African American Studies

  • Experience a historic night with nationally recognized poet Nikki Giovanni

    UAB African American Studies will be sponsoring Nikki Giovanni at the Spring Colloquium, where she will share her poetry and advice as an educator and activist.

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  • 2019 Winners of College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Announced

    Established in 2018, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching.

    Established in 2018, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes full-time regular faculty members of College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in teaching. The individual must have held faculty status at UAB for a minimum of three years and may receive the award only once in any three-year period. Winners were selected by the CAS President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Committee from three groupings of the College's academic departments:

    • Arts and Humanities – Art and Art History, Music, Theatre, Communication Studies, English, Foreign Languages, History and Philosophy
    • Natural Sciences and Mathematics – Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences – African American Studies, Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Social Work and Sociology

    Winners were selected for their outstanding accomplishments in teaching as demonstrated by broad and thorough knowledge of the subject area; ability to convey difficult concepts; fairness, open-mindedness and accessibility to students; ability to inspire and mentor students; effective use of innovative teaching methods, promotion of ethical and professional values; modeling service and scholarly activities; and more.

    The three winners will be honored at a reception at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts on March 5 and will be considered for the final College of Arts and Sciences nominee for the President’s Award of Excellence in Teaching.

    From the Arts and Humanities, Dr. DeReef Jamison, Associate Professor in the African American Studies Program

    Dr. Jamison explores the connections between Africana intellectual history and social science, particularly the notion of cultural consciousness. In his teaching, Dr. Jamison encourages students to think critically about the world in which they live. As he says in his faculty bio, he seeks to follow the model set by pioneering African American Studies scholars who stressed academic excellence, social responsibility, and social change.

    Dr. Jamison received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Bowie State University, his master's in community psychology from Florida A&M University, and his doctorate from Temple University in African American Studies.

    One of his student nominators said, "Dr. Jamison's classroom is unlike any other educational space. His remarkable teaching style remains a highlight of my education at UAB. He also takes a careful interest in each student and is available to expound on class assignments and topics or just sit and listen to the fanciful ideas of aspiring scholars. It was Dr. Jamison’s encouragement that persuaded me to apply to be an intern at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and his love of and commitment to his research and publications emboldened me to pursue graduate school."

    From the Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Dr. Karolina Mukhtar, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology

    Dr. Mukhtar graduated with a joint B.S./M.Sc. in biology from the University of Szczecin, Poland. She received her Ph.D. in genetics from the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany, and completed her post-doc in plant immunity from Duke University.

    Her research focuses on various aspects of plant-microbe interactions using genetic and biochemical approaches. Specifically, she explores the interface between the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and several of its pathogens, including both fungi and bacteria. She is a committed teacher at all levels, including K-12, and was named one of the 11 inaugural UAB Faculty Fellows in Service Learning.

    She has created innovative teaching methods and is committed to developing instructional strategies for students with various learning disabilities. In Spring 2015, she was named Outstanding Faculty Mentor by the Office of Disability Support Services.

    One of Dr. Mukhtar's student nominators said, "Dr. Mukhtar's engaging lectures, clear explanations, and presentation of the field's newest discoveries combined to make my undergraduate Plant Biology class the best lecture-based course I have ever experienced. Later, when I was one of her Supplemental Instruction Leaders, she always made sure I had everything I needed to do my job well and made time to explain the concepts so I could better serve the students. I was able to see how she adapted her plans based on the needs of the students. She consistently looks for ways to improve her teaching methods to ensure her students gain a deeper understanding of genetics."

    From the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Erin Borry, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration

    Dr. Borry's research focuses on bureaucratic structure, employee minority status, and employee willingness to bend rules and perceptions of red tape. She has also published work on governmental transparency and government websites.

    Dr. Borry received her bachelor's degree and master's in public administration from Rutgers University and her doctorate from the University of Kansas. She currently serves as the digital media editor for the journal Public Integrity and as a board member for two sections within the American Society for Public Administration. She is also a research fellow with the Center for Organization Research and Design (CORD) at Arizona State University and is an affiliated researcher with the Local Government Workplaces Initiative (LGWI) at the University of North Carolina.

    Some of her most recent courses include Human Resources Management, Intergovernmental Relations, Open Government, and Scope of Public Administration.

    One of her nominators wrote, "Dr. Borry’s teaching influences my daily leadership. As an executive director of a local non-profit, I frequently rely on the concepts Dr. Borry demonstrated in the Human Resource Management class. When I took her class, I had limited experience managing employees. She had the challenging task of conveying a topic with which most of us had no experience, and she did so brilliantly. I’ve heard that alumni success raises the caliber of academic programs. However, alumni would not be successful without relevant, engaging, and high-caliber teaching. Dr. Erin Borry provides the academic foundation for me and my fellow alumni to succeed."

