UNCG’s African Studies Program celebrates 30 years of scholarshipBy Yasmine Regester
Published: October 24, 2012
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro celebrated the 30th year anniversary of its African Studies Program last Thursday with a two-day conference on October 18-19.
African Studies (AFS) alumni and department heads gathered on campus for the celebration and the 23rd Annual Conference on African American Culture and Experience with guest speaker Dr. Lenora Fulani, noted psychologist and political activist.
“Instead of saying someone should make a difference and waiting for that someone to emerge, she (Fulani) does the work to show that ‘I can make a difference,’” said Director of African American Studies since 2008, Dr. Tara Green.
The theme of this year’s conference was, “New Approaches to Black Leadership in the African Diaspora.”
In the past 30 years, the African American Studies Program at UNCG (AFS) has grown from two classes in 1982 into a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum, which now offers a major, minor and graduate certificate. AFS is a student-centered program, encouraging students, through internships and other programs, to develop ties with the Greensboro community. AFS core faculty and affiliates are now planning to change the name to reflect its growing engagement with global diaspora studies.
“The AFS program links to inclusiveness, collaboration and responsibility. This program really is a gem in the UNC system,” said Dr. David H. Perrin, provost and vice chancellor at UNCG.
The opportunity to earn a Bachelors degree in the academic discipline was offered in Fall 2002 and the first class graduated in Spring 2003. Robert Randolph Jr., was one of the first students to receive a BA from the program in 2003.
Randolph received the Distinguished Educator Award at the conference.
“Its a blessing to see the program flourish as it has,” said Randolph who is currently the Director of the University Writing Center at N.C. A&T and working on his Ph.D in educational and cultural studies at UNCG.
Ashanti White (03), a political science and African studies graduate said, “I’m happy to still see that continued involvement in the community from the department and its students.” White received the Distinguished Author or Scholar Award at the conference.
Jarrod Rudd, AFS ambassador and senior AFS major said, “I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. I really believe in the value of educating youth on the impact and influence of African American studies in a larger way.”
The two-day conference culminated with a banquet and keynote speaker, Dr. Lenora Fulani, co-creator of the All-Star Project. Fulani emerged as a political leader and role model when she ran for president and became the first African American woman to appear on the ballot in all 50 states in 1988. As the co-founder of the All-Stars Project, created in 1981, she remains a leader and role model to those who are interested in inspiring youth.
Fulani’s program, the All-Stars Project, creates outside-of-school educational and performing arts activities for economically challenged and minority youth. Funding for the All-Stars Project comes from private donors, not government grants.
Fulani explained her approach is to enrich the lives of children who are economically disadvantaged. “These youth cannot see past the poverty in their own environment. There is a connection between one’s access to the world and ability to learn with the broader society. Poverty in America is very racialized,” said Fulani.
She added, “But if you are an immigrant coming into this country, then it is ok to be poor. They are taught that African Americans are poor by choice because we are dysfunctional, wild and crazy. Its very different being an immigrant and then being the people that helped build the country and still have not been let into the mainstream of this country.”
Fulani also encouraged the students to put themselves in situations where they can grow. “I think it’s important to be open and honest with what the world is like. I let myself be open to what I had to learn. It has been challenging but you have to put yourself in situations where you’re going to grow.”
For more information on UNCG’s African Studies program visit www.uncg.edu/afs