Navigating the Storms of Slavery: Restore, Reflect and Reclaim Conference 2024

SOS Conference 2024 logo


Hosted by the Department of Geography & Anthropology
Louisiana State University
and the Southern University Law Center
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

February 8-10, 2024

Lod Cook Alumni Center

3838 West Lakeshore Drive, Baton Rouge, LA


Joyce Jackson

Dr. Joyce Marie Jackson
Conference Coordinator
Chair of the Department of Geography & Anthropology


Image of Chancellor John  Pierre

Chancellor John Pierre
Southern University Law Center


On behalf of the conference committee, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 2024 Navigating the Storms of Slavery Conference. Thank you for being interested and we are excited to host you at the LSU Lod Cook Alumni and Conference Center in Baton Rouge, LA. The LSU Dept. of Geography & Anthropology, along with our co-hosting partner, Southern University Law Center, are convening this inaugural and international conference dedicated to the past and present impact of slavery in Louisiana and LSU. The conference marks an important moment in scholarly inquiry and understanding of how the enslavement of Black and Indigenous people shaped Louisiana’s history and the history of its universities. The conference is being dedicated to Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Professor Emeritus of History at Rutgers University, who recently passed in 2022. Professor Hall wrote the seminal book, Africans in Colonial Louisiana (LSU Press, 1992).

Read the Entire Welcome Message


Image of Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

Navigating the Storms of Slavery Conference is Dedicated to
Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall 

"Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, who after years of digging through obscure libraries in Louisiana, Spain and France managed to rescue the identities of more than 100,000 enslaved people from archival oblivion and demonstrate the vast extent of African influence on America’s cultural heritage -" - Clay Risen, New York Times, Sept. 11 2022

Register Now

Registration is now open. SOS Conference registrations are subject to limited spaces. Bookings are tentative until confirmed by return email.

Agenda at a Glance

Day I

Thursday, February 8th - The first day of the conference will foreground the effectiveness of Gwendolyn Midlo Hall’s work in harnessing impactful information on the institution of slavery and how it had a profound effect on many people and places in Louisiana and other parts of the Black Atlantic World.  As a persistent, tireless, and meticulous investigator, she has helped us to understand the complex and often hidden past of slavery and to relate and see how applicable it is to today’s institutions and society.  For these reasons we continue to call Gwendolyn Midlo Hall’s name and dedicate this conference in her honor to celebrate what she has given to the world.

Day II

Friday, February 9, 2024 - The second day of the conference will focus on speakers who will share best practices from their universities to address the need for acknowledgement, reconciliation, and a deeper understanding of the role the institution of slavery and enslaved people (Blacks and Indigenous) had in the formation and development of universities.  The conference will commence the dialog and fill in some of the silences on LSU’s past history and the impact it has on today.  


Saturday, February 10, 2024 - Field Excursion 

  1. Morning – Whitney Plantation Museum Tour, Edgard
  2. Afternoon – River Road African American Museum, Donaldsonville - Genealogy & Activists Session


Complete Conference Agenda


Note: The SOS Conference logo image inside the circle is the Akan (Ghana) Bono Adinkra symbol of Sankofa, which is based on the premise and belief that human beings are part of the past and that this past shapes the present. In other words, we cannot know where we are going unless we know where we are coming from. The wavy blue lines going through and underneath the state of Louisiana symbolize that it is a coastal state with frequent storms and was a major port in the transatlantic slave trade.

Keynote Speakers

The 2024 conference will feature keynote addresses by individuals with local, national, and international reach and impact. They include:

Douglas ChambersDr. Douglas Chambers is a retired history professor (University of Southern Mississippi), and currently serves as Executive Director of the Igbo History Foundation LLC, and CFO of Igbo Landing Foundation  Inc., a nonprofit corporation, and is a member of the advisory board of the Center for Igbo Studies (Dominican University, Ill.). His research centers on African Diaspora/Black Atlantic studies, including the Igbo diaspora and runaway slaves in the Atlantic world. Currently he is the author/editor of five books and over 20 peer-reviewed scholarly essays. Raised in Virginia, he has resided in Mississippi since 1999.

Dr. Marianne Fisher-GiorlandoDr. Marianne Fisher-Giorlando is Criminal Justice Professor Emerita of Grambling State University.  She has been a member of the Louisiana State Penitentiary Museum Foundation Board since 1998 when it opened and has served in various capacities on that board, presently serving as the Chair of the Education committee.  Fisher-Giorlando also conducts background research for the staff of the award-winning prison magazine, The Angolite. She conducts research about the history of the women in the Louisiana State Penitentiary and has given numerous presentations and published articles about the women in Louisiana’s prisons. She is a passionate supporter of the Louisiana Parole Project and is the recipient of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities 2023 Lifetime Contributions to Humanities Award which honors citizens who have supported and been involved in public appreciation of issues central to the humanities.  Raised in New Jersey, she has lived in Louisiana since 1986.

