Black Bag Speaker Series

Black Bag Speaker Series logoIn an effort to develop a forum for people and organizations doing work that addresses issues related to the community of Black people in Portland, the Black Bag Speaker Series began in October of 2006. We have featured many key people and organizations speaking on important issues in Portland, including but not limited to former Oregon Senator Avel Gordly, Joann Hardesty from Oregon Action, and Dr. Joy Leary from PSU. 
Our series has focused on the following issues: race and sustainability, slavery, police violence, segregation and gentrification, education, the Black Panthers, & AIDS and health in Portland - to name but a few.  
For more information, contact Dr. Ethan Johnson at


Academic Year 2019 - 2020

Author Mat Johnson on His Novel, Loving Day

DATE:  November 6, 2019
TIME:  2:00 - 3:50pm




Academic Year 2018 - 2019



DATE: April 9, 2019
TIME: 12:00 - 1:30pm
UPDATE:  PSU's Vanguard ran a piece on this event, including a short video!
This Women’s History month event brings together Black women scholars from different disciplines and institutions who will talk about their paths to academia and the work they do. #CiteBlackWomen is a campaign that recognizes the missing voices of Black women in academia.

Photo of the 4 presenters for the April 16, 2019 Black Bag event, Cite Black Women



Black Portland

PSU Library, Charlotte Rutherford Collection image
DATE:  February 26, 2019
TIME:  12:00 - 1:30pm
LOCATION:  Millar Library, 160
Black Portland will feature long-time Portland resident and Black Studies alum, Charlotte Rutherford and head of PSU's Special Collections and University Archivist, Cris Paschild.  Charlotte Rutherford donated her parents’ collection of newspapers, programs, etc. that make up the Verdell and Otto G. Rutherford Collection.  They will be giving presentations on Portland's Black population through personal recollections and Rutherford Collection housed in PSU's Library.  We encourage anyone interested in learning about this valuable collection and hearing about the changes in Northeast Portland to attend.



Black Women Leaders in Portland

Dr. Cynthia Viola Harris, EdD; VP & Chair of Membership, NAACP Portland Chapter Joy Alise Davis, Executive Director, Portland African American Leadership Forum Dr. LM Alaiyo Foster, Executive Director, Black United Fund of Oregon
DATE:  February 14, 2019
TIME:  12:00 - 1:30pm
LOCATION:  Parkmill 101


During Black History Month, the Department of Black Studies is committed to bringing speakers to campus to express their unique perspectives and experiences.  We are bringing to campus leaders of three organizations with the mission of empowering the African American/Black community. These individuals will be sharing information on their respective organizations, how they do the work they do in the community, and how they obtained their current roles. This is an opportunity for students interested in learning more about careers, activism, volunteerism, and internships in local organizations. For more information, please click on the title link.



Me Too, Now What? Workshop by Jasmine Johnson, Ph.D.

Jasmine Johnson
DATE:  Tuesday, February 12, 2019
TIME:  10:00am - 12:00pm

We've heard their stories, we've told our own, but when and how does the healing begin? Jasmine Johnson, Licensed Clinical Therapist and owner of Blue Pearl Therapy, provides an introduction to the journey to addressing and healing from all forms of sexual violence and violations.  Join us for a workshop focused on jumpstarting participants understanding and motivation to begin to work through the traumas associated with sexual harassment, rape, molestation, violence and sexually inappropriate behaviors. This workshop is centered and rooted in intersectionality, highlighting especially the intersections between race and gender. 



Robert Turner II - Not For Long: The Life and Career of an NFL Athlete

DATE: November 6, 2018
TIME: 12:00 - 1:30pm

The NFL is the most popular professional sports league in the United States. Its athletes receive multimillion-dollar contracts and almost endless media attention. The league's most important game, the Super Bowl, is practically a national holiday. Making it to the NFL, however, is not about the promised land of fame and fortune. Robert W. Turner II draws on his personal experience as a former professional football player as well as interviews with more than 140 current and former NFL players to reveal what it means to be an athlete in the NFL and explain why so many players struggle with life after football.

Robert W. Turner II is a Research Scientist at the Center on BioBehavioral Health Disparities Research at Duke University.



2017 - 2018 Academic Year



Derrais Carter - Lookin Ass...: Nicki Minaj and the Politics of Patriarchal Dr. Derrais Carter

DATE: May 30, 2018
TIME: 12-1:30pm
LOCATION: Parkmill 150
Using responses to Nicki Minaj’s 2014 song titled “Lookin Ass N*gga" as a case study, this paper performs close readings of petitions by Black activists, parodies by visual artists, and answer songs by singer Trey Songz and rapper Cassidy to addresses the manifold ways that blackness and patriarchy converge to regulate Black women’s voices.

