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Students participating in Reckoning: Race, Memory and Reimagining the Public University explored the themes of the initiative through varied programming throughout the fall semester. In addition to programming directly supported through the Reckoning initiative, other events took place at UNC-Chapel Hill on related themes and are included below. (Events sponsored by the Reckoning initiative are so marked.)



Wilmington on Fire, documentary screening and conversation with director Christopher EverettA Massacre Kept Secret for Over 100 Years. Now the Truth Will Finally Be Revealed. Wilmington on Fire.
A Reckoning event.

September 18. Stone Center Theater, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Wilmington on Fire is an award-winning documentary directed by Christopher Everett that chronicles the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, considered one of the only successful examples of a violent overthrow of an existing government and left countless numbers of African Americans dead and exiled from the city. This event was the springboard for the white supremacy movement and Jim Crow segregation throughout North Carolina and the American South. After the screening, Asian studies and global studies associate professor Mark Driscoll will moderate a discussion with Everett.


DO or DIE: Affect, Ritual, Resistance. graphicDO or DIE: Affect, Ritual, Resistance exhibit

September 19 – November 21, 2019. Robert & Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

This multimedia exhibition by award-winning artist Fahamu Pecou seeks to elevate and recontextualize Black life and death by reframing our view. Pecou integrates West African spiritual traditions with African cultural retentions in hip-hop and the philosophy of “Negritude” to explore Black existence. This exhibit is free and open to the public. This event also ties into the Stone Center’s 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Project.


Native Son, PlayMakers Repertory Company

A special matinee performance for Reckoning students.

September 24. Paul Green Theatre, Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art

On Chicago’s South Side in the 1930s, Bigger Thomas struggles to find a place for himself in a world where systemic oppression and poverty make fear and violence the everyday currency of life. Most famously adapted by Carolina’s own Paul Green, Richard Wright’s seminal novel is ready to capture the hearts and minds of another generation with Nambi E. Kelley’s heart-stopping and theatrical new adaptation. There will be a post-show conversation with actors and guests after this performance. Native Son runs Sept. 11-29.

Life and Death in the Jim Crow South

September 26. Chapel Hill Public Library

Join two of Carolina’s engaging scholars at the Chapel Hill Public Library as they discuss “Life & Death in the Jim Crow South” through the lens of their newly released books. Dr. William Sturkey, author of Hattiesburg: An American City in Black & White, will examine the lives of the people who struggled to uphold Jim Crow and those who fought to tear down a racist and unjust system. Dr. Seth Kotch, author of A Lethal State: A History of the Death Penalty in North Carolina, will explore Jim Crow’s relationship to the death penalty in North Carolina. A conversation with both authors, moderated by UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member Dr. Lyneise Williams, will follow. Sponsored by Carolina Public Humanities, Center for the Study of the American South, the Chapel Hill Public Library, and Flyleaf Books.

This event is free and open to the public. Let people know you’re attending through Facebook.

Slavery and Its Afterlives poster
Click to view full poster.

Slavery and Its Afterlives: A Colloquium on the 400-Year Anniversary of Arrival

October – April 2019. Battle Hall room 109

The department of African, African American and diaspora studies is hosting a colloquium on ‘Slavery and Its Afterlives’ through April. All talks will be at 11:15 a.m. Speakers include:

  • Oct. 2: Danielle Christmas
  • Oct. 30: Ebony Jones
  • Nov. 20: Claude Clegg
  • Jan. 29: Jennifer D. Williams
  • Feb. 19: Yolanda Y. Wilson
  • March 25: Alicia Monroe
  • April Keynote: Luke Powery


Wednesday Workshop Series: #silentsam and Dealing with Social Data

October 9. Greenlaw Hall room 431

Carolina Digital Humanities and the Digital Innovation Lab hosts the Social Media Data Group about their ongoing project analyzing a corpus of 60,000 tweets featuring #silentsam. Consisting of graduate and undergraduate students in English and Comparative Literature and SILS, the group is excited to share their interdisciplinary approach to data collection, analysis, and visualization. Focusing particularly on some of the technical basics (TAGS; using Jupyter Notebook) and their broad research questions, this session will share some initial findings about #silentsam and discuss some of the obstacles–ethical and technical–they’ve encountered. The group especially looks forward to hearing from you about potential avenues for future analysis.

