blues.

• Jason Saunders, doctoral English student, "A Love Supreme: Decolonizing Love in 'Their Eyes Were Watching God."

30th Anniversary Symposium: African American and African Studies at Work in the World 

April 7-9, 2011

We at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies are excited to celebrate our Thirtieth Anniversary. Founded in 1981 as the Institute for African American Research, it was renamed a year later in honor of Virginia native, Carter G. Woodson. Armstead L. Robinson, the Institute's founding director, began his tenure with a two-fold mandate: to promote and enhance the research and teaching of African American Studies in the schools and departments of the University of Virginia and to establish a center for research in African American Studies at this major southern university, the first of Virginia's institutions of higher learning to establish an African American Studies program. Also Professor of History, Armstead Robinson held this position until his untimely death in 1994. Since then, each subsequent head—Acting Director William Jackson, Director Reginald Butler, Interim Director Scot French, Interim Director Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton, and now Director Deborah E. McDowell (2008-)—has worked to advance the Institute's founding mandate. A small, but vital institution, "the Woodson," as it is affectionately known, has always depended on the energy of a committed handful of core faculty, including Professors Roquinaldo Ferreira, Claudrena Harold, and Marlon Ross, as well as supportive faculty affiliates who have staffed its committees, mentored its fellows, advised its undergraduate majors, and taught the wide array of courses that comprise our interdisciplinary program.

Click here for a reproduction of the symposium program 

View UVa Today's coverage of the symposium and the dedication to the Catherine "Kitty" Foster Memorial Site

The Problem of Punishment: Race, Inequality and Justice

April 16 - 17, 2009

Organized by faculty members in the Departments of English (Deborah McDowell), History (Claudrena Harold) and Politics (Vesla Weaver), this multi-disciplinary symposium, sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, will examine the historical, political, economic, and socio-cultural roots, as well as the myriad implications of the rise in incarceration in the United States.

Participants include:

Angela Y. Davis, Political Activist and Professor Emeritus, University of California, Santa Cruz

Michelle Alexander, Ohio State University, Associate Professor of Law

Heather Thompson, University of North Carolina- Charlotte, Associate Professor of History

Marc Mauer, Executive Director, The Sentencing Project

Ruth Gilmore, Director, Program in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California

Click here for a reproduction of the symposium program 

To listen to audio recordings of the every panel view the symposium's YouTube playlist 

The NAACP: A Symposium Celebrating a Century of Civil Rights 

October 2009

The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia will host a symposium on the NAACP's 100th anniversary Oct. 29 and 30. All events, which are free and open to the public, will be held in the auditorium of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

View UVa Today's coverage of the symposium and the report on Julian Bond's interview with Benjamin Todd Jealous

NAACP 100th Anniversary Symposium

Thursday, Oct. 29

9-9:10 a.m.: Opening remarks
Deborah E. McDowell, Director, Carter G. Woodson Institute

9:15-10:45 a.m.: Groundwork for a Southern Movement (Emma Edmunds, U.Va., moderator)
Ervin Jordan, U.Va., "'To Go Boldly': Alice Jackson, African-American Women, and the Desegregation of the University of Virginia"
Claudrena Harold, U.Va., "The Hour Has Come: The NAACP and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the New South"
Lara Fergeson, Longwood University, "Groundwork for a Southern Movement: The NAACP in Virginia"

11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: The Legal Campaign Against Segregated Schools (Patrice Grimes, U.Va., moderator)
NAACP documentary, "A Study of Educational Inequalities in South Carolina"
Robert A. Pratt, University of Georgia, "Into the Lion's Den: The Role of Local NAACP Attorneys in the Campaign Against School Segregation and the Fight for Racial Justice"
Mildred W. Robinson, U.Va., "Brown v. Board of Education from the Ground Up: Glimmers of Light, Opportunities Lost and Grievous Costs"

