Carnegie Mellon University

Upcoming Events

 2023-2024  SPEAKER SERIES

In order to help deepen our understanding of reparations and redress movements in African American history, our 2023-24 Speakers Series features five lectures on the diverse componentsof the restorative justice theme in national and transnational perspective. 


April 12, 2024
Location: Baker Hall - Steinberg Room 
Schedule of events:
 4:30 - 5:00 PM - Reception for in person participants
Food and refreshments will be provided 
5:00PM - 6:00 PM - Speaker Presentation:

A Clash of Color: Dialogues on Race, Caste, and Solidarity in the United

States and India (1900-1954)

avinash_hingorani_cause_picture.jpegThe marginalization of Black Americans due to white supremacy and the oppression of Indians under British colonialism featured inescapable similarities. At the turn of the twentieth century, these parallels led Indian and Black nationalists, intellectuals, and activists to share their experiences and engage in dialogues towards improving the social status of their people. Specifically, Black internationalists such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Walter White, and Paul Robeson studied the Indian independence
movement, and came to regard India as a template in the fight against white supremacy in the US. Ultimately, they came together in their desire to overthrow the structures that subjugated them. Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century some Indians and Americans exchanged ideas about race, caste, and class, creating lasting cultural connections.


Dr. Avinash Hingorani’s presentation explores the foundational cultural and
political connections between India and the US between the late nineteenth and mid- twentieth century by focusing on a small select group of Indians and Americans and their ideas on race, caste, and class. Several key figures of the time, on both sides,
attempted to assess whether the Black experience in the US mirrored caste, colonialism, or racial discrimination in India. Both Indians and Americans studied race, caste, and class dynamics outside their own countries in order to learn what they could apply to their own struggles.

Previous Events

2022-23 Speaker series

November 11, 2022 

 The decline of Pittsburgh's steel industry and the rise of its giant health care sector were deeply interconnected processes. Deindustrialization made the region older, poorer, and sicker, and health care institutions proved the best positioned to respond to this demographic shock. As hospitals and nursing homes grew, they hired from the most vulnerable layers of the labor market—particularly the African American women who had been most marginalized by the employment patterns of the industrial period. In this way, the transition to a service economy remade patterns of class, racial, and gender inequality.

Gabriel Winant, Ph.D.Gabriel Winant, Assistant Professor, U.S. History, University of Chicago; Ph.D., Yale University. Author: The Next Shift: The Fall of Manufacturing and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America and, in-progress, Our Weary Years: How the Working Class Survived Industrial America.

Dr. Gabriel Winant is assistant professor of history at the University of Chicago. His book,The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America, was published last year and received the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in U.S. history. His writing also regularly appears in publications such as Dissent, The Nation, and n+1.

 October 7, 2022 
Situating Black Religious Leaders in the Struggle for Reparations 
R. Drew Smith, PhD., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

The presentation will examine reparations advocacy by a vanguard of African American clergy proponents, from Bishop Henry McNeil Turner’s late-19thcentury demands for federal payments toward emigrationism and BlackAtlantic linkages, to 21stcentury black clergy involvements in national level, local level, and sector specific reparations policy activism. Attention will be paid to evolving theoretical and operational framings of this reparations advocacy and to variances in levels of American religious and political receptivity to reparations proposals. Prospects for Pittsburgh-area reparations pursuits, including current Hill District initiatives, will be viewed against these broader historical and contextual trajectories of American public and black religious responsiveness to reparations concerns.

View the recording

February 10, 2023
Location: Cohon University Center - Connan Conference Room 
Zoom registration:
Schedule of events:
3:30 - 4:30 PM - Reception for in person participants
Food and refreshments will be provided 
4:30 - 6:00 PM - Speaker Presentation:


Indebtedness, like inequality, has become a ubiquitous condition in the United States. Yet few have probed American cities’ dependency on municipal debt, and how the terms of municipal finance structure racial privileges, entrench spatial neglect, elide democratic input, and distribute wealth and power. In this lecture, Destin Jenkins explores how, beyond the borrowing decisions of American cities and beneath their quotidian infrastructure, there lurks a world of politics and finance that is rarely seen, let alone understood. He also unearths the fiscal inquests of African Americans who employed various tactics to break the bonds of segregation.

Destin JenkinsDestin Jenkins, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Stanford University; Ph.D., Stanford University. Author: The Bonds of Inequality: Debt and the Making of the American City and co-author: Histories of Racial Capitalism.

