Every Picture Tells a Story
Using a provocative combination of literature and imagery, Washington College students and associate professor of English Alisha Knight invite the public to Sumner Hall to consider contemporary stereotypes of black men and how literature and images either undermine or perpetuate those stereotypes.
Can a face be read like the cover of a book? When it comes to black men in America, many have answered “yes” and been disastrously wrong. Join students from Washington College and Associate Professor of English and American Studies Alisha Knight for a discussion and gallery walk that examines contemporary black male images including those of entertainers (like Bill “Bojangles” Robinson), politicians (like Ben Carson, renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate), athletes (like Tiger Woods), and actors (like Samuel Jackson).
This event is free and open to the public and will take place in Sumner Hall (G.A.R. Post #25), 206 S. Queen Street, Chestertown, on Saturday, April 30. At 10 a.m., Knight will give a mini-lecture to provide background about the most pervasive stereotypes of black men. The gallery walk will follow and continue until noon.
The gallery is made up of the final presentations from an upper-level English class, “Black Men: Images of Race and Gender in American Literature and Culture.” Students analyzed black masculinity in American literature, print culture, and the media, first “reading” stereotypical images of black men in print and non-print materials, and then analyzing the treatment of that stereotype in pieces of literature. Guests at the gallery walk will have a chance to talk to students about the images they chose to analyze and consider whether or not the images either undermine or perpetuate stereotypes of black men.
“The setting and informal format of this gallery walk can help facilitate important dialogues about race and racism and show how the past continues to influence the present,” says Knight. “I hope this event will heighten the community’s awareness of contemporary stereotypes and make a progressive step toward social change.”
This event is sponsored by the generosity of the Washington College English Department’s Ellen T. Thawley Fund. The location, Sumner Hall, also known as Centennial Hall, was built in 1908 by African American veterans of the Civil War and served as a gathering place for veterans of the U.S. Colored Troops. It now serves as a museum to tell the story of African American troops in the American Civil War.