Carnegie Mellon University

CAUSE Seminars and Speakers Series


Over the past two decades, the CAUSE Speakers Series has been a vital part of the Center’s education, research, and publishing agenda.  The Speakers Series brings outstanding junior and senior scholars to Carnegie Mellon and showcase some of the most recent groundbreaking research on the African American urban experience.  It also promotes interaction between a broad range of constituents on the Carnegie Mellon campus—students, faculty, staff, and administrators—and encourages a greater sense of community within the department, college, and university.  Equally and perhaps most important, this series reaches beyond the campus and foster ongoing communication between the university and the broader Pittsburgh metropolitan community on issues of history, race, and contemporary social change.  


Speakers Series 2016-2017

CAUSE Annual Fall Reception
Friday, September 23, 2016
Posner Center, Carnegie Mellon University

Nathan Connolly
Herber Baxter Adams Associate Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University
"The Caribbean History of an American City: Greater Miami and the History of the Rest of Us"
Friday, October 28, 2016

Memoir Panel Discussion
"From the Grassroots to the Ivory Tower: Memoirs on the 20th Century African American Experience"
Friday, November 18, 2016

Waverly Duck
Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh
"No Way Out: Precarious Living in the Shadow of Poverty, Policing and Drug Dealing"
Friday, February 24, 2017

Scot Brown
CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow 2016-17, Associate Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
"Tales from the Land of Funk: Dayton, Ohio and African American Funk Bands in the 1970s"
Friday, April 7, 2017


Speakers Series 2015-2016

Dr. Stephanie Boddie
CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University
Friday, April 29, 2016

"Unfinished Business: Black Religion and the Entrepreneurial Spirit"


Speakers Series 2014-2015

Dr. Kwame Holmes
CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Mellon University
Friday, May 1, 2015
“’I Am Not a Closet Candidate For Mayor:’ Marion Barry, Gay Liberalism and Post-racial Politics in a Chocolate City, 1978-1983”

CAUSE Speakers Series Opening Reception

Friday, September 20, 2013
4:30 – 6:00 pm

Clement A. Price
Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History at the State University of New Jersey, Rutgers
“When the Margin Becomes the Center: African American History and the Public Transformation of History, Memory and Place”
October 11, 2013

Cheryl Hicks
Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
“Talk With You Like a Woman: African American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935”
November 22, 2013

Stephanie Batiste
Associate Professor of English and Black Studies at University of California at Santa Barbara
“Dark Reflections of Power: Black Performance Culture and the End of Subversion”
February 21, 2014

Chisato Hotta
2013-2014 Post-doctoral Fellow in the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy at Carnegie Mellon University
“Beyond National and Racial Boundaries: A Comparative Study of the Korean Experience in Osaka and the African American Experience in Chicago, 1920-1945”
April 25, 2014

CAUSE Speakers Series Opening Reception
September 14, 2012

Richard Blackett
Vanderbilt University
“The Underground Railroad and the Anti-Slavery Movement in Global Perspective”
October 26, 2012

Nico Slate
Carnegie Mellon University
“Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India”
November 16, 2012

Carl H. Nightingale
University of Buffalo
“Archsegregation in U.S Cities—A World Historical Perspective”
January 25, 2013

Deborah Willis
New York University
“Reflections on the History of African American Photography: Beyond the Underground Railroad”
February 15, 2013

Khalil Gibran Muhammad
New York Public Library
“The Condemnation of Blackness: Ideas about Race and Crime in the Making of Modern Urban America”
March 22, 2013

Millington Bergeson-Lockwood
Carnegie Mellon University
“African American Politics in Post-Civil War Boston”
April 26, 2013

CAUSE Speakers Series Opening Reception
September 16, 2011

Thomas Holt
University of Chicago
"Children of Fire: A History of African Americans"
October 14, 2011

Nick Salvatore
Cornell University
"Singing in a Strange Land: C.L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America"
November 18, 2011

Bettye Collier-Thomas
Temple University
"Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons, 1850-1979"
February 10, 2012

Michael Honey
University of Washington Tacoma
"Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign"
April 13, 2012

CAUSE Speakers Series Opening Reception
Dedication to the Historians of Black Pittsburgh
September 10, 2010

Ira Berlin
Distinguished University Professor
University of Maryland
"Barack Obama and the Remaking of Black America"
October 15, 2010

Lansine Kaba
Visiting Professor of African History
Carnegie Mellon University - Qatar
“Terrorism, Islam and Tolerance: An African Perspective”
October 29, 2010

Nell Irvin Painter
Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita 
Princeton University
“The History of White People”
February 11, 2011