Difficult Discourse: The Language of Confederate Monuments and Racial Conflict Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 1:00-5:00PM University Room, Hyde Hall. Space limited, register at Invited Speakers: Elaine Chun (University of South Carolina), Laura Hart (Wilson Special Collections Library), Atiya Husain (University of Richmond), Kumi Silva (Communication department), Armond Towns (University Richmond Co-sponsors: Department of Political Sciences; Department of Linguistics; Department of Communication; Institute for the Arts & Humanities

Difficult Discourse: The Language of Confederate Monuments and Racial Conflict

A Reckoning event.

October 11. University Room, Hyde Hall

Space is limited; registration required:

After the toppling of the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam on the UNC campus in August 2018, there was considerable discourse on campus about the history of the statue and the social and political implications of its presence, its removal and its possible restoration. These were (and are) needed conversations. But missing from the discussion was a critical awareness of how we were talking about this monument. Linguistics professor Misha Becker and political science professor Mark Crescenzi will host a public forum to hear individual 30-minute talks by experts in relevant areas, plus an open discussion with panelists from a diverse range of disciplines whose work touches on issues related to language and race, language and power, language and politics, and discourse on war memorials. Invited speakers include Elaine Chun (University of South Carolina), Laura Hart (Wilson Special Collections Library), Atiya Husain (University of Richmond), Kumi Silva (Communication department), Armond Towns (University of Richmond). The talks and panel discussion will be research-driven and research-focused: How does one conduct research on these difficult and emotionally fraught topics?

Invisible No More! Maya Forced Migration, Asylum and Human Rights in the United States

October 10. Hyde Hall

Why are thousands of Maya Peoples leaving their ancestral homelands and seeking asylum in the U.S.? What have been the consequences of family separation and ICE Raids? Why have Maya children died under U.S. custody? Join a panel of Maya activists and scholars to learn more about Maya migration and the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border.

Presented by the UNC-CH/Duke Abiayala Working Group. Sponsored by UNC-CH’s Institute for the Study of the Americas, UndocuCarolina, Latina/o Studies, and the UNC-CH/Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Southern Waters & Environmental Justice

October 24. Howell Hall room 115

Almost 50 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, we often take for granted that our federal, state, and local governments will provide and protect clean and safe drinking water for all Americans. Yet as the Flint, Michigan water crisis and OWASA’s recent water main breaks and shortages remind us, this crucial resource can not be taken for granted. This panel will feature experts on a variety of subjects that affect clean water in North Carolina and throughout the South: coal ash, hog waste, PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and challenges from urban and suburban growth and development. Their conversation will focus on the greatest threats to clean water in our state and region, and they will offer a series of tangible steps that any concerned citizens can take.

Ana Castillo“Persistence as Resistance” with Chicana novelist Ana Castillo

A Reckoning event.

November 4. Pleasants Family Room, Wilson Library

Ana Castillo will present a talk titled “Persistence as Resistance” on Monday, Nov. 4 in Wilson Library.

The talk is connected with content in postdoctoral research associate Annette Rodriguez’s course “Literary Approaches to American Studies,” which is part of “The Reckoning: Race, Memory, and Reimagining the Public University Initiative” in the College of Arts & Sciences. The event is open to the public and the 18 courses linked with this initiative. Castillo’s visit is also co-sponsored by the Latino/a Studies Program, RomanceStudies, ComparativeLiterature, and the Humanities for the Public Good Initiative. Castillo will be discussing her 40-year career and substantial award-winning canon. In addition, she will sign books in the after the event. She is the author of “My Father was a Toltec (and Selected Poems).”

