2023 ZORA! Festival Academic Conference

“What is the Spirit of Afrofuturism?”

Wednesday Session: Free and open to the public (In-person)

Friday Session: $25.00 (In-person) | $10.00 (Virtual)


 A program of the Seminole State College of Florida Speakers Series

Free and open to the public (In-person)

Date & Time

January 25, 2023
from 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM


Seminole State College of Florida
(Sanford/Lake Mary Campus Building C, 100 Weldon Boulevard, Sanford 32773)

Wednesday Speaker

Chesya Burke Profile

Dr. Chesya Burke

Assistant Professor of English and U.S. Literatures

Stetson University

View Speaker Bio

Presentation Title

Tell My Horse: Afrofuturism as Embodiment of Sankofa


The Ghanaian word of Sankofa’s literal translation means that “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” Afrofuturism quite literally is the act of acknowledging the practice of Sankofa (“reaching back”) to the ancestors, while calling on histories, spirituality, and lived experiences to imagine new futures for Black people, despite the lack of representation in mainstream society. When looking at a literal act of Sankofa within Black American literary tradition, one needs only to look at Alice Walker’s act of “finding” and “bringing back” Zora Neale Hurston into modern Black consciousness. The dynamic woman known as much for her off-page antics as her on-page talent, Zora Neale Hurston is considered an important writer of her time, skilled in Southern interpretation of dialect and culture. A complicated figure, Hurston’s contribution to Afrofuturism cannot be dismissed. But as Afrofuturists, who center Black voices and lived experiences, how do we reconcile Hurston, who claimed that “slavery is the price she paid for civilization.” In this presentation, I will discuss the tenets of Afrofuturism, Sankofa and the importance of reaching back to never forget Black complex voices of the past.”

Open reception and book signing after presentation


 Hosted by UCF – College of Arts and Humanities


January 27, 2023


10:00 AM - 4:00 PM


UCF Downtown, Dr. Phillips Academic Commons (West Wing, Rm. 106, 528 W Livingston St, Orlando, FL 32801)

Friday Speaker


Dr. Scot French

Associate Professor of History

University of Central Florida

View Speaker Bio

Presentation Title

Moral Capitalism, Prosperity, and Visions of Community: Historic Eatonville and Black Liberation


This talk will explore the spiritual links between the modern-day Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc. (P.E.C.) and the.Afrofuturist/Afrotopian vision of “moral capitalism” found in the Black town-building movement of the late 19th century. My research into Eatonville’s founding era (1875-1895) suggests the benefits of viewing P.E.C.’s preservationist ideology and economic revitalization plans within the context of the African American community’s “long memory.” Eatonville’s founding as a Black township in 1887 resulted from a deliberate, collaborative effort by Black community leaders and their progressive-minded White allies to mitigate/reverse the impact of racially exclusionary real estate development and to create a permanent social, political, and economic space for Black citizens who lived and worked in the area. Through their widely publicized, ideologically explicit, spiritually infused acts of place-making, Eatonville’s founders ensured that the benefits of regional economic development would not be reserved for wealthy White “gentrifiers” alone, and that the Black laboring classes – as citizens and property owners – would share in an Afrofuturist dream of freedom and prosperity through home ownership, commercial enterprise, and democratic self-governance.

Friday Speaker

Rasheedah Phillips Profile

Rasheedah Phillips, Esq.

Director of Housing, PolicyLink

Founder, The AfroFuturist Affair

Co-founder, Black Quantum Futurism

Co-creator, Community Futures Lab

View Speaker Bio

Presentation Title

“Time and Place Have Had Their Say:” The Time Binder’s Role in Black Space-Time Mattering


In Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiography, she vividly maps out an experience she has with “the clutching hand of Time” as a thief at a young age: she was given “knowledge before its time” that left her with a known sense of fate and robbed her of childhood innocence. The visions from this involuntary act of divination would later come to pass with grim linearity, but seeds the conditions by which Hurston transforms into a Time Binder: she is able to pinpoint the hour where her wanderings – “not so much in geography, but in time” began, and, “then not so much in time as in spirit.” Hurston as griot had the powerful ability to wander through time and spirit as deftly as she could space, enabling her to bind time in an essential act of Black space-time mattering. This presentation will consider Hurston in her role as Time Binder and her work to matter Black Space-Time and spirit, making legible the ways in which Black communities subvert, re-envision, reclaim, redesign, and dismantle the material realities of the mechanical clock and historical timeline, activating Black communal space-timescapes that are alive, dynamic, and textured and where past and future dimensions of time and the no-time of the spirit can be held in superposition.


Welcoming Remarks

  • N.Y. Nathiri, Executive Director, Preserve Eatonville Community, Inc.
  • Lyman Brodie, Executive Associate Dean, UCF College of Arts & Humanities
  • Bruce Janz, Co-Director, UCF Center for Humanities and Digital Research
  • Scot French, Chair, ZORA! Festival Academics Committee
  • Julian Chambliss, Curator, 2020-2024 ZORA! Festival Afrofuturism Cycle
10:00 - 10:30 AM

Keynote Address - Dr. Scot French

Dr. Scot French, Associate Professor of History, University of Central Florida

10:30-11:30 AM


Lunch On Own - Local Options

11:45-1:00 AM

Roundtable: Teaching Afrofuturism

  • Trent Tomengo, MFA, Seminole State  - Moderator
  • Clarissa West White, Ph.D., Bethune-Cookman University
  • Julian Chambliss, Ph.D., Michigan State University
  • Scot French, Ph.D., University of Central Florida
  • Rachel Braaten, Ph.D., Seminole State College
  • Joven “J.C.” Carandang, Seminole State College
  • Diana Reigelsperger, Ph.D., Seminole State College
  • Kathryn Steinhaus, Ph.D., Seminole State College
  • Stacy L. Tanner, Ph.D., Seminole State College
  • Neil Vaz, Ph.D., Seminole State College
1:15-2:30 PM

Keynote Address - Rasheedah Phillips, Esq.

Rasheedah Phillips, Esq., Director of Housing, PolicyLink; Founder, The AfroFuturist Affair; Co-founder, Black Quantum Futurism; Co-creator, Community Futures Lab

Presentation Title:
“Time and Place Have Had Their Say:” The Time Binder’s Role in Black Space-Time Mattering

2:45-4:00 PM

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