Black Lives Matter Speaker Series

The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina Upstate will host a speaker series on 21st century race relations entitled “Black Lives Matter” this fall. This series is a collaborative effort among USC Upstate, the Chapman Cultural Center, the Urban League of the Upstate, and Spoken Word Spartanburg. SC Humanities supported this project with a Major Grant in February 2015.

Coined by Alicia Garza as a Twitter hashtag in 2012, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” originally responded to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Over the past three years, it has provided a unifying thread for protestors addressing a pattern of violence against the black community and for university lecture series across the nation.

“We believe education is necessary to lessen these incidents,” said Dr. Harris, professor of History and African American Studies. “There are some who hear the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ and presume it means black lives matter more than all others. In reality it expresses the opposite—the feeling that all other lives seem to matter more than black lives. We want to help the public understand why that sentiment exists.”

The Black Lives Matter Speaker Series includes the following programs:

Thursday, Sept. 24, 6 p.m., Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom, USC Upstate
Dr. Tricia Rose            “Making Black Lives Matter”
Rose, an internationally respected scholar of post-civil rights era Black U.S. culture, popular music, social issues, gender and sexuality, will offer insights on the history of Black community-building in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century America. Rose has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and other national and local media outlets.

Thursday, Oct. 1, 6 p.m., Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom, USC Upstate
Dr. Brittney Cooper    “#SayHerName: Toward A Gender-Inclusive Movement for Black Lives”
Cooper, an assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Africana studies at Rutgers University, will offer perspectives on the intersection of race and gender, noting especially the muted recognition of Black women victims of state violence.

Thursday, Oct. 8, 6 p.m., Chapman Cultural Center Theater
Dr. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva      “Racism in Post-Racial Times”
Bonilla-Silva, professor and chair of sociology at Duke University, will address the complexity of racial politics in a society that frequently espouses “color-blindness.” Trained primarily in class analysis, political sociology, and globalization, his recent work has focused on race, citizenship, whiteness, and the Obama administration.

Thursday, Nov. 19, 6 p.m., Sansbury Campus Life Center Ballroom, USC Upstate
Facilitated By Marlanda Dekine         Speaking Down Barriers at Upstate: Community Dialogue”
Dekine, a Licensed Master Social Worker, spoken word poet, and community organizer in Spartanburg and Greenville, has developed a nonprofit organization called Speaking Down Barriers that facilitates effective, honest community dialogue on race and racism and offers intensive anti-racism training to community citizens, leaders, and students.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Esther Godfrey, interim director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, at (864) 503-5602 or or visit the website at

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 23-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state.  It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.