Summer 2019

Bucknell in the Caribbean

June 11 - July 3, 2019

CaribbeanStudy abroad with the Griot. Through readings, lectures, field trips, volunteer projects, attendance and participation in cultural performances, ethnographic interviews, as well as analytical reflections on their experiences, ​ Bucknell in the Caribbean ​ provides first-hand information about the literatures, histories, and cultures of the Caribbean. Students will explore the long-term cross-cultural impacts of slavery, colonization, independence, and tourism. The three islands of Antigua, St. Kitts, and Nevis will serve as our classroom.

Recent Events

Spring 2019

Annual Lecture and Performance Series

The Black Unfamiliar in the 21st CenturyEach academic year, the Griot Institute offers the Bucknell Community a series that focuses on a question or issue of concern central to Africana Studies. In spring 2019, we invited the campus and community to participate in a lecture/conversation series entitled, The Black Unfamiliar in the 21st Century.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 6 - Christy Coleman, "Reclaiming Black History in the American Civil War"
  • Wednesday, Feb. 27 - Edwidge Danticat, "(Re)Writing the Black Immigrant Experience"
  • Wednesday, March 6 - DeShuna Spencer, "​Black Representation"
  • Wednesday, March 20 - Margo Natalie Crawford, "Black Post-Blackness"
  • Wednesday, March 27 - Rochelle Spencer, "Afro-Surrealism"
  • Wednesday, April 3 - Baz Dreisinger, "Black Incarceration Narratives"
  • Wednesday, April 10 - Carol Wayne White, "Black Lives and Sacred Humanity"

Christy Coleman
"Reclaiming Black History in the American Civil War"
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m. in the Great Room, Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Christy S. Coleman Christy S. Coleman began her career as living history interpreter at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation while a college student. She rose through the ranks to become the Director of the African American Interpretations and Presentations (1994-1996). It was during this time that she and her team gained international acclaim for their bold and evocative programming. During a reorganization in 1996 Colonial Williamsburg gave Ms. Coleman even greater responsibility by naming her Director of Midtown Operations, (1996-1998) which included Women's History, Religious Studies, African American History and several historic trades, houses and other interpretive programs. In the fall of 1998, Ms. Coleman named Director of Programs, making her responsible for all daily and special public programming at Colonial Williamsburg.

From 1999 to 2005, Ms. Coleman served as President and CEO of the nation's largest African American museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, MI. During her tenure, the museum's membership grew from 3500 to over 15,000. She also envisioned and launched a successful $43 million Legacy Campaign created to grow audiences, build an endowment, address capital and programming needs, and build a new $12 million, 22,000 square foot permanent exhibition entitled "And Still We Rise." In 2008, Ms. Coleman accepted the position of President and CEO of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. The Center was the nation's first museum to explore the causes, course and legacies of the Civil War from Union, Confederate and African American perspectives.

During her tenure, the museum launched a successful capital campaign raising over $8 million; earned revenues have grown by over 30% and attendance has increased by over 60%. She has lectured extensively and consulted with some of the country's leading museums, written a number of articles for scholarly and public history publications as well as being an award winning screenwriter for educational television. Her most recent work Freedom Bound won an Emmy in 2009 for Outstanding Educational Programming for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Ms. Coleman was raised in Williamsburg, VA. She received her Bachelor and Master degrees from Hampton University. She is married and has two children.

Co-sponsored by the Department of History.

Edwidge Danticat - Rescheduled Date

Q&A: Wednesday, Feb. 27 at noon in the Great Room, Hildreth-Mirza Hall
RSVP was required.

"(Re)Writing the Black Immigrant Experience"
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. in the ELC Forum

Edwidge DanticatEdwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection, Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist, The Farming of Bones, The Dew Breaker, Create Dangerously, and Claire of the Sea Light. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, Best American Essays 2011, Haiti Noir and Haiti Noir 2. She has written six books for children and young adults, Anacaona, Behind the Mountains, Eight Days, The Last Mapou, Mama's Nightingale, Untwine,as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance. Her memoir, Brother, I'm Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2008 winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 MacArthur fellow. Her most recent book, a work of nonfiction, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story, was published in July 2017.

Co-sponsored by the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts and the Departments of Creative Writing and Literary Studies.

