In keeping with the Johnston Chair’s mandate to “bring Black culture, reality, experience, perspectives, and concerns into the Academy”, the Eminent Speakers’ Lecture Series established a broad and flexible programme that responded to a variety of interests and concerns shared both within the University community as well as among the general public. Each year, these accessible academic and public forums constituted and generated unprecedented discursive spaces. Here it was legitimate to address, in a constructive way, issues of  ‘Race’ as valid areas of inquiry, research, policy and scholarship.

The Eminent Speakers’ Series, which sponsored public lectures by scholars who are experts in their field, targeted the following goals:

  • To bring to the Public topical and timely issues that are of compelling interest.
  • To ensure that the scholarship, perspectives and vision of African-descended scholars also do inform and are recognized as contributions to the production of knowledge.
  • To ensure that, as a public institution, the University acknowledge its social responsibility and shoulder its proper role of public education towards ALL its constituents.
  • To use the Public Lectures to “connect” with the Community of the Concerned and to affirm the realities of those living on the margins.
  • To connect specifically with the African-descended Community, not only to sustain the focus and centrality of Black reality, but more importantly to inform, to empower, and to mobilize this Collectivity.

These Public Lectures were divided into the following categories: