Each year the Center organizes events and programs that enrich the offerings of the African American Studies Program. The Center's programming deepens campus and community conversations about contemporary and historic matters relating to African American Studies and the African diaspora.

The CAAS Distinguished Lecture series, launched in 1994, has brought to campus individuals known for their influential writing, inspiring activism, demonstrated leadership, and fearless community engagement. Past speakers have included Congressman John Lewis, Civil Rights leader Julian Bond, historian Robin D.G. Kelley, scholar of public policy and law Dorothy Roberts, and university professor and author Cheryl LaRoche. 

The Center often cosponsors events with student organizations as well as departments, programs, and center colleagues. Join us for our lecture series, symposia, poetry readings, exhibits and artistic events. All CAAS events are open to the Wesleyan Community and the general public.


A list of events for the semester can be found by clicking on the link below. 

Wes AFAM Turns 50 - Talks and Events on Blackness, Race, Sexuality and Power - Fall 2018

Visit by Boukman Eksperyans 


Visiting Professors for 18/19 Academic Year

Casey Hayman completed his Ph.D. in English and American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research focuses on contemporary African American literature and popular culture. He particularly focuses on music, with emphasis on hip hop music and culture. He is particularly interested in the question of the continuing relevance of blackness as identity in the post-Civil Rights era--how and why does blackness continue to "matter" in the 21st century? He also examines, in his research and his teaching, the ways that contemporary black cultural creators engage with and make use of representations of "blackness" as they circulate in the cultural imaginary via mass-mediated technologies. His work has appeared in the African American Review, MELUS, The Massachusetts Review, and American Studies.

Jesse Nasta (PhD, Northwestern University; BA, Wesleyan University) specializes in the social and legal histories of slavery, emancipation, and African American mobility during the eight decades before the Civil War. His current manuscript project, “Making Slavery’s Borders, ”examines how ordinary people, black and white, enslaved and free, gradually gave force and meaning to Congress’s Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Although the Ordinance ostensibly banned slavery in the present-day Midwest, Nasta finds that it was the cross-border movement and the resulting legal claims of those present on the western frontier, especially of African Americans themselves, that made a slavery-free West a reality by the mid-19th century.  Dr. Nasta’s research has received support from the American Historical Association, the Illinois tate Historical Society, the Missouri State Archives, and from fellowships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History and Northwestern University’s Center for Historical Studies. He began his teaching, for which he received the Lacey Baldwin Smith Prize for Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, as a Ford Fellow in the Writing Programs at Wesleyan. His research on 19th-century African American history also began at Wesleyan University, where he wrote an honors thesis on the Leverett Beman Historic District, a pre-Civil War activist community of free, property-owning African Americans on what is now Wesleyan’s campus.


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Our Blog

Haitian Musicians Lead Drumming Workshop, Performance for Students

On Sept. 20-21, core members of the Grammy-nominated Haitian “roots” band Boukman Eksperyans, along with the band leaders’ son Paul Beaubrun (band leader of Zing Eksperyans), engaged with several groups on campus. Boukman, founded in 1978, is one of Haiti’s best-known bands and performs traditional Vodou rhythms with pop, reggae, and blues. After learning that the group…

Blackness, Race, Sexuality, Power Explored During AFAM’s 50th Anniversary

On Feb. 21, 1969, a group of brave students chained the doors shut to their Fisk Hall classroom and demanded that Wesleyan offer more support to its black community. As a result of this peaceful protest, Wesleyan established the Center for African American Studies, the Malcolm X House dormitory, and the black student union, Ujamaa.…

McAlister in The Conversation: For Some Catholics, It Is Demons That Taunt Priests with Sexual Desire

Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Elizabeth McAlister, professor of religion, writes about a lesser-known factor contributing to the abuse of children uncovered in the Catholic Church: In some strands of Catholic thought, priests…

Formerly Enslaved Woman Honored at 1820 Gravesite

On May 9, a group of students, faculty, and Middletown friends joined Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19 and Chief Ayanda Clarke ’99 in a spiritual commemoration ceremony to honor a woman, Silva Storms, who died in 1820 and was buried in the cemetery on Vine Street, across from the Beman Triangle. Research indicates she had been born in…
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