Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale University Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Alumni from around the world will gather in New Haven to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, 211 Park Street, October 16-18.

The weekend will include a conference titled “Charting a Course for the Next Generation of Black Yalies,” with faculty lectures, roundtable discussions and workshops, social events, alumni exhibits, tours of relevant Yale collections and performances.

“We have much to celebrate as a community and more to do during these transformative times!” says Pamela George, assistant dean of Yale College and director of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale.

On Friday night at 8:30 p.m., Cultural Center performance groups and alumni will present “Still on the Journey,” a dramatization of Black Yale history, directed by Yale College senior Julondre Brown and produced by sophomore Cecily Sackey, with consultation by two students in the students in Yale School of Drama. Performers include the a capella ensemble Shades, the Rhythmic Blue Hip Hop Dancers, Konjo African Dance Troup, and more.

During the Saturday morning plenary session, “Black Yale: Yesterday and Today,” alumni from several generations will reflect on the history of the Cultural Center from its founding during the Civil Rights movement to the present. They will assess the current state of affairs at Yale and within the wider community and share their thoughts about the future.

Following that, participants will divide into discussion groups to address general topics like “Blacks and the Arts” and “The Practice of Medicine and Healthcare in Black Communities,” as well as Yale-centered topics such as “Socioeconomics at Yale: From First Generation to Legacies” and Re/committing Black Yalies to Strategies for Social Change.”

Saturday afternoon will feature lectures by faculty members celebrating the 40th anniversary of the African-American Studies Department. Invited speakers include alumna Elizabeth Alexander, professor and chair of African-American Studies and renowned poet; Jafari Allen, assistant professor of anthropology and African-American Studies; Khalilah Brown-Dean, assistant professor of political science and African-American Studies; Kamari Clarke, associate professor of anthropology and African-American Studies; alumnus Jonathan Holloway, professor of history, African-American Studies and American Studies; and Paul Turner, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

A gala awards dinner will be held on Saturday night at the Omni Hotel at Yale, with a keynote speech by Yale Law School alumna Lani Guinier, the Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard. Guinier worked in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and then headed the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s. In her scholarly writings and in op-ed pieces, she has addressed issues of race, gender and democratic-decision making, seeking new ways to approach topics like affirmative action.

Sunday activities will include a benefit golf competition to support Youth Rights Media of New Haven, 8:30-10:30 a.m., followed by Black Church at Yale, 11 a.m. Worship will be led by Presiding Pastor Charisse Barron with a sermon by the Reverend Frank Reid III, alumnus, and reflections by Emilie Townes, the Andrew Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School. The weekend will wrap up with a soul food brunch at 1 p.m.

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