Working Groups



To support the sustained growth of our intellectual community Alumni of IRAAS have established several working groups.

  • Outreach
  • Mentorship (Pre-College, College, Graduate Students)
  • Professional Development (Academic and Non-Academic)
  • Travel

Contact us if you are interested in supporting a Working Group


9/26/18 Mountains That Take Wing – Angela Davis and Yuri Kochiyama: A Conversation on Life, Struggles and Liberation



Mountains That Take Wing – Angela Davis and Yuri Kochiyama: A Conversation on Life, Struggles and Liberation is a documentary featuring conversations that span thirteen years between two women who have dedicated their lives to progressive political change. A film screening followed by a conversation between Angela Davis and Kevin Fellezs, assistant professor of Music and a core faculty member of The Institute for Research in African-American Studies. The event is free and open to the public.

The Sanctuary Auditorium
First Corinthian Baptist Church of Harlem
1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Blvd (116th Street)New York, NY 10026
Source: IRAAS

9/13/18 King in the Wilderness


Screening followed by a conversation between
Executive Producer Trey Ellis, Film-Columbia School of the Arts , and Jelani Cobb, Columbia Journalism School.

Location: The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room, Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 West 129th Street (between Broadway and 12th Avenue)

REGISTER HERE on Eventbrite

Check-in will begin one hour prior to start time. Seating is limited and first come, first served. Advance registration does not guarantee seating. Early arrival is suggested.

King in the Wilderness chronicles the final chapters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. While the Black Power movement saw his nonviolence as weakness, and President Lyndon B. Johnson saw his anti-Vietnam War speeches as irresponsible, Dr. King’s unyielding belief in peaceful protest became a testing point for a nation on the brink of chaos.

Complex Issues explores difference, visibility, and representation through recent work by faculty of Columbia University and Columbia University School of the Arts in particular. Conversations invite challenging questions of racial, ethnic, gender, economic, sexual, religious, and cultural complexity, and how they are articulated across discipline and genre today.

Co-presented by the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and Columbia Journalism School.

Source: IRAAS

#IRAASAlumni Tania L. Balan-Gaubert @brooklynmuseum

Via @tanialaure @brooklynmuseum Artist Tania L. Balan-Gaubert draws from her Haitian and American heritage and contemplates migration, long-distance nationalism, and belonging through her interdisciplinary practice. @caribBEING

Curious what that yellow shipping container is doing on our plaza? That’s the roving home of our friends @caribbeing, and this August they’ll be stationed out front for their third annual, month-long residency. Inside the CaribBEING House you can find works by six emerging Caribbean artists that each play with the idea of the living room and it’s place within the home. We’ll feature these works here throughout the month.

Artist Tania L. Balan-Gaubert draws from her Haitian and American heritages to construct works that are caught between several realms. Her interdisciplinary practice employs photography, found and ready-made objects, craft materials, assemblage, installation and video to contemplate migration, long-distance nationalism, and belonging. In her installation for the CaribBEING House, she pieces together fragments of her memories—stories that have been passed down to her, and documentation of a home/land she can never know in the way her parents do, yet one she feels deeply connected to.

Stop by during Museum hours all month, and click here to see all the great free Thursday and Saturday activations happening around the space in celebration of our Caribbean community.

Tania L. Balan-Gaubert. Installation view: field notes from somewhere in the unfinished, 2018. Photographs in salvaged frames; and (un)sunken place (2018). Sequins, rhinestones, and acrylic on salvaged wooden chair.

tania l. balan-gaubert haiti hatian americanheritage realms photography objectscraft materials assemblage installation videomigration long-distance nationalismbelonging caribbeing caribbeandocumentation

IRAAS Alumni Council Congratulates Tongo Eisen-Martin on his American Book Award

IRAAS Alumni Council Congratulates Tongo Eisen-Martin on his American Book Award for Heaven is All Goodbyes

Shortlisted for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize

2018 American Book Award Winner

Winner of the 2018 California Book Award for Poetry

2018 NCIBA Poetry Book of the Year

Publisher City Lights Publishers
Format Paperback
Nb of pages 136 p.
ISBN-10 0872867455
ISBN-13 9780872867451

Follow on Twitter @tongoblackfire

Listen to IRAAS Alumni Cultural Commentator Amanda Seales & Civil Rights Attorney Natasha Korgonkar, Esq.

