"Good and Necessary Trouble" Conference:

Imagining a stronger SUNY and national college systems for Black students, staff & faculty

Inaugural SUNY (BFSC) Black Solidarity Conference Feb 19th + 20th 2021

Theme: "Good and Necessary Trouble"

The late Congressman John Lewis called upon all of us to embrace getting into "Good Trouble and Necessary Trouble" to make the United States and the World a better place. For the inaugural SUNY BFSC Collective Black Solidarity Conference, in partnership with SUNY Dutchess Black History Committee, we ask the questions in honor of Congressman Lewis :

  • What "Good and Necessary Trouble" do we need to get into at SUNY, and in the larger world, to positively change the lives of Black students, staff and faculty in Higher Education?

  • How do we envision and actualize a SUNY that better supports the needs of Black students, faculty and staff?

  • What "waters need to be troubled" to reform academic practices, systemic norms and/or actions should be (re-)evaluated and (re-)conceptualized to build a better SUNY system moving forward to best support Black students, faculty and staff in your area of study/scholarship/advocacy?

  • How can we put such envisioned changes into action and get into "Good and Necessary Trouble" in positive and meaningful ways?


Dr. Sylvester J. Gates ( Brown University )

A keynote address by Dr. Sylvester James "Jim" Gates, Brown Theoretical Physics Center Director, Ford Foundation Professor of Physics, Affiliate Mathematics Professor, and Faculty Fellow in the Watson Institute for International Studies & Public Affairs at Brown University.

Saturday, February 20th, 2021 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Sylvester James “Jim” Gates, Jr., (born December 15, 1950) is an American theoretical physicist. He received two B.S. degrees and a Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the latter in 1977. His doctoral thesis was the first one at MIT to deal with supersymmetry. In 2017, Gates retired from the University of Maryland, and is currently the Brown Theoretical Physics Center Director, Ford Foundation Professor of Physics, an Affiliate Mathematics Professor, and a Faculty Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies & Public Affairs at Brown University. While at the University of Maryland, College Park, Gates was a University System Regents Professor, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics, the Director of the String and Particle Theory Center, and Affiliate Professor of Mathematics. Gates served on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, contemporaneously on the Maryland State Board of Education from 2009-2016, and the National Commission on Forensic Science from 2013-2016. He is known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. In 1984, working with M.T. Grisaru, M. Rocek, W. Siegel, Gates co-authored Superspace, the first comprehensive book on the topic of supersymmetry. In 2017, working with Frank Blitzer and Stephen Jacob Sekula, he co-authored Reality in the Shadows (Or) What the Heck’s the Higgs? In 2019, together with Cathie Pelletier, he co-authored Proving Einstein Right: The Daring Expeditions that Changed How We Look at the Universe.

He is a past president of the National Society of Black Physicists, and is a NSBP Fellow, as well as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Physics in the U.K. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming the first African-American theoretical physicist so recognized in its 150-year history. On November 16, 2013, Prof. Gates was awarded the Mendel Medal by Villanova University “in recognition of his influential work in supersymmetry, supergravity and string theory, as well as his advocacy for science and science education in the United States and abroad.” President Obama awarded Prof. Gates the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists in the U.S., at a White House ceremony in 2013. During 2014, he was named the Harvard Foundation’s “Scientist of the Year.” In 2018, he was elected to serve in the presidential line as Vice President of the American Physical Society. In 2019, he was invited to serve on the American Bar Assoc Steering Committee for the Annual Prescription For Criminal Justice And Forensic Science.

Also featuring...

Dr. Yolanda Sealy-Ruiz ( Teachers College, Columbia University )

A presentation by Dr. Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, award-winning associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Shamari Reid, doctoral student, Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University

Friday, February 19th, 2021 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz is an award-winning associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on racial literacy in teacher education, Black girl literacies, and Black and Latinx male high school students. A sought-after speaker on issues of race, culturally responsive pedagogy, and diversity, Sealey-Ruiz works with K-12 and higher education school communities to increase their racial literacy knowledge and move toward more equitable school experiences for their Black and Latinx students. Sealey-Ruiz appeared in Spike Lee’s “2 Fists Up: We Gon’ Be Alright”, a documentary about the Black Lives Matter movement and the campus protests at Mizzou. Her first full-length volume of poetry, Love from the Vortex & Other Poems was published in March 2020 (Kalediscope Vibrations). Please visit with her at yolandasealeyruiz.com, @yolie_sealeyruiz (Instagram), @RuizSealey (Twitter), and directly contact her at archofselfllc@gmail.com.


