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Carmen Kynard: “Before I’ll Be a Slave, I’ll Be Buried in My Grave” - Narratives of Race, Resistance, and Language Learning in College Classrooms
WhenWednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, 4 – 5:30 p.m.
Campus locationOdegaard Undergraduate Library (OUG)
Campus room220
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsWriting Across Difference, a crossdisciplinary research cluster of the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

This presentation takes its inspiration from a critical moment in the history of Black collegiate life in the United States: 1925, when Black students at Fisk University became arguably the first college students to protest on-campus and off-campus racism in the United States as co-binding structures, rooting a Black insurgency on college campuses in community arts, new aesthetics, new information technologies, and new diasporic migrations. The erasure of such historical Black-student insurgency leaves us in a kind of vacuum where we forget the everyday processes of thinking and learning that intersect with longstanding visions of freedom and anti-racism work. We will look at collaborative/digital writing projects of multiracial college students today and read their contributions as part of a long, protracted vision for radical equality and democracy. In this way, the college writing classroom can be seen as a significant praxis and laboratory for multiracial students’ “freedom dreams.”

Carmen Kynard is Associate Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. She has taught high school with New York City public schools and the Coalition of Essential Schools, served as a writing program administrator, and worked as a teacher educator.  She has led numerous professional development projects on language, literacy, and learning, and has published in Harvard Educational Review, Changing English, College Composition and Communication, College English, Computers and Composition, Reading Research Quarterly, and Literacy and Composition Studies. Her book Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies, which won the 2015 James Britton Award, frames Black freedom as a 21st-century literacy movement. Her current projects focus on Black female college students’ literacies, Black feminist digital vernaculars, and Afro-digital humanities learning.

Respondent: Asao B. Inoue, Director of the University Writing Program and the Writing Center, University of Washington, Tacoma.

Organized by Writing Across Difference, a crossdisciplinary research cluster of the Simpson Center for the Humanities. Questions? Contact Megan Callow ( More information:

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