Auburn University hosting symposium on immigration and migration in Alabama Jan. 20-21

AUBURN – Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts will host a two-day public symposium, “Becoming Alabama: Immigration and Migration in a Deep South State,” Jan. 20-21 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The symposium will feature scholars and professionals exploring immigration and migration from Spanish exploration through the 1813 Creek War to the present.

Isabel Wilkerson and Carmen Agra Deedy headline a roster of presenters who will provide historical context for the people who moved into, out of and within Alabama during the last 200 years.

Wilkerson will give a presentation based on her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.” Deedy, an award-winning writer of children’s literature, will share her experiences of growing up Cuban in Decatur, Ga.

Prominent scholars of history and political science from Auburn University, as well as other institutions, will speak on topics ranging from Spanish exploration to how Alabama’s immigrant population, including Germans, Koreans, Southeast Asians and Hispanics, have shaped art, politics, education and culture in the state.

“Alabama is a complicated place, and we can learn much by looking at the state through the lens of history and thinking about the future,” said symposium director Mary Helen Brown, an associate professor in Auburn’s Department of Communication and Journalism, and Breeden Eminent Scholar for the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities at Auburn University.

In conjunction with the conference, a genealogy workshop co-sponsored by OLLI at Auburn will take place Thursday, Jan. 19, from 1 to 5 p.m. Presenters will introduce family research and focus on using the census for both African American and Native American genealogies. The workshop can be registered for separately.

The symposium is a “Becoming Alabama” event. Designed to commemorate major Alabama anniversaries of the Creek War/War of 1812, the Civil War and Emancipation and the Civil Rights era, “Becoming Alabama” is a statewide initiative begun by the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

“Becoming Alabama: Immigration and Migration in a Deep South State” is supported by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state office of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is co-sponsored by the Alabama Department of Archives and History, the Auburn University College of Liberal Arts, History Department, and the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, as well as the Office of the Vice President for International Programs and the Office of Access and Community Affairs. The East Alabama Memory Project, a program of the East Alabama Arts Association, is also serving as a sponsor.

Registration for the conference is $50. Registration for meals, which will feature keynote speakers, is separate. Students may register at a discounted rate. For more information and to register, go to or call (334) 844-4946.

Contact: Maiben Beard, (334) 844-4903, (,
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