400 year anniversary symposium poster This day-long symposium will kick off a year of events at UC Berkeley to mark the 400 year anniversary of the beginning of slavery in North America. The events are being co-organized by the Haas Institute, the African American studies and history departments, the African American Student Development Center, and the Black Staff & Faculty Organization.

The symposium will include a keynote speech by Haas Institute Director and African American studies professor john a. powell, plus several panels and performances detailed below.

Download the Symposium Program Here.

Event Details

Date: August 30, 2019
Time: 8:30am - 6:30pm
Location: International House Auditorium, 2299 Piedmont Ave, Berkeley, CA 94720

This event is wheelchair accessible.

Morning Schedule:

Breakfast (8:30am)

Symposium Opens (9am)

  • Denise Herd (emcee)
  • Doniel Mark Wilson: Black National Anthem (Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing)
  • Chancellor Carol Christ: Opening remarks
  • Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion Oscar Dubón, Jr.: Remarks
  • Aya De Leon: Spoken word performance

Panel 1: Slavery, Memory, Afterlife

  • Leslie Harris: Remembering Slavery Now
  • Christina Sharpe: Memory in the Wake of Slavery
  • Stephanie Jones Rogers:Lost Kindred, Lost Cause: Freedpeople and Former Slave-Owning Women Face Off in Slavery’s Afterlife
  • Gabrielle Foreman: Keeping it 400: Black Artists and Archives, Black Fragments and Freedom
  • Tina Sacks(moderator)

Lunch (11:30am - 12:30pm)

Afternoon Schedule:

  • Latanya Tigner and Dimensions Dance Theater

Panel 2: Second Afterlife

  • Dennis Childs: "Until Everybody's Free": Neoslavery, Neoabolition, and Prison Industrial Genocide
  • Talitha LeFlouria: Black Women and Mass Incarceration: Slavery's Roots and Today's Realities
  • Nikki Jones (moderator)

Panel 3: Power and Resistance

  • Waldo Martin: "WAR!": African American Freedom Struggle and Race-Making 1865-1980
  • Charles Henry: Reparations in the Era of Trump
  • Charlene Carruthers: Reviving the Black Radical Imagination
  • Jovan Scott Lewis (moderator)

Closing Session and Keynote

  • Ree Botts and Reequanza: Spoken word performance
  • john a. powell: From Slavery to Belonging

Reception & Book Signing (5:15 - 6:30pm)

Speaker Bios


Denise Herd headshot

Denise Herd is the Haas Institute's third Associate Director, a longtime member of the Institute’s Diversity and Health Disparities research cluster, and a Professor of Public Health at UC Berkeley. Herd’s scholarship centers on racialized disparities in health outcomes, spanning topics as varied as images of drugs and violence in rap music, drinking and drug use patterns, social movements, and the impact of corporate targeting and marketing on popular culture among African American youth. In addition to her extensive scholarship in public health, Herd has also served as associate dean at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health for seven years.

Carol Christ headshotCarol Christ began her term as the 11th chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley on July 1, 2017. A celebrated scholar of Victorian literature, Christ is also well known as an advocate for quality, accessible public higher education, a proponent of the value of a broad education in the liberal arts and sciences, and a champion of women’s issues and diversity on college campuses. Christ spent more than three decades as a professor and administrator at UC Berkeley before serving as president of Smith College, one of the country’s most distinguished liberal arts colleges, from 2002 to 2013. She returned to Berkeley in January 2015 to direct the campus’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, and was appointed interim executive vice chancellor and provost in April 2016 before being named chancellor in March 2017. 

Oscar Dubon headshotOscar Dubón, Jr. was appointed Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion at UC Berkeley on July 1, 2017. He leads campus-wide efforts through the Division of Equity & Inclusion to broaden the participation of all members of the campus community, particularly those who have been historically underrepresented and/or unwelcomed, in the pursuit of the university's mission of access and excellence. Working with division professionals, campus partners, and the broader university community, Dubón pursues programs and services that lead to academic access and success for students; enable pathways to leadership and advancement for staff; build equitable structures for all members of the campus community; and close opportunity gaps for our most marginalized groups. In doing so, he envisions a campus where all Berkeley students, faculty, and staff feel welcome, valued, and supported.

Doniel headshotDoniel Mark Wilson is a Continuing Lecturer in the UC Berkeley Music Department and Director of the UC Berkeley Gospel Chorus. He is also founder of several Gospel Choruses on other campuses across the country, including The University of Michigan’s Gospel Choir and The Harvard Jubilee Quintet of Harvard Divinity School. On the global and international scene is the honorary Director of the award-winning Soul Sounds Choir of Sri Lanka, where he has conducted annual Gospel Music workshops and performances in Columbo and Candy, Sri Lanka, and has used gospel performance as to address peace and justice in Havanna, Cuba and Nandasmo, Nicaragua. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology, from the University of Michigan, and is a Lecturer in the Sociology Department at St. Mary’s College of College, where he teaches “Music and Social Change.”

