The Africana Studies Program recently concluded its spring semester James Weldon Johnson Lecture Series . The series featured three presenters who lectured on a variety of topics relevant to Africana studies. This semester’s feature speakers included sociologist and UCF professor Dr. Jonathan Cox, UCF history professors Dr. Ezekiel Walker and Dr. Fon Gordon.
Each year, the lecture series covers topics relating to relevant to Africana Studies. Dr. Cox explored the differences and similarities of racial identities and perceptions between black students. Titled “Black on Both Sides: Back Racial Identities and Perceptions Between Black Students at Historically Black and Predominantly White Institutions,” Dr. Cox spoke of the plurality of identities that exist within the black race.
Dr. Walker presented “The Crisis of Decolonizing in the Belgian Congo.” Through this lecture, he explored the post-independent conflicts in the Congo, culminating the Congo Crisis. The crisis, which continued until 1965, created a flashpoint in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The series concluded with a lecture by Dr. Gordon titled “100 Years of Gasoline Alley: Race, Cars and American Modernity, 1918-2018.” Gasoline Alley, the comic strip created by Frank O. King (1883- 1969), was part of an expansion of car culture that emerged in response to the national popularity of the automobile by 1920. In the series’ last lecture of the semester, Dr. Gordon speaks of the automobile and how it emerged within an ethos of American imperialism.