A Tale of Two Conferences.

Position:Black Arts Movement - Essay - Conference notes
 
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This special edition of Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies sheds light on why the Black Arts Movement (BAM) is important to African American and American history by focusing on the research, art, and scholarship of two BAM Conferences.

The first conference, 50 Years On, took place at UC Merced in March 2014 with the support of the Associated Students of the University of California Merced, the Office of Student Life, the Center for the Humanities, the California Endowment, Building Healthy Communities, Merced County Arts Council, the Merced County Office of Education, and donors and volunteers throughout the country. The second conference was held at New Orleans' Dillard University in September 2016, and would not have happened without the support and guidance of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.and Abby Wolf, the Director of Harvard's Hutchins Center. A group of earth angels in the forms of Dr. James Smethurst, Jerry Varnado, Ishmael Reed, Eugene Redmond, Dr. Nathan Hare, Askia Toure, Dr. James Garrett, Director of Tulane University's Amistad Center Kara Olidge, UC Merced's Dean Jill Robbins, Vice Provost and Graduate Dean Marjorie Zatz, Vice Provost for Faculty Gregg Camfield, Professor Nigel Hatton, Dillard University Professors Mona Lisa Saloy and Zella Palmer, Bernadette Gildspinel, Nikki Madfis, Bev Young, Jim Chong, Doug Ridley, Vincent, Janie, Chet and Marlena McMillon, Itibari M. Zulu, Reginald Martin, Necola Adams, Marilyn Johnson, Dr. Doris Derby, Carolyn Vara, Marvin X, Charlotte "Mama C" O'Neal, Necola Adams, Avotcja, Shellee Randol and countless other beautiful souls ensured the success of the conference.

When asked about the differences and similarities between the conferences, the word community comes to mind. Each conference opened doors to history and culture for all. New Orleans was an exhaled breath encompassing attendees with the warmth, pain, and power of African history. I sought out a historically Black college to understand how the story of the Black Arts Movement might be told differently. I was in search of the very voices that birthed the Black Arts Movement. I wanted to hear their stories in an environment that spoke of African Americans' historic past. Vestiges of slavery mingled with everyday life bearing twenty-first-century fruit for the reasons for the Black Arts and Black Power Movements. The 50 Years On conference did not have the history of African Americans on full display, but rather the men and...

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