Dr. Destin Jenkins is a historian of democracy and capitalism in post-Reconstruction America. He is currently an assistant professor of history at Stanford University. He is the author of The Bonds of Inequality: Debt and the Making of the American City (The University of Chicago Press, 2021), and co-editor of Histories of Racial Capitalism (Columbia University Press, 2021).


February 24, 2023
Location: Cohon University Center - Danforth Conference Room 
Zoom registration:
Schedule of events:
3:30 - 4:30 PM - Reception for in person participants
Food and refreshments will be provided 
4:30 - 6:00 PM - Speaker Presentation:


 Reparations is now a common concept even if people disagree on the importance or mechanics of repayment. But where did the idea of reparations for Black people come from and how should repayment work? These and other questions were at the heart of the modern reparations movement started and sustained by “Queen Mother” Audley Moore. This paper offers an overview of Black women’s leadership of the reparations movement with special attention to Moore’s theorizing and activism in support of reparations. It chronicles how, through her reparations campaigns, Moore empowered everyday people to think about how addressing the past might help them better understand the present and prepare for the future and how shelaid the groundwork for the increasing number of reparations bills, programs, and restitution funds of today.

Ashley Farmer, Ph.D.Ashley Farmer, Associate Professor, Departments of History and African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas-Austin; Ph.D., Harvard UniversityAuthor: Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era and, forthcoming, Queen Mother Audley Moore: Mother of Black Nationalism.

Dr. Ashley D. Farmer is a historian of black women's history, intellectual history, and radical politics. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Departments of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era and a co-editor of New Perspectives on the Black Intellectual Tradition. Farmer's scholarship has appeared in numerous venues including The Black Scholar and The Journal of African American History. Her research has also been featured in several popular outlets including Vibe, NPR, The Chronicle Review, and The Washington Post. Her current book project is Queen Mother Audley Moore: Mother of Black Nationalism.

March 17, 2023
Location: Baker Hall A51, Giant Eagle Auditorium 
Zoom registration:
Schedule of events:
3:30 - 4:30 PM - Reception in lounge area outside of Baker Hall A51
Food and refreshments will be provided 
4:30 - 6:00 PM - Speaker Presentation:


In the last four decades of the twentieth century, Harlem, New York—America’s most famous historically Black neighborhood—transformed from the archetypal symbol of midcentury “urban crisis” to the most celebrated example of “urban renaissance” in the United States. Once a favored subject for sociologists studying profound poverty and physical decline in the postindustrial city, by the new millennium Harlem found itself increasingly the site of refurbished brownstones, shiny glass and steel shopping centers, and a growing middle-class population. Drawing from Brian D. Goldstein’s book, The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle Over Harlem (to be republished in spring 2023 in an expanded paperback edition), this lecture will trace this arc in order to reveal the complicated history of social and physical transformation that has changed many American urban centers in the last several decades. Gentrification is often described as a process controlled by outsiders, with clear winners and losers, victors and victims. In contrast, this talk will explore the central role that Harlemites themselves played in reshaping Harlem and bringing about its urban renaissance, an outcome that had both positive and negative effects for their neighborhood.

Destin JenkinsBrian D. Goldstein, Associate Professor of Art History, Swarthmore College; Ph.D., Harvard University.  Author: The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem and, in-progress, If Architecture Were for People: The Life and Work of J. Max Bond, Jr.

Dr. Brian D. Goldstein is an architectural and urban historian and an associate professor at Swarthmore College. His research focuses on the intersection of the built environment, race and class,and social movements, especially in the United States. His writing includes the book The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle Over Harlem (expanded edition forthcoming from Princeton University Press, 2023), winner of the 2020 John Friedmann Book Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the 2019 Lewis Mumford Prize for the Best Book in Planning History. His articles have appeared in the Journal of American History, Buildings & Landscapes, Journal of Urban History, and the edited volumes Radical Pedagogies; Affordable Housing in NewYork; Reassessing Rudolph; and Summer in the City: John Lindsay, New York, and the American Dream. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and Society of Architectural Historians. He is currently writing If Architecture Were for People: The Life and Work of J. Max Bond, Jr., under contract with Princeton University Press.



William Darity & A. Kirsten MullenWilliam A. Darity, Jr., is the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and Director of the S. D. Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University; he is also a former chair of the Department of African and African American Studies. Co-author with A. K. Mullen, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.

