Fifty years of Africana Studies at Williams

Clasped handsThis Spring’s exhibit in Steven Schow ’81 Gallery celebrates fifty years of Africana Studies, an interdisciplinary field of study that emerged during the 1960s Freedom Movements, and that expands our knowledge of the vast experiences of people of Africa and the African Diaspora. Commemorating Africana Studies at Williams College is a recognition that, even in the rural hills of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Black Lives have always and continue to matter.

The exhibit theme, FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS, celebrates the formal presence of Africana Studies at Williams from 1969 to 2019 while denoting cyclical time in our history, where tides of student, staff, and faculty have had unique impacts upon the study of the Black Diaspora. The exhibit is designed to do five things: 1) to note the ways in which the “souls of Black folk” have left a permanent imprint on this particular Berkshire space; 2) to reveal Africana Studies’ role in helping to make that imprint; 3) to account for a work of building community that requires continuous tending; 4) to recognize the at time thorny relationship Black Williams (and Africana Studies) have had with this institution; and 5) to remember the people and moments that have been instrumental to the life of Africana Studies at Williams College.

For such a time as this: Fifty years of Africana Studies at Williams College is on view in the Steven Schow ’81 Gallery (Sawyer 455) during regular Special Collections hours from January through June.

—Rhon Manigault-Bryant, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Exhibit Curator