Migration Stories: Africans in Midwestern Communities

MigrationStories HeaderRecent demographic changes in Kansas and throughout the Midwest present challenges and opportunities for all residents. One way to help community members learn about one another is through storytelling. Migration Stories: Africans in Midwestern Communities, a project of the Kansas African Studies Center at the University of Kansas, highlights the value of stories for communities facing shifting demographics due to migration. The project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Explore Migration Stories in your community. As a project partner, KHC has opportunities  for communities to share stories and create a deeper understanding of American Identities for all who call the heartland home.

Speakers Bureau

African Refugee Stories — and Silence — in Kansas
Presented by Marwa Ghazali
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The Bantu people of Somalia are an ethnic minority who were forced to leave their lands during the Somali Civil War. In 1999, the U.S. State Department made it a priority to resettle those refugees in America. Today, many Somali Bantu call Kansas City home. Just as it is across the African continent, stories are an important part of Bantu oral histories and identity. But what happens to vulnerable and marginalized communities when stories are interrupted, silenced, or forgotten? Through the power of stories and their erasure, this presentation explores the struggles of Somali Bantu in Kansas City to “live again” and to redefine themselves collectively in the aftermath of violence, exclusion, and resettlement.

Please visit the Speakers Bureau page for instructions to bring this presentation to your community.

TALK Book Discussion Series

African Experiences of Migration
What do we know about the experiences of recent African migrants who have come to call the United States home? African Experiences of Migration is a TALK (Talk About Literature in Kansas) book discussion series that explores some of the fault lines between being African and being American. The five books in this series address newcomers’ difficulties in adjusting to American life after enduring traumatic experiences in their home countries.

To see the list of books available for TALK discussions, click here.
To learn more about bringing TALK to your community, click here.

Film Discussion

Welcome to Shelbyville
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A small town in the heart of America’s Bible Belt grapples with rapidly changing demographics in this hour-long documentary. Longtime African American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a growing Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Muslim Somali refugees. As the newcomers — mostly of Muslim faith — attempt to make new lives for themselves and their children, leaders in this deeply religious community attempt to guide their congregations through this period of unprecedented change.

To request a copy of the film for a screening and schedule a discussion facilitator, contact Mackenzie Jones at the Kansas African Studies Center at the University of Kansas: kasc(at)ku.edu, (785) 864-3745.



For more information about bringing a Migration Stories program to your community, contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs: leslie(at)kansashumanities.org, (785) 357-0359.

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