Richard Purcell
CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow
Carnegie Mellon University
“The Lost Vernacular of a Vanishing Tribe”
March 18, 2011

Dr. Kimberley Phillips
Associate Professor of History and American Studies
The College of William and Mary
“War, What is it Good For? Black Freedom Struggles, War, and the U.S. Military”
October 9, 2009

Dr. Clarence Lang
Assistant Professor of African American Studies and History
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
“‘Ne’er-Do-Wells,’ ‘Uncle Toms,’ and the Jefferson Bank Boycott: Civil Rights Struggle and Class in Postwar St. Louis”
November 20, 2009

Dr. Okezi Otovo
Assistant Professor of History
University of Vermont
"Making Better Babies and Perfecting the Race: Mothering and Nation-Building in Brazil"
February 12, 2010

Dr. Leslie Brown
Assistant Professor of History, University of Vermont
“Plenty of Opposition…Which Has Been Growing Daily: Gender, Generation, and Change in the Jim Crow South”
April 9, 2010

Toure Reed
“Civil Rights and the Fight Against 'Social Disorganization': The Urban League and Black Middle Class Reform”
Associate Professor, Department of History, Illinois State University
Friday 7 November 2008

Scot Brown
“ 'A Fantastic Voyage': Funk Music in Dayton, Ohio and Politics of African American Community--From the Ohio Players to Roger Troutman”
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of California Los Angeles
Friday 26 September, 2008

George Reid Andrews
“Racial Politics in a Racial Democracy: Afro-Brazilian Civil Rights Movements, 1945-Present”
Distinguished Professor of History, Department of History, University of Pittsburgh
Friday 20 February 2009

John Wess Grant
CAUSE Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-09, and Assistant Professor, Department of Africana Studies, the University of Arizona
“Stranded Families in an Urban Space: Black Community Formation in Richmond, Virginia and Monrovia, Liberia, 1817-1870”
Friday 20 March 2009

Laurence Glasco 
Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh
"K. Leroy Irvis and Barack Obama: The Sources of Success"
Friday, 12 October 2007 

Kimberly Sims
“We Already Have the Italian Squad, Why Not the Colored Squad?”: Race and Law Enforcement in Early Twentieth Century New York
Friday, 9 November 2007 

Joseph E. Inikori 
"Serving the Cause of Humanity without Hurting the Advance of Global Capitalism: Reflections on the Ending of the Atlantic Slave Trade"
Friday, 8 February

G. Derek Musgrove
“The Forced Realignment from Above and Below: State Repression of Black Elected Officials and Voters in Alabama, 1981-2000”
Friday, 11 April 2008

Dr.Luther Adams
"Upon This Rock: African American Migration, Urban Renewal and the Struggle for Equality in Louisville, Kentucky"
Friday, 13 April 2007 

Dr. Dianne Glave
"Fields, Gardens, and Woods: An Environmental History of Rural African Americans in the Progressive Era South"
Friday, 23 March 2007 

Dr. Matthew Countryman
"Up South: A Social Movement Perspective on the Rise of Black Power in the Urban North"
Friday, 2 March 2007 

Dr. Lansiné Kaba
“Islam in West Africa: Lessons for Today’s World”
Friday, 23 February 2007 

Dr. Wallace D. Best
"The South and the City: Migration and Sacred Space in an Urban Black Metropolis"
16 February 2007

Dr. Cheryl D. Hicks
“She would be better off in the South”: Working-Class Black Women and their Families Response to New York State's Use of Southern Parole 
Friday, 10 November 2006 

Dr. Matthew Whitaker
"Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West"
Friday, 6 October 2006 

Annual Fall Reception
Stephanie Batiste, "Stacks of Obits"
8 September 2006

Dr. Alison Isenberg
"The Hollow Prize? Black Buyers, Racial Violence, and the Riot Renaissance"
Friday, 31 March 2006 

Dr. William P. Jones
"The Tribe of Black Ulysses: African American Lumber Workers in the Jim Crow South"
Friday, 17 February 2006 

Dr. Johanna Fernandez
"The Young Lords, The Black Panthers, and the Social and Structural Roots of Late Sixties Radicalism"
Friday, 18 November 2005 

Dr. Vijay Prashad
"The Pitfalls of Multiculturalism—Anti-Racism and Afro-Asian Interactions"
8 April 2005 

Dr. William B. Gould IV
"Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor"
18 February 2005 

Dr. Thomas A. Guglielmo
"Italian Americans' Relations with African Americans in Interwar Chicago"
29 October 2004 

Dr. Leslie M. Harris
"In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863"
23 September 2004 
Dr. Wendell Pritchett
"What's a City For? Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hood"
2 April 2004

