In 2016, the Berkeley Black Geographies Project in the Berkeley Geography department. The founding of the project was initiated by the deep commitment and hard work of the current group of Black geographers organizing and resisting against the AAG's lack of concern for or interest in the issues impacting Black geographers and the work that they did. This inattention overlooked the efforts of a generation of Black geographers who worked to institution build within the Association and who did seminal work outside of it. Jovan realized that part of the issue was that many of the current generation of leaders in the Black Geographies movement were junior scholars who were under-resourced by their universities. He determined that although a junior scholar himself, Berkeley Geography and its reputation within the discipline meant that it should take responsibility and provide support for this burgeoning field. The need to address the historical challenges of racial and gender disparities expressed by the few Black graduate students within the department at the time also bolstered the determination to start Berkeley Black Geographies, with initial support from Geography chair Nathan Sayre.
With two students, Brittany Meche and Divya Sundar, and later joined by Professor Sharad Chari and students Camilla Hawthorne and Kaily Heitz, we began to organize the first symposium. The first Berkeley Black Geographies Symposium was more successful than we anticipated. Beyond the enthusiastic participation of those in attendance, I was surprised by the broad influence that it would have and the activity that it would inspire. As a result, our department became identified as a place where prospective students of color could pursue their doctoral work, leading over the past few years to a four-fold increase in our Black graduate student population, as well as an unprecedented enrollment of Black undergraduate majors. In a meaningful way, the success of the project, which has taken the form of various working and reading groups, collaborations with other units on campus as well as a new summer school whose Summer 2020 debut was unfortunately impacted by COVID 19, has helped securely position our department for the future of the discipline, by giving it a leadership role in that future. And so, what might read like departmental or campus service, Berkeley Black Geographies has made significant contributions to the discipline.