The 40th Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series: Black Futures: What Seems To Be, Need Not Be

Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience presents: 

MTW 2020 Poster
Image Credit:
Bird in Hand, 2006
Oil, pencil, gold, plasticine, gold leaf, and paper on canvas
93 3/4 x 120 7/8 inches
© Ellen Gallagher. Courtesy Gagosian.

Black Futures: What Seems To Be, Need Not Be

The 40th Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series

Saturday, February 15, 2020
9:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Paul Robeson Campus Center
350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Newark, NJ 07102

The Marion Thompson Wright Series’ fortieth installment, “Black Futures: What Seems to Be, Need Not Be,” will look to multiple futures – of the series itself, the field of African American Studies, and of Black America as a social, cultural, and political formation – to foreground a tradition of futurism in black intellectual and cultural life, as well as how that tradition and the freedom dreams it has generated have driven movements for change. Ten years ago, the thirtieth anniversary of the series looked back to take stock of its history and that of the field in which it works. For this anniversary, it will look forward to how the series might more fully and meaningfully participate in bringing about a more just and inclusive future.

The day’s celebrated lecturers will include keynote speaker, scholar and historian, Saidiya Hartman(Columbia University); songwriter, producer, and scholar Jason King (New York University); sociologist, Ruha Benjamin (Princeton University); and author and filmmaker, Ytasha Womack (Afrofuturist/Independent Scholar).

Following the conference, you are invited to a reception in the Engelhard Court of the Newark Museum, 49 Washington Street. The reception will feature food and live musical entertainment by The Bradford Hayes Trio

All events are free and open to the public. Registration is not required for this event.


Lunch will be available for purchase in the Paul Robeson Campus Center Food Court for $12 (cash only). 

Parking Availability
On the day of the lecture, parking will be available for free in Parking Deck 2 (166 Washington Street, Newark NJ) and Parking Deck 3 (180 Washington Street, Newark NJ).

Shuttle Routes  
Starting at 8:30 am, a shuttle will be available from Parking Decks 2 and 3 (Washington Street) to the Paul Robeson Campus Center. This shuttle will loop between the Paul Robeson Campus Center and Parking Decks 2 and 3 until 4:15 pm.
From 4:15 pm – 5:30 pm, the shuttle will then run from the Newark Museum to Parking Decks 2 and 3.

MTW map


Professional Development
The Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience is registered with the State of New Jersey as a professional development provider (#5089). Registered seminar participants will be eligible to earn professional development hours in accordance with the guidelines provided by the New Jersey Department of Education Professional Development Provider Registration System. Please remember to sign-in on the professional development sheet upon arriving and sign-out on the professional development sheet upon leaving to receive a professional development certificate.


The Annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture (MTW) series was co-founded in 1981 by Dr. Price and the late Giles R. Wright, who served many years as the inaugural director of the Afro-American History Program at the New Jersey Historical Commission. Mounted in observance of Black History Month in New Jersey, the MTW Series is one of the nation’s most remarkable and longest running scholarly conference series devoted to the historical literacy of a community. Diverse, civically engaging, and a contribution to life-long learning, the MTW Series has brought to Newark some of the nation’s most significant scholars. They include former Surgeon General of the United States under President Clinton, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Pulitzer Prize winning historian and legal scholar Professor Annette Gordon Reed, Deborah Willis, Sterling Stuckey, Eric Foner, Lonnie Bunch, David Blight, and Nell Painter, among many others.


For additional information, including parking and other details, please see the official poster for the lecture (link) or contact Jessica Hernandez at 973-353-3891 or 

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