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Community as a Creative Canvas

Join the Department of Africana Studies for the inaugural Umoja Community Conversations Conference.

By Ella Maria Ray, Judy Strathearn

November 12, 2019

Two Africana Studies graduates; two students sitting in classroom.At the heart of what it means to be of African ancestry rests a vibrant and sacred space rooted in Umoja, the Swahili word for “unity.” The Metropolitan State University of Denver Department of Africana Studies is proud to launch the inaugural Umoja Community Conversations Conference and invites all members of the campus community to attend.

Nov. 19-20

9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (both days)

Tivoli Turnhalle

Refreshments provided

The conference’s overarching theme “Community as a Creative Canvas” highlights the transformative contribution our speakers and panelists make to the ever-changing portrait of metropolitan Denver and the MSU Denver campus community.  

The first day’s thematic focus is “Sustainable Aesthetics for Communal Well-Being.” The sessions will highlight how imperative self-care is for members of the local African American community. They will also consider how visual arts transform public space and the ways local African American community gardening and culinary traditions nourish cultural continuity. 

The following day, “The Gullah Experience: Local Teaching & Global Learning” serves as the thematic crucible through which we will explore our department’s commitment to Gullah Studies. The sessions will include film and dialogue that exemplify Gullah history and culture. A student and community panel will address participants’ travels to South Carolina and the Georgia Sea Islands, and Lecturer Jacquelyn Benton, founder of the only Gullah Studies course in the region, will share an illuminating dialogue.

The event is co-sponsored by MSU Denver’s Center for Multicultural Excellence and Inclusion; African American Affairs Council; Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy; Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Departments of History, Chicana/o Studies and Political Science; and the Center for Trauma & Resilience.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Ella Maria Ray, Ph.D., associate professor, Africana Studies, or Judy Strathearn, Ph.D., lecturer, Africana Studies.

“Community as Creative Canvas”

Nov. 19 - Sustainable Aesthetics for Communal Well-Being

  • 9:30-10:45 a.m.: “Liberation Through Self-Care”

Cathy Phelps, executive director, Center for Trauma & Resilience

  • 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: “From the Seed to the Stomach”

Beverly Grant, founder, Mo’ Betta Green Market Place

  • 12:30-1:45 p.m.: “Culinary Culture Embedded in Community”

Adrian Miller, executive director, Colorado Council of Churches

Lunch provided

  • 2-3:15 p.m.: “Community Portraits in the Streets”

Thomas “Detour” Evans, visual artist and muralist

Nov. 20 - The Gullah Experience: Local Teaching and Global Learning

  • 9:30-10:45 a.m.: “Legacy Conversation”

Professor Jacquelyn Benton, founder, The Johnson Legacy

  • 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: “Firsthand Experience With Gullah Culture” Student Panel
  • 12:30-1:45 p.m.: “The Language You Cry In” documentary screening

Wilson Moran

Lunch provided

  • 2-3:15 p.m.: “The Next Step: The Sierra Leone Gullah Connection”

Amadu Massally, managing partner, Fambul Tik

Topics: Academics, Diversity, Events

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