David Zheng, Senior Photographer

As Black History Month comes to its end, the Virtual Tour Series “Civil Rights from Reconstruction to Right Now,” co-sponsored by Yale Alumni Academy and Yale Alumni College, concluded with its last installment highlighting the Daughters of the Movement, a podcast and speaker series featuring daughters of civil rights activists, on Feb. 25. 

Professor of African American studies Crystal Feimster hosted a conversation Thursday night with speakers who lived on the front lines of the African American Civil Rights Movement. At the end of the conversation, the audience of over 200 Yale students, alumni, faculty and members of the general public, had the opportunity to ask the Daughters questions about their stories. 

“Yale Alumni Academy’s Black History Month series has been superb, and the Daughters of the Movement event is the perfect capstone,” YAA Executive Director Weili Cheng ’77 wrote in an email to the News. “The YAA has been fortunate to feature so many remarkable speakers and presenters in our programming, including Yale’s outstanding faculty – professors like Crystal Feimster.”

The guest speakers included the daughters of civil rights activists such as Gina Belafonte, the daughter of Harry and Julie Belafonte; Suzanne Kay, the daughter of Diahann Caroll; Hasna Muhammad, daughter of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis Hasna; Stacy Renae Lynch, daughter of Bill Lynch; Dominique Sharpton, daughter of Al Sharpton; Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X; and Keisha Sutton-James, granddaughter of Percy Sutton.

According to Senior Director of Lifelong Learning and Travel at the YAA, Lauren Summers, the event was meant to serve as a dynamic forum for communication, connection and “learning for the love of learning.” Summers noted that the YAA and YAC came up with the idea for a virtual tour to allow audiences to connect with the history of civil rights from Reconstruction to now “through the lens of Yale.” The event was available free of charge to all Yale students and faculty. 

The “Civil Rights from Reconstruction to Right Now” virtual tour has been one of the most popular programs on the YAA’s website, with upwards of 2,000 visitors over the past month, Summers said. 

The speakers are all of different ages and lead in different fields of activism,ranging from politics to education to film, yet are united by intertwined legacies. Lynch said that she came up with the idea to form this “sisterhood” amongst the Daughters to connect with women of similar experiences in relation to African American history.

All the Daughters were raised in households with similar teachings of valuing African American culture and similar experiences as well as shared the importance of “self-love” with the audience. According to Sharpton, many of the Daughters were unaware of controversy surrounding their parents’ work and have had to learn to have similar strength and solidarity in their activism.

“I never really saw [my parents] shape to the controversy of what was going on because they were grounded in faith, and they instilled that in us from a very young age,” Sharpton told the audience. “That we are not only representing ourselves but we are representing a generation of people and we are representing the victory and promise of progress.”

Shabazz added that it is through self-love and sisterhood that they are able to build on their parents’ work. She said, in her eyes the mentality that the Daughters have is “let’s control our narrative and make sure that America gives liberty and justice for all.” 

Full biographies of the guest speakers are available online.

Eda Aker | eda.aker@yale.edu

EDA AKER
Eda Aker is a first year in Timothy Dwight College.