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Roberts Center

Roberts Center

Roberts-Center.jpgJoseph Jenkins Roberts Center for the Study of the African Diaspora The Center is named in honor of a Virginian whose legacy as the first President of Liberia embodies globalism. The Center also reflects the new global society and the role of people of African descent in shaping global identity and race-relations.

Historically and culturally, globalization depends on the dynamism and involvement of people from every level of society. Understanding the context of these global connections is crucial and a part of the world we face today. In an era in which America is forging new connections and embarking on a new frontier of global exchange to reposition our economy, it is imperative that we refocus our cultural views to see the past and the future in a broader, more accurate milieu.

The Roberts Center has established positive contacts with the community, especially with the ongoing 1619: Making of America conference series. We have received over $200,000 in funding that has been used to sponsor our conference, the Underground Railroad gaming project, the Underground Railroad Norfolk tour, the Africana Fest Culture Walk, and a host of speakers on topics related to the African Diaspora.


1619: The Making of America

The organizing committee of the 1619: The Making of America conferences consists of scholars and community leaders dedicated to remembering the events and legacies of 1619 and bringing awareness to issues of race, gender, law and culture that derive from the meeting of the cultures that shaped our nation.

The Underground Railroad in Virginia

The Underground Railroad in Virginia website explores the partnerships and routes that ran through Virginia. It examines the wharves, steamships, and schooners on which fugitives departed. It explores the safe houses that were used, the conductors who assisted, the routes that were taken, and the enslaved African Americans who ran away.

Roberts Center Projects
The Roberts Center Staff are currently working on securing funding for projects related to mapping the Underground Railroad, further programming for commemorating the 400th anniversary of 1619, as well as several smaller projects. If you are interested in collaborating with the center on a project, please contact the project staff.

1619 Roundtable
Constructing Citizenship from 1619 to the 1964 Civil Rights Act: A 50-Year Commemorative Scholars Roundtable. On April 17, 2014, the Center sponsored a roundtable discussion on the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, with Cox Communications as co-sponsor. The roundtable and question and answer session were filmed by Cox and are available on their On-Demand channel and aired on local channel 11.


1619 Roundtable