DeShuna Spencer
"Black Representation"
Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m. in the Great Room, Hildreth-Mirza Hall

DeShaunaSpencerDeShuna Spencer, a social entrepreneur, is the Founder/CEO of kweliTV, an interactive video streaming network for the global black consumer. kweliTV is dedicated to the stories, issues and culture of the global black community. The platform offers a vast selection of on-demand independent films, web shows, news and historical programming, and documentaries specifically of the black experience from the US and across the globe. It will be accessible on smart TVs, internet TV devices (such as Apple TV and Roku), smartphones, game consoles, computers and tablets through a video app. KWELI (KWEH lee) means "TRUTH" IN SWAHILI. In December 2014, Spencer won a $20,000 grant from the NewU/Ford Foundation to develop her new venture, kweliTV, which is currently in beta.

Spencer is the founding publisher of where she launched the emPower Players Awards honoring community activists of color. Spencer is also the producer and radio host of emPower Hour on DC's 89.3 FM WPFW. Before becoming an entrepreneur, Spencer served as the Director of Communications for EdMarket, a trade association in Silver Spring, MD. In that role, Spencer ran the organization's communications department and all media properties from its award-winning magazine, e-newsletters, social media efforts, ad sales, video initiatives and annual budget.

Co-sponsored by the Career Development Center.

Margo Natalie Crawford
"Black Post-Blackness"
Wednesday, March 20, 7 p.m. in the Great Room, Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Margo Natalie CrawfordMargo Natalie Crawford argues that "black" and "post-black" meet in the experimental art of the 1960s and '70s Black Arts Movement and the early years of the 21st century. Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics, examines many genres: outdoor murals, paintings, installation art, editorial cartoons, experimental forms of art, as well as books, plays, and poetry.

The 1960s and '70s Black Arts Movement has been "flattened," Crawford insists, and she sets out to "complicate" that narrative."The tradition of black experimentalism must include the Black Arts Movement; the Black Arts Movement is not the movement that must be repudiated as we move to experimental blackness," she says. Crawford grew up in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, attended Swarthmore College for her bachelor's degree, and Yale University for her master's and doctorate. She taught at Vassar College and Indiana University, Bloomington, before Cornell. African-American literature and culture, and global black consciousness, have been the focus throughout her career. "A principal part of my work at this point is thinking about how we begin to frame these very first years of 21st century African-American literature, this emergent literature."

Rochelle Spencer
Wednesday, March 27, 7 p.m. in the Great Room, Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Rochelle SpencerRochelle Spencer is co-editor of All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women Writers of Color, an acclaimed anthology published by University of Wisconsin Press. Novelist Junot Diàz hails it as "electrifying and absolutely necessary." Spencer is co-editing a second anthology, STEAM: Women on the Intersections of Science and Art, with Professor Jina Ortiz and writer and engineer Manjula Menon.

Spencer's work also appears in several publications including Poets and Writers, Callaloo, The African American Review, Publishers Weekly, The Rumpus, Mosaic Literary Magazine, Solstice, The East Bay Review, The Carbon Culture Review, and the Crab Creek Review. She is included in the Nasty Women Poets anthology and an excerpt from her novella The Rat People has just been published by The Fantasist. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Rochelle is the founder of the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop, a former Board Member of the Hurston-Wright Foundation and a member of the Wintergreen Writers Collective and the National Book Critics Circle. Rochelle is currently completing a dissertation on AfroSurrealism.

Co-programmed with “Surrealism: Yesterday and Today,” Bucknell Humanities Center.

Baz Dreisinger, Ph.D.
"Black Incarceration Narratives"
Wednesday, April 3, 7 p.m. in the Great Room, Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Baz DreisingerBaz Dreisinger works at the intersection of race, crime, culture and justice. She earned her Ph.D. in English from Columbia University, specializing in American and African-American studies. At John Jay she is the Founding Academic Director of John Jay's Prison-to- College Pipeline program, which offers college courses and reentry planning to incarcerated men at Otisville Correctional Facility, and broadly works to increase access to higher education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. Dr. Dreisinger's book Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World (2016) was heralded by the New York Times, NPR and many more, and was named a notable book of 2016 by the Washington Post.

Professor Dreisinger moonlights as a journalist and critic, writing about Caribbean culture, race-related issues, travel, music and pop culture for such outlets as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal, and producing on-air segments about music and global culture for National Public Radio (NPR). Her first book Near Black: White-to- Black Passing in American Culture (2008) was featured in the New York Times and on NPR and CNN. Together with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Peter Spirer, Professor Dreisinger produced and wrote the two nationally aired documentaries about hip-hop, criminal justice and the prison industrial complex. She regularly speaks about justice reform and prison issues on popular news media and in international settings.

