News Archive 2015 - 2016

The American Revolution in New Jersey book coverJoin us in congratulating Dr. Gigantino on his new publication, The American Revolution in New Jersey: Where Battlefront Meets the Home Front. This collection of nine essays was edited by Dr. Gigantino and depicts the many challenges New Jersey residents faced at the intersection of the front lines and the home front. Battled were fought in many colonies during the American Revolution, but New Jersey was home to more sustained and intense fighting over a long period of time.

Unlike other colonies, New Jersey had significant economic power in part because of its location between the major ports of New York and Philadelphia. New people and new ideas arriving in the colony fostered tensions between Loyalists and Patriots that were at the core of the Revolution. Enlightenment thinking shaped the minds of New Jersey’s settlers as they began to question the meaning of freedom in the colony. Yeoman farmers demanded ownership of the land they worked on and members of the growing Quaker denomination decried the evils of slavery and spearheaded the abolitionist movement in the state. When larger portions of New Jersey were occupied by British forces early in the war, the unity of the state was crippled, pitting neighbor against neighbor for seven years.

The essays in this collection identify and explore the interconnections between the events on the battlefield and the daily lives of ordinary colonists during the Revolution. Using a wide historical lens, the contributors to The American Revolution in New Jersey capture the decades before and after the conflict as they interpret the causes of the war and the consequences of New Jersey’s reaction to the Revolution.

To Kill a Mockingbird book coverIn anticipation of Harper Lee's upcoming novel, Go Set A Watchman, our first suggested summer reading is her classic,To Kill A Mockingbird.

A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much. Mockingbird film


We have a great selection of classes for Summer and Fall 2015. For a full list of our offerings click here. If you have any questions regarding your degree plan and/or program of study, please contact the academic advisors in the Fulbright College Advising Center.

Dr. BantonWe are excited to announce that Dr. Banton, Assistant Professor with African and African American Studies and History has won the prestigious Lapidus Center Fellowship from the Schomberg Center for the Research in Black Culture!

Memorandum of Understanding panelBelow is an article from 2011 announcing the Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. The Memorandum is still active for students and faculty who wish to study in the West Coast of Africa. Our program also offers a biennial study abroad summer program to Ghana. Students gain 6 hours of course credit while experiencing the country through cultural immersion. As a University of Arkansas faculty-led study abroad, this experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of the classroom brought to life.

March 1, 2011

University of Arkansas students and faculty will now be able to study at the University of Cape Coast on the West coast of Africa, and students from Cape Coast will take courses at the Fayetteville campus, thanks to a memorandum of understanding recently signed by representatives from both universities.

A delegation consisting of Calvin White, assistant professor of history; Charles Robinson, vice provost for diversity; and William Schwab, dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, traveled to Ghana in February to meet with leaders at the University of Cape Coast, which is situated within 10- and 15-minute drives of two major slave castles, dungeons used to house slaves before they were auctioned off and shipped to plantations.

The location, said White, is important for Arkansas students and faculty who want to understand the impact of the slave trade that flourished along the West African coast from the early 1600s to the 1800s. Many of the more than 10 million people who left Africa as slaves landed in colonial America.

“The whole liberal arts department at Cape Coast focuses on the slave trade. It is important for students to dispel myths about Africa as ‘the dark continent.’ By studying in Ghana, they can walk away with a much better understanding of the culture and what in history has created widespread poverty in the country,” said White.

Conversely, students at Cape Coast have many assumptions about America and African Americans. In general, said White, they see America as the land of milk and honey and many know little, if anything, about the American civil rights movement.

The memorandum calls for faculty and student exchanges, for both a semester and the summer. The University of Arkansas is the first school in the Southeast Conference to have a formal agreement with Cape Coast, which as 16,000 students led by the first female chancellor in the country.

The relationship with Cape Coast began during the summer of 2010, when White and Andrea Arrington, assistant professor of history, led a group of students to Ghana in a unique program that immersed students in the culture and often brutal history of Ghana, once the center of the British slave trade.

