MacArthur Fellow to give Krieger Lecture on 19th-Century Black political organizing

MacArthur Fellow P. Gabrielle Foreman will give the annual Krieger Lecture in American Political Culture. Her talk, “Why Didn’t We Know?!: The Forgotten History of the Colored Conventions and 19th-Century Black Political Organizing,” will focus on the history of 19th century Black activism.

The lecture is scheduled to take place in-person on May 2 at 5 p.m. in Kaufmann Auditorium (G64) in Goldwin Smith Hall. It is free and open to the public.

“We are so thrilled to be able to engage with this generous and creative intellectual at Cornell,” said Shirley Samuels, director of American Studies and Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We anticipate that students will also be inspired by her presence.”

Foreman is a professor of English, African American Studies, and History at Penn State University. Her MacArthur, also known as the “Genius Grant,” was awarded based upon the  breadth of her portfolio as a literary historian and digital humanist. Widely known as the founder of the Colored Conventions Project (CCP), Foreman worked with a diverse group of faculty and students to build a digital repository for nineteenth-century Convention records. According to the MacArthur Foundation, “CCP enacts Foreman’s vision of collaboration and recreates the collectivism that characterized the conventions themselves.”

Foreman’s latest work, the edited volume “Praise Songs for Dave the Potter: Art and Poetry for David Drake” (2023), presents the artistic legacy of what she calls one of the most innovative and underappreciated enslaved poets  of  nineteenth century United States. Copies for sale will be available at the Cornell Store during Foreman’s visit to Ithaca.

Other scholarly works by Foreman include ”Activist Sentiments: Reading Black Women in the Nineteenth Century”  and the co-edited volume ”The Colored Conventions Movement: Black Organizing in the Nineteenth Century.”

The Krieger Lecture is sponsored by the American Studies Program and was endowed by Sanford ‘65 and Carol Krieger in 2000.

Melissa Totman is program manager for the American Studies Program.


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