1-2:30 p.m.: Lunch

2:45-4:30 p.m.: Recasting the Legacy of the NAACP (Frank Dukes, U.Va., moderator)
Ronald Walters, University of Maryland, "Recasting the Legacy of the NAACP: Fighting 20th Century Slavery"
Herbert Timothy Lovelace, U.Va., "Close the Dump: The Roanoke Virginia NAACP and the Struggle against Environmental Racism"
Ian Grandison, U.Va., "Other Side of the 'Free' Way: College Campuses and Racialized Territories in the Wake of Massive Resistance"

5 p.m.: Reception

7:30 p.m. Keynote address, Julian Bond, "The Beginning of Something Big"

Friday, Oct. 30

9-11 a.m.: The NAACP: The National Stage
Remarks: Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP president and CEO, followed by 
Julian Bond interviewing Jealous

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Labor and the NAACP (Robert Fatton, U.Va., moderator)
Francille Wilson, University of Southern California, "A Corporal's Guard for Negro Workers: Black Social Scientists and the NAACP's Policies during the Depression"
Risa Goluboff, U.Va., "The Lost Promise of Civil Rights: Evaluating the NAACP in the Pre-Brown Era"
M. Rick Turner, president of the Charlottesville NAACP

12:50-1:50 p.m.: Lunch

2-3:30 p.m. The NAACP: 100 Years and Beyond (Marlon B. Ross, U.Va., moderator)
Daylanne K. English, McCalester University, "The Thorny Stem of Time: One Hundred Years of Crisis (NAACP's magazine)"
Patricia Sullivan, University of South Carolina, "Beyond 'Eyes on the Prize': The NAACP and the Struggle for Civil Rights"
Dianne Pinderhughes, University of Notre Dame, "The NAACP's Second Century: Organizational, Economic, Demographic and Philosophical Challenges"

3:45-5 p.m.: Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement: A Roundtable
Kenneth Mack, Harvard University
Raymond Gavins, Duke University
Daryl Scott, Howard University

Richard Wright at 100 

April 2008

The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia will celebrate and explore the life and work of this influential author during a two-day celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of Richard Wright's birth on Thursday, April 10 and Friday, April 11. All events, free and open to the public, will be held in the Harrison Institute-Small Special Collections Library Auditorium.

The celebration begins on Thursday evening with a theatrical performance directed by University of Virginia drama professor Theresa Davis. The performance is a composition of essays, original works, poems, monologues and excerpts from the stage and screen adaptations of "Native Son." Students from Davis' "African-American Theatre" course will present "A Collage of Wright: Words as Weapons" at 7:30 p.m.

Speakers at the symposium, which goes from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., include Arnold Rampersad, who edited critical anthologies of Wright's books and who recently published "Ralph Ellison: A Biography"; Maren Stange, author of "Bronzeville: Black Chicago in Pictures" and "Bare Witness: Photographs by Gordon Parks"; and Joyce Ann Joyce, author of "Richard Wright's Art of Tragedy." Other symposium participants include U.Va. faculty members and graduate students Lotta Lofgren, Marlon Ross and Brian Roberts from the English department, and Melvin Butler from the music department. 

View UVa Today's coverage of the symposium

Richard Wright at 100! A Celebratory Symposium
Harrison Institute-Small Special Collections Library Auditorium

Thursday, April 10

5:30 p.m.        Reception

7:30 p.m.         Performance: “A Collage of Wright”
            Directed by Drama Professor Teresa Davis 
Friday, April 11

8:30 a.m.        Breakfast

9:30 a.m.        Morning Session
•    Lotta Lofgren, Professor of English, University of Virginia
•    Maren Stange, Professor of Humanities & Social Sciences, Cooper Union
•    Brian Roberts, PhD Candidate in English, University of Virginia

12:30 p.m.        Lunch

1:30 p.m.        Afternoon Session
•    Joyce Ann Joyce, Professor of English, Temple University
•    Marlon Ross, Professor of English, University of Virginia
•    Arnold Rampersad, Professor of Humanities, Stanford University
•    Melvin Butler, Professor of Music, University of Virginia
6:00 p.m.        Reception


Find recordings of all the above resources on the Carter G. Woodson Institute iTunes page