Department of African American StudiesUniversity at Buffalo


Check out our upcoming Summer course offerings! Introduction to African American Studies is being offered during summer session M, which runs from June 29 - August 7, and African American History is being offered during summer session J, which runs from May 18 - June 26.


Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition
National Lecture Series to Commence at Historic Michigan Street Baptist Church
New York Council for the Humanities Sponsored Speaker Kicks off Lectures in August Buffalo, New York. The Loraine Project, a subsidiary of the Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition, is honored to introduce The Nash Lectures, an introspective new reading and conversation series that will feature professors, doctors, authors, scientists, historians and entrepreneurs from locally and around the country. The Nash Lectures, and its efforts to preserve the past through cultivating the future, is in adherence with the efforts and goals of Buffalo Public Schools and the region on issues of literacy and education. In our Fall 2008 series we will bring together two lecturers sponsored by the New York Council for the Humanities; a Global Information System (GIS) specialist from New Orleans University and local historian Bishop William H. Henderson, caretaker of the historic Michigan Street Baptist Church. The Lectures seek to provide the community with a rounded outlook on the past, present and future of African American heritage and culture. Here's a glimpse of our entire Fall lecture schedule: 

Emmitt Till and the Force of African American Memory
Mr. Vincent F. A. Golphin, Professor
Rochester Institute of Technology
Thursday, August 28th 2008

The Michigan Street Baptist Church and the Civil Rights Movement
Bishop William Henderson, President
The Niagara Freedom Station Coalition
Saturday, September 20th 2008

Paying for Freedom: New Orleans Post Katrina
Ms. Michelle M. Thompson, Professor
University of New Orleans
Saturday, October 18th 2008

James Baldwin: Where the Fire Next Time is today
Thomas March, Poet, Critic & Teacher
The Brearley School in New York City
Saturday, November 22nd 2008

As a literary component the Loraine Project has put together a book list that follows the lectures from month to month. Coinciding with the topics of each lecture the recommended reads will commence with A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmitt Till by Stephen J. Whitfield or Death of Innocence: the story of the hate crime that changed America by Mamie Till-Mobley & Christopher Benson  in the month of August, Why We Can't Wait by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in September, Come Hell or High Water by Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson in October and conclude in November with The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. The books for the series will be available at the beginning of each month at both Talking Leaves Books locations (951 Elmwood Ave. and 3158 Main St.) as well as at your local Buffalo Public Library branch.
Each event, free of charge and open to the public, is set to take place at 511 Michigan Avenue, at the historic site of the Michigan Street Baptist Church. The lectures will focus on pressing issues that arise in the African American community and, in essence, will maintain the historic nature of the church. Those in attendance will be given the opportunity to partake in the classic forum atmosphere which existed when the likes of Booker T. Washington and Fredrick Douglas held lectures for the Citizens of Buffalo.

At the conclusion of each lecture those in attendance will be served refreshments and given the opportunity to mingle with the speaker and others. One goal is to strengthen the bridge between academia and community.

Individuals interested in attending a lecture, or the entire series, are advised to send their information (Name, Telephone, Address and a Number of Guests) to  because space is limited.

For more information on the church and the Rev. Dr. J. Edward Nash please visit and 

NEW FOR FALL 2008: Lecture series at the Michigan Street Baptist Church, at 511 Michigan Avenue, Buffalo

One-hundred-seventy-one years ago the African American community in the great city of Buffalo, NY was defined in the notes of journalist Charles B. Ray, Mississippi native and editor of The Colored American, as being above any community of colored people that he had visited during his tour of Western New York. Mr. Ray was witnessing that which we reflect upon in hindsight; the humble beginnings of the Colored community in one of the most storied cities in the nation. Charles B. Ray experienced the stuff that strong Black communities around the country were built upon, a lust for literacy and a strong religious culture. The beauty of the storied City of Lights, though, is that the very place that nurtured the Colored community that Mr. Ray addresses still stands as the oldest African American built, owned and operated structure in Western New York.

The Michigan Street Baptist Church, at 511 Michigan Avenue, is a gem in the City of Buffalo’s turbulent past fraught with hatred and injustice. Its origins date back to sometime between 1832 and 1837 when thirteen men and women who had been allowed to worship alongside ‘whites’ at the Washington Street Baptist Church decided to withdraw from that congregation to form the Second Baptist Church of Buffalo. As a voice of the people, the Michigan Street Baptist Church’s congregation has had a history of speaking out in support of African American progress. Their momentous efforts range from enabling African Americans to harness the energy and resources of the black community, allowing for the transformation of their ideas and aspirations into functional programs and activities, to a stern stance in opposition to racial prejudice and discrimination. (For more information on the history of the church please visit

The abridged story of the Historic Michigan Street Baptist Church is twofold, consisting first of the unwritten chronicle of its involvement in the transportation of fugitives in seek of freedom from the ante bellum south, then fast forwarding to the era of the Rev. Dr. J. Edward Nash, Ms. Mary Talbert and the civil rights movement. What lies in between, though, is the base which supports our modus operandi. Before the politicizing of black folks through the leadership of Rev. Dr. Nash the culture of using the church as a place to promote literacy on the issues of the day was evident. Discussions lead by abolitionists like Fredrick Douglas, William Wells Brown, Henry Highland Garnet and Martin Delany were layered in its effects on the African American community. Not only did they inform and invigorate but these talks evoked conversation on national issues, giving people a stance, which is, in part, the essence of literacy. (For more information on Rev. Dr. Nash please visit