“This is our first study abroad program to West Africa, a region that has had a profound impact on the history of America,” said Charles Adams, associate dean for international programs in Fulbright College. “It’s certainly true to the vision of Fulbright, an internationalist who understood better than most the effort we must make to be inclusive in how we see the world.”

 The University of Arkansas Library is currently offering free trials of two great databases, African American Periodicals, 1825-1995, and African American Newspapers, 1827-1998. These databases are available until April 30, 2015.

African American Periodicals, 1825-1995

“Features more than 170 wide-ranging periodicals by and about African Americans. Published in 26 states, the publications include academic and political journals, commercial magazines, institutional newsletters, organizations bulletins, annual reports and other genres. Like African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, this new collection is based upon James P. Danky’s monumental African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography (Harvard, 1998). Drawn from the matchless holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society, African American Periodicals ranges over more than 150 years of American life, from slavery during the Antebellum Period to the struggles and triumphs of the modern era.”

African American Newspapers, 1827-1998

“Provides online access to approximately 270 U.S. newspapers chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience. This unique collection, which includes papers from more than 35 states, features many rare and historically significant 19th-century titles.” Coverage of Arkansas papers include the Homeland (1991-1999), the American Guide (1900), the Arkansas Freeman (1869), the Arkansas Mansion (1883-1884), the Southern Mediator Journal (1962-1966), the Pine Bluff Weekly (1900), and the Arkansas State Press (1941-1959).

For access, click here.

African and African American Studies is pleased to announce its call for applications for graduate fellowships to support scholarly research and engagement that focuses on the legacy of the African diaspora and African descended people's global experiences with a focus on Africa, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

For more information about the fellowships and the application requirements, please click here.

Brown Bag Lecture Series posterAfrican and African American Studies is excited to announce its Spring 2015 Brown Brown Lecture Series:

Wednesday, March 18 - John Treat (PhD student, history)

"The Primordial Tabernacle of Sabra Meroe: Africa as the Mother of Civilization in the Ritual Work of Moses Dickson."

Wednesday, April 8 - Airic Hughes (MA candidate, history)

"A Light in Darkness, Oscar Micheaux: Entrepreneur, Intellectual, and Agitator."

Both of these lectures will take place in Memorial Hall 230 from 11:50AM - 12:40PM.

The System posterPlease join the Black Law Student Association, in conjunction with African and African American Studies, for "The System: Do Black Lives Matter...As Much?" on Tuesday, February 24 from 5:00-7:00PM at the Leflar Law Center.

The event will look at a number of issues concerning the state of race in the United States, especially police homicide, violence, and misperceptions of African Americans. There will be a number of panelists, including students to discuss these, and more, topics.

Keith Knight posterThis Friday, February 20, at 3:30PM, award-winning cartoonist Keith Knight will be presenting his dynamic slideshow, "They Shoot Black People Don't They? A Cartoonist's Look at Police Brutality," in the Walton Reading Room of Mullins Library. His performance will be followed by a Q&A session and book signing. No registration is required, and the event is free and open to the public. This event is part of the University Libraries Black History Month celebrations.

Created by Knight from a selection of more than two decades of his socio-political cartoons, the slideshow takes a look at police brutality in the African-American community from the 1991 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer this past summer, and even more recently, the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a police officer in a Cleveland, Ohio, park.

“I’ve been creating comics on these issues for over 20 years, but nothing has really changed,” says Knight. “After the events in Ferguson, I thought to myself that it might be a good idea to put a slideshow together in order to engage people in these topics, … to explore why these incidents keep happening.”

Knight’s provocative speaking engagements are a unique blend of lecture, activism and comedy. Knight addresses issues of race, politics, media, censorship and the importance of social activism.  He plans to take this presentation on tour to all 50 states over the next two years. Knight’s current U.S. speaking engagements include a recent presentation at the inaugural Black Comix Arts Festival and a civil rights panel discussion at the California School Library Association Conference.

Knight is the creator of several comic strips, including The Knight Life, The K Chronicles, and (th)ink, and his comics have been published in several monographs. Two of the titles will be available through the University Libraries this month, The Knight Life: Chivalry Ain't Dead and The Complete K Chronicles, “works that reflect the power of humor when addressing complicated current American themes such as the ones Knight will tackle during his performance,” said Martha Parker, librarian in residence at the University Libraries. 

Each year the University Libraries brings a guest to campus to help celebrate Black History Month. The Libraries have devoted February’s multicultural book display to resources that provide background on social justice and Knight’s work. Parker selected the books in the exhibit and said, “Knight’s provocative reflections are better understood through a review of social justice literature, and Black-American writers’ works and philosophical materials, all resources included in our Black History Month display. These materials support an overview of how we arrived at this trend of social injustice and provides insight into the role that social activism could play in offering viable solutions.”

Carter Woodson"If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” - Dr. Carter G. Woodson

In 1915, prominent historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, envisioned a celebration to recognize the glorious and varied achievements of African Americans. Woodson, along with other noted scholars, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The group worked to research and publish findings about black life and history in The Journal of Negro History. 

In 1926, the group sponsored its first Negro History Week celebration in February, to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. An instant hit, communities and educational institutions across the country sponsored events celebrating the legacy of African Americans. As the popularity of Negro History Week grew and the Civil Rights Movement took off;  more people began advocating for an extension of the annual week.

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford issued a proclamation formally recognizing Negro History Week as Black History Month, saying that Americans should “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” In 1986 Congress passed Public Law 99-233, designating February as the “National Black (Afro-American) History Month, noting that February 1, 1986 would mark the sixtieth annual observance of the tradition. 

Today ASNLH is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the association continues to promote the study of black history and culture — year round. The 2015 Black History Month theme is A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture, a nod to the centennial celebration of ASALH. 

Written by Lanae S., Social Media Specialist, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image: Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

University of Arkansas Presents ‘The Mountaintop’

Theatre and African and African American Studies come together for award- winning play about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The University of Arkansas Department of Theatre partners with the African and African American Studies Program to present Katori Hall’s award winning play, “The Mountaintop” as part of their 2014-2015 Studio Series.

With just two characters – a fictional hotel maid and a real-life civil rights legend – the play imagines what may have happened on the night before Martin Luther King’s assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. “The Mountaintop” won the Olivier Award (England’s equivalent of the Tony) as Best New Play. The American premiere was a Broadway production starring Oscar nominees Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

Clinnesha Sibley (“The Bluest Eye”), head of playwriting and undergraduate advisor in the Department of Theatre and affiliated faculty member with African and African American Studies, is directing the production. Sibley is no stranger to the subject of Dr. King. Her own anthology, “King Me: Three One-Act Plays Inspired By the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” was published in 2013.

Performances of “The Mountaintop” are at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb 1. All performances are in Kimpel Hall 404. Ticket prices are $10 for adults; $8 for seniors and faculty/staff; and $5 for students. No free student tickets are available for the Studio Series. Due to high demand and limited seating, it is strongly recommended that patrons make reservations in advance.

The African and African American Studies program (AAST) at the University of Arkansas has been an interdisciplinary program since 1961.  Its mission is to expand on the core disciplines of a traditional liberal arts education.  The program explores the legacy of the African diaspora and African-descended people’s global experiences with a focus on Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean. AAST strives to advance social consciousness, inject principles of reason and equality into international debates, and support the highest level of academic evidence in the classroom and beyond.  Through the study of history and culture of the African diaspora, the program examines the important role that race has played in the creation of the world in which our students live.  For more information, visit their website at

The University of Arkansas Department of Theatre has been providing exciting and affordable live theatre for more than 60 years. They combine a first-rate theatrical education full of hands-on experience with a wide selection of titles to challenge their students and delight the community. The Theatre Department produces eight to ten shows each year: four large-scale productions at the University Theatre and four to six smaller shows in the Studio Series. Shows range from new works to classic favorites, from period pieces and Shakespeare plays to Broadway musicals. For more information, visit their website at