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Achebe | Baldwin @40: Interrogate & Commemorate

October 22 & 23, 2020

Commemorating the historic meeting between Chinua Achebe and James Baldwin at UF in 1980


About the Event

In April 1980 renowned African writer Chinua Achebe and African American literary giant James Baldwin met for the first time in Gainesville, Florida. The occasion was the African Literature Association conference devoted to the African Aesthetic.

On the 40th anniversary of Baldwin and Achebe’s historic encounter at the University of Florida, this two-day event invites return and reflection. The first day probes the experiential archive through oral history, memoir, and artifact. The second day invites literary engagement around reading, representing and writing the nexus of Africa and America in the present on the UF campus and across the community.

How might we come to know and narrate this past in its midst and from afar. Does a Black Aesthetic today displace the pursuit of an African one? Can there ever be a single voice to speak with or against? Does a literary imagination forged in displacement and diaspora transcend attempts at localization? What are the artistic and political stakes and do they recall or refute the promises of the past?

Achebe | Baldwin @ 40

Dates: October 22-23, 2020

Register for Event

Daily Schedule

  • October 22, 2020
    Revisting 1980 | Commemorate

  • 10:30 AM – 10:45 AM
    Welcome
    • Alani Ilori, Host & Program Coordinator, Center for African Studies, University of Florida
    • Dr. Kent Fuchs, President, University of Florida
    • Dr. Brenda Chalfin, Director, Center for African Studies, University of Florida
  • 10:45 AM – 11:00 AM
    An Historic Overview
    • Dr. Brenda Chalfin, Director, Center for African Studies, UF
    • Dr. David Canton, Director, African American Studies Program, UF
    • Mosúnmọ́lá Ọmọ́wùnmí Adéòjó, Ph.D Student, Fulbright Scholar, Dept of English, UF
  • 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
    Roundtable – Revisiting Achebe | Baldwin @ UF in 1980
    • Introduction: Alioune Sow, Associate Professor of French and African Studies, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, UF
    • Chair: Eileen Julien, Professor of Literature, Indiana University
    • Naana Banyiwa Horne, Emeritus Professor of English, Santa Fe College
    • Aliko Songolo, Professor Emeritus, French & African Cultural Studies, U of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Dorothy Randall Tsuruta, Professor of African Studies, San Francisco State University
  • 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
    Intermission
    • Welcome: Dr. David Richardson, Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, UF
  • 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
    Achebe & Baldwin Commemorates: Reading the Greats
    • Okey Ndibe, Visiting Writer-In-Residence, Center for African Studies, UF
    • Julie Iromuanya, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Chicago
    • E. Stanley Richardson, Alachua County Poet Laureate
  • 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    Panel #1 – Achebe & Baldwin in Conversation: Literary Stakes
    • Chair: Mark Reid, Professor, Department of English, UF
    • Chielozona Eze, Professor, Department of English and African American Studies, Northeastern Illinois University
    • E. Stanley Richardson, Alachua County Poet Laureate
  • 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM
    Intermission
  • 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM
    Achebe & Baldwin Commemorates: Reading the Greats
    • Major Jackson, Distinguished Professor, Department of English, University of Vermont
    • Terri Bailey, Bailey Learning and Arts Collective, Gainesville, Florida
    • Kole Odutola, Lecturer, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, UF
    • Zahir JanMohamed, Rackman Fellow, University of Michigan
  • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    Panel #2 – Achebe & Baldwin in Conversation: Historical & Political Stakes
    • Chair: James Essegbey, Professor of African Languages and Linguistics, Languages, Literatures & Cultures, UF
    • Abena Asare, Associate Professor, Modern African Affairs, Stony Brook University
    • Agustin Lao-Montes, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology & Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
    Intermission
  • 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM
    Film Screening – “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”
    • Film Screening Introduction: David Canton, Director, African American Studies, UF
    • Discussion (Q&A)
      • David Canton, Director, African American Studies, UF
      • Apollo Amoko, Associate Professor, Department of English, UF
      • Vivian Filer, Founder, Cotton Club Museum & Community Center, Inc.
  • October 23, 2020
    1980 To Now | Interrogate

  • 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
    Welcome & Writers Forum I
    • Alani Ilori, Host & Program Coordinator, Center for African Studies, University of Florida
    • Welcome: Antonio Farias, Chief Diversity Officer, UF
    • Alexandra Cenatus, Assistant Director for Programming and Public Engagement, Center for Humanities & The Public Sphere, University of Florida
    • Writers Reading Africa & America: 2020
      • Okey Ndibe, Visiting Writer In Residence, Center for African Studies, UF
      • Terri Bailey, Bailey Learning and Arts Collective, Gainesville, FL
      • Zahir JanMohamed, Rackman Fellow, University of Michigan
      • Julie Iromuanya, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, University of Chicago
      • E. Stanley Richardson, Alachua County Poet Laureate
  • 10:15 AM – 10:30 AM
    Intermission
  • 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM
    Welcome: Writers Forum II: Writing African & America: 2020
    • Chair: Apollo Amoko, Associate Professor, Department of English, UF
    • Okey Ndibe, Visiting Writer In Residence, Center for African Studies, UF
    • Major Jackson, Distinguished Professor, Department of English, University of Vermont
    • E. Stanley Richardson, Alachua County Poet Laureate
    • Kole Odutola, Lecturer, Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, UF
    • Julie Iromuanya, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, University of Chicago
    • Terri Bailey, Bailey Learning and Arts Collective, Gainesville, Florida
    • Zahir JanMohamed, Rackman Fellow, University of Michigan
  • 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
    Intermission
  • 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
    Graduate Student Panel: The Future of Blackness @ UF
    • Spoken Word Piece: La-Toya Scott, Ph.D student
    • Welcome: Kishmar Best, Director, Office of Graduate Diversity Affairs, UF
    • Chair: Cristovão Nwachukwu, Ph.D Student, Department of English
    • Yewande O. Addie, MPH, Ph.D Candidate, College of Journalism & Communications
    • Mustapha Mohammed, Ph.D Candidate, Department of Anthropology
    • Romy Rajan, Ph.D Student, Department of English, UF
    • La-Toya Scott, MA, Writer and Spoken word artist, Ph.D Student, Department of English, UF
  • 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
    Intermission
  • 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM
    Dance Performance: An Image of Africa (In Conversation with Achebe)
    • Welcome: Onye Ozuzu, Dean, College of the Arts
    • Qudus Onikeku, Dancer/Choreographer, Maker in Residence, The Center of Arts, Migration, & Entrepreneurship, COTA, UF
    • Talk-Back (Q&A)
      • Chair: Osubi Craig, Director, Center of Arts, Migration, & Entrepreneurship
      • Qudus Onikeku, Dancer/Choreographer
      • Okey Ndibe, Visiting Writer In Residence, Center for African Studies, UF
  • 6:00 PM
    Thank You & Wrap Up
  • 6:15 PM
    Virtual After Party

A special thanks to the organizing committee:

Alani Ilori, Elisabeth Rios-Brooks, Uwem Akpan, James Essegbey, Paul Ortiz, Alioune Sow, Leah Rosenberg, Apollo Amoko, Osubi Craig, Qudus Onikeku, Antonio Farias, Agnes Leslie, Mark Reid, Cristovao Nwachukwu, Mosunmola Adeojo, Alexandra Cenatus.

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