PSU Vanguard Shield Icon

black history symposium explores oppression

Forgiveness and freedom

Dr. Robert Gould, PSU philosophy professor and chair, discussed his paper “Forgiveness and Freedom in African American Story-Telling.” The paper discusses the role of forgiveness in African American narratives and how fictional characters and situations can convey messages of hope for the oppressed.

“I suggest that African American storytelling is the key part of not only black emancipation but also the struggle for the abolition of all forms of oppression” Professor Gould expressed. Reconciling forgiveness, with slavery for example, with the unforgivable is challenging, but the reward of forgiveness is personal and emotional freedom.

Gould focused on the role of forgiving oneself and others that can be found in narratives like “The Color Purple.” He also suggested that narratives with such inner and outer forgiveness could be liberating to the fullest sense, but that we must be careful about how we understand forgiveness because it can take a form of submission.


G. Tucker Child from the Department of Applied Linguistics at PSU presented his research “Language Creation by Necessity: Linguistic Ramifications of the African Diaspora.”

Tucker defined and discussed the history and technical aspects of African vernaculars of English, such as pidgin and Creole. Professor Child expressed the importance of language and how cultural vernaculars of English can help minority groups create a community, communicate within the minority group, express themselves and distinguish themselves.

Child suggested that students who speak with English vernaculars should be taught in the same language. Teachers need to know how to communicate with their students no matter their background.

After Child’s presentation, PSU Professor and chair of Black Studies E. Kofi Agorsah stated, “There is a need to be able to teach them (Black students who speak in vernacular) in the way that they can understand themselves and the way that makes meaning to them by using some of those languages … and all languages need to co-exist”.