By Kysa Anderson Daniels
DUNWOODY, Ga.—A popular annual symposium on black history, organized by Georgia State University’s Perimeter College, has a new name: “The Mario Bennekin Black History Symposium.”
The event is scheduled for Feb. 15-19, 2021, in a virtual format.
The name change resulted from a fundraising campaign by the Bennekin family and the college to honor the late professor. That effort raised more than the $50,000 minimum required by the University System Board of Regents to name such an event.
Mario Bennekin was a history and political science professor at Perimeter who taught for 20 years and was instrumental in bringing the African-American Studies curriculum to the college. He was chair of the History and Political Science department when he died in 2019.
“With the current climate of our country, it is very important that we use our abilities to educate others on the past and how it has shaped our future as African Americans in this country,” said Dr. Kimberly Bennekin, who is co-chair of the symposium, a Perimeter math professor and Bennekin’s wife.
Following Bennekin’s death, faculty and staff from Perimeter’s departments of History and Political Science and Cultural & Behavioral Sciences championed the idea for a symposium to honor Bennekin, whose scholarship and teaching interests centered on the post-Civil War struggle of Black Americans, from the reconstruction era to the civil rights movement.
The 2021 conference theme is “The Harlem Renaissance: Roots & Reach.” The event will include guest speakers, poetry contests, student presentations, film critiques and more.
Dr. John Redmond, symposium co-chair and chair of the Cultural & Behavioral Sciences department, said the symposium will offer engagement and education, including virtual activities from each of Perimeter’s five campuses.
“The Harlem or Black renaissance is a rich cultural expression that was rooted in the Black cultural mecca of New York City in the early 20th century,” Redmond said. “Its reach resulted in an explosion of social and artistic expression across the country.”
Registration for the Feb. 15-19 symposium will begin in January. Donations to the Mario Bennekin Memorial Fund are still being accepted.