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For diasporic and continental African people, the apocalypse or maafa, a Swahili term that highlights horrific atrocities beginning with European contact, the trans-Atlantic slave trade colonialism, and continues in multiple contemporary forms of institutional racism and the proliferation of white privilege. To survive and thrive, Africans have always embraced a future vision where their descendants stood self-determined and freely shaping an empowered destiny. While Mark Dery coined Afrofuturism in his 1994 article “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany and Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose,” people from ancient African civilizations to contemporary global communities have embodied the concept and produced lasting cultural, scientific, social, political, philosophical, and historical contributions to humanity. Without an unyielding commitment to thriving and nurturing their vast imagination, displaced African could not have flourished as they have.
The Department of Africana Studies’ 39th Annual Black World Conference theme, Afrofuturism: A Daily Lived Experience, encourages conference presenters and attendees to consider how continuously creating a Black future is a daily lived experience. Artists Autumn T. Thomas and Thomas “Detour” Evans open our exploration demonstrating how artists serve as a crucible for Afrofuturism when they create work that uses abstraction and realism. Africana writers constantly till fertile soil for futurism to germinate throughout the Black world. In contemporary times, Octavia E. Butler’s literary legacy has not only ensured that people of color, particularly Africana people, have a place in imaginative futures and multiple galaxies. Dr. Ayana Jamieson, the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network founder and director, will deliver the keynote address. In Butler’s relentless attempt to prevent humanity’s progress towards a dystopic world steeped in racism, classism, sexism, and ableism, she will discuss how Butler wrote cautionary narratives, encouraging futurism, particularly Afrofuturism, as a daily practice. Alumnae Mattye L. Crowley and Chandell “Schye” Bell, along with mixed media studio artists and art educators Holly Kai Hurd and Adrienne “Adri” Norris, conclude this year’s conference by engaging in a dialogue with Dr. Judy Strathearn that highlights how their activism reflects Butler’s legacy as well as their individual and communal commitment a vast and sustainable Black future.