Remembering Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, 1941-2018

On December 25, 2018, ASWAD lost a founding member, and African American studies lost a major pioneer. Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, or “Roz” as friends often called her, was a noted historian and activist; a passionate, committed, disciplined scholar, as well as a ground-breaking figure in expanding the profession. Rosalyn’s scholarship encompassed a front-and-center diasporic perspective. Her Women in Africa and the African Diaspora: A Reader, co-edited with Sharon Harley, Andrea Benton Rushing and published in 1987, was an original clearing-house for new perspectives on women from both sides of the Atlantic. The anthology, revised and enlarged in 1996, signified a challenge and a shift from depicting Black women as historical victims; and instead using an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural perspective to reveal women’s strategies, adaptations, theories, cooperation, subversions and courage in combatting oppression in all of its formulations. As many know, the volume grew out of the first national symposium held by a new an organization that Roz co-founded in 1979: Association of Black Women Historians, which is now thriving.

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn wrote ground breaking scholarship. Her first volume, mentioned above, was an original perspective on women in the diaspora. In later years, her articles on suffrage culminated in an award-winning book in 1998. African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920, is to date, the only book that revives the roles of African American women in the long, historical struggle for the franchise. Rosalyn not only analyzes the challenges Black women faced when attempting to work with white women. She reveals how consistently Black women espoused universal suffrage, even as white women supported lynching and adopted an increasingly narrow attitude toward embracing suffrage legislation that largely excluded African American women. This valuable and pioneering work advanced our knowledge of the political lives and works of Black women activists over two generations. Rosalyn’s recent work has involved writings on race and race relations in Suriname.

Rosalyn spent her academic career at Morgan State University. She retired a few years ago. However, her reputation as mentor and advisor remains legendary. From 1989 through 1996 she was the Project Director of the Ph.D. in history program and as Campus Coordinator organized with Cornell University the Cornell-Morgan Distance Learning Project. She has greatly impacted the lives and professions of numerous students. Last September, journalist April Ryan, a graduate of Morgan State University, was speaking at Cornell University. Somehow in conversation, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn’s name came up. Ryan’s comment was that Rosalyn was her mentor and greatest influence while at Morgan State. Rosalyn’s commitment of the importance of studying the African diaspora was solidified when she became a founding member in 2000, of The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora. She had previously attended ASWAD’s very first organizing meeting in 1998 on the University of Georgia at Athens campus. She was one the three signatories (along with Mike Gomez and Robin Kelly) on ASWAD’s articles of incorporation in the state of New York. Roz served on the ASWAD Board from 2000 to 2007.

Her service on the Board was invaluable, as ASWAD attempted to position itself as an organization that highlighted diaspora scholarship, activism, performance and the myriad areas of the Black experience historically and contemporarily throughout the world. Our mission was predicated on an inclusive vision to bring ASWAD to various corners of the diaspora and Roz was so very important to this great and rewarding challenge. To ASWAD she brought her wide range of experience as someone who had already successfully founded a major national organization. Her prescient insights, compelling ideas, no nonsense push-back and intelligence were unmatched.

I offer one example of how wonderful Roz was to work with in a one-on-one situation. In 2007, the Fourth Biennial ASWAD Conference was scheduled to meet in Barbados. Roz, Mike and I comprised the Program Committee. As our founding director, fellow committee member Mike Gomez, was extra busy and also part of the local arrangements committee. The sheer number and excellence of the paper/panel submissions made this a daunting task. It seemed like everyone wanted to go to Barbados. We reached a panic point of running out of panel slots for some excellent submissions. Roz suggested that the two of us “run with this thing.” We needed to come up with ways to expand the program without changing the time frame rather than reject first rate submissions. We spent much of the summer on our computers, doing long distance arranging and re-arranging of the program, doing format changing, etc. Thanks to Roz’s keen sense of detail, creativity, and organizational abilities, we pulled it off. Even today I am still not sure how such a truly enriching if taxing accomplishment was done, except it was a testament to Rosalyn.