A. Kirsten Mullen is a folklorist and founder of Artefactual, an arts-consulting firm; member of the concept development team that designed the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture; and faculty member of the Community Folklife Documentation Institute. Co-author with W.A. Darity, From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.

September 29, 2023
Location: Cohon University Center - Connan Room 
Schedule of events:
3:30 - 4:30 PM - Reception for in person participants
Food and refreshments will be provided 
4:30 - 6:00 PM - Speaker Presentation:

How America Ignores the Truth andWhat We Can Do about It


Deaths resulting from interactions with the US criminal legal system are a public health emergency,but the scope of this issue is intentionally ignored by the very systems that are supposed to betracking these fatalities. We don't know how many people die in custody each year, whether in anencounter with police on the street, during transport, or while in jails, prisons, or detention centers.In order to make a real difference and address this human rights problem, researchers and policymakers need reliable data.

In Death in Custody, Roger A. Mitchell Jr., MD, and Jay D. Aronson, PhD, share the stories ofindividuals who died in custody and chronicle the efforts of activists and journalists to uncover thetrue scope of deaths in custody. From Ida B. Wells’s enumeration of extrajudicial lynchings morethan a century ago to the Washington Post’s current effort to count police shootings, the work ofjournalists and independent groups has always been more reliable than the state's official reports. Through historical analysis, Mitchell and Aronson demonstrate how government at all levels hasintentionally avoided reporting death-in-custody data.

roger-mitchell_credit-jeff-suggs-jeff-suggs-photography.jpgRoger A. Mitchell Jr., MD, is a professor and chair of pathology at the Howard University Collegeof Medicine. He is a forensic pathologist who previously served as the Chief Medical Examiner andDeputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice of Washington, DC. He is the author of The Price of Freedom: A Son's Journey.





Jay D. Aronson, PhD, is the founder and director of the Center for Human Rights Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is a professor of science, technology,and society in theDepartment of History. He is the author of Who Owns the Dead? The Science and Politics of Deathat Ground Zero and Genetic Witness: Science, Law, and Controversy in the Making of DNA Profiling.




Mitchell and Aronson outline a practical, achievable system for accurately recording andinvestigating these deaths. They argue for a straightforward public health solution: adding a simplecheckbox to the US Standard Death Certificate that would create an objective way of recordingwhether a death occurred in custody. They also propose the development of national standardsfor investigating deaths in custody and the creation of independent regional and federal custodialdeath review panels. These tangible solutions would allow us to see the full scope of the problemand give us the chance to truly address it.


October 6, 2023 
 Brothers: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Race -- Book Symposium
Schedule of events:
3:30-4:30 pm Reception: Baker Hall Lounge (lower level)
4:30-6:00 PM Symposium & Discussion: Baker Hall A53 (Steinberg Auditorium)


brothers-cover-high-resolution.jpgA story of love and loss across the color line, Brothers is a historian’s quest to make sense of the life and death of his older brother. Peter Slate, born Uderulu Osakwe and also known as XL the 1I, a mixed-race hip-hop artist and screenwriter, was the victim of a racially-charged assault in 1994. A group of white men attacked him in a club in Santa Monica. His family saw it as a hate crime but the truth is more complicated. Twenty years later, Nico Slate, a historian and writer, began investigating the night his brother was attacked and the larger story of their family—a story that speaks both to the power of love to transcend racial lines and to the persistence of racism in contemporary America.




Nico Slate is a professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University. His research examines struggles against racism and imperialism in the United States and India. His most recent book is Brothers: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Race (Temple University Press, 2023).




February 9, 2024
Location: Cohon University Center - Danforth Room 
Schedule of events:
 4:30 - 5:00 PM - Reception for in person participants
Food and refreshments will be provided 
5:00PM - 6:00 PM - Speaker Presentation:

“Whose Streets? Our Streets!”: Social Networks and the Outrage and Disorder on the Streets of the Hill District
The call, “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” brings to mind the street-based uprisings of the Black Lives Matter Movement. While this call for justice emerged from our present moment, this call echoes the earlier patterns of working class social outrage that developed on the streets of the Hill District. This talk will discuss the social networks of residents of the Hill District during the Modern Black Freedom Movement and the period leading up to the Pittsburgh “riot” following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. These social networks demonstrate how Black residents advocated for an alternative framework of law and custom that used the uprising on the streets to push for more militant social change in the Steel City while simultaneously creating an image of violent neighborhood street space that remains with us.

klanderud-headshot-2023.jpgDr. Jessica D. Klanderud (Clan-der-rude) is the Director of the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education andan Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and History at Berea College.  Her first book, Struggle for the Street: Social Networks and the Struggle for Civil Rights, was published in 2023 by the University of North Carolina Press for the Justice, Power, and Politics series and is a study of formal and informal social networks and power on the streets during the Civil Rights Movement in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  Her research focuses on neighborhood street-level dynamics of class and race as African Americans defined their own spaces in the twentieth century.





March 15, 2024
Location: Cohon University Center - Danforth Room 
Schedule of events:
 4:30 - 5:00 PM - Reception for in person participants
Food and refreshments will be provided 
5:00PM - 6:00 PM - Speaker Presentation:

"The Mind of the State: Cold War anti-Black Counterinsurgency in the United States and Canada"

How can scholars better contextualize the mass incarceration dragnet in the United States that disproportionately ensnares Black males, subjecting them to a lifetime of social death? Which factors have contributed to social disorganization and gang violence in Black communities? How do we make sense of a moribund, racially and materially vapid Black politics after the Black Power era? This lecture will illuminate the persistent, yet poorly understood, phenomenon of counterinsurgency that the United States—and Canadian—intelligence and national security apparatus waged on Black Power and revolutionary Pan-Africanism in the post-World War II period.

wendell_adjetey.jpgWendell Nii Laryea Adjetey (Nii Laryea Osabu I, Atrékor Wé Oblahii kè Oblayéé Mantsè) is William Dawson Chair and assistant professor of U.S. and African Diaspora history at McGill University. Author of Cross-Border Cosmopolitans: The Making of a Pan-African North America (UNC Press, 2023), his current book projects examine gender and twentieth-century revolutionary Black leadership in the United States, and nineteenth-century African warfare along the Gulf of Guinea Coast. Dr. Adjetey is the back-to-back winner of McGill's H. Noel Fieldhouse Award for Distinguished Teaching (2022), and the Principal's Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2023).


“Land, Lords, and Tenants,” Struggles for Rent Control in Lagos, Nigeria, 1941-60
Friday, April 8, 2022 | 4:30pm - 6:30pm ET


Segregated Medicine - How Racial Politics Shaped American Healthcare
Friday, March 11, 2022 | 4:30pm - 6:30pm ET


September 17 - October 15, 2021

CAUSE 25th Anniversary Conference

“African American Urban History from Past to Future Tense: Thoughts on the State of a Field”

Carnegie Mellon University Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) 25th Anniversary Conference from Yamean Studios Films on Vimeo.

“Celebrating the Scholarship and Professional Career of Earl Lewis”


Day 1: Friday, Sept. 17, 4:30-6:30pm 
In Their Own Interest and Beyond: Reflections on the Impact of a Classic”



Day 2: Friday, Sept. 24, 4:30-6:30pm
“Training the Next Generation, Changing the Academy, and Reaping the Harvest.”


Day 3: Friday, Oct. 1, 4:30-6:30pm
 Part I: Race, Class, and Early American Cities


        Day 4: Friday, Oct. 8, 4:30-6:30pm

Part II: Emancipation, the Great Migration, and Emergence of the Black Metropolis


  Day 5: Friday, Oct. 15, 4:30-6:30pm

Part III: Modern Black Freedom Struggle, the Digital Age, and New Politics



Friday, May 7, 2021 - 4:30-6:00pm 

Public Forum Lessons Learned from Historical and Current Perspectives on Race, Cities, and Policing

This forum provides an opportunity for us to come together to discuss the broader implications of the recent conviction of policeman Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. Similar to our previous forum on health disparities, we will use this forum to recall, reflect upon, discuss, and debate the principal issues raised by the final two lectures on policing in our spring speaker’s series.  Following brief remarks by the co-moderators, we will hear brief remarks from our guest discussants and then open the forum to comments from our audience.  The moderators will not only encourage comments from attendees but also questions direct to the group for consideration. Our goal is to take away a deeper and more profound understanding of race, policing, and the African American community in the nation’s past and present. Please join us for this exceedingly timely event of collective reflection. 



Joe William Trotter, Jr., Giant Eagle University Professor of History and Social Justice and Director, Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE)

Ramayya Kishnan, Dean, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and William W. and Ruth F. Cooper Professor of Management Science and Information Systems

Guest Discussants

Luther Adams, Associate Professor, Social and Historical Studies, University of Washington Tacoma. Dr. Adams is the author of a groundbreaking historical study of Louisville, Kentucky’s African American community. His current book in progress, Black and Blue: Toward a History of Police Brutality, explores the origins and impact of police brutality on Black communities today.

