Orange Alert

AAS Brings History Alive with Public Outreach

Department of African American Studies events include lectures, films

March 3, 2017, by Renee K. Gadoua


The Department of African American Studies’ (AAS) annual field trip “The Underground Railroad in Central New York,” will take 38 AAS or University members to the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn. The tour will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, March 31.

Tubman, an escaped slave, was known as the Moses of the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, she moved to Auburn. The historic site includes Tubman’s brick residence, the Tubman home for the Aged, and a historic barn. A new national park is to be established at the site. Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department announced a plan for Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill.

The AAS tour will include a tour of the department’s Community Folk Art Center, 805 East Genesee St. Syracuse. To RSVP, email with the heading, “#Tubman2017. The seats are now open to the entire University community.

“Students will learn how Harriet Tubman rose from slavery to freedom to become essential to the stories of the Underground Railroad, gender equality, and American democracy,” says Herb Ruffin, associate professor of history and AAS chair. “In our own times, it is a story essential to us inculcating the Tubman spirit and understanding how African Americans, women, and working people can challenge inequality on the path to equality and freedom.”

AAS is also co-sponsoring with the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) a traveling exhibit that celebrates the September 2016 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

“A Place for All People” is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the OHA. Posters highlight key artifacts that tell the rich and diverse story of the African American experience. The display features a 6.5 by 8.5 inch photo of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who settled in Rochester. He was a well-known abolitionist and writer, and he gave frequent talks in Syracuse during the 1840s and 1850s. 

Courtesy: Onondaga Historical Association

The photo from the OHA collection is thought to have been taken about 1848 by the Boston photography firm Southworth & Hawes, the pre-eminent daguerreotypists of notable Bostonians and world figures. The photo, one of nine known daguerreotypes of Douglass, recently received conservation treatment to prevent further deterioration.

The exhibit also includes objects from OHA’s collection such as original photographs, artwork, newspapers, and visual biographies of African American citizens. The OHA, 321 Montgomery St., Syracuse, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends. The display continues through March 19.

Here are other events AAS is presenting or co-sponsoring this semester:

Feb. 23 to 26: Caribbean Cinematic Festival, Community Folk Art Center. All events are free and open to the public.

  • Thursday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m.: “200 Cartas” and performance by the University’s Raices Dance Troupe
  • Friday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m.: “Legends of Ska” and 8 p.m.: “Harder They Come” and performance by Kalabash, the University’s Caribbean dance team
  • Saturday, Feb. 25: 11 a.m.: “Songs of Redemption,” 1 p.m.: “Murder in Pacot,” and                      4 p.m.: “Erika The Aftermath”
  • Sunday, Feb. 26: 11 a.m.: “Sunday Brunch” (catered by Jerk Hut), 12 p.m. “Cu-Bop”, and 2:30 p.m.: (shorts) “Exil,” “Tears of Joy” and “Tormented”

Friday, Feb. 24: “Soul Food Junkies,” (film and Q&A), 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Sims 219.

Thursday, March 2: Professor Renate M. Simson Memorial, 5 to 7 p.m., Sims 219.

Monday, March 20: “Ain’t Gonna Shuffle No More: 1964-1972,” (film and Q&A), 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Sims 219

Friday, March 31: 8th Annual AAS Field Trip: Harriet Tubman Home and CFAC tours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Wednesday, April 5: 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Public Affairs Lecture, featuring Dr. Quintard Taylor (theme: The History of the African American West)

Thursday, May 4: AAS graduation ceremony

Friday, May 12: Itanwa Orinwa/Black Graduation, 8 to 10:30 a.m., Hendricks Chapel

Media Contact

Robert M Enslin