Check out this podcast with two IRAAS alums discussing Freedom of Speech. Cultural Commentator Amanda Seales & civil rights attorney Natasha Korgonkar, formerly of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

via Ms. Sharon Harris


Small Doses

Small Doses with Amanda Seales Episode 24: Side Effects of Free Speech (with Natasha Korgaonkar)

By Starburns Audio

This episode we take the more serious route to get to the nitty gritty of the 1st Amendment. My friend, Natasha Korgaonkar former lawyer with the NAACP Leah Defense Fund gets on the mic to clear up choice, freedom, and the difference in consequences when folks are exercising their rights vs. folks just runnin their mouths!


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IRAAS is an intellectual community that bridges scholarship, teaching, and public life.


IRAAS Graduate Elegance Bratton featured in New York Times “Category Is … Filmmaker Realness”

Before Elegance Bratton turned his lens on ballroom culture in Harlem, he starred in a real-life drama that took him from homeless shelters to the Marines.

Elegance Bratton, a documentary filmmaker, at a friend’s apartment in Harlem.CreditGioncarlo Valentine for The New York Times

As the sun sank below the New Jersey skyline on a warm Monday, the documentary filmmaker and photographer Elegance Bratton was strolling down Christopher Street in Manhattan. He was headed toward the Hudson River piers, a strip of gentrified urban greenway that still buzzes with the energy of the city’s storied vogue ballroom scene…

Mr. Bratton was a combat filmmaker stationed in Thailand and later at Camp H.M. Smith in Hawaii, where he made weapons demonstrations videos and was a troop photographer. “The first time I ever picked up a camera was as a marine,” he said. “The Marine Corps taught me that I wasn’t just something to be thrown away.”

Then, taking advantage of educational benefits available to service members, he ditched his uniform in 2010 and enrolled in Columbia University’s School of General Studies, with a major in African-American studies.


Read more online through source: New York Times

Deadline 6/21/18: IRAAS Alumni Council Phone Conference Dates

CalendarHello IRAAS Alumni Council,

We are writing in preparation for the IRAAS at 25th Anniversary Celebration that will kick off next academic year Fall 2018. The IRAAS Alumni Council would like to have a phone conference to discuss and plan IAC’s events for the incoming academic year. There will be a number of IRAAS hosted events related to the 25th. We want alumni to host at least 3 events. We are looking for people to help and participate in the events and also discuss the next direction for the council.
Here are the possible dates for phone conference in the next 2 weeks. Once we have confirmed a date and time we will send an email with the meetings agenda so we are all up to speed.
Possible Phone Conference Dates 
Monday, June 25 at 7:30 or 8:00pm
Tuesday, June 26 at 7:30 or 8:00pm
Wednesday, June 27 at 7:30 or 8:00 pm
Friday, June 29 at 6:00pm
Monday, July  2 at 7:30 or 8:00pm
Thursday, July  6 at 7:30  or 8:00pm
Please vote by June 21, 2018 to vote for your preferred time
Looking forward to connecting very soon,
Zinga Fraser – IAC Co-Chair
Russell Malbrough – IAC Co-Chair
We collaborating on this function 6/22/18 The New York City Affinity Group Networking Reception

6/22/18 The New York City Affinity Group Networking Reception

The New York City Affinity Group Networking Reception

Friday June 22, 2018 6PM

Cove Lounge, 325 Malcolm X Blvd, New York 10027


Free to Attend. RSVP REQUIRED

Cash Bar. Online menu

Happy Hour specials!

Join professionals from various industries to celebrate the start of summer and share opportunities for the future.

Special congratulations to the Class of 2018

Invited Guests:


Venue images courtesy Apex Building Group President & COO- Robert Horsford Brown ’96 / Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Eventbrite - The New York City Affinity Group Networking Reception

Barnard-Columbia Alumni Reunion Jam May 31 – June 2, 2018

Barnard-Columbia Alumni Reunion Jam 2018

Open to Columbia University alumni from all schools, affiliates, and generations, The “Jam” was originally the reunion of Black and Latino men and women who attended Barnard College and Columbia College in the 1960s and 1970s, who became the “foundational classes” on whose shoulders subsequent generations of students of color stand.

