"Innovative Perspectives in History" conference to be held at Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 18, 2004 – The Seventh Annual Brian Bertoti "Innovative Perspectives in History" Conference will be held Friday, April 2 and Saturday April 3, 2004. The conference will bring graduate students from over 10 different states as well as two exceptional keynote speakers to the Virginia Tech campus. All events are free and open to the public.

Friday night's keynote speaker will be Amilcar Shabazz, director of the African-American Studies Program at the University of Alabama. His talk, "Civil Rights, Affirmative Action, and Reparations in the Biography of a Struggling Race,” is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday in the main auditorium at Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center.

Charles F. Bryan, Jr., president of the Virginia Historical Society, will give the luncheon presentation, "Has America Lost its National Memory? The Answer May Surprise You” on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., also at Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center. His talk will be of interest to both graduate and undergraduate history students, as well as anyone interested in issues of public history and collective memory.

Paper presentations make up the heart of this conference and provide an opportunity for graduate students from Virginia Tech and across the country to present their research and for members of the local campus community to hear a range of cutting-edge scholarly work. This year’s presenters represent universities from over 10 different states and a variety of disciplines and historical perspectives. Panel sessions will be held all day Saturday at the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference Center beginning at 9 a.m.

Dr. Shabazz is the author of numerous publications, including Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas (2004). His topic will provide a valuable opportunity to further ongoing dialogue on the issues of race relations, Affirmative Action, and equal rights.

According to Tom Sebrell, a graduate student in Virginia Tech’s Department of History and organizer of the event, Shabazz’s presentation will highlight how “Affirmative Action is a necessary part of the civil rights movement that started with the Brown decision in 1954 and continues to this day. This is a most important topic in today’s politics, both on a national level and on the campus of Virginia Tech.”

As President of the Virginia Historical Society, Dr. Bryan has played a critical role in interpreting local and state history to the general public. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee and has worked extensively as a public historian and scholar, with a particular focus on the American Civil War. His presentation will highlight the role of public and popular history in shaping our sense of national memory.

For more information, please contact Tom Sebrell, vice president of Virginia Tech’s History Graduate Student Association at tsebrell@vt.edu or Marian Mollin, assistant professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at mmollin@vt.edu

More details on these panels will be posted on the HGSA website: http://www.majbill.vt.edu/history/HGSA/HGSA_Bertoti.htm