Dr. Zinga Fraser Presents on Representatives Chisholm and Jordan at Columbia University
Dr. Zinga Fraser joined an assembly of experts in the field of Africana Studies to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Institute of African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University.
Dr. Fraser was as a major participant in the first day of the conference, serving as a co-organizer of the event as well as the moderator of its opening roundtable discussion, From Theory to Praxis, Black Studies Beyond the Academy. Additionally, she gave a presentation during the second session of the conference, Intellectual Legacies of IRAAS Scholarship. Prof, Fraser presented on the transformative political work of pioneering congresswomen Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan.
The conference, entitled Free To Be Anywhere In the Universe–An International Conference on New Directions in the Study of the African Diaspora was organized by Dr. Fraser and her colleagues to reflect on the history of (IRAAS) and envision the future of African Diasporan research and public engagement. The Institute was founded in 1993 by the late Dr. Manning Marable. Dr. Fraser, who studied with Professor Marable as one of his students, received her Master’s degree at IRAAS and currently serves as Co-Chair of its Alumni Council.
For the opening Roundtable, she was joined by the following IRAAS alumni: Prof. Zaheer Ali of the Brooklyn Historical Society; Ms. Natasha Korgaonkar (Columbia University); Prof. Meghan Marcelin of Just LeadershipUSA; Mr. David Johns of the National Black Justice Coalition; and Prof. Carmen Thompson (Portland State University).
The participants Roundtable [from left]:Marcelin, Ali, Professor Farah Griffin (IRAAS Director) Korgaonkar; Thompson; Fraser; and Johns
Along with her fellow alumni, Dr. Fraser gave a presentation at thge second panel of the day. Her talk was entitled, “Black Congressional Women’s Freedom Dreams: Redefining American Democracy.” During the presentation, she discussed the profound impact of the first Black women elected to U.S. Congress, their “refusal to be invisible,” as well as their struggle to contend with “everyday attacks on their humanity.”
Professor Fraser [center] giving her presentation, alongside Prof. Bruce [left] and Prof. Rickford [right].
Jordan and Chisholm, she told the audience, “strategically used the House floor, podiums, committee rooms…and dining halls to confront its members on sexism, racism and misogyny.” Unlike their foremothers who had to fight for freedom from the margins and “behind the scenes,” Chisholm and Jordan, according to Fraser, too up the challenge of bringing the freedom struggle directly into the formal halls of political power.
Being among the nation’s foremost experts in African American history, politics and congressional Black women, Dr. Fraser has already written extensively on these two phenomenal figures including articles such as ‘‘The Political Genius of Black Women”and “The Politics of Trauma: Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm’s Political Lives.” Furthermore, she is currently working on a highly-anticipated manuscript Sister Insider/ Sister Outsider: Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan Black Women’s Politics in the Post-Civil Rights Era, which will go further into depth about Chisholm and Jordan’s role in forcing American democracy to change for the better.
On Thursday, Prof. Russell Rickford (Cornell University), Prof. La Marr Bruce (University of Maryland) and Prof. Natalie Shibley (University of Pennsylvania) also joined Prof. Fraser in speaking on their current research projects.
The participants of [from left]: Professors Griffin; Bruce; Fraser; Shibley and Rickford.
If you are interested in learning more about the work of IRAAS, the development of the new African American and African Diaspora Studies Department at Columbia, or the work of Dr. Fraser, please visit the following websites:
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