Book Conversation on May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem

The twin acts of singing and fighting for freedom have been inseparable in African American history. May We Forever Stand tells an essential part of that story. With lyrics penned by James Weldon Johnson and music composed by his brother Rosamond, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was embraced almost immediately as an anthem that captured the story and the aspirations of black Americans. Since the song’s creation, it has been adopted by the NAACP and performed by countless artists in times of both crisis and celebration, cementing its place in African American life up through the present day.

In this rich, poignant, and readable work, Imani Perry tells the story of the Black National Anthem as it traveled from South to North, from civil rights to black power, and from countless family reunions to Carnegie Hall and the Oval Office. Drawing on a wide array of sources, Perry uses “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as a window on the powerful ways African Americans have used music and culture to organize, mourn, challenge, and celebrate for more than a century.

 

 

The Difficult Miracle: The Living Legacy of June Jordan

June Millicent Jordan (1936–2002) called herself a “dissident American poet,” and she counted among her forebears powerful voices ranging from Walt Whitman to Phyllis Wheatley. She began writing verse at the age of seven; her papers at the Harvard University Schlesinger Library contain stunning material about the girlhood that prefaced her remarkable career as creator and critic, educator, and activist.

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of the arrival of the Papers of June Jordan at the Harvard University Schlesinger and the 75th anniversary of the library’s founding, this panel discussion features scholars, poets, and activists exploring the many and ongoing facets of Jordan’s work.

Featuring
Solmaz Sharif (14:56), poet; lecturer, Creative Writing Program, Stanford University

Imani Perry (29:51), Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University

Mariame Kaba (47:08), founder and director, Project NIA

Moderated by
Joshua Bennett, director, June Jordan Fellowship Program, Center for Justice at Columbia University; 2016-2019 junior fellow, Society of Fellows, Harvard University

Introductions by
Jane Kamensky, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director, Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute, and professor of history, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Kenvi Phillips (7:06), curator for race and ethnicity, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

 

 

Reimagining Science and Technology

In this episode of the AAS 21 podcast, Professor Ruha Benjamin and Professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. discuss science and technology, the allure of objectivity related to this category of work, and consider what it takes to proceed in a “third” way. Professor Benjamin is author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press 2013), Race After Technology, with Polity (forthcoming), and editor of Captivating Technology: Race, Technoscience, and the Carceral Imagination (Duke University Press, forthcoming), as well as numerous articles and book chapters.

Art by Manzel Bowman.

The Making of the Modern Black Diaspora

Professor Joshua Guild joins the conversation in this episode of the AAS 21 Podcast. Professor Guild is an associate professor of History and African American Studies at Princeton specializing in twentieth-century African American social and cultural history, urban history, and the making of the modern African diaspora. Professor Guild discussed two works, In the Shadows of the Metropolis: Cultural Politics and Black Communities in Postwar New York and London (Oxford University Press)and The City Lives in You: The Black Freedom Struggle and the Futures of New Orleans. This wide-ranging conversation tracks how black New York, black London, and black New Orleans came into being through a comparative, but relational analysis.

 

The Pulse of Black Life in the Long 19th Century

In this episode of the AAS 21 podcast, Professor Glaude speaks with new colleague Autumn Womack about several projects she has in the works. Womack joined the faculty at Princeton this year as an assistant professor in departments of African American Studies and English. Womack specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American literature, with a particular research and teaching focus on the intersection of visual technology, race, and literary culture. Womack’s forthcoming book is called Reform Divisions: Race, Visuality and Literature in the Progressive Era.

 

Rethinking Empire and Democracy

The AAS 21 Podcast is back for the first podcast of the 2017-2018 academic year. Professor Glaude speaks to his colleague, Reena N. Goldthree, about her current research into nationalism, migration and gender in Latin America and the Caribbean. Professor Goldthree is the new specialist of Afro-Atlantic histories in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton. Goldthree’s forthcoming book is called Democracy Shall be no Empty Romance: War and the Politics of Empire in the Greater Caribbean.

 

The Formation of ‘Religio-Racial’ Identity

In this episode, Professor Glaude and Professor Judith Weisenfeld discuss the development of ‘religio–racial’ identity during the Great Migration. Weisenfeld is the Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Her latest book, New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration is a historiography of twentieth-century black religious groups, including the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, and Ethiopian Hebrews. The two discuss the racial claims of these groups, the impact they had on the development of African American identity, and their interactions with government entities, other religious groups, and African American communities.  Weisenfeld also sheds light on her research process, which pulls from marriage and divorce certificates, immigration and naturalization records, and FBI files in order to create a multifaceted view of the practitioners.

 

How Black Americans See Discrimination

Taken altogether, these survey results aren’t terribly surprising: They’re backed up by the reams of data that show the extent to which African-Americans are far more likely to live in areas with concentrated poverty even when they are high earners, are more likely to go to segregated and underfunded schools, and more likely to be stopped by the police and searched once they are. Black folks are living objectively more difficult lives than similarly situated white folks.

But here is a sobering thought: What if the black respondents to the NPR survey, who almost unanimously assumed that anti-black discrimination was a given, were like the people in the Urban Institute study and actually underestimating the drag that discrimination exerts on their lives? As data becomes more accessible and granular, we can more easily see how race is often the only variable that explains disparate treatment. If these responses are how people feel about discrimination based largely on what they can glean from their own direct experiences and commiserating with relatives and neighbors, it’s not hard to imagine that the full picture is even less rosy than these data suggest at first glance.

– Gene Demby

Stuart Hall: In Conversations

Imani Perry is a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. In this conversation with University of Texas Sociology Professor Ben Carrington, Perry discusses Hall’s work as foundational for her own intellectual trajectory as a cultural theorist.

Likewise, Perry addresses Hall’s relevance for understanding a U.S. context by noting that the questions Hall asks around political economy, the rise of neoliberalism, race, class, and culture are important for making sense of what is happening in the United States because “we are all grappling with legacies of empire and capitalism and racialization.”

Perry argues that although we see different iterations of these issues as they move around the world, Hall’s theorizing is prescient for making sense of questions of globalization. The conversation also addresses Hall as a model for being a public intellectual who neither postures nor self-aggrandizes but rather is about conversation and engagement with and a responsibility to different public.

Carrington and Perry discuss how Hall’s work is useful for understanding not only Brexit, but also the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. Perry explains that she understands these issues as part of an “anxiety about the growth of precarity, globalization, and neoliberalism, and the kind of vulnerability that [these issues] produce for whiteness,” as well as an appeal for a return to conventional imperial relations. Hall’s work, which addresses the intersection of historical forces that produce these anxieties, helps us to think about these issues, although he does not necessarily give us the answers. Hall provides a model for how to read the world around us ethically.

-Maggie Tate

All conversations in the Stuart Hall: In Conversations series with Ben Carrington can be found here