Sterling Stuckey Lectures

During the Spring and Summer of 2020, protests developed spontaneously across the United States in response to the most recent police murder of an African American man, George Floyd. As historians we recognized that issues of race and racism had characterized the length and breadth of American history, and members of the Department of History at the University of California, Riverside, sought a collective response to the continued killing of African Americans, people of color, and people with different sexual orientations. During a very trying time, faculty members wanted to respond to the murders and continued violations of civil rights in a meaningful manner, one that offered a response that would educate others. We wanted to voice our support for Black Lives Matter, and at the same time, share cutting-edge research with people interested in listening to and learning from first-rate scholars. During difficult times, the department launched a new lecture series and named it after our friend, colleague, and mentor, Sterling Stuckey who passed on August 6, 2018.

A Civil Rights activist and brilliant scholar, Sterling spent his life challenging unfounded and poorly constructed histories of  slavery, and of enslaved African American. Sterling understood that America’s past was a history of racism and inhumanity. He would have been disgusted but not surprised by the recent murders of African American men, women, and children, including the police murder of nineteen-year old Tyisha Miller of Riverside. Sterling’s research stood against those that claimed that slaves had no agency and that only others dictated the ebb and flow of Black lives. Instead, he focused his research on slave nationalism and African American contributions to music, art, oral literature, theater, and dance. In many ways, African Americans countered negative power, and many continue to counter racism with  intelligence, ingenuity, and sheer survival. Sterling countered efforts to demean people of color and dismiss contributions of African American scholars, a project that continues today by people, governments, institutions, and organizations.

Sterling Stuckey taught his students and colleagues to be fearless in their research and writing, which often cuts against the grain of those who research outside of communities, peering into the cultures of others without entering that culture in a meaningful manner. Sterling supported community-based research developed by those that truly understood African and African American cultures by learning from elders and community scholars as well as critically analyzing written sources.   

All of the Sterling Stuckey Lecturers conduct research in the shadow of our friend, mentor, and colleague. We honor Sterling through this lecture series, which in turn honors innovative scholars who follow in the path Sterling Stuckey made for us. Throughout the year we welcome our special guest speakers and all of those that wish to join us. Together we stand in solidarity with those that oppose racism and racist to further our knowledge of the African American past, present, and future.

Spring 2021 Lectures

Yatta Kiazolu UCR Sterling Stuckey Lecture


Winter 2021 Lectures 

NDB Connolly at UCR