Albany State University students present research in Berlin

Student research details the impact of W.E.B. DuBois on HBCUs

Three ASU presented in Berlin

ALBANY – Three Albany State University (ASU) students traveled to Berlin in October to present research related to W.E.B. DuBois and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

The symposium titled, “The Legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois: lnterdisciplinary Responses,” commemorated the 150th birthday celebration of African-American sociologist, activist and author W.E.B. DuBois,

In 1892, DuBois was a research fellow at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University, today’s Humboldt University of Berlin. He was the first African-American to receive a doctoral degree from Harvard University. Decades later, he received an honorary doctoral degree from Humboldt University of Berlin. The symposium was sponsored by the Department of English and American Studies at Humboldt.

The ASU panel presentation, “W.E.B. DuBois and the HBCU Factor,” featured Kristin Martin, a chemistry and forensic science major from Conyers; Sabrina Netters, a computer science major and Albany native; and Levi Koebel, a biology major from Atlanta. Florence Lyons, director of the ASU Velma Fudge Grant Honors Program, served as the panel moderator.

“The experience was surreal. It was my first time traveling farther than Florida and North Carolina. All of my hard work and research going into the project really paid off,” Netters said. “I enjoyed doing the research and learning more about the topic. Not only did I feel great about doing the research, but I also enjoyed what I was able to do with it.”

DuBois dedicated his life to eradicating racism. In addition to authoring several books, including the notable “Souls of Black Folk,” DuBois was one of the founders of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

The students presented on various topics related to DuBois.

Koebel’s presentation, “Fisk University: Intellectual Beginnings,” explored DuBois’ activities at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where DuBois was enrolled as an undergraduate student. Koebel also shared how DuBois’ matriculation influenced his future activism and career.

Martin’s presentation, “A Spark of Activism: Incidents in Atlanta, Georgia that Outraged W.E.B. DuBois,” detailed DuBois’ experiences as a professor at the former Atlanta University and examined how his experiences in Atlanta shaped his method of social protest.

Netter’s presentation, “Beyond Bondage: How W.E.B. DuBois’s ‘Souls of Black Folk’ Gave Rise to a University,” provided the details of DuBois’ book, “Souls of Black Folk” which inspired Joseph Winthrop Holley to found Albany Bible and Manuel Training Institute, which later became Albany State University.

The opportunity came about after Lyons contacted Elahe Haschemi Yekani, a language and literature professor at Humboldt and one of the organizers for the symposium. Lyons was also instrumental in editing the students’ research and preparing them for the panel presentation.

“I was extremely pleased that we were invited to present,” Lyons said. “This was an incredible experience.”

In addition to the ASU students, professors from Humboldt University of Berlin presented as well as professors from Temple University; University of California, at Riverside; Northwestern University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Follow Albany State University on Twitter and Facebook @AlbanyStateUniv