Skip to main content

Reflecting Black Symposium

2019 Fall Symposium

Sankofa is an African word derived from the Akan tribe in Ghana. It means to “go back and fetch it.” This symbol portrays a mythical bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back. Sankofa reminds people of African descent to look backward, to reflect on their essence, before moving forward to the future.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of History, Humanities, and Languages, and Center for Critical Race Studies is sponsoring a symposium celebrating 400 Years of African American Life and History. This year, 2019, marks the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first documented Africans to the North American continent. Undoubtedly, the past four centuries of African American life have been replete with trauma, struggle, and resiliency. In the spirit of Sankofa, the symposium will examine the centrality of race and racism throughout United States history and ongoing efforts to dismantle structural systems of oppression. We will highlight and celebrate the myriad achievements and contributions African Americans have made to various sectors in the United States. We will also reflect on the collective future of African Americans.

The Symposium aims to promote cutting-edge research in Africana studies produced by scholars and emerging scholars. During the symposium, we will also discuss effective transdisciplinary pedagogical strategies and creative methods that faculty might employ to enrich the educational experiences of students of color, especially transfer and first-generation college students.

The Symposium Committee welcomes paper proposals and abstracts on any of the following topics:

  • Slavery and Resistance
  • Race and Racial Formation/Identity
  • Black Language/Dialect
  • Entertainment (Music, Film, Dance)
  • Black and Brown Coalitions
  • Afrocentrism
  • The African Diaspora
  • #BlackGirlMagic
  • Black Masculinity
  • Queer Black Studies
  • Black Religion
  • Including Other Related Topics
  • Citizenship and Armed Forces
  • African American Literature and Creativity
  • African and African American Art
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Education
  • Pan-Africanism
  • Black Greek Fraternities and Sororities
  • #BlackBoyJoy
  • Black Feminism
  • Race and Politics
  • Race and Sports
  • Afrofuturism

  • Call for Papers

    Proposal Submission Deadline
    By September 6, 2019, authors should submit a one to two-page proposal for their papers including: 1) the title of the paper; 2) a 500-word abstract. The abstract should provide a brief summary of the paper and include the paper’s purpose, methodology and design, major interpretations, and conclusions. Call For Papers Information (PDF)

    Submit Proposal

    Notification of Acceptance of Proposals
    The Committee will contact authors regarding their proposals and presenting their papers at the Symposium on a rolling basis, starting August 1. By September 19, 2019, the Committee will make a decision on all proposals.

    Registration is free, and all presenters will receive complimentary meals during the symposium. Due to budget limitations, we are not able to cover the travel and lodging expenses of presenters.

    Publication Opportunity
    The Committee will invite selected participants to include their papers in a proposal for an edited book manuscript.

    Best Paper Competition
    All student papers accepted for the Symposium that meet the standards established by the Committee will be included in the Reflecting Black Competition. Students with the best papers will receive the following prizes:

    $1,000 Best Graduate Student Paper

    $500 Best Undergraduate Student Paper

    The criteria for evaluation will be based on the following: 1) Critical Engagement, Interpretation, and Analysis of Academic Sources; 2) Originality of ideas; 3) Clarity of presentation; and 4) Creativity.

    In addition, the Committee will invite selected students to include their papers in an edited book manuscript.

    Please address questions to Dr. Jonathan Chism via e-mail at

    Reflecting Black Symposium logo with Sankofa bird

    One or more documents on this site are in PDF format. In order to view and print these document(s), you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader software. It can be downloaded from the Adobe website.

    Last updated 9/17/2019 9:16 AM