In conjunction with the affecting and critically lauded photography
exhibit currently on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. National
Historic Site, Emory will host the wide-ranging conference, “Lynching
and Racial Violence in America: Histories and Legacies,” Oct.
The conference will bring more than 90 academics and historians
from around the world to the University for a conversation from
many angles about lynching in the United States and how that unpleasant
period in the country’s history can still influence racial
The conference is the largest to take place at Emory since the Reconciliation
Symposium of January 2001, and in some ways that gathering helped
make “Lynching and Racial Violence” possible.
“This whole series of presentations is part of the what was
seeded by the Reconciliation Symposium,” said Jody Usher,
assistant to the president for special projects and one of three
staff members who worked with the conference organization committee.
That 10-person committee—led by Rudolph Byrd, associate professor
of American studies—worked for a year to put the conference
here for Byrd's perspective.)
Most of the events will be held in the Emory Conference Center Hotel,
but one panel will journey to the King Center, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.
for a viewing of the “Without Sanctuary” exhibition,
followed by a critique at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Included among
the respondents at that event will be James Allen, whose photo collection
makes up the core of the King Center exhibit.
Shuttles will be running to the King Center the afternoon of Oct.
3, as well, just prior to the official opening of the conference
that evening. There, visitors will be able to view the photographs
as well as screenings of the films Ida B. Wells: A Passion for
Justice and Strange Fruit.
Delivering the keynote address at 8 p.m., Oct. 3, in WHSCAB auditorium
will be David Levering Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr. University
Professor in the history department of Rutgers University. Lewis
is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, having received the award for
both volumes of a biographical series he wrote on W.E.B. DuBois.
A book-signing will follow the address.
“It’s been exciting receiving feedback from the scholars,
many of whom work in isolation,” Usher said. “The sense
of community among people who do this work is amazing to me.”
In tandem with the conference, Druid Hills Bookstore will be holding
a special sale of books written by conference presenters.
A total of 25 panel discussions are spread out over the weekend.
Most are specifically geared toward lynching, but many address the
wider issue of race in general.
Several Emory faculty members are participating: Leslie Harris,
associate professor of history will chair “The Gendered Politics
of Lynching”; Abdullahi An-Na’im, Charles Howard Candler
Professor of Law will chair “International Perspectives on
Lynching and Genocide”; Leroy Davis, associate professor of
history, will chair “Racial Violence Outside the South”;
Lawrence Jackson, assistant professor of English, will chair “Artistic
Responses to Lynching and Racial Violence”; and James Roark,
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History, will chair “Southern
Lynching: Case Studies.”
The conference includes more than panel discussions or speeches.
On Saturday, Oct. 5, at 8 p.m. in Cannon Chapel, a theater performance
called “Lynch P*in” will be presented.
The concept by Yvonne Singh, visiting professor of theater studies
and African American studies, is a multimedia presentation that
will incorporate film, video and stage performance to tell the story
of the exhibit.
To close the weekend, on Oct. 6 at 11 a.m. Bishop Margaret Kässmann
of the Lutheran Church of Hanover, Germany will lead an interfaith
Including presenters, between 200–400 attendees are expected
for the conference. While some events (such as the keynote speech
and the arts presentations) are open to the public, registration
is required for the panels. Fees are $60 per person and $15 for
students with a valid ID, and registration will be accepted throughout
For more information and to view the complete conference schedule,
visit its website at www.emory.edu/WithoutSanctuaryExhibit/conference.html.