by Pete Rosenbery
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Father Joseph Brown, professor and director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Africana and Multicultural Studies, is the keynote speaker for this spring’s Michael and Nancy Glassman Lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Brown will present “Sankofa: Let the songs of the ancestors teach us to fly.” The free, public talk and reception will be from 5-7:30 p.m. in the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater in the Communications Building, Room 1045. The lecture will also be available via Zoom; registration is available.
Presented by the University Honors Program, Brown’s talk will be interspersed with dances by Darryl K. Clark, associate professor in the School of Theater and Dance, and visiting artist Dominique Atwood, an instructor of dance in Loyola University Chicago’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts. The program is presented in collaboration with SIU Carbondale’s College of Arts and Media and the College of Liberal Arts.
Brown’s presentation fits with the honors program’s “Cosmos and Culture” theme, said Jyotsna Kapur, University Honors Program director.
She explained that Sankofa (san-kofa) is an Akan word (part of the Ashanti tribe from West Africa) “that means we must go back to retrieve the past to live in the present. It is symbolized as a bird.”
Brown “will lead us to consider the profound meaning of and struggle to memorialize ancestors as a lesson we learn from the Black spiritual tradition and its imagination of the cosmos,” Kapur said.
Brown has been with SIU Carbondale since 1997, when he began as an associate professor and director of the then-Black American Studies Program before being promoted to professor in 2000. A native of East St. Louis, Brown was ordained into the priesthood in 1972. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Louis University and a master’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University. He also holds a master’s degree in Afro-American studies and doctorate in American studies from Yale University.
In 2023, Brown was one of two inaugural recipients of the Southern Illinois University System’s Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lifetime Achievement Award. The SIU Board of Trustees recently renamed the award the Dr. Wesley G. Robinson-McNeese ADEI Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes staff and faculty members whose careers include generally 20 years or more of documented service and advocacy in ADEI initiatives that result in greater justice and belonging for all in the SIU community.
The Michael and Nancy Glassman Lecturer Series was established by Michael and Nancy Glassman. They met while they were students at SIU Carbondale and have continued their support of the university by establishing the lecture series.