The final lecture of this year’s Elizabeth Allen Visiting Alumni Speakers in Art History Lecture Series features Freida High Wsikhongo Tesfagiorgis’ [MFA ’71] talk: A Sankofa Moment in 2019: The Impact of The Black Arts Movement On Diversity in Art History and Museums in the New Millennium, Wednesday, April 24 at 5 p.m. in room 103 of Jack Arends Hall the visual arts building on the NIU main campus.
In this new millennium, major museums, universities, and other institutions in the USA are diversifying leadership positions in the volatile context of #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, and multiple movements that challenge discrimination. Five decades ago, radical Black artists, art historians, students, and others launched new artworks, coalitions, exhibits, galleries, publications, and forums, while protesting against artworld racism/sexism in conjunction with the Black Power, Brown Power, Feminist, Gay/Lesbian, anti-war, anti-colonial, and student movements for Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and Ethnic Studies. As in the Ghanaian proverb, Sankofa, that stresses the value of going back to fetch history while moving forward, this talk examines aspects of arts activism and Black student movements that launched the art and history of Black artists in the late 1960s and beyond. The ultimate aim of diversity discourses and actions across time and place are the eradication of the systemic racialized tradition of white male privilege, so as to represent the reality of a historically diversified America.