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  • African American Studies Program Presents: A Lecture From Dr. Imani Perry, Feb. 28

    UAB students learn history of African American hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

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  • African Ancestry co-founder to help UAB students trace their DNA roots

    This unique talk will cover the impact on the black community of DNA ancestry research, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and family tree exploration.

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  • Faculty fellows to foster community, academic enrichment for honors students

    What do mindfulness and meditation have in common with the hip-hop’s global consciousness? Those topics and more will be discussed by the 2018-2019 cohort of Honors Faculty Fellows during their yearlong fellowship beginning in August.

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  • Lecture will explore West African masquerading traditions and hip-hop

    Author John Thabiti Willis will discuss masquerading traditions in the West African town of Otta.

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  • Alabama man exonerated after spending decades on death row will speak at UAB

    Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent nearly 30 years on death row before being exonerated in 2015, will speak at UAB on March 1.

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  • Upcoming events from African American Studies

    UAB's African American Studies Program is hosting a number of events, and all are welcome to participate.

    UAB's African American Studies Program is hosting a number of events, and all are welcome to participate.

    A Celebration of Black Women Writers

    When: February 20, 2018, 6:00 p.m.
    Where: Steel City Room, New Freshman Residence Hall, 900 17th Street South

    The African American Studies Organization is commemorating black history month with a celebration of African American female writers. This event will encompass several public readings from select well known African American women. Following, there will be presentations from Dr. Jessie LaFrance Dunbar and Professor Ethel Morgan Smith. Please join us in celebrating the amazing literary achievements of these women. The event is free and open to the public.

    The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: A Conversation About Criminal Justice

    When: February 28, 2018, 5:00 p.m.
    Where: UAB Hulsey Recital Hall, 950 13th Street South

    Speakersl include retired deputy chief Leroy Stover, the first Black officer hired by the Birmingham Police Department; retired chief Johnny Johnson, the second Black policer hired by the BPD and the first Black Birmingham police chief; and Bishop Calvin Woods, a Civil Rights activist who marched with Dr. King. The event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the African American Studies Program.

    A Conversation with Anthony Ray Hinton

    When: March 1, 2018, 7:00 p.m.
    Where: UAB Heritage Hall room 106, 1401 University Blvd.

    Mr. Anthony Ray Hinton will speak about the enduring problem of injustice in the criminal justice system. In 1985 Hinton was falsely convicted of the murders of two fast-food restaurant managers. He was released in 2015 after spending 29 years on Alabama’s death row. He will discuss the challenges that he has faced since being released and the need for criminal justice reform. The lecture is free and open to the public.

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  • Guest speaker: Damon Young, senior editor of The Root

    On February 1, 2018, The African American Studies Program and the Black Student Awareness Committee will host Damon Young, acclaimed writer and speaker.

    On February 1, 2018, the African American Studies Program and the Black Student Awareness Committee will host Damon Young, acclaimed writer and speaker. Young is co-founder of VerySmartBrothas and Senior Editor of The Root.

    With work that vacillates from anthropological satire and absurdist racial insights to razor sharp cultural critique and unflinching indictments of privilege and bias, Damon Young engages audiences in thoughtful contemplation of modern society. Ava DuVernay calls his voice "clear and critical." Michael Eric Dyson says he's "one of the most important young voices in humor writing today." And Kiese Laymon calls his work "the best of American twenty-first century writing."

    Damon is a co-founder and editor in chief of VerySmartBrothas (coined by The Washington Post as "the blackest thing that ever happened to the internet), a columnist for GQ.com, and a founding editor of 1839. He is also senior editor of The Root. His work has been featured in numerous publications and on numerous platforms, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, EBONY, MSNBC, BET, Slate, Salon, and USA Today. In 2016, he was named to The Root 100, their annual list of the most influential African Americans in the fields of business, science, politics, technology, social justice, sports and entertainment.

    His first book, tentatively titled N*gga Neurosis, with Ecco (HarperCollins) will be a series of essays about his own experience with the absurdities and angsts associated with race and racism.

    With his own brand of comic perspective, Damon engages audiences with raw and provocative commentary on the popular issues and, at times unpopular topics that make up today’s news headlines. Gain a broader view of the struggles those in today’s marginalized communities face, as well as insights on social change that will change your outlook on subjects from race relations to cultural divides.