Castillo is a leading voice of the Chicana experience, known for her experimental style. Her novel Sapogonia was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, she received the Before Columbus Foundation Award for her first novel The Mixquiahuala Letters, and she has also been awarded the Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry, and the Sor Juana Achievement Award by the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago. In 2015, Castillo, who identifies as bisexual, won a Lambda Literary Award in 2015 for bisexual fiction with her book Give It to Me and another Lambda Literary Award in 2017 for bisexual nonfiction for Black Dove: Mama, Mi’jo, and Me. Castillo has written in both English and Spanish, and several of her works are an intermingling of Spanish and English, creating a hybrid of languages that is poetic and lyrical. Castillo is the founding editor of La Tolteca, an arts and literary magazine, and she held the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University.

The 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Project Symposium

November 11. Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

Join the Stone Center on Monday, Nov. 11 as we host the 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Symposium. This one-day symposium will bring together “conversants” from communities thrown together as a result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Representatives from Native/Indigenous American, African American, African, European and White American (descendant) communities will offer their unique insights and reflections on the 400th year since the eventful moment in 1619 when those enslaved Africans arrived at Point Comfort near the English settlement at Jamestown, in what is now Virginia.

The event will feature 2 keynotes (morning and afternoon) that will serve as the foundation for the conversations that will take place between invited guests.

This symposium is free and open to the public. It is part of the 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Project, sponsored by The Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, The Center for the Study of the American South, the Center for Dramatic Art, The UNC Civil Rights Center and other campus and other off campus organizations.

James Cates and Chapel Hill: A College Town’s Response to a Campus Murder

November 14. Hyde Hall

A critical conversation with Mike Ogle and Minister Robert Campbell. Organized by the Center for the Study of the American South.

Promotional image for Nov. 14 talk with Christina SnyderNative Graduate Students in the Early Nineteenth Century

November 14. Greenlaw Hall, room 305

The First Nations Graduate Circle will host Dr. Christina Snyder, McCabe Greer Professor of History at Penn State and the author of Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America & Great Crossings: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson.

Student Reckoning Forum: Research, Prospects, and Proposed Next Steps

A Reckoning event.

November 22. Instructional Room, Wilson Library

The overall goal of the Student Reckoning Forum is to bring students from several classes within the Reckoning initiative together in the same space to share insights and reflect through small-group conversations about their experiences in the program this semester, the impact that it has had on their thinking and college experience, and their aspirations for next steps at UNC-Chapel Hill. The forum will take the form of a workshop and encourage open-ended dialogue with Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Interim Dean Terry Rhodes about reckoning with the past and building toward the future. We will provide students with a platform for elevating their voices about these topics and administrators with an opportunity to hear from the students. Additional learning outcomes include:

  • Opportunities for students from different classes to compare and contrast the themes of their courses using a common source.
  • Discussion of Danielle Purifoy’s essay “Shrieking Sam” and how it connects with the learning goals of their class, including Q&A with the author.
  • Encouraging students to link an understanding of the past (collective memory) with the issues of the present.
  • Providing students ways to compare their own learning in high school and at UNC.

Rural Justice and Race Traitors

December 4. NorthStar Church of the Arts, Durham

Thirty years of the war on drugs and racial violence in Robeson County, with Mab Segrest and Julia Pierce. Organized by the Center for the Study of the American South.

HNRS 353: Slavery and the University students and faculty work with primary sources. (photo by Donn Young)

Fieldnotes: Researching Reckoning through Primary Sources

A Reckoning event.

December 5. Instructional Room, Wilson Library

Several students participating in the initiative this semester have utilized primary sources from special collections and archives at Wilson Library in their research. Our goal with this event is to highlight and celebrate these student projects, as well as provide an opportunity for other students, faculty, and library staff to see and learn more about their exciting discoveries and insights. The event will feature two types of conversations, including posters that highlight group projects and 1-slide mini-presentations (5 minutes) by students that introduce their research projects. The presentations are informal, and people will be able to come and go throughout the session as needed.