National symposium on slavery and higher education slated for October

UC and XU bring this year’s universities Studying Slavery conference to Cincinnati

Tickets are now available for the Universities Studying Slavery (USS) 2019 Symposium, co-sponsored this year by the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University.

Entitled “The Academy’s Original Sin,” the conference, which takes place Oct. 9-12 on the campuses of both UC and XU, will provide a forum for considering the role of enslaved people and their relation to higher education among scholars and the public.

Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), will be the keynote speaker to close the symposium Friday evening. Since 2004, Lomax has led the UNCF, the nation's largest private provider of educational support and scholarships for African American students, helping more than 100,000 students complete their college degrees and start their careers. 

“You can tell a great deal about a university and its community by what they deem important enough to remember, discuss, and create opportunities to learn from,” said Holly Y. McGee, UC professor of history and a conference coordinator, along with Kyrah Shahid, director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at XU.

UC professor of History Dr. Holly Y. McGee

UC professor of History Dr. Holly Y. McGee

“By recognizing the place of the American academy in the institution of slavery — and by proxy contemporary debates surrounding its psychological, material and economic legacies — UC is poised to be an exemplar of our motto, Juncta Juvant. We are prepared to engage directly with issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education and universities, and in our university’s own complicated relationship to a slave-owning founder.”

Evolved out of the University of Virginia, USS is a collaborative of more than 40 colleges and universities, among them: The Citadel (South Carolina), Columbia University, Harvard University, UC and XU.

Together, under the auspices of USS, these institutions are dedicated to addressing issues dealing with race and inequality in higher education, and the legacy of slavery in society today.

The event will include 15 panels featuring scholars and researchers from across academic disciplines — including cultural studies, anthropology, history, political science, urban studies and other fields. Panel topics include “The Ties that Bind: Histories of Religion and Race at XU and UC,” “When Will We Be Satisfied?: Reevaluating ‘Progress’ in a Post-King America,” and “Global Perspectives on Retributive Justice.”  The event also includes free food and activities, and a free student dinner and concert.

“We’ve intentionally planned this symposium to expand its reach beyond a potentially inclusive group of leading scholars,” McGee said. “Kyra Shahid and I have been committed to establishing a true ‘town and gown’ connection during this symposium, in an effort to bring together a range of contributions from researchers, laymen, and community activists alike.”

McGee added: “My fervent hope is that attendees will see much of the university’s mission statement in action: ‘The University of Cincinnati serves the people of Ohio…we are committed to excellence and diversity in…all of our activities. We provide an inclusive environment where innovation and freedom of intellectual inquiry flourish.’ The scholarship, community partnerships, and leadership opportunities this symposium has created can only help to enrich not just participating universities, but the Queen City, as well.”

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required for admission. UC and XU will provide complimentary shuttles from CVG to both hotels. For more information and to reserve tickets, please visit: http://bit.ly/USS-2019.

Featured image at top: Aerial view of the University of Cincinnati's Uptown Campus.

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