    The event is scheduled for February 1, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. in Heritage Hall, room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

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  • New course: Pulpits in Protest

    This course will cover four major social movements involving African Americans and the protest speeches, sermons, and songs given by women and men from the Black Church and beyond.

    The African American Studies program is offering a new Special Topics course in the 2018 Spring semester, AAS 250: Pulpits in Protest. This course will cover four major social movements involving African Americans and the protest speeches, sermons, and songs given by women and men from the Black Church and beyond. It will examine how rhetoric can be used to oppose oppression and bring about social change. There will be an emphasis on the ideas of black social thought within the black church, political protest, and the speeches, sermons, and songs given in a particular movement with efforts to initiate social change. The class will be held on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m. Register now!

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  • Change Starts in the Streets

    Students lend a hand to Birmingham
    By Haley Herfurth • Photos by UAB Digital Media

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  • African American Studies students selected for impressive internships

    Two African American Studies students — an alumna and a senior — are participating in their dream internships this summer.

    Two African American Studies students — an alumna and a senior — are participating in their dream internships this summer.

    Anissa Latham-Brown, B.A. 2017

    Before Anissa Latham-Brown graduated from UAB, she told African American Studies program director Kathryn Morgan that her "dream would be to get an internship in New York with Pacifica Radio.” This summer she is interning with WBAI 99.5 Pacifica Radio in New York City. As a member of the Pacifica Radio chain, WBAI is a listener-supported radio station with an international audience. The station's programming encompasses a variety of categories, including news, arts, music, public affairs, health, and science and ecology. The station leadership's mission is to “provide radio that informs, educates, and entertains New York with a critical approach to politics, art, music, literature, health, and culture.”

    Anissa graduated UAB in April 2017 with a B.A. in African American Studies and a B.A. in an Individually Designed Major, Cultural Digital Storytelling. With a GPA of 3.93, she was the 2015-2016 recipient of the African American Studies Academic Scholarship.

    As a student, she was media fellow with UAB Digital Media and a production assistant with Yellow Cake Films. She was also the Social Media Manager for African American Studies. For her capstone project, Anissa created an independent film, 942 Greene Avenue. The film examines her family's participation in the Great Migration (to New York) during the 1960s and their return to the South.

    Madison Allen, Senior

    Madison Allen is spending the summer between her junior and senior year at the Smithsonian Institution in an internship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened to the public on September 24, 2016. It is the newest of the Smithsonian Institution museums and the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.

    Madison is a senior pursuing a double major in African American Studies and Sociology (with a concentration in Social Psychology). She is the recipient The Annie P. and Ferris S. Ritchey Sr. Endowed Scholarship Honor Recipient (2015-2016) from the Department of Sociology and the African American Studies Academic Scholarship (2016-2017). She is also in the University Honors Program.

    According to Madison, working at the museum will be an opportunity to learn more about the Black Museum movement and acquire knowledge about program development, partnership development, and archival research and cataloging. She is excited to be able to use the knowledge that she has gained in her African American Studies classes.

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  • Discussion: G. W. Carver High School during Segregation

    The African American Studies program is hosting the "Team of One" panel discussion on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 6pm in the Hill Student Center Alumni Theater. Alumni of G.W. Carver High School during the late 60s will talk about their experiences attending the high school during the segregation era.
    The African American Studies program is hosting the "Team of One" panel discussion on Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 6pm in the Hill Student Center Alumni Theater. Alumni of G.W. Carver High School during the late 60s will talk about their experiences attending the high school during the segregation era.

    Panelists will include:
    • Dr. Charles Willis, principal, Carver High School
    • Mrs. Audrey Finch, Social Security Disability Specialist
    • Mrs. Barbara Goudy, registered nurse
    • Mrs. Sarah Nettles, Bell South representative
    • Mrs. Georgia ONeal, Registered nurse, retired Army Colonel
    • Dr. Isaac Ravizee, retired obstetrician, gynecologist
    • Mr. Tyrone Tolbert, business owner, entrepreneur
    • Dr. Clifton Latting, retired physician


    The event is free and open to the public.

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  • Message in the Music: Hip Hop Generational Soundtracks

    The African American Studies program & the Office of Equity & Diversity are hosting a hip-hop panel titled "Message in the Music: Hip Hop Generational Soundtracks."
    The African American Studies program & the Office of Equity & Diversity are hosting a hip-hop panel titled "Message in the Music: Hip Hop Generational Soundtracks." The event will take place at the Edge of Chaos on February 14, 2017, at 6:00 PM.

