University of Miami opens Center for Global Black Studies


Surrounded by the sounds of Junkanoo drums, University of Miami President Julio Frenk was joined by Provost Jeffrey Duerk; Donald Spivey, distinguished professor of history and special advisor to the president on racial justice; and an audience of deans, faculty members, students, and many others in a ceremony to inaugurate the Center for Global Black Studies.

The event, held during Black History Month, also featured Donette Francis and Jafari Allen, co-directors of the center, which operates out of the Solomon G. Merrick Building.

Catalyzed by a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and support from University leadership, the center will serve as a unifying platform to coordinate initiatives that address structural racism and inequalities, both at the University and across society, Francis said.

“I see it as both a crossroad and an incubator,” said Allen, associate professor of anthropology. “This is a place at the crossroad between the U.S. south and the global south—including the Caribbean and Latin America—and in the city of Miami, which is a place where all the Black cultures and ideas meet.”

Francis, an associate professor of English, said one of the center’s main goals is to highlight the research being conducted by Black faculty members and foster interdisciplinary collaborations. It will also invite faculty members from other universities working on projects that address the complexities of Black lives across the globe.

The facility will house a community of scholars who can use the venue as both a platform to unveil their research and a networking tool, she said. The center will also strive to become a public-facing link between the University and Black communities, both locally and globally, making it integral to the intellectual and cultural life of the University.

The center has appointed Nadege Green as its first scholar-in-residence. The former Miami Herald reporter is director of community research and storytelling at the Community Justice Project. Green, who has given several lectures on campus during the past year, has said she believes in the power of teaching community storytelling to educate, solve problems, and heal. 

“Nadege joining us as a colleague and discussion partner signals our serious intention to be an active part of the Black Miami community,” Allen said.

Allen and Francis both encourage students to visit the center, where they can study or engage in conversations with faculty and staff members, or apply to undergraduate research fellowships supervised by faculty members. In the future, both co-directors hope the Center will be able to offer student internships, as well as study abroad and other opportunities.

“Change depends on deep commitment translated into specific plans and subject to accountability,” President Frenk said. “Today’s milestone, which has been championed at the highest levels of both the administration and our Board of Trustees, puts our shared values into practice and our words into action.”0