Dr. Derrais Carter is an assistant professor of Black Studies at Portland State University. His research interests include 20th century African American history, gender and sexuality studies, and black cultural studies. He is completing two book projects. The first tentatively titled Obscene Material examines the erasure of Black girls’ voices during a 1919 sex scandal in Washington, D.C.  In collaboration with Shartia Towne and a crew Black femmes poets, he is also completing black girls: an archive, an unbound book that uses poetry, creative writing, and visual art to enact new narrative modes that center Black girls' voices. 



Shantae and Arthur Johnson of Mudbone Grown - Black Food Sovereignty: Putting Culture Back into Agriculture

Mudbone Grown organization logo

DATE: February 27, 2018
TIME: 12:00 - 1:30 pm
LOCATION: Native American Student and Community Cultural Center  

We expect a lively discussion and festive atmosphere to discuss food sovereignty in the Black community of the Portland Metro Area and beyond. The panelists are active members and leaders regarding the issue of food sovereignty.  What is so critical about this issue is that it provides a way for people to see how being able to control one’s food - i.e., where it comes from, how it is produced, its accessibility, and the cost - is central to maintaining and developing a racial and cultural identity. This event is co-sponsored by the Black Studies Department, University Studies and The Center for Urban Studies. There will also be tabling at this event of local Black organizations that practice food sovereignty. 


Cedric Essi - Coming Out as Family: Queer Interracial Kinship and the Closet(s) of Multiracialism

Cedric EssiDATE: November 9, 2017
TIME: 11:00 - 12:30 pm


The last twenty years have witnessed the emergence of a plethora of autobiographical works that claim kinship across the color line, ranging from Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams from My Father (1995/2004) and Edward Ball’s chronicle Slaves in the Family (1998), to Natasha Trethewey’s poetry volume Native Guard (2006) and Lacey Schwartz’s documentary Little White Lie (2014). This talk subsumes these works under the umbrella term ‘interracial family memoirs’ and draws up a typology of ‘genealogies’ to categorize and interrogate which constellations are asserted as family and which are not. Along these lines, Essi will zoom in on heteronormativity as multiracialism’s “normalizing ballast” (Nyong’o) and examine the terms on which queer interracial formations have tried to ‘come out’ as a family.

Cedric Essi is a Lecturer for American Studies at the University of Bremen. He graduated from the University of Würzburg with a Staatsexamen in English and French, as well as with an M.A. in American Studies and is the recipient of the BAA Harvard Research Fellowship 2011.  Currently, he is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley.



All Other Past Years



Black and Indigenous Food Sovereignty

June 3, 2017

Panelists:  Shantae Johnson, Director of Mudbone Grown; Roberta Eaglehorse-Ortiz, Oregon Inter-Tribal Breastfeeding Coalition; and Edward Hill, Community Outreach Organizer for the Rebuilding Center.

Topic:  Please join us for a lively discussion and festive atmosphere featuring five individuals who are uniquely situated to discuss food sovereignty in the Black and Indigenous communities of the Portland Metro Area and beyond.  Each of the panelists are active members and leaders regarding the issue of food sovereignty.  


Slavery, Capitalism, and Citizenship

November 15, 2016

  • Presenter: Erious Johnson, Director of Civil Rights for the Oregon Attorney General’s Office.
  • Topic: Relevance of slavery today. Erious Johnson will discuss his role as the Director of Civil Rights for the Oregon Attorney General and the legal case he has filed against his own office for surveillance of his Black Lives Matter tweets.

From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation

April 27, 2016

  • Presenter: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.
  • Topic: Her new book From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation.

Inside/Outside My Head: Hair and Community in Black Portland

February 18, 2016

  • Panelists: Sharita Towne, MFA Alumni Art & Social Practice; Lisa Bates, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning; Amber Starks, Founder, Conscious Coils Salon; and Lisa Jarrett, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts as moderator.
  • Topic: The politics of Black hair.

Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements

October 26, 2015

  • Panelists: Walidah Imarisha, Gabriel Teodoro and David Walker.
  • Topic: Community conversation around radical science fiction and social change.

Black Women Defining Comprehensive Reproductive Justice

February 12, 2015

  • Panelists: Mariotta Gary-Smith, African American Sexual Health Education Program Educator for Multnomah County; Cat Goughnour, Human Rights Advocate; and Shafia Monroe, President & CEO of International Center for Traditional Childbearing Moderator Roberta Hunte, Assistant Prof Black Studies, and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies.
  • Topic: The challenges women of color face in regards to issues of reproductive health.

What Does Black Studies Mean to You?

January 2015

  • Panelists: Malaika Belt (Black Studies Student), Noel Commings (student), Joyce Harris (Community activist) and Derrais Carter (BST Professor).
  • Topic: The significance of Black Studies in their work and personal lives.

African Americans & Immigration Reform

May 2013

  • Presenter: Kim Williams, Associate Professor of Political Science and Academic Director of the Center for Women, Politics & Policy in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.
  • Topic: The perspectives of African Americans on immigration in the Southern United States.

