From the Bard Graduate Center:
Mabel O. Wilson, Associate Professor, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and appointed Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies, will give an overview of her research on black participation in world’s fairs.
Navigating through the fairgrounds of the large international expositions staged in the cities of Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, Buffalo, Charleston, Jamestown, and Paris, France, Wilson will examine African-American participation at the great world’s fairs. Along with these large mainstream fairs, it is important to peruse the aisles of the expositions organized by black Americans to commemorate their hard-fought struggle to gain freedom from enslavement. These Emancipation Expositions beginning in 1913 through the 1960s happened in cities with growing black populations—Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago, and Detroit. How did World’s Fairs and Emancipation Expositions serve as counter-public spheres for black Americans during the era of Jim Crow segregation? What can we learn from how black Americans built or claimed spaces to reimagine their national belonging and share a collective memory of their past?