Carol Wayne White - Rescheduled Date and Location
"Black Lives and Sacred Humanity"
Wednesday, April 10, 7 p.m. in the Willard Smith Library

Carol White Carol Wayne White is Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Bucknell University, and the author of Poststructuralism, Feminism, and Religion: Triangulating Positions (2002); The Legacy of Anne Conway (1631-70): Reverberations from a Mystical Naturalism (2009); and Black Lives and Sacred Humanity: Toward an African American Religious Naturalism (2016). She has published articles on process philosophy, religious naturalism, and critical theory. White has also received national awards and fellowships, including an Oxford University Fellowship in Religion and Science, a Science and Religion Course Award Program Development Grant (The John Templeton Foundation), and a NEH Fellowship. She is currently writing a new book that explores the tenets of deep ecology and insights of religious naturalism expressed in contemporary American nature poets and writers.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies.

West African Drumming Lessons

Spring Semester 2019

The Griot Institute offered a unique experience in learning West African Drumming. Approximately 10 lessons were offered as a fun and educational means of better understanding West African music and culture.

MLK Week 2019

Jan. 21-27, 2019

  • Monday, Jan. 21 - Richard Boddie, "The 1958 Visit of Martin Luther King, Jr. to Bucknell: Impressions and Influences"
  • Monday, Jan. 21 - Jason Sokol, "The Heavens Might Crack: The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr."
  • Tuesday, Jan. 22 - Patrisia Macias-Rojas, "From Deportation to Prison: The Politics of Immigration Enforcement in Post-Civil Rights America"
  • Wednesday, Jan. 23 - Nicholas Villanueva, "Lynching of Mexicans in the Texas Borderlands"
  • Thursday, Jan. 24 - Ibram Kendi, "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America"

For more details, please visit

Fall 2018

Danticat in Depth Book Groups

In preparation for the 2019 Griot Spring Series, "The Black Unfamiliar in the 21st Century," the Griot Institute held four fall semester book reading groups associated with the series. All of the books were written by Haitian-American novelist, Edwidge Danticat. Danticat will be a featured speaker on Jan. 30, 2019.

Brother, I'm Dying - Wednesday, Sept. 19

Brother I'm Dying cover image The book group lunch for Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat was on Wednesday, Sept. 19. From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her "second father," when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she was both elated and saddened when, at twelve, she joined her parents and youngest brothers in New York City. As Edwidge made a life in a new country, adjusting to being far away from so many who she loved, she and her family continued to fear for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorated.

In 2004, they entered into a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Brother, I'm Dying is an astonishing true-life epic, told on an intimate scale by one of our finest writers. Bucknell English professor Rafe Dalleo led the book discussion.

The Farming of Bones - Thursday, Oct. 11

The Farming of Bones cover image The book group lunch for The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat was on Thursday, Oct. 11. In a 1930s Dominican Republic village, the scream of a woman in labor rings out like the shot heard around Hispaniola. Every detail of the birth scene — the balance of power between the middle-aged Senora and her Haitian maid, the babies'; skin color, not to mention which child is to survive — reverberates throughout Edwidge Danticat's Farming of Bones. In fact, rather than a celebration of fecundity, the unexpected double delivery gels into a metaphor for the military-sponsored mass murder of Haitian immigrants. As the Senora's doctor explains: "Many of us start out as twins in the belly and do away with the other." Bucknell English professor Anthony Stewart led the book discussion.

The Art of Death - Tuesday, Oct. 23

 The Art of Death cover image The book group lunch for The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story by Edwidge Danticat was on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Edwidge Danticat's The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story is at once a personal account of her mother dying from cancer and a deeply considered reckoning with the ways that other writers have approached death in their own work. "Writing has been the primary way I have tried to make sense of my losses," Danticat notes in her introduction. "I have been writing about death for as long as I have been writing." The book moves outward from the shock of her mother's diagnosis and sifts through Danticat's writing life and personal history, all the while shifting fluidly from examples that range from Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude to Toni Morrison's Sula. The narrative, which continually circles the many incarnations of death from individual to large-scale catastrophes, culminates in a beautiful, heartrending prayer in the voice of Danticat's mother. A moving tribute and a work of astute criticism, The Art of Death is a book that will profoundly alter all who encounter it. Bucknell Writing Center Consultant Peg Cronin led the book discussion.