What the era of Rev. Dr. J. Edward Nash brought to the table was an aggressive stride towards equality in all aspects of African American life. During his tenure the Michigan Street Baptist Church experienced a second wave of notable guest speakers in the likes of like-minded fellow scholar Booker T. Washington and a controversial W.E.B Dubois. Rev. Dr. Nash embodied the will to rise above the separatist nature of the city for the sake of educating the next generation. The lectures that we present in his name seek to carry on his dream of educating the community. Our vision is to preserve the past through cultivating the future; our dream is to leave the City of Buffalo in better condition when we depart than the moment we arrived.


"Bonded Women"
African American Studies 461 LSW
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30-4:50pm
with Professor Lilliam Williams
Please see the attached document for more information on the "Bonded Women" course


African American Studies Summer School Course Offerings

Section one, May 21-June 29, 2007
AAS 586--The Multicultural School Curriculum, MW, 5:00-7:30, three credit hours (3)
Instructor:  Dr. Y G-M Lulat
Location:  Merriweather Branch, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
1324 Jefferson Avenue (at Utica)

The course description follows:
Among the many educational reform trends in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom in recent years has been the well-intentioned advocacy of infusing the school curriculum with a multicultural perspective. This course critically examines the successes and failures of this trend. Topics that will be covered include: a general history of education from the perspective of the struggle for civil rights; the sociological basis of curriculum theory, practice and development; the history of multiculturalism in school curricula; multiculturalism and the hidden curriculum; the multicultural class lesson: theory versus practice; the alternative school movement and the politics of the multiculturalism; the multicultural curriculum and school achievement; the future of the multicultural curriculum: debating the pros and cons.


African American Studies is pleased to support the Theatre & Dance Department's celebration of the works of Suzan Lori-Parks.

365 DAYS/ 365 PLAYS, By Suzan-Lori Parks

The 365 Days/365 Plays Festival is a nation-wide staging of 365 plays written over the course of one calendar year by Pulitzer Prize-winning, African-American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. She is the writer and director of the award-winning Broadway play "Top Dog/Under Dog." Theatres and universities across the country are each staging one week of plays from the annual cycle to unfold an epic production of all 365 plays. Web site:

Here at UB, we are producing Week #24 of the festival (April 23-29) as a collaborative project between Media Study and Theatre & Dance. Theatre and dance students will join forces with students in media. Our production will be staged in the Intermedial Performance Studio and will
combine both virtual and live actors, settings, and interfaces.

Performance Dates: Thursday, April 26 and Friday, April 27, Times TBD

Media Study Television Studio, Performance is free

The Suzan-Lori Parks Symposium with visiting scholars will be held at 3p.m. on April 26, Location TBD


Lecture by filmmaker Zeinabu irene Davis
Thursday February 22, 2007 at 3:00 in Capen 31

This event is sponsored by the African American Studies Department and the
Institute for Research and Education on Women and Gender.

Black Women in Film: One Filmmaker's Journey

Women of African Descent have been a part of cinema history from its very beginnings in 1896 where they were test subjects for the camera to make sure that there were no harmful side effects from being filmed to creating a rich history of images made by them and about them. Indeed Black women have a complicated history with mass media - indeed mainstream media has perpetuated stereotypes of Black women such as the Mammy, the tragic mulatto, the emasculating woman (Sapphire) and the video 'ho. On the other hand, more recently Black women actresses have been gaining more respect and exposure and earning both Academy Award nominations and Golden Globe awards. Does this signify change? Where are the Black women directors and producers? This lecture briefly looks at some of the history of black women in Hollywood film in front of and behind the camera through the discussion of the filmmaker's involvement in media making. Through examples of her work, Professor Davis will illustrate how she combats stereotypes and offers more fully developed representations of Black women.

Professor Zeinabu irene Davis is a full Professor in the Department of Communication at University of California, San Diego where she teaches and continues to make film. Her feature film, Compensation is a part of the Women's Film Festival and won the Gordon Parks Award for Best Director in 1999. She is currently completing on a documentary on a Black woman
trumpet player, Ms. Clora Bryant and as a proud mother of two, she is also making a video essay on breastfeeding and Black women.


Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007, at 7 pm
11th International Women's Film Festival

COMPENSATION, with director Zeinabu irene Davis in person!
1999, US, 95 minutes, BW Feature.
Inspired by a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, this moving narrative presents two unique African-American love stories between a deaf woman and a hearing man. Malindy, an educated seamstress, befriends Arthur, a recent migrant to 1910 Chicago; this tale is woven alongside the contemporary story of Nico, a children's librarian, who learns ASL in order to date Malaika, a graphic designer. Director Davis incorporates title cards, dialogue, and silent film music with images of Chicago past and present to provide a view of Black Deaf culture and the vast possibilities of language and communication.

Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, 639 Main Street, Buffalo NY
(across from Shea's Theater)
TICKETS: $8.50 general, $6.50 students, $6 seniors




Last Modified: December 20, 2006