Shamari Reid ( Rising Doctoral Candidate)

Shamari Reid often refers to himself as an ordinary Black Gay cisgender man from Oklahoma with extraordinary dreams. Currently, that dream involves completing his doctoral work at Teachers College, Columbia University, in the department of Curriculum and Teaching, where he focuses on urban education and teacher education. Before starting his doctoral program, Shamari completed a BA in Spanish Education at Oklahoma City University and an MA in Spanish and TESOL at New York University. He has taught Spanish and ESL at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels in Oklahoma, New York, Uruguay, and Spain. In addition, he has spent the last few years teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on Urban Education, Teaching Developmental Reading, and Literacy, Language, and Culture at CUNY-Hunter College. His research interests include Black youth agency, advocacy, and activism and transformative teacher education. He is currently in the process of completing his dissertation on the agency of Black LGBTQ+ youth in New York City. Oh, and he has a small addiction to chocolate chip cookies. You can engage more with him and his work on his website: shamarireid.com

Dr. Charles W. Mills (CUNY Graduate Center)

And a presentation by Charles W. Mills, Faculty member at the Graduate Center at CUNY and author of numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as five books, including, The Racial Contract (1997), From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism (2003), and Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality: Race, Class and Social Domination (2010).

Saturday, February 20, 2021 11:00 am - 12:00pm

Charles W. Mills works in the general area of social and political philosophy, particularly in oppositional political theory as centered on class, gender, and race. In recent years he has focused on race. He is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters, as well as five books. His first book, The Racial Contract (1997), won a Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award for the study of bigotry and human rights in America. It has been adopted widely in hundreds of courses across the United States, not just in philosophy, but also in political science, sociology, anthropology, literature, African-American, American Studies, and other subjects. His second book, Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race (1998), was a finalist for the award for the most important North American work in social philosophy of that year. He is also the author of From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism (2003); Contract and Domination (co-authored with Carole Pateman, 2007), and Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality: Race, Class and Social Domination (2010). His sixth book, Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Mills is also the co-editor of Philosophy: The Big Questions (2003) with Ruth Sample and James Sterba, a special issue of the Du Bois Review on “Race in a ‘Postracial’ Epoch” (Spring 2014) with Robert Gooding-Williams, and Simianization: Apes, Gender, Class and Race (2015) with Wulf D. Hund and Silvia Sebastiani.

Mills received his PhD from the University of Toronto. Before joining the Graduate Center, he taught at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University.


The Conference will be held virtually through Zoom in order to help preserve Black Lives and communities from COVID-19. Having a virtual conference is consistent with responsible social distancing policies and to attract as many out-of-state presenters and participants given the COVID-19 evolving situation.


The Conference is free to attend via Zoom for all SUNY students, staff or faculty (attendance is limited)

Time & Session Format :

The conference will run Friday Feb 19th ( 10:00 am -3:00 pm EST) and Saturday Feb 20th (10:00 am-3:00 pm EST) of 2021.

  • Single Presenter: Proposals for 15-20 minute presentation with a 15 minute Q/A Discussion to follow for a single presenter. Students are strongly encouraged to submit proposals.

  • Group Presentations/Panels: Proposals for group presentation and/or panel discussions of 3-4 people. Group presentations/panels should plan for 20-25 minutes of presentation and 20-25 minutes of discussion with the audience. Students are strongly encouraged to submit proposals.

Call for Presentations & Panels:


In imagining a better SUNY for Black peoples in the state of New York, we propose the following questions: What possibilities should SUNY put into action?; What "good trouble" can and should we get into?; How do we envision change and create actionable plans to realize it?; and What gaps exist and what solutions can be brought forward to affirm and support Black Lives in SUNY? The SUNY Black Faculty and Staff Collective (SBFSC) asks for presentations, workshops and speakers willing to envision a more supportive and transformed SUNY system as well as campus environments that centers Black Americans. Most importantly, we are seeking proposals that move from envision to realizing these desired changes. We encourage works that will stimulate the necessary conversations to make the desired changes we want to see realized within the SUNY system and serve as a model for other institutions of higher learning locally, nationally and globally.

Need some Inspiration? Here are some concrete examples of proposal questions or panel presentations that could be considered :

  1. How might your campus need to re-evaluate nursing & health programs to recruit and support Black nurses?

  2. How might your campus address the missed opportunities in curriculum and programming to address concerns specific to art and artist expression of the Black Body?