Rosalyn remained devoted to ASWAD. She attended our November, 2016 biennial conference in Seville, Spain and was planning to be in Williamsburg, Virginia for the momentous 2019 conference. Her feisty physical presence will be sorely missed. But Sister Roz will be there, along with our dearly departed founding Brother Sterling, both of whom joined the ancestors in 2018.

Margaret Washington
Mike Gomez
January, 2019

2019 Biennial Conference: Call for Papers

English Español Português Français Deutsch Kreyòl


ASWAD’s 10th Biennial Conference
will be held at the College of William & Mary
from 5-10 November, 2019

On November 5-9, 2019, the College of William & Mary will host the Tenth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD). The year 2019 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the origins of slavery in what became the United States with the arrival of approximately twenty Africans who landed on the nearby shores of the James River in August 1619. While the geographical proximity of Williamsburg, Virginia highlights this important event, the arrival of these Africans reflected the deep diasporic dimensions that already connected–and continue to link–Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, and Asia. In that spirit, this conference will feature cutting edge scholarship, cultural events, film festivals and excursions to local historical sites that will highlight and celebrate the global dimensions of the African Diaspora and the centrality of black people worldwide to the making of the modern world.

For questions, please contact:


For more information


To receive updates and conference news, sign up for ASWAD’s mailing list and announcements



All ASWAD conference presenters must be members of ASWAD. To join or renew, please click here:



All conference inquiries (other than proposal submission and membership) should be forwarded to:

ASWAD 10th Biennial Conference 2019 – Proposal Submission Information – Deadline 1st February

Dear ASWAD Membership:

The 10th Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) will take place at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia U.S.A. from  5th November – 9th November, 2019.

The theme of the 2019 Conference is Remembrance, Renaissance, Revolution:  The Meaning of Freedom in the African World Over Time and Space

Please use the following link for the submission of proposals for presentation at the conference:  ASWAD 2019 Conference Proposal Submission

Note:  In order to submit a proposal, all presenters must be active ASWAD Members with a membership expiration date of 31 December, 2019 or later.  There can be no exceptions to this requirement.  Membership Renewals and New Memberships are all processed through the ASWAD Memberclicks site here:  ASWAD Membership Portal

Please start planning paper and panel proposals now to give all presenters time to update their membership and confirm their availability for the dates of the November conference.  The DEADLINE for submission of proposals is:  1st February, 2019

The detailed  Call for Papers (published in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Haitian Kreyol) as well as other general Conference information is found on the main ASWAD website:  ASWAD Biennial Conference 2019

All required information about ASWAD membership and the about the Biennial Conference is available on the websites provided above.  These online resources will be updated regularly with information regarding the conference program and other special events taking place during the 10th Biennial Conference.   If you have any questions regarding use of the ASWAD Membership site, assistance is available via the the Memberclicks Help system which we use to manage membership processing.  Contact Memberclicks directly by email or telephone as follows: or 404-879-2800.

If you have more specialized or unique inquiries about the 2019 Conference you may contact the Program Committee via email as follows:

Please share the Call for Papers widely and encourage new participants to join us for this 10th Biennial Conference.  ASWAD is committed to developing conference participation from a wide range of academic fields and from colleges, universities and other institutions around the world.  See you in November!


ASWAD Executive Board

ASWAD Member Chouki El Hamel’s Statement on the Silencing of Slavery’s Past:

Sterling Stuckey, March 2, 1932 – August 15, 2018

ASWAD joins colleagues around the world in mourning the loss of our beloved Sterling Stuckey, who passed away on August 15, 2018. But we also celebrate his extraordinary life and contributions. As a founding member of ASWAD, Sterling committed time and personal resources to help launch the fledgling organization. But as important as he was to ASWAD, his long career of service and scholarship went well beyond his involvement with ASWAD.