    Drawing from Frantz Fanon's statement "every generation, out of relative obscurity, must find its mission, fulfill it or betray it," panelists will explore some of the messages in hip hop across time. Our discussion will be guided by the thesis that music is an expression of life. Panelists include:
    • Dr. Nyesha Black, Department of Sociology
    • Martez Files
    • Melodi Stone
    • Andrew Baer


    The Edge of Chaos is located in Lister Hill Library at 1700 University Boulevard.

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  • Sharrif Simmons Lecture: "The Social and Political Evolution of Hip Hop: A Personal Journey"

    The UAB African American Studies Program presents poet, musician, activist, and arts educator Sharrif Simmons on October 4, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in the Alumni Theater of the Hill Student Center.
    The UAB African American Studies Program presents Sharrif Simmons on October 4, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in the Alumni Theater of the Hill Student Center. His lecture, "The Social and Political Evolution of Hip Hop: A Personal Journey "will highlight his political insights and personal experiences through a unique blend of music, poetry, and spoken-word. The lecture is free and open to the public.

    Sharrif Simmons is a poet, musician, activist, and arts educator who uses his music and spoken-word poetry to speak to the social and political issues of our time. He has travelled extensively throughout Europe and the United States sharing his poetry and music on college campuses and art festivals. Simmons has performed with such artists as the late Gil Scott-Heron, rapper Mos Def, actor Wood Harris, Talib Kweli, and many others. His poetry is featured in a collection of poems entitled "Fast Cities and Objects That Burn" published by Moore Black Publishing Company in 1999. 

    His film credits include appearances in the movies "Panther," "Slam," and the full-length documentary "Hughes" shown on the Bravo and Black Starz Networks. He has also been recognized for his musical contributions to the soundtrack of the four-time Emmy winning documentary, “Thornton Dial Has Something to Say."

    Since relocating from New York to Birmingham in 2004, Simmons has become a symbol of and advocate for the arts. He has been an invited guest curator for the Birmingham Civil Right Institute’s Human Rights Exhibit where he helped design and program a permanent exhibit featuring a video performance of his human rights poem “Walk with Me.” He was instrumental in the creation of the children’s arts education programs at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Those efforts led to the creation of ArtPlay, for which he currently serves an outreach educator. 

    Simmons is also an arts educator, teaching poetry to Birmingham-area middle school students through a grant provided by the Alys Stephens Center. In 2010 he co-founded the Birmingham Arts and Music festival (BAAMFEST).

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  • Documentary & Discussion: Human Sex Trafficking

    You are invited to join Carlon Harris, African American Studies honors student, and a panel of experts for a viewing of Harris' documentary on human sex trafficking and a follow-up discussion of what law enforcement is doing to prevent the problem and resources that are available for survivors.
    Carlon Harris, African American Studies major and graduating senior, filmed a documentary on Human Sex Trafficking as his AAS Honors Project. He will present the documentary on September 15, 2016, at 6:30 PM in Heritage Hall 102.

    Following the screening of the documentary, panelists will discuss the issue of human trafficking, what law enforcement is doing to prevent the problem, and resources that are available for survivors. Panelists include:
    • Ms. Kathy Taylor, Advocate
    • Dr. Robert Blanton, UAB Professor of Government
    • Ms. Helen Smith, FBI Specialist on Human Trafficking
    • Sergeant Anthony Williams, Birmingham Police Department

    As a requirement for participation in the African American Studies Honors Program, students must complete an Honors Thesis or Project and make a presentation in a colloquium or at a professional meeting.

    The event is free and open to the public. You can learn more about Harris's project on wbrc.com.

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  • Colloquium: Runaway Slave Communities

    UAB will host an international colloquium and a K-12 Spanish teacher workshop on runaway slave communities in Latin America.
    Come learn about the African presence in Latin America from internationally-recognized experts, including professors and UNESCO representatives. The event’s theme will be “Runaway Slave Communities.” The interdisciplinary colloquium examines maroon communities in Latin America in an effort to reassess the concept of “maroonage,” escaping slavery, negotiation with slave-based and racist systems, and resistance against oppression from colonial times to the new context of our globalized world.

    Taking as point of departure recent linguistic, historical, archeological and anthropological studies, the colloquium will problematize the idea of “resistance” within Afro-diasporic studies at large, thus including material culture, social movements, visual and cultural studies, and postcolonial migrations. The proposed conference is timely, as it is in line with UNESCO’s designation of 2015-2024 as the Decade of the Afrodescendant, bringing together representatives and works from various regions of Latin America.

    The colloquium will officially launch a special issue of the prestigious academic journal The Afro-Hispanic Review with sponsorship from Vanderbilt University.

    Hosted by University of Alabama at Birmingham and co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

    For more information visit the colloquium website or email Professor John Maddox of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at jtmaddox@uab.edu.

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  • New Pan-African Student Coalition Looks for Unification

    The Pan-African Student Coalition at UAB, organized during this summer semester, hopes to provide a place where students can feel they belong and serve as an umbrella organization for other organizations consisting of people of African descent.
    Members of the newly organized Pan-African Student Coalition at UAB recognized Rwandan Liberation Day by gathering in the Hill Student Center on July 5 and talking to students about the anniversary of the end of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

    Sharing knowledge in that way is a part of carrying out the coalition's primary goal of unifying Africans with descendants of Africans from other parts of the world, said Uche MgBodile, PAC President and junior majoring in biology in the pre-medicine track.

    Sharon Uwanyuze, left, a UAB student from Rwanda, talks to other students about Rwanda Liberation Day in the Hill Student Center on July 5."It is just an example of informing people of other cultures even through the littlest things," said MgBodile, whose parents are Nigerian. "Just by bringing people together through food and small talk we already started sparking interest with people, thus beginning the cycle of unification."

    The Pan-African Student Coalition, organized during this summer semester, hopes to provide a place where students can feel they belong and serve as an umbrella organization for other organizations consisting of people of African descent. The main goals of the group are unification, cultural and social awareness and scholastic advancement.

    MgBodile, an Atlanta native who has lived most of her life in Birmingham, said she decided to get involved when she noticed a disconnect between Africans and African Americans on campus and realized that it was mostly due to the lack of knowledge of each other.

    "To me it seemed like the African Americans were interested in connecting to their African heritage but there was always a communication barrier between themselves and the Africans," she said. "Both sides were interested in understanding each other more, but no one was initiating the change."

    Dr. Kathryn Morgan, director of the African American Studies Program and associate professor of Criminal Justice, serves as faculty advisor of the student organization. Morgan said the Coalition's activities will correspond with the African American Studies Program's mission to advance knowledge and understanding about various cultures and people of diasporic African and African Americans.

    "The Pan African Student Coalition contributes to that mission by bringing together African and African American student groups into an alliance that promotes cultural understanding between the groups and strengthens the bonds of students on this campus who are of African descent," Morgan said.

    The Coalition plans to sponsor events including community service, fundraisers, forums about current and historical events relating to Pan-Africans, dance classes, and video and documentary screenings.

    For more information, see the Pan-African Coalition's Facebook page.

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  • Dr. Brian Pillay Speaks on the Significance of Soweto Day

    Dr. Brian Pillay, Professor of Engineering and native of South Africa, discussed June 16 Soweto Day and its significance on its 40th anniversary at an organizational meeting of the UAB Pan African Student Coalition.
    Dr. Brian Pillay, Professor of Engineering and native of South Africa, discussed June 16 Soweto Day and its significance on its 40th anniversary at an organizational meeting of the UAB Pan African Student Coalition. 

    According to Dr. Pillay, in 1976, the South African government mandated that all Black schools use the Afrikaans language for instruction. The entire school curriculum was to be taught in Afrikaans and English. Students and parents viewed Afrikaans as the language of the oppressor and protested the governmental decree.

    Student protests defying the order and the struggle against South African apartheid reached a pivotal point on June 16, 1976. Many students left schools to demonstrate in the streets and rally at a local stadium. 

    Armed police and military, ordered to deal with the youth protesters, killed many of the children. One victim of the police action that day was 12-year-old student Hector Pieterson, who was shot and killed by police. A black South African reporter took a picture of a dying Pieterson being carried by another 18-year-old protestor. This picture shared around the world became a rallying symbol for protestors and showed the rest of the world the brutality of the time. Although brutality against protestors intensified, the “eyes of the world” were now watching, Pillay said.

    Dr. Pillay indicated that this event helped to pivot the struggle against apartheid, brought attention to the injustices in South Africa, and changed the dynamics of the country. In 1992, Nelson Mandela was released from prison followed by a negotiated settlement from minority to majority rule. As a part of the negotiations, South African whites asked that June 16 would be recognized as Youth Day rather than Soweto Day.

    The lifeless body of Hector Pieterson being carried by 18-year-old Mbuyisa Makhubo and running alongside is Antoinette Pieterson. (Photo by Sam Nzima)

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  • Pop Goes the Classroom

    How superheroes and hip hop inspire academic exploration
    By Jess Simpson • Illustrations by Ron Gamble

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