“It’s important … to know the function, the very serious function of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”
– Toni Morrison, address at Portland State University, 1975.
The final FOCUS Speaker Series event of the 2020-2021 academic year took place over Zoom on Tuesday, May 11th. ODUS was proud to host Professor Judith Weisenfeld and Pastor Eric Manning in a virtual conversation about race, religion, identity, and history in the United States.
Judith Weisenfeld is the Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor and chair of Princeton’s Religion Department. Her most recent book, New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration, won the 2017 Albert J. Raboteau Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions. Pastor Eric Manning served in US Army Intelligence before beginning his tenure as the reverend of Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. Mother Emanuel was the site of a tragic 2015 mass shooting in which nine members of the church were murdered because of their race.
On Friday, May 7th at 7:30 PM, ODUS hosted a virtual event featuring Professor Tera Hunter in conversation with Chef Deborah VanTrece. It was the latest event in the FOCUS Speaker Series, a program designed to deepen and enrich anti-racist education at Princeton.
Tera W. Hunter is the Edwards Professor of American History and Professor of African American Studies at Princeton, where she teaches in both the History Department and the African American Studies Department. Her research focuses on race, gender, slavery, and labor in the American South. Her latest book is Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century. Deborah VanTrece is the chef, creative director, and owner of Twisted Soul Cookhouse and Pours, a fixture of the Atlanta restaurant scene. VanTrece has worked as a chef for twenty-five years and was awarded the Atlanta Business League’s 2017 Super Tuesday Conference Award for Creative Style. She was also featured as one of Zagat’s Most Badass Female Chefs in the US.
On Thursday, April 15th, ODUS hosted “The Black Scientific Renaissance at Bell Labs,” a virtual panel discussion with Professor William A. Massey ’77 and Professor James E. West H14. The event was the latest in the FOCUS Speaker Series, a program designed to deepen and broaden Princeton University’s anti-racist programming.
Dr. Massey is the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor in Princeton’s Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering. After graduating from Princeton with a degree in Mathematics, he was admitted to Bell Labs’ prestigious Cooperative Research Fellowship Program, where he met and worked alongside Dr. West. West is now a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He worked at Bell Laboratories for forty years – where he invented the foil electret microphone, which is used in nearly all modern recording electronics – before joining the Johns Hopkins faculty.