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March 20, 2006

MSU conference to examine ‘The Black Scholar and the State of Black America’

EAST LANSING, Mich. – An upcoming conference at Michigan State University will bring together scholars, professionals, community leaders and graduate students in wide-ranging discussions related to the role of black scholars and black studies programs on American campuses and to the current state of black America.

“The Black Scholar and the State of Black America,” sponsored by the MSU African American and African Studies Program and the Sankofa Black Studies Graduate Association, will be held from April 6-8 at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.

A complete conference schedule and registration information is available online at

Gloria Smith, director of the African American and African Studies Program, said speakers and audience members will discuss methodology and best practices in black studies programs, exchange views on the programs and the future of the discipline, and explore the issue of black studies’ commitment to the African American community as set forth in the original vision of the black studies movement.

“Merging best practices and methodologies in the African American and African studies discipline will enhance partnerships between academia and the community,” Smith said. “Diverging perspectives will enrich the challenges and opportunities for collaboration in developing awareness, knowledge and skills for addressing issues related to black studies programs.”

Panel discussions will address black activist scholarship in the digital age; psychological disorder in juvenile offenders; the training paradigm of black studies programs; achievement testing of American children; the state of black religion and the black church in America; community, university and professional sports teams; African American literature; global perspectives on Africa and the diaspora; the cultural uses of hip-hop music, movies and books; Black Power-era activism and scholarship; Africana studies; MSU doctoral research in the black community; research on black communities and scholarly collaboration; black scholars, black America and the media; and religious practices in the African diaspora.

Conference speakers include:

  • Tony Martin, professor of Africana studies at Wellesley College and author or editor of 11 books, including “Literary Garveyism: Garvey, Black Arts and the Harlem Renaissance” and the classic study of the Garvey movement, “Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association.” Martin is currently working on biographies of three Caribbean women: Amy Ashwood Garvey, Audrey Jeffers and Trinidad’s Kathleen Davis, also known as “Auntie Kay.” He is also working on a study of European Jewish immigration to Trinidad in the 1930s.
  • Beverly Guy-Sheftall is Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College. She is also an adjunct professor at Emory University’s Institute for Women’s Studies. Her most recent publication is a book coauthored with Johnnetta Betsch Cole, “Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities” (2003).
  • Abdul Alkalimat, also known as “Gerald A. McWorter,” professor of sociology and Africana studies and director of the Africana Studies Program at the University of Toledo. Alkalimat moderates the largest African American studies discussion listserv and has created and edits two major websites: “Malcolm X: A Research Site” ( and “eBlack Studies” ( He is currently completing a trilogy on recent research in Toledo, Ohio, that analyzes the impact of information technology and the transformation of Black Power.

Conference activities include a book signing by MSU faculty members Geneva Smitherman, University Distinguished Professor of English; Richard W. Thomas, professor of history; Pero Dagbovie, assistant professor of African American, American, and comparative black history; Jualynne Dodson, professor of sociology and director of the African Atlantic Research Team; and Nwando Achebe, associate professor of history.


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 15 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.