AAAS Program to release Special Issue this September

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The African and African American Studies (AAAS) Program plans to release a Special Issue titled “The 2020 Project” later this September to commemorate the current global call for justice and equality of Black people. AAAS received submissions from Stanford’s Black community, and the deadline for submissions was Aug. 1.

The publication is a collection of art, photography, prose, music and essays. Kimberly McNair is part of the issue’s editing team, as well as a postdoctoral fellow in both history and AAAS. She told The Daily that the idea came about when the AAAS Advisory Board was discussing the changes happening on campus due to COVID-19 and the recent surge of demonstrations all over the country. 

“I suggested that we curate a Special Issue focused on both the virus and state-sanctioned violence targeting Black people as dual pandemics and matters of public health,” McNair said. 

Current AAAS faculty director Arnetha Ball immediately supported the idea and soon after, Hadiya Sewer, an AAAS research fellow, was brought onto the project as the third co-editor. 

“I got involved, in part, because I hope that the act of crafting a Special Issue might help to concretrize our commitment to eradicating the persistent legacies of anti-Blackness at Stanford and in the wider nation of the world,” Sewer said. 

She added that it was, “important to highlight and archive the Black Stanford perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and global uprisings because it offers a space for community building, mourning and visioning that can help us create the just world we desire.”

With the recent deaths of U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rev. C.T. Vivian, two prominent figures of the civil rights movement, McNair said that this project carries a lot of significance. Art comes in many forms and provides a perspective, as well as documentation, that may differentiate from how we usually recall historical events.

“This collection would be but a small sample of the artistic and intellectual arms of the BLM movement. I believe that we all — including those who don’t see themselves as artists — can be intentional about using our voice and our platforms in the service of Black liberation,” McNair said. 

Through the release of this Special Issue, they hope to demonstrate how critical the presence of AAAS as a field of study is on campus and that it encourages other universities to conduct similar projects in the future. 

The possibility of a follow-up after the project’s launch in fall-quarter is still up in the air.

Contact Gabriela Calvillo at gabrielacalvillo1019 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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Gabriela Calvillo is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop.