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Social Science and Public Policy

AAS’s 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Memorial Lecture

April 6, 2022 at 5:30pm7:00pm EDT

Sims Hall, 219 and Virtual (See event details)

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On April 6, the Department of African American Studies’ (AAS) will host its 39th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Memorial Lecture. This year’s lecture feature’s renown critical food studies and Black geographies scholar, Dr. Ashante Reese from University of Texas, Austin.

Her talk entitled “Defend the Dead: Carcerality, Sugar, and Ancestral Offerings” will take place at 5:30 pm in SIMS 219; and on Zoom via the registration link below. Food will be served at SIMS 219.

Dr. Reese’s talk examines the African Diaspora, carcerality, sugar, and ancestral offerings. It will discuss how few commodities have shaped and continue to haunt the lives of Black people across the diaspora as much as sugar. Yet, to only view Black people’s relationship to sugar through violent histories and presents is to miss a sweetness—belonging, intimacy, connection—that exceeds it. Simultaneously engaging violence and care as co-constitutive forces that structure Black life, this talk draws from archival research about carceral structures and sugar production alongside Reese’s own practice of baking in search of answers to the question: how might we map a distinction between sugar—a product of racial capitalism—and sweetness, a necessary component of Black life?

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Herb Ruffin II at; or Mrs. Regina Cole at

This event was published on March 15, 2022.

Event Details