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Black Ecologies Week

Black Ecologies Week at UT

The UT Humanities Center is proud to organize "Black Ecologies Week” this spring, March 7-12, 2022, with University of Tennessee departments and community partners. This week-long series of events will feature vibrant cross-campus, community-oriented, and interdisciplinary conversations that investigate environmental issues in relation to Black life today. Incorporating literature, history, cultural studies, media, performance, and political analysis, the week’s events will offer important inroads to cross-cultural conversation, consideration of ecological issues in relation to social justice, and educational opportunities for students and life-long learners throughout the region. 

The Humanities Center is excited to incorporate as many voices as possible in "Black Ecologies Week," enriching important and exciting conversations at the intersection of environmentalism and social justice, particularly in relation to rivers and waterways. Currently partners include

  • The UT Humanities Center
  • UT Africana Studies
  • Black in Appalachia
  • Clarence Brown Theatre and UT Department of Theatre
  • UT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • UT Department of English
  • UT Department of Geography
  • UT Libraries
  • Department of Political Science
  • UT Department of Sociology
  • UT Women and Gender Studies IDP
  • National partners: Furman University,  University of California Irvine, University of Minnesota, University of Utah, and York University

The UT Humanities Center will host a symposium, “Just Environments: Rivers and Waterways,” on March 10, 2022 as part of Black Ecologies Week.

– Amy J. Elias, Director, UT Humanities Center

“Black Ecologies Week” Schedule




Monday, February 21
2-3:30 p.m. via
Zoom Registration

Dr. Julien Agyeman , “Just Sustainabilities in Policy, Planning and Practice”

Christina Ergas, Department of Sociology

March 4-13
7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; 2:00 p.m. matinees (Sundays only)

LAB Theater, UT

Clarence Brown Theatre production of Blood at the Root
by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Tracey Copeland Halter

Tickets Click Here


Monday, March 7,
4-5:30 p.m. via Zoom Registration

A Sharecropper’s Dream: A Look into the Legacy of Black Farmers

Voices Unheard VA- Family Ties

Dr. John Boyd Talks The History of Black Farmers

DeLisa Hawkes, Africana Studies

 Shayla Nunnally, Africana Studies  


Film screening on UTK campus: film River Lines and film shorts by Natalie Diaz and Saretta Morgan

Amy Elias, UT Humanities Center

Tuesday, March 8
11:00 am-12:30 pm via Zoom Registration

“Sustainable Urban Water and Energy Politics: A Conversation with UT Professors Nikki Luke and Jon Hathaway”

Dominique Joyner, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,

Tuesday, March 8, 3:30 pm via Zoom Registration

Virtual Lunch and Lecture with Tiffany Lethabo King

Tiffany Lethabo King, University of Virginia and author of The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies (Duke University Press, 2020)

Patrick Grzanka UTK Women and Gender Studies IDP

DeLisa Hawkes, Africana Studies

Wednesday, March 9

Live at UT Student Union, Room 169

Livestream to YouTube

Black in Appalachia: Day Event at UTK

Sierra Club’s Holston River Banner Exhibit & Tabling
10am – 4pm: Hodges Library, 2nd Floor

“Environmental Justice in Appalachia”
Pam Nixon (People Concerned About Chemical Safety) with Dr. Enkeshi El-Amin & Pumpkin Starr
11am – 12:30pm: Student Union Building, Room 169

“Race, Place, & Conversation (with Wild Birds)”
J. Drew Lanham (Clemson University) with Dr. Enkeshi El-Amin & Pumpkin Starr
2 – 3:30pm: Student Union Building, Room 169

William Isom, Director, Black in Appalachia

University of Tennessee Humanities Center

Wednesday, March 9,
7-8:15 pm, Zoom Registration

Dr. William Turner, ““Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns”

Moderated by William Isom, Director, Black in Appalachia

Shayla Nunnally, Africana Studies

Thursday, March 10, 9am-4pm via Zoom

Symposium Website


UT Humanities Center One-Day Symposium
 “Just Environments: Rivers and Waterways”

9:00 am, Kevin Dawson, “Buried Beneath the Sea: Life and Death in the Slave Ship’s Wake”
Webinar link

11:00 am,  J.T. Roane, “Black Ecologies, Subaquatic Life, and the Jim Crow Enclosure of the Tidewater”
Webinar Link

1:00 pm, Reading by Cornelius Eady, Poet
Webinar Link

3:00 pm, Natalie Diaz  and Saretta Morgan , “Nyumuuhank: we see each other: holding across bodies of land and water”
Webinar Link

Amy Elias, UT Humanities Center director
Jeffrey Amos, UT Humanities Center GRA


Thursday, March 10,

4:45 pm


Colloquium Talk
Discussion with J.T. Roane and Geography Department (open to invited UT students and faculty)

Nikki Luke, Dept. of Geography,
Derek Alderman, Dept. of Geography,


Friday, March 11,
5:30-7:00 p.m.
Natalie Haslam Music Building; Orchestra Room

Limited Attendance, please RSVP

To purchase tickets for the performance of Blood at the Root, following the discussion please call the Box Office at 865-974-5161 and mention this event.


Reception and Discussion
Blood at the Root: The Legacy of Race, Violence, and the Jenna Six

Reception and panel discussion recounting the history of race and violence in Knoxville and the Jena Six—featuring panelists Rev. Reneé Kesler, President, The Beck Cultural Exchange Center and Africana Studies head, Shayla C. Nunnally Violette, and Faculty, Professor Darrell Kefentse, Moderator, and Clarence Brown Theatre director Tracey Copeland Halter.

Department of Theatre, Hana Sherman,

Africana Studies, Shayla Nunnally,  


Online Project

Free and open to the public


Research Showcase

UTHC “Just Environments” Research Seminar Digital Poster Presentation

A digital poster presentation of research by UTK faculty and PhD students working on environmental racism, Black Ecologies, and rivers and waterways in relation to environmental justice.

Nikki Luke
Becky Jacobs
Maria Stehle
Matt Brauer
Jeffrey Amos

Maria Stehle, (Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Just Environments Research Seminar convener)



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