Scholar and activist Robin D.G. Kelley, in his Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (2002), conceptualizes “visions fashioned by … Black activists who proposed a different way of our constructions” as “freedom dreams” that “tap the well of [Black] collective imaginations” in order to posit a transformed political society (xii). And Still We Rise (re)discovers Black activists, politicians, writers, and musicians who have brought their own visions to the SUNY Plattsburgh campus in the years 1963-1998.
This semester, our African-American Political Thought course has explored, among other themes, slavery in America, abolitionist movements, Black perspectives on Reconstruction and Jim Crow, civil rights and Black power struggles in the 20th century, Black feminism, Black cultural production, and contemporary interrogations of antiblack racism. Black politics and culture teaches us—among many other lessons—that theory is not separated from life experience, and that abstract thought should not be dissociated from the practice of social transformation. And Still We Rise works to affirm the spirit of this insight. With the exhibit, we turn our collective analysis in the classroom outward to the campus as a whole, reviving and making visible glimpses of iconic Black freedom dreams that have at some point animated the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.
At a time when our campus—and, to be sure, the country more broadly—is compelled to reexamine its relationship to antiblack racism, And Still We Rise testifies to Black pasts, presents, and possible futures at SUNY Plattsburgh. It can constitute, we hope, one impetus among many for an active, self-reflective pursuit of racial and social justice, a pursuit grounded in Black experiences. This is an exhibit that centers Black life on campus and that asserts that Black lives do matter. As you engage with the histories presented here, we invite you to consider the visions and dreams for the events, conversations, commitments, actions, collectivities, and imaginations that And Still We Rise can impart.
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Archival research / PSC 371 students, Debra Kimok, Timothy Hartnett, Joshua Beatty, Mike Burgess
Design / PSC 371 students, Sydni Reubin
Layout / PSC 371 students, Debra Kimok, Timothy Hartnett, Sydni Reubin
Exhibit media station / Eric Laesing, Timothy Hartnett, Joshua Beatty
Online exhibit / Joshua Beatty