Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

A New World: Black Emancipation and the Work That Lies Ahead—11th annual Dr. Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture set for Feb. 24th

February 22nd, 2021
Dr. Rachel Zellars

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the 11th annual Dr. Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture Series, organized by the StFX Sociology Department, will take place when Dr. Rachel Zellars’ keynote lecture. “A New World: Black Emancipation and the Work That Lies Ahead,” explores how on May 25, 2020, the world shifted. In the aftermath of the execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 60 countries and every major city in North America erupted, for months, into movements of protest and resistance. 

In her address, Dr. Zellars asks what does our current, global moment teach us about historical Black struggles for full emancipation, and what do recent calls to #DefundThePolice and for abolition mean for Black people and our future sites of resistance? 

The lecture, which starts at 7 p.m., will also include the Committee for Black and Aboriginal Student Success (CABSS) Black Leaders Awards, and closing remarks by StFX religious studies professor Dr. Ronald Charles, a scholar of the African diaspora. 

Dr. Ron Charles

Dr. Charles says on the importance of the event and why he accepted: “As one who is from the Caribbean and one with a keen interest in subaltern voices and perspectives, I have been drawn to Dr. Calliste’s work early on since my arrival on campus in 2014. The lecture means the possibility to continue learning and provoke deep-seated assumptions regarding Black bodies and Black knowledge. It is truly an honour to be part of this event.”

Dr. Norine Verberg, Department of Sociology chair, says, “Sociology has hosted an annual African Heritage Lecture for about 25 years because of the leadership of Dr. Agnes Calliste. Although it was organized by the Sociology Department, Agnes saw it as a Xaverian project, welcoming sponsorship and participation from all faculties at StFX. She used the lecture platform to inspire us to celebrate the pathbreaking work being done on and by African heritage scholars, Indigenous scholars and scholars from other racialized groups. When Agnes retired, naming the African Heritage Lecture series in her honour seemed an ideal way to honour her local leadership.”

This event is free and is open to the public and will be livestreamed on the StFX University Facebook page. 

Dr. Rachel Zellars, MA, JD, PhD, is a lawyer and assistant professor at Saint Mary’s University in the Department of Social Justice and Community Studies. Her research and scholarship focuses on the history of Black Canada beginning with the American Revolution; slavery in the Maritimes; and gender violence. She is also a nationally recognized expert on critical implicit bias, a term that she coined in conjunction with her extensive, ongoing work with the federal government and numerous private institutions. In addition to her legal background, Dr. Zellars also holds a master’s degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University and a doctorate in education from McGill University. She is a long-time community organizer, who recently co-founded the Black Lives Matter Solidarity Fund in Nova Scotia, which has raised over $300,000 to date. Additionally, she co-founded the African Nova Scotian Freedom School to honour the rich legacies of African Nova Scotian freedom fighters, educators, and community leaders throughout the province. In 2013, she co-founded the Third Eye Collective, a transformative justice collective created by and for Black women. She continues to study, practice, and facilitate in the context of transformative justice nationally.  

Dr. Agnes Calliste

The lecture series
is organized by the StFX Department of Sociology in honour of the legacy of Dr. Agnes Calliste. As noted in the Canadian Sociological Association's 'In Memoriam' following her death Fall 2018: "[Dr. Calliste's] scholarship focused on the complex interrelation of work, race, ethnicity and gender in Canada. Her ground-breaking research with African-Canadian railway porters and Caribbean-Canadian nurses explored previously unexamined dimensions of our social history. Dr. Calliste studied not only the institutionalized oppression of such communities, but also their organized resistance." The Canadian Sociological Association is also hosting an Outstanding Contribution Award Lecture honouring Dr. Calliste as part of its 2021 annual conference. 

This year, a new initiative was added to the program with the inaugural Dr. Agnes Calliste Black Student Voices Circle held Feb. 11, 2021.


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