Sunday, April 26, 2009

One hundred days of African-American history

Looking back at President Barack Obama's first 100 days

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama became the answer to a question that will eventually end up on an African American studies test: Who was the nation's first African American president?

But now that the confetti has blown away and the Inauguration has come and gone, what have the first 100 Days of President Obama's Administration meant to the African American community?

That is the question that will be answered during A Conference Call: A 100 Day Assessment of the Obama Presidency From an African American Perspective, a symposium being held from May 1st through 3rd in Temple University's Anderson Hall, 1114 Berks Street, and Beury Hall, 1901 N. 13th Street.

Michelle and Barack Obama Inauguration.DayThe symposium, which is co-sponsored by the Center for African American Research and Public Policy at Temple University and the Philadelphia Community Institute of Africana Studies,
will look at the impact that the first 100 days of the Obama Presidency has had on the African American community in terms of the economy, the criminal justice system, and foreign relations through an African American historical perspective.

In addition to looking at the Obama presidency, the symposium will also focus on the discipline of Black History itself as it celebrates its 40th Anniversary. As the first institution to offer a doctorate in Black History, Temple is uniquely qualified to provide this view.

The discussion begins Friday night by investigating how President Obama's election has affected African American politics and political thought. Among the confirmed panelists are poet and activist Amiri Baraka, Ron Walters, director of the African American Leadership Center at the University of Maryland and Kenneth Lawrence, Temple University's senior vice president for Government, Community and Public Affairs. This discussion will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Anderson Hall, room 13.

Starting the discussion with politics makes sense because there are few political stories in the African American community bigger than the Obama Presidency, said Nathaniel Norment, director of Temple's Center for African American Research and Public Policy and chair of the African American Studies Department.

"We are experiencing a unique and historical political reality with the election of President Barack Obama," Norment said. "African Americans must seize this time to develop strategic economic and political actions that will empower our communities. The conference provides an opportunity to begin this work."

On Saturday, the conference continues with a panel discussion on the evolution of Black Studies from its inception at San Francisco University in the late 1960s to the present day and whether or not it is still relevant in the Age of Obama.

Among those expected to attend this discussion are John Bracey Jr., professor in the W.E.B DuBois Department of African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Jimmy Garrett, one of the founders of the first Black Studies Department at San Francisco State; Rosemari Mealy, an activist and former member of the Black Panther Party who has studied the place of women within the party and is best known for her book detailing the meeting of Malcolm X and Fidel Castro; and Charles Jones, president of the National Council of Black Studies. This discussion will be held at 10:30 a.m. in room 160 Beury Hall.

In addition to the two plenary sessions, there will be a variety of working groups that will discuss some of the issues that the Obama Administration has tackled during the first 100 Days and whether or not the needs of African Americans have been addressed. Topics such as communications and media, the Labor movement, and Veterans Affairs will be discussed with the help of panelists and facilitators including Henry Nicholas, president of the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees (1199-C), Linn Washington, associate professor in Temple's Department of Journalism and columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, and Temple poet-in-residence and activist Sonia Sanchez. ###

For more information on A Conference Call: A 100 Day Assessment of the Obama Presidency From an African American Perspective, please contact Denise Clay at 215-204-6522 (office); 215-900-3337(mobile) or

Contact: Denise Clay 215-204-6522 Temple University

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