Campus will celebrate Black History Month with discussions and more

Writer Roxane Gay, choreographer Bill T. Jones, and historian and artist Nell Painter will be among the featured speakers on campus during Black History Month.

Writer Roxane Gay, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, and historian and artist Nell Painter will be among the featured speakers on campus during Black History Month in February. Other Black History Month events include book discussions, a show featuring various musical and performance artists, a brunch featuring Haitian and Senegalese food, panel discussions, and more.

The following are brief descriptions of Black History Month events. For the full listing, visit the Black History Month website.

Atlantic Brunch Series: Dakar x Port-Au-Prince

Griot, jollof, and other Haitian and Senegalese dishes will be served at a brunch on Saturday, Feb. 2, noon-2 p.m. in the E-Room of the Afro-American Cultural Center. Guests will learn about Haitian and Senegalese food history, colonial history, revolution, and culture over brunch and mimosa.

A plate of Haitian griot.
A plate of Haitian griot with sides. (Photo credit: Lëa-Kim Châteauneuf [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

This event is free and open to Yale graduate students 21 and older. The event is hosted by Yale African Graduate and Professional Students; RSVP required to attend. For more information, email

The Legacy of Ricci v. DeStefano, a panel discussion

A panel discussion about Ricci v. DeStefano —a landmark labor case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the City of New Haven violated the civil rights of a group of white firefighters who were passed over for promotion — will take place on Monday, Feb. 4, 12:10-1:30 p.m. in Rm. 120 of Yale Law School. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel will explore the issues in the case as captured by the play “Good Faith: Four Chats about Race and the New Haven Fire Department” that is running through Feb. 23 at the Yale Repertory Theater. The play looks at the City of New Haven and its citizens nearly a decade after the case, as they continue to debate the personal and political impact of the decision.

Panelists will include the show’s playwright, Karen Hartman, as well as Gary Tinney and Michael Briscoe, two former firefighters on whom characters in the play are based. The discussion will be moderated by Emily Bazelon, a Yale Law School alumna who investigated the issues of the case in a five-part series for Slate.

The discussion is sponsored by the Black Law Students Association, Yale Law Women, and the American Constitution Society.

Roxane Gay: reading and conversation

Writer and journalist Roxane Gay will read selections from her work on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 7-8:30 p.m. in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, 1 Prospect St. This semester, Gay is a Presidential Visiting Fellow and is teaching an undergraduate seminar on writing trauma.

Roxane Gay on stage in Montreal in 2015, by Eva Blue
Roxane Gay on stage in Montreal in 2015. (Photo Credit: Eva Blue [CC-BY 2.0 (], via Flickr)

Claudia Rankine, the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale and a 2016 MacArthur Fellow, will lead a Q&A with Gay following the reading.

Gay is the author of the books “Ayti, An Untamed State,” The New York Times bestsellers “Bad Feminist” and “Hunger,” and the nationally bestselling “Difficult Women.” Her writing appears in “Best American Mystery Stories 2014,” “Best American Short Stories 2012,” “Best Sex Writing 2012,” A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is also contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.

The event is free and open to the public.

Johnny Appleseed & Jezebel: A lecture on Race, Rape & American Citizenship’

Blanche Bong Cook, a scholar of critical race theory and black feminist legal theory, will speak about her forthcoming article in the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism on Thursday, Feb. 7, noon-1 p.m. in Rm. 120 of the Yale Law School, 127 Wall St. The event is open to all members of the Yale community.

In her article, Cook exposes what she believes is a racist and sexist element of American citizenship transmission law. Under U.S. law, a woman who gives birth to a child abroad and out of wedlock automatically transmits citizenship to her child. By contrast, a man who fathers a child abroad and out of wedlock has the prerogative to either grant or deny citizenship to his child at his leisure. A majority of the Supreme Court has embraced justifications for the law (such as the relative difficulties of proving maternity and paternity), but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said that what lurks behind it is “a long legacy of white heteropatriarchy deploying the legal category of citizenship to perfect sovereignty in itself and vulnerability in ‘foreign’ others for the specific purpose of sexual exploitation.”

Cook is the on the faculty of Wayne State University Law School. Her primary areas of expertise are appellate practice, criminal law and procedure, critical race theory, employment discrimination, evidence, federal courts, sex trafficking, and trial advocacy. Most recently she served as an assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, where she specialized in large-scale drug and sex-trafficking prosecutions.

Cook’s talk is sponsored by the Yale Journal on Law & Feminism, the Latinx Law Students Association, the Black Law Students Association, and Yale Law Women.

Voting Rights: Grassroots Responses and Visions’ panel discussion

Hosted as part of the Yale Law School’s “Rebellious Lawyering” conference, this panel discussion will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 4 p.m. at Yale Law School, 127 Wall St. Registration is required.

The panel will focus on the ways community organizing and movement lawyering can both protect and expand voting rights in Southern states following the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder and the recent use of overt voter suppression tactics during the 2018 election. It will explore how organizers in the African American, Latinx, and LGBTQ communities are responding to voter suppression and how that work can inform a positive vision for expanding voting rights going forward. The panel will also discuss the importance of grassroots organizing in advocating for change and how it informs policy work and litigation on the expansion and protection of voting rights.