The Legacy of the Black Midwife

May 2012

  • Presenter: Shafia Monroe, CEO of International Center for Traditional Childbirth.
  • Topic: Birth, health, and midwifery in the Black community.

Obama, Race and Electoral Politics

February 2012

  • View on PDX Scholar
  • Presenter: Mingus Mapps, Professor of Political Science in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.
  • Topic: The relationship between electoral politics and race regarding the elections of President Barack Obama.

Race, Sexuality, and Comics

November 2011

  • Presenter: Rupert Kinnard, author of the oldest running African American and Gay comic strip in the country.
  • Topic: His development as a comic strip artist and the relationship between race and sexuality.

Race and Islam

February 2011

  • Presenter: Imam Mikal Shabazz, Director of Oregon Islamic Chaplains Organization.
  • Topic: The relationship between race and Islam.

Civil Rights Struggle in the Pacific Northwest

October 2010

  • Presenter: Trevor Griffey.
  • Topic: His book, Black Power at Work.

New School Initiative

May 2010

  • Presenters: Chairs/Directors from respective departments.
  • Topic: The development/challenges of New School initiative process.

Environmental Justice

March 2010

  • View on PDX Scholar
  • Panelists: Avel Gordly, Portland State University; Robin Collin, Willamette University, Mikell O’Mealy, Department of Environmental Quality, and Benjamin Duncan, Multnomah County Department of Health.
  • Topic: The relationship between local environmental issues and racial inequality.

Rooney Rule

February 2010

  • Presenter: Sam Sachs.
  • Topic: The Oregon legislative bill that requires minorities to be interviewed for athletic coaching positions at Oregon State Universities.

Friends of Black Studies

February 2010

  • View on PDX Scholar
  • Presenters: Black Studies Alumni.
  • Topic: Black Studies forty-year celebration.

Urban League

November 2009

  • View on PDX Scholar
  • Presenter: Marcus Mundy, the CEO of the Urban League.
  • Topic: State of Black Oregon report released by the Urban League.

The Poetics of Hip Hop

June 2009

Black United Front

May 2009

  • View on PDX Scholar
  • Panelists: Past BUF members Ron Herndon, Avel Gordly, Richard Brown and Ben Priestley.
  • Topic: History of the Black United Front in Portland.

Politics and Culture

November 2008

  • Panelists: Not4prophet and DJ Johnny Juice.
  • Topic: Puerto Rico’s relationship to the United States.

More Than a Slave

May 2008

  • View on PDX Scholar
  • Presenter: Hannah Hurdle Toomey.
  • Topic: Her book she is writing that documents the life of her father, a formerly enslaved person.

Race and the Media in Portland, Oregon

February 2008

  • View Part 1 on PDX Scholar
  • View Part 2 on PDX Scholar
  • Panelists: Nick Budnick from Portland Tribune; Renee Mitchell from Oregonian; David Reinhard from Oregonian; Opio Osokoni, from KBMS Radio Station.
  • Topic: Sexual harassment case against Derrick Foxworth, the second Black chief of police of the Portland Police Bureau.

Racial Profiling in Portland, Oregon

October 2007

  • Panelists: Derrick Foxworth, Precinct Commander at Portland Police Bureau and Joann Bowman, Executive Director at Oregon Action.
  • Topic: The recent report released demonstrating the Portland Police Bureau is racial profiling.

Blackness and Education in Portland, Oregon

December 2007

  • Panelists: Kevin Fuller of Bridge Builders, Ray Shellmire of Self-Enhancement Inc., and Mark Jackson of Reaching and Empowering All People (REAP).
  • Topic: Racial inequality in education in Portland, Oregon.

History of the Black Panther Party in Portland, Oregon

April 2007

  • Presenter: Kent Ford, Black Panther founder, Portland, Oregon.
  • Topic: His role in the organization.

African Immigration in Portland, Oregon

March 2007

  • Panelists: Karifa D. Koroma and Djimet Dogo From Africa House.
  • Topic: African immigrant issues in Portland, Oregon.

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

October 2006

No Human Being is Illegal: From the Perspective of One Oregonian

October 2006

The Iconography of Black and Puerto Rican Art Movements, 1960s-1980s

May 2006

  • View on PDX Scholar
  • Presenter: Dr. Yasmin Ramirez
  • Topic: A comparative study of art activism and social change in New York City during the post-civil rights era.


Sex, Drugs, and Health in Portland, Oregon

February 2006

  • Panelists: Kathleen Sadat and Cherrell G. Edwards from Cascade AIDS Project.
  • Topic: AIDS in the Black community in Portland, Oregon.

Police Brutality and Gentrification in Northeast Portland

April 2006

  • Panelists: Dr. Bethel of the Maranatha Church and Pastor Frazier of the Genesis Community Church.
  • Topic: Police violence in Portland, Oregon.

Daughter of Former Slave a Link to Those Who Prevail

March 2006

  • Panelists: Hannah Hurdle Toomey.
  • Topic: Her experience as the daughter of a slave.