Haywood HallDr. Haywood Hall is the grandson of slaves. His parents were Professor Gwendolyn Midlo Hall and Harry Haywood, a major black revolutionary, internationalist, and civil rights leader. Dr. Hall is an Ashoka Social Impact Fellow, and an ACEP Hero of Emergency Medicine. and the recipient of the International Federation Emergency Medicine humanitarian award. He is a clinical professor of emergency medicine at University of North Carolina and at University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and Texas A&M University, where he is the leader of the border and global health security program in McAllen Texas on the US-Mexico border. He is an a internationally recognized emergency medicine physician who is one of the founders of the Global Emergency Medicine Subspecialty. He directed the ACEP international Ambassador Program and is the ACEP ambassador to Mexico and Cuba. He collaborated with the Mohammed Yunis organization in organizing the health section of a Nobel laureate pre-conference in 2015 in Atlanta. He is the founder of PACEMD Global Heath, an organization that has trained over 50,000 health care workers in Mexico including 20,000 in emergency childbirth. He founded an innovative total immersion program, MedSpanish. He has organized major international conferences and brought many counties into the IFEM as full members. He’s also an innovator and leader in the area of telemedicine and tele-health in the United States. He lives in central Mexico with his family. He credits his social impact drive to his parents leadership and influence in civil rights movement and strives to continue their legacy though efforts to improve health care in marginalized communities.

Keynote Speaker Isaac SaneyDr. Isaac Saney is a Black Studies and Cuba specialist at Dalhousie University and coordinator of the Black and African Diaspora Studies (BAFD) program, the first major in Black and African Diaspora Studies in Canada. He holds a PhD in history from the School of Oriental and African Studies - University of London. His teaching, research and scholarship encompass Cuba, Africa, the Caribbean, Black Canadian history, the global Black liberation struggle, and reparations. A major area of his research is Cuba's relationship with Africa.  His recent book, Cuba, Africa and Apartheid's End- Africa's Children Return! (Lexington Books,  2023) has been described as "a definitive account of Cuba’s role in the liberation of southern Africa" and "a significant contribution to the understanding of events in southern Africa during the 1980s and 1990s." Isaac was also the Director of Dalhousie University's Transition Year Program, the ground-breaking program founded in 1970 to redress the educational barriers and injustices that confront the Mi’kmaq Nation, other Indigenous peoples in Canada, and the African Nova Scotian community. Isaac is a long-time community activist and participant in the anti-war movement and the anti-racist struggle and passionately believes in the collective power of the people to transform the world in ways that bring forth equity, justice, and human dignity. His roots lie in the African Nova Scotia community and the Caribbean.

Keynote Speaker Ibrahima SeckDr. Ibrahima Seck is a member of the History Department of Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD), Senegal. His research is mostly devoted to the historical and cultural links between West Africa and Louisiana with a special interest for religious beliefs, music, foodways, and other aspects of folk culture. Dr. Seck is also a collaborator of the West African Research Center located in Dakar, Senegal, where he initiated the Bouki Blues Festival in 2002. This festival and other similar events are opportunities which allow him to connect West African musicians and musicians from the US South. Dr. Seck is now holding the position of the Director of Research of the Whitney Plantation Museum of Slavery, located in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana. He is the author of a book on this historic site, entitled Bouki fait Gombo: A History of the Slave Community of Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation) Louisiana, 1750-1860. [New Orleans: UNO Press, 2014].  He also has in press another book, entitled African Culture and Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley, from Iberville to Jim Crow.

Ruth SimmonsDr. Ruth J. Simmons is a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Rice University and Adviser to the President of Harvard University on HBCU Initiatives.  She served as President of Prairie View A&M University until March 2023. Prior to joining Prairie View, she was President of Brown University from 2001-2012 and President of Smith College from 1995-2001. Under her leadership, Prairie View was reclassified as an R-2 Research University and Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

As the first African American president of an Ivy League institution, Simmons spearheaded Brown’s modern response to its eighteenth-century legacy of slavery in 2003.  In 2006, the committee released a report documenting its findings entitled “Slavery and Justice.” The document chronicled the ways in which the university benefited both directly and indirectly from the transatlantic slave trade and the labor of enslaved people. This report marked the first major effort by an American university to address its ties to slavery and prompted other institutions to do the same. 

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Comparative Literature and Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college. 

