2-Day Event | Thursday January 30, 2020 (Day 1) | Friday January 31, 2020 (Day 2) | Featuring Ishmael Reed

Ishmael Reed - Afrofuturism

Ishmael Reed

Zora Neale Hurston Arts and Humanities Lecturer

What is Afrofuturism ?

Diaspora that offers radically different frameworks for understanding how society is formed and how it can operate.

A two-day Afrofuturism Conference (January 30 – 21) will present distinguished scholars working in the field today utilizing the lens of  the humanities.  Literary Elder Ishmael Reed, will deliver the Zora Neale Hurston Arts and Humanities Lecture [Day 2]; and panelists who responded to a  Call for Papers will engage with their  peers and members of the audience.


Day 1 – Thursday January 30, 2020 from 8:30am – 3:30pm

Day 2 – Friday January 31, 2020 from 9:30am – 4:30pm

Venue: UCF (Downtown Location) Communications and Media Building

Address: 500 West Livingston Street, Orlando, FL 32805

Ticket Information:

(Pricing Includes Fees)

On or before January 25, 2020
  • Professional $107
  • Independent Scholar $64
  • Graduate Student: $43
  • Undergraduate: $22
After January 25 and On-site:
  • Professional $75
  • Independent Scholar $59
  • Graduate Student: $70
  • Undergraduate: $48

One Day Ticket ( Can be used to attend any one of the two days )

On or before January 25, 2020
  • Professional $59
  • Independent Scholar $43
  • Graduate Student: $32
  • Undergraduate: $16
After January 25 and On-site:
  • Professional $75
  • Independent Scholar $59
  • Graduate Student: $48
  • Undergraduate: $32

Afrofuturism Program Overview & Schedule

Speaker Biography
Ishmael Reed is author of more than thirty books to date, including his eleventh novel, Conjugating Hindi,( Dalkey Archive Press, 2018); his eleventh non-fiction work, The Complete Muhammad Ali (Baraka Books, July, 2015); and New and Collected Poems, 1964-2007 (Carroll & Graf, 2007). New York’s Nuyorican Poets Café premiered his ninth and newest play, The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda, May 23, 2019. His latest essay collection, Why No Confederate Statues in Mexico, was published by Baraka Books in September, 2019.  His new poetry collection, Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues: Poems 2007-2019, is forthcoming from Dalkey, and includes his poem, “Just Rollin’ Along,” about the 1934 encounter between Bonnie and Clyde and Oakland Blues artists L.C. Good Rockin’ Robinson, which is also included in The Best American Poetry, 2019.
In addition Reed has edited numerous magazines and fourteen anthologies, of which the most recent is Black Hollywood Unchained (Third World Press, 2015). He is also a publisher, songwriter, public media commentator, lecturer, teacher and founder of the Before Columbus Foundation and PEN Oakland, non-profit organizations run by writers for writers. After teaching at the University of California, Berkeley for over thirty years, he retired in 2005.  Now a Distinguished Professor at California College of the Art, he also taught a Spring 2019 creative writing class at UC Berkeley. He is a MacArthur Fellow, with other honors including the University of Buffalo’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize nominations, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, and San Francisco LitQuake’s 2011 Barbary Coast Award.
Awarded the 2008 Blues Songwriter of the Year from the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, his collaborations with jazz musicians for the past forty years were also recognized by SFJazz Center with his appointment, from 2012-2016, as San Francisco’s first Jazz Poet Laureate and in Venice, Italy, where he became the first Alberto Dubito International awardee in May, 2016, honored as “a special artistic individual who has distinguished himself through the most innovative creativity in the musical and linguistic languages.”  Reed’s most recent honors include the 2018 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Award, and the 2017 AUDELCO Pioneer Award for the Theater. His online international literary magazine, Konch, can be found at  His author website is located at



11:00 AM                   What is Afrofuturism? A Primer


In the early 1990s cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” to describe the futuristic works of the likes of Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, Parliamen/Funkadelic, and Earth Wind and Fire. With the popularity of such movies as Black Panther and Get Out, the term Afrofuturism has hit mainstream culture. In this panel authors who have been Afrofuturism all along will talk about what the movement means to them.


MODERATOR: Michele T. Berger

PANELISTS: Maurice Broaddus, Chesya Burke, P. Djėlí Clark, Iheoma Nwachukwu



1:00 PM                      Reading: P. Djėlí Clark



2:00 PM                      Reading: Tenea D. Johnson



3:00 PM                      Reading: Iheoma Nwachukwu



4:00 PM                      Octavia’s Daughters: The Women of Afrofuturism


Some 14 years after Octavia Butler’s untimely death, Black women are now making their mark in speculative fiction. Join us in a lively discussion in how Black women are surging into the spotlight and taking over genre fiction.


MODERATOR: Bill Campbell

PANELISTS: Michele T. Berger, Chesya Burke, Tenea D. Johnson



10:00 AM                   Warping the Past/Shaping the Future


Many Black authors use speculative fiction to revisit and explore African America’s past with a sharp eye on how it will help shape present-day perceptions of that past and how people will take those lessons to help shape the future. Join this captivating discussion as authors explore all the possibilities.


MODERATOR: Bill Campbell

PANELISTS: Maurice Broaddus, Chesya Burke, P. Djėlí Clark



11:00 AM                   Reading: Chesya Burke



12:00 PM                    Afronauts and Funkateers: Afrofuturism across the Arts          


Afrofuturism has always spanned the arts. Today we will talk about the books, music, fashions, etc., that have embraced the future throughout the ages.



PANELISTS: Bill Campbell, Tenea D. Johnson



1:00 PM                      Reading: Michele T. Berger



3:00 PM                      Reading: Maurice Broaddus



5:00 PM                      The Power of Black Geekdom: Let Your Freak Flag Fly


Black Geeks! You’ve been hiding for far too long. There’s no need to hide any more! Come for this lively discussion of Black Geek culture. Tell us what you love, what you hate, what you’re looking forward to. We now have more offerings than we’ve ever had before. Come and celebrate!


MODERATOR: Tenea D. Johnson

PANELIST: Michele T. Berger, P. Djėlí Clark



12:00 PM                    Afrofuturism in Action: What to Do in the Age of Trump


Our art is our activism. Science fiction is more than space wizards with flashy swords or funny, little creatures fighting over rings. Find out how artists and writers are doing to combat the current political atmosphere with their vision and their actions.


MODERATOR: Bill Campbell

PANELISTS: Maurice Broaddus, Tenea D. Johnson, Iheoma Nwachukwu