Kassie Freeman, CEO and Co-Convener AD-IRN
As a Co-Convener, along with Ernest Morrell, of the African Diaspora (AD) International Research Network (IRN), we are pleased and honored to share with you our first AD-IRN Newsletter. Ernest and my intent, with great input and support from Henry M. Levin, was to galvanize artists and scholars at all ranks and levels across the African Diaspora to address the paucity of data and gaps in research and best practices related to African descendants’ triumphs, resilience, and vast accomplishments. We felt strongly the need to create new narratives by first conducting a scan and synthesis of what is currently situated in the field—new narratives cannot be adequately developed without a historical foundation, comparative analysis of sameness and differences of how dispersed African descendants navigated their new worlds and how they have currently risen. We realized early through our initial scan of the field, after reviewing the current works of some of our scholars, and through our artists’ leadership that the arts have been seriously neglected in scholarship and best practices as it relates to capturing the historical and current achievements of African descendants, and our work intentionally intends to address this void.
We also recognized that we needed a community of scholars to enhance all three of our African Diaspora Consortium initiatives, as each of our three initiatives is evidenced based, from our historic AP Seminar with African Diaspora Content, the first such Africa topic in all of the College Board’s portfolio of AP Courses, to our Globalization Student Exchange for higher education students, to our Emerging Artists Network. Assessment and evidence are the hallmark of all of our work and having a global network of scholars is a requirement if we are creating new narratives across the African Diaspora.
We are honored that the World Education Research Association (WERA) saw value in our proposal to establish our AD-IRN. However, the proof of the necessity of our work can be found in the incredible, highly accomplished and creative scholars who are members of our Network. With this Newsletter, we commit to this as our beginning to engage with our current community while we continue to grow our international base.
While Ernest and I are the Co-Conveners, our work would not be taking shape without our diligent, hardworking, and creative International Research Network Lead, Antinnea Skipwith, who singlehandedly is responsible for organizing our digital communications efforts and planning and developing our first AD-IRN Newsletter. Antinnea is responsible for every single detail you see and read in the publication. She conducted and wrote each interview and created every detail. This was after she conducted extensive interviews with many members of our Network. We are deeply grateful to Antinnea for her guidance and leadership as we continue to work to build a thriving community of scholars where the arts and scholarship meet.