Simmons is the recipient of many honors, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. She has received over forty honorary degrees from universities around the world, including Oxford University, Ewha Women’s University in South Korea and The American College in Greece.  Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Alley Theatre, The MacArthur Foundation, Morehouse College, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Holdsworth Center, and Hines Global Income Trust. She received the Brown faculty’s highest honor: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011 and was honored by the Prairie View faculty in 2022. In 2012, she was named a ‘Chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honor.

Keynote speaker Andrew SluyterDr. Andrew Sluyter grew up in Canada and is in the first generation of his family to graduate high school. He went on to earn his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of British Columbia and his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin. Currently a Professor of Geography at Louisiana State University, his research concerns understanding racialized places and landscapes in order to contribute to decolonization, a more equitable and inclusive society, and more sustainable relationships with nature. Two decades ago, he authored Colonialism and Landscape, the seminal monograph on settler colonialism in his field. Black Ranching Frontiers: African Cattle Herders of the Atlantic World, 1500–1900 followed a decade later to reveal the long-silenced voices of people of African origin regarding the establishment of cattle ranching throughout the Americas. His most recent book, the prize-winning Hispanic and Latino New Orleans: Immigration and Identity since the Eighteenth Century, addresses how immigrants from Spain and Latin America have long played central roles in creating New Orleans and its remarkable sense of place. He has served as the Executive Director of the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, Editor in Chief for the Americas of the Journal of Historical Geography, and on various committees of the American Association of Geographers. Previous honors include the J.B. Jackson Book Prize from the American Association of Geographers, the Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers, and a Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

TarverDr. Leon R. Tarver II, a highly respected retired American academic administrator, is most notably recognized for his tenure as the president of the Southern University System, the sole public, historically black university system in the United States, from 1997 to 2005. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Tarver received his primary education from local public schools. He later attended Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Dr. Tarver continued his education by obtaining a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University's John K. Kennedy School of Government and a Doctor of Philosophy from The Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Tarver's career at Southern University began in 1992 as a professor of Public Administration. He later served as the executive administrator of the Southern University Center of Cultural Heritage and International Programs. In addition to his contributions to Southern University, Dr. Tarver has also worked in international development, providing guidance to numerous countries, including Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa. In 2013, Governor Bobby Jindal appointed Dr. Tarver to the Board of Trustees of Southern University. Since 2015, he has served as Chairman, and Chairman Emeritus of the Southern University Board of Supervisors. Dr. Tarver has previously served as the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Revenue and Taxation.

Students and Community/Cultural Stakeholders

Are you interested in attending the SOS Conference and you are a student,  community/cultural stakeholder, activist, artist, or non-professional researcher/scholar? If so, limited student and community registration scholarships are available. Student delegates must provide valid student ID for the 2023-2024 academic year.

Delegate registration includes all keynotes, panels and meals February 8th and 9th. The SOS Field Trip on the 10th is a separate fee, but includes bus transport, 2 entry fees for tours, panel session, and lunch. The deadline for registering for the SOS Field Trip is February 7, 2024.

Registration Information

Professional/Scholar Delegates

Category Description Cost
Conference Fee Two-days Conference plus 5 Meals and Entertainment $250
One Day of Conference (Thursday only) Speakers, 3 meals and entertainment $150
One Day of Conference (Friday only) Speakers, 2 meals $125
Saturday SOS Field Trip (Registration Deadline 02/07/24) Bus Transport, Speaker Session, Lunch and 2 Entrance fees $75


Student and Community Delegates

Category Description Cost
Students and Community Delegates Does not include SOS Field Trip $100
Students and Community Delegates With Scholarship Does not include SOS Field Trip $25
 Saturday SOS Field Trip (Deadline 02/07/24) Bus Transport, Speaker Session, Lunch and 2 Entrance fees        $75

Note: Students and community delegates are eligible for a 75% conference registration discount. It must be applied for through the registration portal and cannot be done onsite at conference.  To receive a discount code for the student fee, you must send a copy of your current student ID to Zach Averette, (

To pay by check, please address to SOS 2024 Conference Registration and send to:

SOS 2024 Conference Administrator
LSU Geography & Anthropology
227 Howe-Russell-Kniffen Complex 
Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Hotel Booking

Navigating the Storms of Slavery 
02/07/24 to 02/11/24
Book Online Now
Cutoff date:  02/07/24

Or call toll free:
866-610-2665 (COOK)

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations are subject to a $150 processing fee.  After December 15, cancellations will be refunded at 50% after application of the processing fee.  After February 2, no refunds will be provided for confirmed places.  To apply for a refund, please contact Zach Averette ( 

Restaurants and Activities

For places to eat and things to see near the conference, see our list of restaurants and activities (PDF).






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