Published: Oct. 20, 2021

The College of Media, Communication and Information will feature the new Center for African and African American Studies during its first One College Colloquium event of the semester.

  • What: CMCI One College Colloquium: Introducing CU's New Center for African and African American Studies (CAAAS)
  • Who: CAAAS Founding Director Reiland Rabaka in conversation with Media Studies Associate Professor Nabil Echchaibi
  • When: From 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28
  • Where: Virtually, on Zoom

The University of Colorado Boulder approved the center, or the CAAAS (pronounced “the cause”), in May in response to student activism, faculty support and years of effort spearheaded by Professor Reiland Rabaka to create a central space for Black culture and community on campus. It is the first center of its kind at the university.

“We took Black Lives Matter very seriously. We transformed this institution that we love so much,” said Rabaka, CAAAS founding director and professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies. “If I criticize CU Boulder, it’s only because I love it. . . .We could be better. They talk about ‘Be Bolder.’ Be better.”

The upcoming colloquium will focus on the vision, aspirations and plans of the new center through an in-depth conversation between Rabaka and Nabil Echchaibi, associate chair for graduate studies in Media Studies.

The event will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28. 

CAAAS promises to be a hub of research, teaching, performance, consciousness-raising and community-building dedicated to Black history, Black culture and Black struggle on the Boulder campus and beyond. The multipurpose space, which aims to open in the Macky Auditorium building in 2022, welcomes scholars, students, artists, activists and allies.

In a pre-filmed interview, Echchaibi and Rabaka discuss race in Boulder, the responsibility for improving race-related experiences, the historical evolution of race in the city and current events, including the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in 2020.

“He (Rabaka) was saying, if you’re putting a sign on your yard that says ‘Black Lives Matter,’ that’s fine, that’s wonderful. But what are you going to do about it? This sentiment you have has to be translated into action. The center provides that platform,” Echchaibi said. “I think his plea was an invitation to anyone who shares in that sentiment to come into the center and do their part.”

Audience members will be invited to further these discussions during the event’s virtual question and answer session.

The CMCI One College Colloquium series is one of several ways in which the college seeks to foster and support interdisciplinary engagement and a vibrant intellectual community of artists, humanities scholars, social scientists and designers within the college, across the campus and beyond the university.

Past colloquia have focused on environmental communication and immigration. This year’s colloquia will bring an interdisciplinary focus on the many ways that media, communication and information relate to racial justice.