Skip to Content

Department of English & Language Arts

Nick Aaron Ford and Waters Edward Turpin Symposium on African-American Literature

"The need to make education completely honest, representative of all aspects of American culture, and relevant to the realities of modern life demands that Black Studies become an intricate part of the curriculum at all levels. A national educational program which allows a student to pass through kindergarten, elementary school, high school, and university without learning a single note-worthy fact about the culture and individual achievements of black Americans, who comprise the largest minority of the nation, is indefensible. Yet that has been a fact of American life since the founding of the nation."

-Nick Aaron Ford, Black Studies: Threat-or-Challenge

A Tradition of Celebrating and Preserving African American Literature

In recognition of its 75th Anniversary Celebration (1933-2008), the Department reinstituted its annual Nick Aaron Ford - Waters Edward Turpin Symposium on African-American Literature. These two towering figures in the department were benchmarks in Morgan's great literary tradition. The First Annual Nick Aaron Ford and Waters Edward Turpin Symposium on African-American Literature, spearheaded by Dr. Burney J. Hollis, Chairperson, was held on the campus of Morgan State University on April 8-9, 1983. It highlighted the theme "Preserving the Literary Tradition of Black Colleges and Universities," published as Swords Upon This Hill: Preserving the Literary Tradition of Black Colleges and Universities, edited by Burney J. Hollis (Morgan State University Press, 1984). Dr. Andrew Billingsley was President.

The 2018 Ford-Turpin Symposium

October 25, 2018
University Student Center Theater
Morgan State University

Session I: Graduate Student Panel
Graduate Student Panel

  • Dr. Julie Cary Conger, Coordinator of Graduate Studies
  • Looking Back and Wondering How We Got Over: A Migration Story - Memoir and Memory by Juanita Gilliam, Doctoral Student
  • The Power Struggle between Wench and Master by Yeve Montgomery, Doctoral Student
  • A Rationale of the Irrational: Representations of Black Men in 20th-Century Black Literature by Jacquetta Hunter, Doctoral Student

Session II: Keynote Address
African American Literature in the Twenty-first Century by Dr. DaMaris B. Hill (M.A., '05 & B.A., '99) University of Kentucky

The 2017 Ford-Turpin Symposium

Thursday, October 26, 2017
University Student Center
Theatre & Ballroom

Keynote Address, 11 a.m.: Dr. Lawrence P. Jackson, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and History, at Johns Hopkins University will deliver the keynote address entitled "From Post War to Cold War: Black Critics and Novelists of the 1950s."

Luncheon Address, 12:30 p.m.: Dr. Burney J. Hollis, Professor of English and Dean Emeritus, will deliver the keynote address at the luncheon (by invitation only) entitled "Waters Edward Turpin and the Morgan Literary Tradition."

Poetry Slam, 2 p.m.: Presented by MSU Poets

The 2016 Ford-Turpin Symposium

27 October, 2016
10 a.m. - Noon
University Student Center Theater

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin
Presiding, Dr. Dolan Hubbard
Chairperson of the Department of English and Language Arts

SESSION I: Emergent Critical Voices

Faculty and Graduate Students Discuss Their Research
Dr. Joy Myree-Mainor
Coordinator of Graduate Studies

"Barren by Choice - A Sacrifice: The Women of Angelina Weld Grimké's Rachel: A Play in Three Acts" by Tyrone Stanley

"Re-claiming and Re-thinking Home: Four African-American Women's Perspectives Toni Morrison, Lorraine Hansberry, Anita Hill, and bell hooks" by Charlotte Teague

"Can I Be Sexy and Powerful? Analyzing Female Sexuality in Shine, Coconut Moon, and A Wish after Midnight" by Dolphia Butler

SESSION II: Keynote Address

"In Pursuit of Justice and Grace-Reflections on the African-American Literary Tradition"
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies Columbia University

 Farah Jasmine Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies at ColumbiaUniversity. She also serves as Program Director for The Schomburg Center's Scholars-in-Residence Program. Professor Griffin received her B.A. from Harvard, where she majored in American History and Literature and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale. Her major fields of interest are American and African American literature, music, and history. She has published widely on issues of race and gender, feminism and cultural politics. Griffin is the author of Who Set You Flowin?: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001) andco-author, with Salim Washington, ofClawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008). She is also the editor ofBeloved Sisters and Loving Friends: Letters from Addie Brown and Rebecca Primus (Knopf, 1999) co-editor, with Cheryl Fish, of Stranger in the Village: Two Centuries of African American Travel Writing (Beacon, 1998) and co-editor with Brent Edwards and Robert O'Meally of Uptown Conversations: The New Jazz Studies(Columbia University Press, 2004). Her most recent book, Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II, was published by Basic Books in 2013.

Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper's Bazaar, Art Forum and numerous other publications. She is also a frequent radio commentator on political and cultural issues.

Professor Griffin is the former Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University