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Director's Message

Welcome to the Center for Black Diaspora!

Christina Rivers, Director, DePaul Center for Black Diaspora
Christina Rivers, PhD, Director
As newly-appointed director of the Center for Black Diaspora(CBD) and on behalf of its advisory board and staff, I’m honored and delighted to welcome you to the Center and to invite you its activities and reading room. The CBD was established in 1993, initially as the Center for African-American Research. According to the Center’s mission statement, one of its key goals is to promote scholarship and dialogue at DePaul on issues related to the African Diaspora. In so doing, it provides an interdisciplinary and dynamic venue for scholars to collaborate on and explore developments in this area. The Center seeks as well to promote an open and vibrant scholarly environment for DePaul’s students of African descent, and to provide them with a welcoming space on campus. It is also committed to enhancing its programming presence in the Chicago region. In addition to inviting external scholars to share their work with us, the Center is committed to showcasing the work and talents of DePaul’s own faculty. The Center’s programs and activities typically consist of lectures, film and book discussions, workshops, musical and theatrical performances, and artistic exhibits. The CBD, its reading/conference room (which houses books, DVDs and other relevant materials) and its events are all open to the DePaul community, to local academic, cultural, and service organizations, and to the peoples of the African Diaspora in Chicago. 

The Center’s Autumn quarter activities will begin with a welcome-back ice cream social, and will conclude with an open-house co-hosted with the African and Black Diaspora Studies(ABD) program. The Center’s programming theme for the 2016-17 academic year is “(Re)Humanizing Black Lives”. It will first co-sponsor, with the ABD program, a workshop in response to recurring instances of racial tension at DePaul, including protests by students of African descent against those incidents, and objections to those protests. Programming will then turn to the first of a year-long series of lectures and workshops under the sub-theme “Know Your Rights”. Autumn programming will conclude with a lecture by DePaul history professor Otunnu Otunnu, on the consequences of torture in the diaspora and elsewhere. This lecture is a follow-up to the United Nations’ “International Day in Support of Victims of Torture” on June 26, 2016, and will also illuminate DePaul’s graduate program on Forced Migration Studies. 

The “Know Your Rights” series is three-pronged. Despite the successes of the civil rights movement, the success of people of African descent in the U.S. continues to be impeded by laws, policies, and practices that constrain their civil rights and liberties. These laws and policies also tend to reinforce some of the most dehumanizing aspects of chattel slavery. The programs under this theme will address historical and ongoing threats to the fundamental rights of voting and representation, free speech and assembly, and the right to due process and equal treatment when detained or arrested. In light of the unusually controversial nature of this year’s Presidential campaign, as well as the increasing momentum of restrictive voting and other electoral policies around the country, the Center’s Autumn “Know Your Rights” program will feature a two-part program on voting rights and challenges. The first part will be a scholarly panel featuring DePaul faculty and local voting rights litigators. The second part will be an interactive voter registration and education workshop. Following up on the free speech debates at DePaul during Spring 2016, the Winter 2017 “Know Your Rights” program will feature a panel and discussion facilitated by DePaul faculty. This session will include break-out sessions that explore the forms, definitions, and limitations of free speech. The Spring “Know Your Rights” program will also be facilitated by DePaul faculty, and will feature an interactive training workshop on how to safely assert one’s civil liberties when stopped or detained by police authorities. That workshop will be conducted by staff of Chicago’s First Defense Legal Aid program. 

DePaul’s Center for Black Diaspora welcomes the DePaul and surrounding community to its Autumn 2016 events, and looks forward to generating productive discussions and mutual learning. 
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ü Welcome Back Ice Cream Social 
Wednesday, September 14, 12:00-4:00, Center for Black Diaspora, SAC Rm 551 
Co-hosted with the African and Black Diaspora Studies Program, and featuring products from “Shawn Michelle’s Home-Made Ice Cream” company. 

ü (Re)Humanizing Black Lives—Discussion and Workshop: 
“Assessing DePaul’s Racial Climate—Where Are We, and Where Do We Go From Here?” 
Tuesday, September 20, 6:00-8:30, Student Center Rm. 220 
Co-organized with the African and Black Diaspora Studies Program 

Facilitated by Horace Hall, Assoc. Professor, College of Education and other DePaul faculty 
This event will assess recent and recurring instances of racial tension at DePaul, with a focus on future student and administrative responses, and the implications for DePaul’s students, particularly those of African descent. The discussion and workshop are designed to address the racial climate at the University and to help students develop tools to address racial bias and tension. 

ü (Re)Humanizing Black Lives—Know Your Rights Part 1, Panel: 
“Challenges to Minority Voting Rights and Political Power” 
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 6:00-8:30, Student Center Rm. 324 
Panelists: Ruth Greenwood, Senior Redistricting Counsel, Campaign Legal Center Christina Rivers, Associate Professor of Political Science, DePaul University Terry Smith, Distinguished Research Professor, DePaul College of Law. 
This panel examines historical and continuing obstacles to minority political from scholarly and practical perspectives. Topics will include voter identification requirements, racial and partisan gerrymanders, restrictions on early voting, and felon disenfranchisement laws, among others. 

ü (Re)Humanizing Black Lives—Know Your Rights Part 2, Workshop: 
“Voting Processes and Procedures” 
Thursday, Oct. 6, 1:00-4:00, Student Center Rm. 324 and 325 
Facilitated by Cunyon Gordon, Senior Counsel and Director of the Settlement Assistance Project, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, Inc. 
This workshop will familiarize students—particularly first-time voters—with the processes of registering and voting in Cook County, as well as the absentee ballot process for those voting outside of the county. It will also explain the various components of the Cook County ballot and the significance of all of the electoral contests, beyond the presidential race. 

ü CBD/ABD Open House 
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 1:00-4:00, Center for Black Diaspora reception area 
Co-hosted with the African and Black Diaspora Studies Program 

ü (Re)Humanizing Black Lives—Lecture: 
“We See Nothing, We Hear Nothing, We Do Nothing: Concealment and Normalization of Torture in History” 
Wednesday, November 2, 3:00pm-5:00pm, Richardson Library, Room 300 
Presenter: Otunnu Otunnu, Assoc. Professor of History, DePaul University
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For more information, please visit the Center’s website go.depaul.edu/centerblackdiaspora, or contact Juelle Daley at jdaley1@depaul.edu , 773-325-7511​