Era of Slavery, Era of Emancipation: A Reading/Discussion Group with Drs. Nicholas K. Githuku and Vanessa M. Holden

Era of Slavery, Era of Emancipation: A Reading/Discussion Group


Next session: Wed., May 5, 3 pm (ongoing)

Drs. Nicholas K. Githuku and Vanessa M. Holden

Sponsor:                        Department of History

Co-sponsor:                     UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program


Photos of Nicholas Githuku and Vanessa Holden looking straight ahead.

Dr. Daina Ramey Berry's "The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave, in the Buliding of a Nation," one of the readings to be discussed.

ONGOING; next date: Wed, May 5th, 3 to 4:30 or 5 pm

Please contact Dr. Nicholas Githuku for precise end time and all readings. Those interested may also contact Prof. Nicholas K. Githuku, or Prof. David Herzberg,


Wednesday, May 5th, 3 - 4:30/5 pm, "The Cost of National Reconciliation: Black Freedom and Sacrifice in the Era of Emancipation"

Wednesday May 19th, 3 - 4:30/5 pm, "Give Your Hands to the Struggle! Contemporary Resonances"

Era of Slavery, Era of Emancipation: Reading and Discussion Group

In 2020, we have witnessed right here in America, the very real dangers of sweeping under the rug crucial issues of historical injustice; systemic anomalies; socioeconomic inequalities coupled with lack of equal access to healthcare and educational opportunities; and mass incarceration, and gross racial bias in the justice system. It is important and necessary for academics in all disciplines to lead the way in responding, in a morally adequate way, to some of the challenges posed by America’s legacy of racism, colonialism, land theft, and white supremacy.

Although the list below is inadequate and incomplete, it presents such an opportunity for scholars to engage and discuss African American history. The history of Black people in the United States is one of many entry points for this discussion. We acknowledge Black history’s many points of intersection with Indigenous history, women’s, and gender history, the nation’s history of class and capitalism, and the much longer and diverse history of the African diaspora. Indeed, it is hoped that even more interesting readings and materials will be added onto the list as we read and discuss African American history together. In the meantime, members of faculty, staff, and students at SUNY UB are asked to read our selections monthly for an engaged moderated discussion.

UPDATED NOTE:  In light of the alarming events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and the unfolding incendiary political developments in Washington, DC, reading group planners have deemed it important to meet this volatile political atmosphere with the kind of deeply and well-thought out academic and op-ed material that presents interested readers with an opportunity to reflect deeply on matters of race, and other related pertinent issues that have riven and divided American society. As such, the outlined readings of the cultural, socioeconomic and political history of the US will start from the present working backwards by foregrounding the recent events at the beginning of 2021, by considering and critiquing the question of the double standards of the American 'riot' in historical perspective. The past does not always lie in the past, it does live right here with us in the present.


SPONSOR:  UB Department of History

CO-SPONSOR:  UB Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program

Speaker Bios and Affiliations

Photo of Dr. Nicholas Githuku looking straight ahead.

Dr. Nicholas K. Githuku

Nicholas K. Githuku, assistant professor of African History at York College (CUNY), is the author of Mau Mau Crucible of War: Statehood, National Identity, and Politics of Postcolonial Kenya. His work focuses on Eastern Africa in general, and contemporary political history of Kenya in particular. His research interests include the history of capitalism; British national and imperial history; the intricate, inescapable and dialectical link between power or government legitimacy and resistance in the generic African state; and military, and (colonial and postcolonial) legal, history.

Areas of Interest/Special Expertise:  History and evolution of the African state; philosophy of history; history of political ideas; human rights, development and democratic governance issues in Africa south of the Sahara; auto/biography theory and history; military history/evolution of international law of war (memory and memorialization of war).

PhD, African History, West Virginia University; Rotary International Mid-professional Certificate in Peace, Development and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok-Thailand; MA, Armed Conflict and Peace Studies (History), University of Nairobi; BA, Political Science & Public Administration and History, University of Nairobi

Photo of Prof. Vanessa M. Holden, smiling with glasses.

Dr. Vanessa M. Holden

Dr. Vanessa M. Holden is an assistant professor of History and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Holden’s current book project, tentatively titled, Surviving Southampton: Gender and Community the Southampton Rebellion of 1831 (University of Illinois Press), explores the contributions that African American women and children made to Nat Turner’s Rebellion. Her writing has been published in Slavery and AbolitionA Journal of Slave and Post-Slave StudiesPerspectives on History, Process: A Blog for American History, and The Rumpus. She also blogs for Black Perspectives and The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History. She co-organizes the Queering Slavery Working Group (#QSWG) with Jessica Marie Johnson (Johns Hopkins University). Dr. Holden serves as a faculty adviser on a number of public history and digital humanities projects including: Freedom on the Move (a digital archive of runaway slave adds); Black Horsemen of the Kentucky. 

Areas of Interest/Special Expertise: Interdisciplinary projects (arts/social sciences/African American Studies); public history/digital history; queer/LGBTQ history and studies.

PhD, African American and Women’s and Gender History, Rutgers University; BA, History and English, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College 


This presentation will be offered free of charge online.