Boston College faculty members will be joined this Saturday by other prominent scholars from around the country and community organization leaders for a discussion on Boston’s immigrant populations in the city.
The daylong event, “Blacks in Boston: Black...and Immigrant,” will be a revival of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program’s (AADS) “Blacks in Boston” conference series, last held on campus in 2000. More than 250 attendees will gather in Gasson 100 to hear 11 presentations that explore black immigration from cultural, historical, legal, personal, political, public health, and social perspectives.
Organizers—who note they are still receiving requests for information and admission to the free, public event, even though registration is closed—say this year’s theme is designed to engage current issues in the U.S. immigration debate, and to explore what black immigrants and immigration bring to this discourse.
“Taking on an issue of such national relevance highlights AADS’s interdisciplinary emphases, thereby encouraging black students, students of color, as well as students invested in issues of social justice, politics, and history to consider the racial, international, and local implications of U.S. immigration,” according to Associate Professor of English Rhonda Frederick, AADS faculty member and former director, who spearheaded the initiative.
“Conference planners hope participants will become more aware of the complexities of US immigration, not only in terms of who immigrates to the United States, but also with regard to immigrants’ support of their home countries and contributions to the U.S.,” she said.
Among the topics presenters will explore are definitions of “black” in sending and receiving countries; citizenship and belonging for black Americans; cultural contributions to the receiving country; connections to home, such as remittances; immigration as a black civil rights issue; and waves of black immigration in New England from the Caribbean, Africa, and Central and South America.
The morning session will feature keynote speakers from the Network of Immigrant & African American Solidarity—D. Feraiya Williams, Trina Jackson and Luz Zambrano—who will present “It Takes Revolutionary Relationships to Build a Movement.” Violet M. Showers Johnson of Texas A&M University will give the luncheon keynote, “More Than Winthrop’s City on the Hill: Centering Black Migrations in Boston’s History.”
Frederick will be among a number of BC faculty members serving as panel moderators or speakers, along with Lynch School of Education Associate Professor Leigh Patel, Professor of History Marilynn Johnson, Associate Professor of Sociology C. Shawn McGuffey, AADS faculty member Abel Djassi Amado and Professor of English Robin Lydenberg.
The “Blacks in Boston” conference, conceived of and launched in 1983 by former BC Black Studies Program Director Amanda V. Houston, “defined Boston College and the Black Studies Program [renamed AADS in 2006] in the New England area,” according to Frederick. “Featuring speakers prominent in the US civil rights movement and academia, ‘Blacks in Boston’ built its regional, national and international reputation. That these conferences were initiated here at Boston College was one of Black Studies’ most significant accomplishments.”
AADS faculty, staff and students were integral to the planning of the conference, said Frederick, also citing support from the Institute for the Liberal Arts and Center for Centers, as well as from alumnus and University Trustee Associate Juan Concepcion.
By Rosanne Pellegrini | News and Public Affairs