Griot Institute to host Opening Celebration this weekend


Griot Opening (2019) – Maddie Hamilton / The Bucknellian

Bridgette Simpson, News Content Editor

Classes are in full-swing, and now campus organizations are kicking off their events too.

The Griot Institute for the Study of Black Lives & Cultures will be holding their annual Opening Event on the Science Quad this Saturday from 12–2 p.m. to commemorate the new academic year and return to campus. 

The event will host drummers and dancers from the Soul in Motion African Dance and Drum Ensemble in addition to food, in-person conversations, and information about this year’s Griot Institute events.

Professor Jaye Austin Williams, Interim Chair of Critical Black Studies and member of the advisory board for the Griot Institute, explained the importance of the event in developing the relationship between the Griot Institute and the University’s Critical Black Studies Department. Together, the two communities uplift, celebrate, and educate about Black lives and cultures. 

“The Department of Critical Black Studies, which is its own separate entity, follows concerns of having a conversation with the Griot Institute around that aspect of Black life that is concerned with the myriad of conditions that still face Black people globally,” Williams said. “So there’s definitely a conversation to be had there.”

This opening event reflects the hard work and consideration deliberated all last year by the advisory board along with Michelle Lauver, Manager of Griot Programs, and Carol White, Interim Director of the Griot Institute.

“My understanding of this Saturday’s event at the Griot… it’s been going on since the beginning, since the founding director, the late Carmen Gillespie, envisioned this whole idea where people come together. There are performances; there are a number of speakers,” Williams said.

“Scholars, people out in the field, scholar activists, artist activists, who are at this kind of intersection of culture and political activism… around issues that contemporary black people face all around the globe,” she added. 

The Griot Institute normally offers spring courses with a series of speakers who are invited to campus. 

“This year, what’s different is that there won’t be a course as the Griot is on partial hiatus, as it continues to regroup and produce additional programming, but we will continue to have speakers come in the spring,” Williams said.

More about the Griot Institute Opening Celebration happening on Sept. 10 at 12 p.m. can be found on the organization’s website, and additional information about the Critical Black Studies Department can be found on the University’s website.

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