Daniel S. Nagin, Teresa and H. John Heinz III University Professor of Public Policy and Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University.  Professor Nagin is the current President of the American Society of Criminology and the 2014 recipient of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology. He has written extensively on policing in the USA.



*Download the Spring 2021 Speaker Series event poster here.



Joe W. Trotter, Jr., Director and Founder
Evie Jean, Program Coordinator



  Friday, April 30, 2021 - 4:30-6:00pm EST

Simon Balto: Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power.


April 22, 2021, 3:30 - 5:30 pm

Book Launch:  Pittsburgh and the Urban League Movement: A Century of Social Service and Activism by Joe William Trotter, Jr.

(Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2020)

In Series on Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century
This broad-ranging history explores the Urban League of Pittsburgh (ULP), a branch of the National Urban League, to provide insights into an organization that has often faced criticism for its deep class and gender limitations. The impact of the National Urban League is a hotly debated topic in African American social and political history, but Trotter’s study demonstrates how the organization has relieved massive suffering and racial inequality in US cities for more than a century. 


Event Program: 
Nico Slate, Professor of History and Department Head
Esther L. Bush, President and CEO, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
Ashley Runyon, Director, University Press of Kentucky
Panel Moderator
Rhonda Y. Williams, Professor and John Siegenthaler Chair in American History, Vanderbilt University
Brian Purnell, Geoffrey Canada Professor of Africana Studies and History, Bowdoin College
Todd Michney, Assistant Professor of History and Sociology, Georgia Institute of Technology
Author Remarks
Joe William Trotter, Jr., Giant Eagle University Professor of History and Social Justice and Director, CAUSE


CAUSE - Heinz College Spring 2021 Virtual Speaker Series :

African Americans, Health, and Policing during the Age of the Corona Virus: Historical and Contemporary Policy Perspectives

During these challenging times in African American and U. S. history, the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) and the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy are pleased to announce a virtual speaker’s series on racial disparities in American policing and health care systems. Along with many colleges and universities across the country, Carnegie Mellon University has pledged to help eradicate “systemic racism” from all facets of the nation’s institutions within and beyond academia. Most immediately, however, there is a preponderance of interest in understanding and dismantling racialized policing and health care systems. These institutions place African Americans and other people of color at the center of both state violence against citizens as well as the destructive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic among other health hazards.

As part of Carnegie Mellon’s larger efforts to address these challenges, CAUSE (housed in the Department of History, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences) and Heinz College are embarking upon a series of collaborative programs designed to deepen our understanding of the historical and contemporary policy dimensions of persistent class and racial inequality in American society. This collaborative speakers’ series, “African Americans, Health, and Policing during the Age of the Corona Virus,” will include five public lectures (three on health disparities and two on discriminatory and violent policing) and two public forums. Designed to “take stock of lessons learned” through attendance and engagement with the speakers in the lecture series, the first public forum will take place the following week after the third speaker on health inequities and the second forum will convene the week after the second talk on policing. 

  Friday, April 9, 2021 - 4:30-6:00pm ET



Friday, March 26, 2021 - 4:30-6:00pm


 Friday, March 19, 2021 - 4:30-6:00pm ET

Aishah Scott: The Aids Epidemic in Black America: Foreshadowing the Health Disparities of Covid-19.


Friday, February 19, 2021 - 4:30-6:00pm ET

Alondra Nelson: Contemporary Movements to Combat the Racial Disparities of Covid-19 Compared to Past Efforts to Address Epidemics and Pandemics in the United States.


Friday, January 22, 2021 - 4:30-6:30pm ET

Vanessa N Gamble: Exploring Connections between the Current Impact of Covid-19 and Past Epidemics and Pandemics in African American and U.S. History.




Wednesday, September 11, 2019
In collaboration with the John Heinz History Center
Book Launch: “Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America”
Location - Senator John Heinz History Center
Reception at 5:30pm, Great Hall
Book Talk at 7:00pm, Mueller Education Center
Joe William Trotter, Jr. Giant Eagle Professor of History and Social Justice, Director and Founder, Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE)

Friday, February 21, 2020
Black History Month Reception
Reception - 4:00-7:00pm
Singleton Room, Roberts Hall, CMU campus