Annual Event

Since its establishment in 2017-2018, the Humanities Institute has hosted an annual lecture each spring to celebrate and interrogate the work of the humanities. In 2018-2019 we introduced an Alumni Award, given to a Penn State graduate who has made a significant impact in the humanities.         

Annual Event Honoring Dr. V.P. Franklin

Headshot of V.P. Franklin.

Thursday, April 14 at 4:00 P.M.

During this event, Dr. Franklin was presented with our 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award (delayed due to pandemic circumstances), and delivered our annual “Celebrate the Humanities” lecture as well. Additionally, we celebrated the donation of Dr. Franklin’s papers to the Penn State Libraries.

V.P. Franklin, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and Education at the University of California, Riverside.

Biography: V.P. Franklin, Ph.D. (History, ’69), is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and Education at the University of California, Riverside. Between 2007 and 2015 he held a University of California Presidential Chair, and is the author or co-editor of eleven books and has published over seventy scholarly articles. His most recent book is The Young Crusaders: The Untold Story of the Children and Teenagers who Galvanized the Civil Rights Movement (2021).

Between 2001 and 2018, Dr. Franklin served as the Editor of The Journal of African American History (JAAH), the leading scholarly publication on African American life and history. Under his editorship, JAAH articles received awards or prizes from the Organization of American Historians, the Association of Black Women Historians, the Southern Historical Association, and other scholarly organizations. Between September 2000 and August 2002, Dr. Franklin was the Rosa and Charles Keller Professor of Arts and Humanities at Xavier University of Louisiana; and in 2005 he held the Fulbright Commission’s Uppsala Chair in American Studies at the Swedish Institute for North American Studies at Uppsala University, Sweden. Dr. Franklin has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards from various agencies and institutions, including the Danforth Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Academy of Education, the National Research Council, and in 2011 he received the Cheikh A. Diop-Ida B. Wells Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Africana Studies from the National Council of Black Studies. Currently, he is completing an anthology on movements for reparations and reparatory justice in the United States.

Lecture Title: “Reparations, Reparatory Justice, and Youth Activism in the 21st Century”

Description: The participation of youth was essential for the success of private and public school desegregation, organized boycotts, and marches and protests during the civil rights campaigns. The children and teenagers came to understand that they would be primary beneficiaries of the breakdown of barriers to educational institutions, employment opportunities, economic advancement. They also joined the protest because non-participation meant the continuing of the racial status quo and thus they had much to gain and little to lose. The chant was for “Freedom Now!” In the early twenty-first century, there is a pressing need to repair the damage that racial discrimination and exclusion has done to African Americans and other people of color, creating huge disparities in wealth, income, health conditions, and mortality rates. Reparations demands are being made upon the local, state, and federal governments, public and private schools, religious institutions, and capitalist corporations. And given the damage done to the air, land, and water by the fossil fuel and other capitalist industries, reparatory justice campaigns are needed to prevent more catastrophic climate changes and to repair the damage to the physical environment that has already been done. Much is owed to the young people and their chant should be “Reparations Now.” 

Past Events:
2021: The Humanities’ Many Futures: An Interactive Discussion with Exciting New Grant Opportunities | The Humanities Institute in Partnership with Humanities Without Walls
2020 (cancelled due to COVID): Quiana Whitted | Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina
     Alumni Award: V.P. Franklin | Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History, UC Riverside | History, ’69
2019: Sarah Willie-LeBreton | Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Swarthmore College
     Alumni Award: Robert Newman | President and Director, National Humanities Center | English, ’72
2018: Michael Roth | President, Wesleyan University