Join the party this reunion weekend with old school jams played live by Columbia classmate James “Plunky” Branch and his band Plunky and Oneness

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Columbia’s 1968 student uprising, we also honor the foundational classes of color – recognizing Rachelle “Viki” Browne, The Honorable Walter Rivera, and Steven “Noah” Sims for their commitment, with in person tributes by Efraim Nieves, Esq., Ellen Holder Honeywell and Eric H. Holder, Jr., 82nd Attorney General of the United States.

Jam 2018 is brought to you in collaboration:

Black Alumni Council of Columbia University

Columbia College Office of Alumni Affairs and Development

Ifill Events, LLC

Plunky and Oneness

Make a charitable contribution to the Black Alumni Council Scholarship Fund for undergraduate education.

Recommended reunion activities:

Th., May 31 – Barnard Alumnae of Color Dinner

Fri., June 1 – The Jam | 8 pm | Proper West 54 W. 39th St.

Sat., June 2 – Panel: Remembering 1968 | 1 pm | CU Law School

Sat., June 2 – Alumni of Color Reception | 4 pm | Campus

More Reunion Weekend Info

4/13/18 IRAAS Conversation Lecture Series Ericka Huggins

“We Are The Ones We Are Waiting For”

Ericka Huggins
Human Rights Activist, Poet, Educator,
Black Panther Party Leader and Former Political prisoner
Bio compiled from
I am a human rights activist, poet, educator, Black Panther Party leader and former political prisoner. For the past 36 years I’ve lectured throughout the United States and internationally. My life experiences have enabled me to speak personally and honestly on issues relating to the physical and emotional well-being of women, children and youth, whole being education, the incarceration of men and women of color, and the role of the spiritual practice in sustaining activism and promoting social change.
As a result of my 14-year tenure as a leading member of the Black Panther Party I bring a unique perspective to the challenges and successes of the Black Panther Party and, its significance today. My desire to serve humanity began in 1963, when I attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. There, I committed to serving people for the rest of my life. In 1968, at age 18, I joined the Black Panther Party. I soon became a leader in the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party with my husband John Huggins.
From 1973–1981, I was the Director of the Oakland Community School, the groundbreaking community-run child development center and elementary school founded by the Black Panther Party. Working with a team of incredibly talented party members and local educators a vision for the innovative curriculum for the school was written. This curriculum and the principles that inspired it became a model for and predecessor to the charter school movement.
During that time, with community support, I became both the first woman and the first Black person to be appointed to the Alameda County Board of Education, which serves children with cognitive, emotional and physical disabilities and, incarcerated youth in the county’s many school districts.
Ten years after my release from prison, in 1981, I returned to California state, county, and federal prisons and jails to share my experiences of yoga and meditation. A focus of my volunteer efforts has been with incarcerated youth. I have continued this work with adults and, in addition, I have continues this work in homes for foster and adopted children and teens. For the past 20 years, I’ve also taught relaxation and mindfulness in California youth correctional facilities, in addition to many California public school districts and community colleges.
In 1990, at the height of public awareness of HIV/AIDS, I was the first woman practical support volunteer coordinator at the world-renowned Shanti Project. I also developed a unique volunteer support program for women and children of color, living with HIV, in the Tenderloin and Mission districts of San Francisco.
During my time at Shanti Project and later Aids Project of Contra Costa County, I helped develop citywide programs for the support of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and questioning youth and adults with HIV/AIDS.
From 2003-2011 I was a professor of Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University and California State University, East Bay. From 2008-2015 I was professor of Sociology and African American Studies in the Peralta Community College District.
Currently, I am one of the facilitators with World Trust. World Trust uses films that document, through story, the impact of systems of racial inequity. These films are tools to foster conversation about race, and all structural inequities. These conversations are powerful to personal and global transformation. Below are the films that I use to stimulate dialogue as I travel and speak to audiences large and small:
The Way Home: Women Talk About Race in America
Light in the Shadows: Staying at the Table When the Conversation About Race Gets Hard
Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible
Cracking the Codes: A System of Racial Inequity
And coming soon in September 2017: Healing Justice: Cultivating a World of Belonging