Carter G. Woodson Professorship

Carter G. Woodson Professorship

SIF174 Carter G. Woodson Professorship

Project Manager: Robert Vinson

Approved: December 2020

This award provides funding to create a quasi-endowment in support of a new Carter G. Woodson professorship.

Project Dates: 7/01/2021 – 6/30/2024

Total Funding: $3,000,000

Executive Summary:

One of the goals of the 2030 Strategic Plan is to recruit and retail excellent and diverse faculty, who are or will be leaders in their field.  The goal of this SIF award is to bring in a new distinguished full professor to the department of African-American and African Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Current Status: Active


The Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies successfully hired the Armstead L. Robinson Endowed Professorship as outlined in the goals for the SIF174 Award. Effective August 2023, Nemata Blyden will be the Armstead Robinson Professor of African American and African Studies, pending BOV approval.

In December 2022, Robert Trent Vinson, Director and Chair of the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African American and African Studies, appointed a committee comprised of Ashon Crawley (chair) (AAS/Religious Studies), Kai Parker (Religious Studies), Andrew Kahrl (AAS/History), and Lawrie Balfour (Politics) to search for the Armstead Robinson Professor of African American and African Studies, specializing in 19th century African American History. Between January 2023 and April 2023, the committee conducted an international search and ultimately selected three distinguished professors for on campus interviews. The committee extended an offer to Dr. Blyden who accepted in June 2023. Professor Blyden joined the Woodson Institute and University of Virginia community in August 2023.

Dr. Blyden’s research and teaching ideally fits the goals for the Robinson Professorship, as expressed in the job ad, to “scholars who can situate their work in dynamic transatlantic and diasporic circuits of movement and influence, related to Africa and the broader African Diaspora.” A Woodson faculty member for whom Blyden was the first choice noted her “powerful synthesis of African American, African, and Caribbean histories, and her interventions in the area of US immigration.” She is the author of West Indians in West Africa, 1808-1880: A Diaspora in Reverse (Rochester, 2000) and African Americans and Africa: A New History (Yale, 2019). By uncovering the history of African immigration to the U.S. before the mid-twentieth century, Blyden’s work challenges both the image of European immigration through Ellis Island that orients traditional understandings of nineteenth and early twentieth century immigration to the U.S., and the erasure of African immigration to the

U.S. in a recent immigration historiography that focuses on Latin American, Asian, and Pacific Islander immigration. Her work is crucial for uncovering the important role that African immigrants to the U.S. have played in Black American life since the nineteenth century.