Prof. Carroll Parrott Blue
"History, Memory, Story, and the 21st Century: The Dawn at My Back: Memoir of a Black Texas Upbringing"
27 February 2004

Dr. Albert Camarillo
"Black and Brown in South Central Los Angeles: Perspectives on the 'New' Racial Frontier in American Cities"
30 January 2004

Dr. Robyn Spencer
"Black Power and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California"
21 November 2003

Dr. Barbara Ransby
"Ella Baker's Legacy: Remembering the Black Radical Democratic Tradition"
19 September 2003
Dr. T. K. Hunter
"Imagined Geographies of Liberty: 1772 London, 1836 Boston"
31 March 2003

Dr. Lisa Levenstein
"Tired of Being Seconds: Black Women Welfare Recipients and the Struggle Against Poverty in Post-World War II Philadephia"
28 February 2003

Dr. Dylan C. Penningroth
"Taking Kin to Court: Family and Property in the Freedmen's Courts"
24 January 2003

Dr. Winston C. McDowell
"Open and Hidden Handicaps: Albon L. Holsey, the National Colored Merchants' Association, and the Redefinition of Depression-Era Harlem"
15 November 2002

Dr. Robyn C. Spencer
"Comrade Sister: Black Women in the Black Panther Party in Oakland, CA, 1966-1982"
22 November 2002
This series, "African Americans in the Postindustrial City," aimed to enhance the institutionalization of black urban studies in the academy and influence research, teaching, and popular understanding of the subject. In conjunction with the seminar, we hosted an urban studies conference, featuring six major speakers, experts on African American life in post-World War II cities. We also used this conference as a vehicle for bringing Midwest Consortium members together.
Co-sponsored by the university's Alcoa African American Speakers program, this series showcased interdisciplinary research on African American women, culture, and identity formation. Presenters included Mia Bay, Rutgers University, Department of History (co-sponsored by the Mentalities Seminar, Pittsburgh Center for Social History); Farah Jasmine Griffin, University of Pennsylvania, English Department; and Evelyn Hammonds, MIT, Program in Science, Technology, and Society. Other presenters were Dana Frank, University of California, Santa Cruz, American Studies; and Columbia University historian Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Yo' Mama's Disfunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (1998). CAUSE co-sponsored Kelley's talk with the University of Pittsburgh's annual E. P. Thompson lecture series on labor and working class history.
As part of the Midwest Consortium for Black Studies (MCBS), representing the second of two graduate seminars and public lecture series, this first seminar, under Professor Stanlie James at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focused on black women's studies, history, and social policy. 

Our seminar and lecture series focused on "African American Urban Studies: History, Work, and Social Policy." 

During the first semester, public lecturers and seminar presenters were (in order of appearance) James Oliver Horton, Ronald Lewis, Brenda Stevenson, and Tera Hunter. Second semester guests were Richard Walter Thomas, Quintard Taylor, Alice O'Connor, James Johnson, and William Darity. The public lecture not only attracted members of the larger university community and the Pittsburgh region, but helped to lay the groundwork for a wrap-up conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan titled "Black Agenda for the 21st Century: Toward a Synthesis of Culture, History, and Social Policy," in the spring of 1999. 
This series, funded by the Maurice Falk Fund, explored the historical development of the black community during its industrial phase; its transformation during the recent era of deindustrialization; and its struggle with inequality in the present. By bringing together scholars, students, policy makers, and practitioners, this seminar showcased the Center as a resource for broadening our understanding of the relationship between our past and present. It also strengthened links between the university and the African American community.

Initiated during the early founding of CAUSE, the African American Junior Scholars speakers series was a collaborative effort between CAUSE and the Department of History. It aimed to highlight the work of promising young minority scholars as well as to foster research on the African American experience.   In the early years, the series featured nearly a half dozen young scholars.

During spring term, 1998, the Department of History and CAUSE hosted the following speakers:

Jennifer Spruill, Anthropology, University of Chicago, “Queer Cartography: Sexual Orientation Law and the Politics of Import/Export in Post-Apartheid South Africa” (3/12/98)

Matthew McGuire, Anthropology, Harvard University, “Chicago’s Public Parts: Negotiating Community and Responsibility in the Redevelopment of a Public Housing Complex” (4/8/98)

Lynette Jackson, History, Barnard College, “Psychiatric Scars: A Memory/History of the Ingutsheni Mental hospital in Colonial Zimbabwe, 1908-1980” (4/23/98)

Amanda Kemp, Africana Studies, Cornell University, “The Americans are Coming! South African Resistance and the Sign of the American Negro (1920-1940)” (1 May 98)