On the Imperative of Transnational Solidarity: A U.S. Black Feminist Statement on the Assassination of Marielle Franco

On the Imperative of Transnational Solidarity: A U.S. Black Feminist Statement on the Assassination of Marielle Franco

William & Mary to Host International African Diaspora Conference

William & Mary will host the 10th Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) Nov. 5-10, 2019, in the Williamsburg Lodge.

Featuring the world’s leading scholars of the African Diaspora, the conference will bring together a range of activists and artists and host community events, including an African Diaspora food festival. The conference will feature tours of local historical sites, including Point Comfort, the first landing place of Africans in 1619; Fort Monroe, the site of liberation for 100,000 blacks who escaped slavery during the Civil War; sites of the Underground Railroad and runaway slave maroon communities; the Nat Turner Trail; Hampton University; and Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward, site of the Maggie Walker House, a National Historic Site. Registration is expected to open through ASWAD in September. (more…)

ASWAD VP Election Results

Dear ASWAD Members,

My thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s ASWAD Vice Presidential Election. In an unprecedented turnout, we had over 240 ballots cast in this election.

I am pleased to announce that Erik McDuffie will be our next Vice President! I know that he will do an amazing job of working with our local arrangements chair, Robert Trent Vinson, and our Program (more…)

ASWAD Board Announcement

Dear ASWAD Family,

My thanks to all those of you who participated in this year’s ASWAD Board Elections. On behalf of the Executive Committee, I am pleased and honored to announce the newest ASWAD Board members:

  • Nwando Achebe, Michigan State University
  • Yolanda Covington-Ward, University of Pittsburgh
  • Joseph Jordan, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Robert Trent Vinson, College of William and Mary

I look forward to seeing many of you in Sevilla!

Leslie M. Alexander
ASWAD President

ASWAD Denounces White Nationalism

In the wake of another wave of white nationalist and Nazi demonstrations across the globe, the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) reaffirms our opposition to the growing fascist movements throughout the African Diaspora. During these troubled times, ASWAD denounces all forms of harassment, aggression, and violence based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. We remain outraged by the U.S. president’s willingness to excuse and (more…)

ASWAD Statement on U.S. Executive Order on Immigration

On Friday, January 27, 2017, the newly inaugurated president of the United States issued an Executive Order barring citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen entry into the United States for 90 days; prohibiting all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days; and banning Syrian refugees for an indefinite period of time. This decision is the practical equivalent of a ban against Muslims entering the United States. In the days that followed, airports (more…)

ASWAD Statement Post-Election in the United States

Over the past two weeks, in the aftermath of a hotly contested presidential election, a wave of racist and xenophobic attacks has swept across the United States. In elementary and middle schools, young Latino/a children are taunted with chants of “Build the Wall” and “Go Back to Mexico.” At universities, similar jeers taunt our Black and Brown students, as students and others who are aligned with the White supremacist rhetoric of the U.S. president-elect feel they have gotten a “green light” to (more…)

ASWAD BLM Solidarity

The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all organizations throughout the African Diaspora that are committed to asserting the humanity of African-descended peoples across the globe. Recent protests against the murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and countless others have caused a disturbing backlash against the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its mission to end police brutality and (more…)

ASWAD Statement on the Charleston Shootings

ASWAD extends its condolences to the families of those massacred at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church on June 17, 2015 in a criminal act of domestic terrorism.  We share in the pain of all who are suffering, but also in the outrage that anti-black violence continues to erupt in societies that continue to cling to the ideologies of racial supremacy, inequality, and ignorance that constituted the very foundations on which they were built.  (more…)

ASWAD Statement on Ferguson (Michael Brown) Grand Jury Decision

The Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora stands with the thousands of people outraged over the refusal of the Ferguson grand jury to send the case of the murder of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson to trial. We stand also with the families and communities of other black youth around the world facing similar targeting and violence at the hands of police, such as the React or Be Killed movement (FB group “Reaja ou Sera Morto”) in Bahia, Brazil seeking justice for Davi Alves and other black men murdered or disappeared in police custody. (more…)