The Dew Breaker - Thursday, Nov. 6

The Dew BreakerThe book group lunch for The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat was on Thursday, Nov. 6. In this award-winning, bestselling work of fiction that moves between Haiti in the 1960s and New York in the present day, we meet an unusual man who is harboring a vital, dangerous secret. He is a quiet man, a good father and husband, a fixture in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a landlord and barber with a terrifying scar across his face. As the book unfolds, we enter the lives of those around him, and his secret is slowly revealed. Edwidge Danticat's brilliant exploration of the "dew breaker" — or torturer — is an unforgettable story of love, remorse, and hope; of personal and political rebellions; and of the compromises we make to move beyond the most intimate brushes with history. It firmly establishes her as one of America's most essential writers. Bucknell English professor Elena Machado led the book discussion.

West African Drumming Lessons

Fall Semester 2018

The Griot Institute offered a unique experience in learning West African Drumming. Approximately 10 lessons were offered as a fun and educational means of better understanding West African music and culture.

American Voices

Saturday, Nov. 10

American Voices posterCo-sponsored by the Griot Institute and the Department of Music, faculty members Qing Jiang (piano) and Barry Long (Jazz trumpet) were joined by guest artist Ari Isaacman-Beck (violin) in a thought-provoking program exploring the tradition, heritage, and evolution of American music. Placing the “Romantic Pieces” of Antonin Dvořák, who directed the National Conservatory of Music in New York City from 1892-95, alongside the “Four Southland Sketches” by his student Harry Burleigh and the “Suite for Violin and Piano” by William Grant Still, one sees strands of African-American spirituals, American folk song, and European classical style combined in true melting pot fashion. Burleigh and Grant Still were important early voices in a wave of African-American composers whose unique efforts catalyzed the evolution of Jazz, Dance Band works, and eventually modern popular music. Other works on the program included Jazz standards, as well as classical pieces by Gershwin, Ives and Ravel that show the influence of hymns and Jazz at the turn of the century.

This event took place at Rooke Recital Hall (Weis Music Building) on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 4 p.m. The event was open to public and FREE.

Amir Issaa

Friday, Nov. 9

Amir Issaa posterIn partnership with the Italian Studies Program, The Griot Institute cosponsored an event on Friday, November 9 with Italian-African rap musician and writer, Amir Issaa. Issaa spoke about immigration and racism in Italy through his music and his writings. This event was in the Hildreth-Mirza Great Room at 4:30 p.m.

Dr. Joy DeGruy

Tuesday, Oct. 23

PTSS posterThe Griot Institute was pleased to support a talk by Dr. Joy DeGruy, international best-selling author and speaker, who spoke about her theory of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome on Tuesday (11/23) at 6:00pm in Trout Auditorium. This event was presented as part of Multicultural Student Service's UnHerd Series.

Dr. DeGruy's talk was especially relevant to anyone who is counseling, advising, mentoring or teaching African American students. Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome explains how multi-generational trauma with the added absence of space to heal has contributed to a toxic stew that continues to plague African descendants in the Americas today. In her talk, she discussed this historical trauma, the pathology of unearned privilege, and interventions and models of connection that should inform our work whether from a counseling perspective, a student development perspective or foundations of historical and sociological phenomenon.

This event was supported by the Dean of Students, Counseling & Student and Development, The Griot Institute for Africana Studies and the Center for the Study of Race Ethnicity & Gender.

Civil Rights and Social Justice Tour of Harlem

Saturday, Sept. 29

In an effort to provide a deeper understanding of the American struggles for civic responsibility, social justice and civil rights, the Griot Institute embarked on another New York City tour. This Harlem tour focused on the social movements of African Americans in New York City including the abolitionist movement against American slavery, the civil rights movement and today's social justice struggles for affordable housing, equal justice under the law, and safe community streets.

Harlem, Apollo Theater

Griot Institute Opening Event

Saturday, Aug. 25, 12-2 p.m.

The Opening Event celebration welcomed students, staff, and faculty into the new academic year, and featured the Soul in Motion African Dance and Drum Ensemble, as well as the Bisonettes.

Griot opening event
Griot opening event
Griot opening event
Griot opening event
Griot opening event

Learn more about events from past semesters.