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WCSU to host panel discussion about ‘Afrofuturism, the Black Panther and the Black Panthers: Fantasy and Liberation’

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University will host a panel discussion about “Afrofuturism, the Black Panther and the Black Panthers: Fantasy and Liberation” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the WCSU Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.

Participants will include Dr. Donald Gagnon, professor of English at WCSU; William Foster, professor of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College; Steven Fullwood, public archivist; Lynne Johnson, professor at SUNY-Empire State College; and Dr. Demetrius Eudell, professor of history at Wesleyan University. The event will be free and the public is invited.

The panel will explore how Afrofuturism questions new ways of being while retaining ancestral memory, with a focus on comics featuring black super-heroes. Topics will include the character of Black Panther, the narrative and origins of Western superiority, and the Black Panther movement. Sponsors include the WCSU departments of English and History and Non-Western Cultures, and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

While several definitions of “Afrofuturism” are available online, Gagnon defined it in the context of this forum as “a discussion about the future of black liberation through the voices of a cultural past. Basically, Afrofuturists create their speculative worlds to be inclusive of a cultured and significant black presence, unlike most mainstream science fiction.”

The panelists are a group of diverse scholars ranging from a comic book researcher to a public archivist and professors. “We have distinguished faculty and experts from the area,” Gagnon said. “Steven Fullwood, the public archivist who served as curator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, reached out to me when he heard that the panel was taking place, asking if he could be involved, because of how strongly the subject matter resonated.

“Another panelist is a professor of history at Wesleyan University, along with Afrofuturism specialist Lynne Johnson from SUNY,” Gagnon added. “We also have perhaps the pre-eminent scholar and researcher on black comic books, Bill Foster. I am thrilled to be entering into conversation with these brilliant spirits, all representing the kind of empowered, intellectual educators of color that Afrofuturism itself envisions.”  

This panel discussion is one of several Black Heritage Month events at the university in February. For a complete schedule, go to

For more information, send an email to Gagnon at




Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.