UCF faculty members will host a virtual event July 2 to discuss the critical issues of racism in American history. The Black Lives: Racism and the Struggle for Justice in the American Democracy teach-in will include historical lessons about local, national and global racial injustices and systemic racism that Black people have been subjected to for centuries.

The event is open to the public and individuals may use the password “176480” to participate in the event via Zoom from 3 to 5 p.m. It will also be livestreamed on UCF’s YouTube account, where it will be archived for later viewing. The teach-in is sponsored by the College of Sciences , College of Arts and Humanities, Africana Studies, and the School of Politics, Security and International Affairs.

“I try to explain to my students that we all share citizenship, the rewards, benefits and burdens of it,” says Fon Gordon, an associate professor of history, coordinator for Africana Studies and co-organizer for the event. “Part of the burden that is incumbent on all of us as citizens is to inform ourselves about the history of the nation, the fact that our history has a violent past and much of that violence has been because of race. I think all of us as members of the community should be interested in trying to inform ourselves about this historic moment.”

What is a Teach-In?

Teach-ins are educational forums that examine complex issues through many lenses, while engaging participants and serving as a call to action.

“I think all of us as members of the community should be interested in trying to inform ourselves about this historic moment.” – Fon Gordon,  associate professor of history and coordinator for Africana Studies

The historical significance of teach-ins dates back to 1965 when the first one was held overnight at the University of Michigan to protest the United States’ involvement with the Vietnam War. About 50 teachers were organizing a one-day strike when anthropologist Marshall Sahlins suggested they change the protest format to an all-night event of debates, lectures, movies, and musical elements to inform and engage the campus community.

Teach-ins were also a powerful tool during the civil right movement and the term is a play off of the term “sit-in,” which had been a popular protesting format.

“This teach-in is building on that legacy from the 1960s and so we are trying to present to the academic community — students, faculty and the broader public audience — what this moment means and what it has to say about race in American history and culture, as well as larger issues of white supremacy,” says Gordon, who will discuss how federal legislation and housing policy have been used as critical practices in making and reproducing structural racial disparities in American life during the event.

What to Expect from the Black Lives Teach-In

Eight faculty members will give presentations on a range of subjects and the event will be moderated by UCF history graduate Brandon Nightingale ’16 ’19MA, who is the archival coordinator at Carl S. Swisher Memorial Library at Bethune-Cookman University. There will be a question-and-answer session.

“UCF has great faculty that study critical issues in very innovate ways and UCF needs to take a more proactive and engaging position because I think it can directly inform and enrich the public discussions and our community to make people more aware of the underlying reasons for the persistence of racism,” says Güneş Murat Tezcür, a professor in the School of Politics, Security and International Affairs, the Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies, and a co-organizer for the event.

The presentations are:

  • Jonathan Cox, Department of SociologyColor-blindness IS Racism and White Supremacy
  • Fon Gordon, Department of History; Dispossession: Racial Disadvantage and Public Policy
  • Edward Gonzalez-Tennant, Department of AnthropologyArchaeology is Antiracist or It is Nothing: Confronting the Legacies of Anti-Black Programs in 2020
  • Connie Lester, Department of History; The Rhyme of History: Racism in the Florida Narrative
  • Amelia Lyons, Department of History; Colonialism, Migration, and Universalist Rhetoric: The Historic Roots of State Violence against People of Color in France
  • Bhoomi Thakore, Department of Sociology; The Maintenance of Racism and Inequality in a Capitalist Society
  • Keri Watson, School of Visual Arts and DesignThe American Carceral Landscape and the Perpetuation of Slavery
  • Kenicia Wright, School of Politics, Security and International Affairs; Representative Bureaucracy, Intersectionality, and Female Health Outcomes in the U.S.

The intended call to action for this teach-in is for the members of the campus community to use the lessons learned as a starting point to continue education on systemic racism and the Black experience in America, as well as inspire individuals to have necessary discussions around these topics and take actions to support Black communities. The presenters will also share a list of books and movies that are useful educational tools.

You can participate in the Black Lives Teach-In on July 2 from 3 to 5 p.m.  via Zoom by using the password “176480”. The teach-in will also be livestreamed on UCF’s YouTube account and archived for later viewing.

Students interested in learning more about African American and Black history can explore courses offered by UCF’s Africana Studies program, as well as courses from the Department of History.