During the weekend of April 27-29, 2012, the Grinnell College African and Caribbean Students Union (ACSU) hosted the 8th annual Umoja Conference at Grinnell College. The Umoja Conference is an annual gathering of African and Caribbean undergraduate student organizations from colleges and universities across the Midwest. This conference is intended to:
- Promote unity among the black student Diaspora in the Midwest;
- Encourage fraternity, networking, and celebration; and
- Foster critical discussions on the experiences and challenges unique to students of Afro-Caribbean descent in twenty-first century America.
The 2012 Umoja Conference brought over 100 students from 36 institutions, including the ACM Conference and a number of Iowa colleges and universities, to our college campus in April. This conference was previously hosted at Grinnell College in 2006 to excellent reviews, and we invited the broader campus community to collaborate in planning once again for this exciting, three-day event.
The theme for the 2012 Umoja Conference was ubuntu, the celebrated Bantu philosophy that “I am who I am because of who we all are.” Throughout the conference, we drew on this theme to explore African and Caribbean experiences of race, immigration, and identity in the United States today. The keynote speaker, guest performers, and academic workshops critically engaged the multiple experiences of diasporic African and Caribbean identity, but also celebrated the common ground shared by peoples of African descent in the United States.