Panel 1

Leslie Harris headshotLeslie M. Harris, Professor of History at Northwestern University, is the author or co-editor of three award-winning books:  In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 (University of Chicago, 2003); co-editor with Ira Berlin of Slavery in New York (The New Press, 2005), which accompanied the groundbreaking New-York Historical Society exhibition of the same name; and Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (University of Georgia Press, 2014), co-edited with Daina Ramey Berry, in collaboration with Telfair Museums' Owens-Thomas House.  From 2004 to 2011, she co-founded and co-directed the Transforming Community Project (TCP) at Emory University, which used history to engage members of the university community in dialogue, research and teaching on racial and other forms of human diversity. In 2011, the Transforming Community Project organized the first international conference on the history of slavery in higher education. Harris has recently completed Slavery and Sexuality: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas (University of Georgia, 2018), with Daina Ramey Berry; and Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies (University of Georgia, 2019) with James T. Campbell and Alfred L. Brophy. She is currently working on a book on late-twentieth century New Orleans, entitled “Leaving New Orleans: A Personal Urban History.”

Christina Sharpe headshot

Christina Sharpe is a Professor at York University, Toronto in the Department of Humanities and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University, Toronto. She is the author of two books: In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016) (named by the Guardian and The Walrus as one of the best books of 2016 and a nonfiction finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award) and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects (2010), both published by Duke University Press. She is completing the critical introduction to the Collected Poems of Dionne Brand (1982-2010) and she is working on a monograph: Black. Still. Life.

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers headshotStephanie E. Jones-Rogers is an Associate Professor of History at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses primarily on gender and American slavery, and looks at colonial and 19th century legal and economic history, especially as it pertains to women, systems of bondage, and the slave trade. Her first book, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, is a regional study that draws upon formerly enslaved people's testimony to dramatically reshape current understandings of white women's economic relationships to slavery. She is currently at work on two new projects. The first, entitled “She had…a Womb Subjected to Bondage”: The Afro-Atlantic Origins of British Colonial Descent Law, examines the ways that West African customs and laws influenced English thinking about matrilineal descent and may have influenced their decisions to implement matrilineal descent laws in their North American colonies. The second project, “A Country so dreadfull for a White Woman” reconstructs the lives of nearly 300 British women and girls who travelled to the African littoral on Royal African Company slave ships and settled in the company’s forts and castles before 1750.

Gabrielle Foreman headshotP. Gabrielle Foreman is the founding faculty director of the Colored Conventions Project and the Ned B. Allen Professor of English, Africana Studies and history at the University of Delaware. She’s a poet’s daughter turned literary historian who is finishing a monograph called The Art of DisMemory: Historicizing Slavery in Poetry, Print and Material Culture and an edited collection called Praise Songs for Dave the Potter: Art and Poetry for David Drake about the enslaved master poet and potter whose work appears in museums across North America. Her co-edited collection on the convention movement, The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century is forthcoming with UNC Press. She grows from ground tended by many, including Earl Lewis, Barbara Christian and Julius Lester—and is trying her best to honor them, those who came before, and those here and soon coming. She’ll be the Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American Antiquarian Society, 2020-2021, and will soon be joining the faculty at Penn State as a named chair where she’s delighted to be co-directing a new Center for Digital Black Studies.

Tina Sacks headshotTina Sacks is an assistant professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. Her fields of interest include racial inequities in health, social determinants of health, and poverty and inequality. Professor Sacks focuses on the how macro-structural forces, including structural discrimination and immigration, affect women’s health. Her current work investigates the persistence of racial and gender discrimination in health care settings among racial/ethnic minorities who are not poor. She published a book on this subject entitled Invisible Visits: Black Middle Class Women in the American Healthcare System (Oxford, 2019). Her next major project explores the implications of the infamous U.S. Public Health Service Tuskegee Syphilis Study on the Study’s direct descendants.

Panel 2

Dennis Childs headshotDennis Childs is Associate Professor of African American Literature and an affiliate faculty member of the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Slaves of the State: Black Incarceration from the Chain Gang to the Penitentiary, a work that deals with the connections between chattel slavery and prison slavery from the late nineteenth century through the prison industrial complex. As a scholar-activist, he has worked with various social justice organizations including the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, All of Us or None, Critical Resistance, and the Chicano Mexicano Prison Project. He currently serves as faculty advisor for Students Against Mass Incarceration--a student run prison abolitionist organization. In 2015, he was a member of the first-ever prisoner solidarity delegation from the US to Palestine. 

Talitha Leflouria headshotTalitha LeFlouria is the Lisa Smith Discovery Associate Professor in African and African-American Studies at the University of Virginia and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. She is a scholar of African American history, specializing in mass incarceration; modern slavery; and black women in America. She is the author of Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South (UNC Press, 2015). This book received several national awards including: the Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians (2016), the Philip Taft Labor History Award from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations & Labor and Working-Class History Association (2016), the Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award from the Georgia Historical Society (2016), the Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize from the Association of Black Women Historians (2015), and the Ida B. Wells Tribute Award from the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (2015). Her work has been featured in the Sundance nominated documentary, Slavery by Another Name, as well as C-SPAN and Left of Black. Her written work and expertise have been profiled in The Atlantic, Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, The Root, The Nation, Huffington Post, For Harriet, and several syndicated radio programs. She is currently finishing her second single-authored monograph, The Search for Jane Crow: Black Women and Mass Incarceration in America (forthcoming from Beacon Press). The Carnegie Corporation supported this project with a prestigious Andrew Carnegie fellowship 2018-2020.

Nikki Jones headshotNikki Jones is an associate professor in the Department of African American Studies. Her research, writing and teaching focuses on the experiences of African American men, women and youth with the criminal justice system, policing and various forms of violence. She is also a faculty affiliate with the Center for the Study of Law and Society and the Center for Race and Gender at Cal. Professor Jones’ areas of expertise include urban ethnography, race and ethnic relations and criminology and criminal justice, with a special emphasis on the intersection of race, gender, and justice. Professor Jones has published three books, including the sole-authored Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner City Violence (2010), published in the Rutgers University Press Series in Childhood Studies (

Panel 3

Waldo Martin headshotWaldo E. Martin Jr. is the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of American History and Citizenship at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar America (2005), as well as Brown v. Board of Education: A Short History With Documents (1998) and The Mind of Frederick Douglass (1985). He is a coauthor, with Mia Bay and Deborah Gray White, of Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans, With Documents (2012), and, with Joshua Bloom, of Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (2013). With Patricia A. Sullivan, he coedited Civil Rights in the United States: An Encyclopedia (2000). Aspects of the modern African American freedom struggle and the history of modern social movements unite his current research and writing interests. He is currently completing "A Change is Gonna Come: The Cultural Politics of the Black Freedom Struggle and the Making of Modern America."

Charles Henry headshotCharles P. Henry is Professor Emeritus of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.  In 1994, President Clinton appointed him to the National Council on the Humanities for a six-year term.  Former president of the National Council for Black Studies, Henry is the author/editor of eight books and more than 80 articles and reviews on Black politics,  public policy, and human rights.  Before joining the University of California at Berkeley in 1981, Henry taught at Denison University and Howard University.  Henry was chair of the board of directors of Amnesty International U.S.A. from 1986 to 1988 and is a former NEH Post-doctoral Fellow and American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. In 1994-95 he served as an office director in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State.  Professor Henry was Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American History and Politics at the University of Bologna, Italy for the Spring semester of 2003. In the fall of 2006, Henry was one of the first two Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chairs in France teaching at the University of Tours. Chancellor Birgeneau presented Henry with the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Institutional Excellence in April 2008. He holds a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Charlene Carruthers headshotCharlene A. Carruthers is a Black, queer feminist community organizer and writer with over 15 years of experience in racial justice, feminist and youth leadership development movement work.  As the founding national director of BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100), she has worked alongside hundreds of young Black activists to build a national base of activist member-led organization of Black 18-35 year olds dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. Her passion for developing young leaders to build capacity within marginalized communities has led her to work on immigrant rights, economic justice and civil rights campaigns nationwide. She has led grassroots and digital strategy campaigns for national organizations including the Center for Community Change, the Women's Media Center, and National People's Action, as well as being a member of a historic delegation of young activists in Palestine in 2015 to build solidarity between Black and Palestinian liberation movements.

Jovan Scott Lewis headshotJovan Scott Lewis Jovan Scott Lewis is an Assistant Professor of African-American Studies and Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as the co-chair of the Economic Disparities Research Cluster at Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society (HIFIS). He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the London School of Economics. His research examines race through the economic ethics, rationalizations, and practices that organize the lived experience of poverty and inequality in the Caribbean and the United States. His work in Jamaica, where he researched what he called the “sufferation” economy, explored the social practices and cultural forms that facilitate the locating, reconciling, and normalizing of structural economic and social inequality through local market frames. His current research in Tulsa, Oklahoma is concerned with the structural and infrastructural frictions of poverty. His current book project is provisionally titled, Reparative Circuits: Crime, Capital and Postcolonial Connection in Jamaica. Reparative Circuits examines how disadvantaged black youth in Jamaica engaged in the practice of international “lottery scamming” mobilize a reparative logic of seizure in utilizing the development apparatuses of internet communication technology, customer service procedures, and money transfer services, to secure economic and social mobility.


john powell headshotjohn a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. john is the Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute that brings together scholars, community advocates, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world.