  3. Where's my Black Dean? How can your campus and larger town culture change to attract more Black Leadership in your campus administration ?

  4. What would your campus look like if it created a new plan to recruit, retain and support Black students in STEM fields?

  5. (De)constructing the Black Trans Woman College Experience (Panel)

  6. Anti-Blackness in Latinx Cultures

  7. (Dis)ability and structural change for Black bodies and minds

Please submit using the form below

All single presenter and group presentations/panels proposals must be received via the online submission form by Midnight Jan. 8th, 2021. Notification of acceptance or rejection of proposals will be sent via e-mail by Jan. 10th 2021.

Proposal Guidelines, Content & Deadlines


Who is the Conference open to ?

This Conference centers Black Lives and voices directed towards a goal of envisioning a better SUNY system and stronger college communities across SUNY, locally, and nationally that support Black Lives through concrete evidence-based informed actions. Students, staff, faculty and alumni are welcome to present and/or attend (Registration is required as space is limited). Black students, staff and faculty are heavily encouraged to submit proposals and groups with at least one Black presenter/panelist are encouraged to apply. Faculty, students and staff are also encouraged to partner for presentations; however, this is not mandatory for a proposal to be considered.

Presentations/ Panels/ Workshops:

All proposals should center Black Lives and address the central theme of the Conference: "Good and Necessary Trouble." This can be done through a variety of ways and disciplines, including but not limited to: digital arts productions, reporting on current or proposed campus/SUNY advocacy projects, presenting new/proposed research, video or audio project(s) or other art forms, etc. Non-traditional proposals will be strongly considered.

Proposals are solicited for single presentations, group presentations/panels that discuss SUNY campuses or national movements elsewhere in United States Higher Education that support Black Lives by promoting "Good and Necessary Trouble" through research, scholarship, art and/or advocacy.

Content & Deadlines :


All single presenter and group presentations/panels proposals must be received via the online submission form by Midnight Nov 30th , 2020. Notification of acceptance or rejection of proposals will be sent via e-mail by Dec 21st 2020 .

Proposal Content:

Proposal should be submitted in the following format:

Proposals must provide all of the following information

  1. Provide a full list of presenters (first and last names) and identify if you or member(s) of you group identify as Black, Afro-Latino/a, Afro-Native, Afro-Asian and/or part of the African Diaspora.

  2. Proposals must identify the college, organization, or student group you're representing and indicate who in the group is a student, staff or faculty member.

  3. Proposals must provide an official Email address for the presenter(s).

  4. Proposals must have an interesting and engaging title (remember, you need to grab peoples attention who may not have the same level of knowledge in your subject area).

  5. Proposals must have no more than a 300 word abstract of their proposed presentation or panel. The proposal must outline the focus of your presentation/panel and clearly explain how you or your group will engage the audience during the presentation or panel (for example, screen sharing, sharing audio, providing call and response questioning to turn your presentation into a dialogue or live streaming a dance performance with a Q/A or discussion after ) .


Q: I'd like to present, but I don't identify as Black?

A: Black Folks make up 13.4% of the U.S population, 10.9% of the SUNY student population and only 4 % of Faculty at SUNY Colleges across the 64 campus system despite making up 16% of the state population. A critical goal of this conference is to identify ways that we can actively work to increase these numbers as we move forward. However, since this conference centers Black voices presenters will have to find a partner/partner(s) who are Black. All proposals should address the theme "Good and Necessary Trouble" and centers Black experiences, voices and visions with Black peoples, that will reach a broad audience that may not be Black. This may take you (as a non-Black person) out of your "comfort zone" and challenge your worldview. That's okay and will make the dialogue more meaningful for everyone.

Who was John Lewis ?

"On the front lines of the bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, with blows to his body and a fractured skull to prove it, Mr. Lewis was a valiant stalwart of the civil rights movement and the last surviving speaker from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

More than a half-century later, after the killing in May of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody in Minneapolis, Mr. Lewis welcomed the resulting global demonstrations against police killings of Black people and, more broadly, against systemic racism in many corners of society. He saw those protests as a continuation of his life’s work, though his illness had left him to watch from the sidelines." ( Excerpt from Katharine Q. Seelye , New York Times)

Read Katharine Q. Seelye's full article Here

Video: CBS Sunday Morning News 1998
Trailer: John Lewis : Good Trouble, Directed by Dawn Porter
Produced by Laura Michalchyshyn, Dawn Porter, Erika Alexander and Ben Arnon Magnolia Pictures