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Africana Studies Continues Activism and Black Life Series in 2021 The series will present two events, "Looking at Blackness" and "Legislative Leverage: Democratic Processes as Activism,” in late January.

Activism-Imagination-WebBanner-1140x565 Africana Studies Continues Activism and Black Life Series in 2021“Activism and Black Life” is a yearlong series that explores how the struggle for freedom shapes Black identity.

Washington and Lee University’s Africana Studies Program will continue its “Activism and Black Life” series in 2021 with two online events in late January.

Registration for both events is free but required and can be accessed online here.

“Looking at Blackness” (LAB) invites audiences to enjoy the music and movies of Black social movements on Jan. 26 at 5:30 p.m. The virtual event will feature the 1964 album “Nina Simone in Concert.” Lauryn McCray, president of the Student Association for Black Unity (SABU) at W&L, will moderate the discussion. Emily Lordi, associate professor of English at Vanderbilt University, will offer expert commentary.

Lordi writes about American and African American expressive culture, especially literature and popular music. She is the author of three books: “Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature,” “Donny Hathaway Live” and “The Meaning of Soul: Black Music and Resilience since the 1960s.”

On Jan. 27 at 6 p.m., Africana Studies will partner with the W&L Politics Department to host “Legislative Leverage: Democratic Processes as Activism,” a conversation featuring Chris Clark, associate professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Rita Davis ’93, legal counsel to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

This event will examine Black political participation and American democracy. Discussing issues from the Voting Rights Act to the 2020 election season, the duo will share their outlook on how African Americans view politicians and government. The session will also cover the growth of Black females in elected positions and Black voter mobilization efforts.

Clark’s research focuses on minority representation, with a particular interest in subnational politics. He is the author of “Gaining Voice: The Causes and Consequences of Black Representation in the American States,” as well as several peer-reviewed journal articles. He teaches classes on minority representation, race and politics, and state politics.

Davis earned her bachelor’s degree from W&L and her law degree from the University of Richmond Law School. After a clerkship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Arkansas, she returned to Richmond and began a 15-year tenure with Hunton Andrews Kurth in complex commercial litigation. Davis subsequently worked as a senior assistant attorney general/section chief in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. In 2018, she assumed her current position as chief counsel to Gov. Northam.

“Activism and Black Life” is a yearlong series that explores how the struggle for freedom shapes Black identity. It includes participants from multiple disciplines and various academic and civic institutions. The series shows the complex legacies that created our current racial reality and, by studying the intersection between then and now, equips our community to chart a productive path forward.

The series is supported by the Rupert H. Johnson Jr. Program in Leadership and Integrity.