The discussion is co-sponsored by the Black Law Students Association, Latinx Law Students Association, OutLaws, Yale Law Democrats, Yale Civil Right Project, Yale Law Women, and the Women of Color Collective.

Book talk featuring Yale law professor Stephen Carter

Yale Law School Professor Stephen Carter and his daughter, Leah Carter, will discuss his book “Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster” on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at noon in Rm. 127 of Yale Law School. Lunch will be provided.

Invisible” tells the story of Stephen Carter’s grandmother, Eunice Hunton Carter, the daughter of slaves who became a prosecutor. When special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey selected 20 lawyers to help him clean up the city’s underworld, Eunice Carter was the only member of the team who was not a white male. Without the strategy she devised, Lucky Luciano, the most powerful Mafia boss in history, would never have been convicted. By the 1940s Eunice Hunton Carter was one of the most famous black women in America.

This event, sponsored by the Lillian Goldman Law Library, is free and open to members of the Yale community.

Choreographer Bill T. Jones: Lecture and award ceremony

Dancer, choreographer, theater director and writer Bill T. Jones will deliver the 2018-2019 James R. Brudner ’83 Memorial Prize Lecture and will receive the James R. Brudner ’83 Memorial Prize from LGBTQ Studies on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St.

Bill T. Jones performs at TED2016 in Vancouver.
Bill T. Jones performs at TED2016 in Vancouver. (Photo credit: Bret Hartman/TED [CC BY-NC 2.0 (], via Flickr)

Jones is the founding artistic director of New York Live Arts and the co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. He has received major honors, including the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award, the 2013 National Medal of Arts, a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and 2010 Kennedy Center Honors. Mr. Jones was honored with the 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, recognized as Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2010, inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009, and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed musical “FELA!,” which he co-conceived, co-wrote, directed and choreographed. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in “Spring Awakening” as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of “The Seven” earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award.

Members of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company are currently collaborating with student dancers in a spring project of the Yale Dance Theater.

Make Us Free’: Revisiting United States v. The Amistad

‘Make Us Free’: Revisiting United States v. The Amistad on the Year of Return of African Descendants” is the title of discussion that will take place on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. in Rm. 127 of the Law School. Lunch will be provided.

The event, sponsored by the Yale Black Law Students Association, is free and open to the public.

Black History Month Show

The musical and performance groups Steppin’ Out, Shades, Rhythmic Blue, WORD, TEETH, and the Yale Gospel Choir will be featured in a show celebrating Black History Month and 50 years of African-American women at Yale. The event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23, 6-10 p.m. in the Morse-Stiles Crescent Theater, located in the basement between Morse and Ezra Stiles colleges.

The Yale Gospel Choir in concert.
The Yale Gospel Choir in concert.

Admission is $5, and the event is open to all Yale students. Fore more information, contact

Book discussion: ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama

A discussion of Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Rm. 369, 55 Whitney Ave. This special book club event, which will be moderated by Pierson College Dean Riche Barnes, is being held in celebration of Black History Month and Women’s History Month. The event is free and open to all members of the Yale community, but registration is required.

The discussion is co-sponsored by the Yale African American Affinity Group and Working Women’s Network.

Hopper College tea: ‘Science and Power in the New Gilded Age’

Anthony Hatch, associate professor in the Science in Society program, College of the Environment, and of African American studies and sociology at Wesleyan University, will discuss “Science and Power in the New Gilded Age” as the guest of a Hopper College tea on Wednesday, Feb. 27. His talk will take place 3:30-4:30 p.m. in Grace Hopper House, 434 College St. Doors open for tea and snacks at 3:15 p.m.

Hatch is the author “Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America” and “Silent Cells: The Secret Drugging of Captive America.” He specializes in health care, medicine, technology, culture, power, and social inequality.

Commemorating Jane Bolin ’31 and honoring black women judges

The Yale Black Law Students Association is hosing an event to commemorate Jane Bolin ’31, the first black woman to graduate from Yale Law School and the first to black woman to serve as a judge in the United States, on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 5:30 p.m. in Rm. 127 of the Law School. The event will also honor black women judges past and present.

A graduate of Wellesley College, Bolin was the only black person at the Yale Law School  when she arrived and was one of only three women. In 1939, at the New York World’s Fair, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed her as a judge on the Domestic Relations Court, later renamed Family Court, where she served for some four decades.

A dinner reception will follow the celebration, which is co-sponsored by the Historical Society of the New York Courts and Yale Law Women.

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over’

Historian Nell Painter, professor emerita at Princeton University, will discuss her autobiography “Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over” on Thursday, 28, at 4:30 p.m. at a location to be announced. She will take part in a conversation with Laura Wexler professor of American studies and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

Nell Irvin Painter
Nell Irvin Painter

Following her retirement from Princeton, Painter returned to school in her sixties to earn a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in painting. In “Old in Art School,” she recounts how she travelled from her beloved Newark to the Rhode Island School of Design to pursue her artistic goals. Her book explores such questions as: How are women and artists seen and judged by their age, looks, and race? What does it mean when someone says, “You will never be an artist”? Who defines what “an artist” is? The book is a 2018 National Book Critics Circle finalist in the autobiography category and was hailed by Time magazine as one of the “Best Memoirs of 2018 So Far”.

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