Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Studies Comes to Power?

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Black Studies Comes to Power?

Article excerpt

Four conferences important to African

American Studies were held this fall.

Columbia University's Institute for Research

in African-American Studies hosted "The

Future of African-American Studies Theory,

Pedagogy, and Research;" New York

University's Africana Studies Program and

Institute of Afro-American Affairs sponsored

"Finding Fanon: Critical Genealogies;"

Temple University held the Eighth Annual

Cheikh Anta Diop Conference with the theme

"The Impact and Significance of the Works of

Dr. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga;" and the

National Council for Black Studies held its

annual meeting at Gallaudet University, this

year titled "Celebrating Thirty Years of Black

Studies/Africana Studies: A Legacy of

Leadership, Learning and Change." The

programs of the four conferences not only

provide straightforward accounts of what the

meetings intended to achieve, but reveal much

about the state of Black studies.

Future historians of Black studies will

learn much by studying these programs,

examining themes, and determining who was

invited and who was not. Some things were

predictable. That Manning Marable, who

directs Columbia's Institute, would invite

Abdul Alkalimat and Gerald Home, troth of

whom share his leftist perspective, is

understandable, as is Molefe Kete Asante's

(who until recently chaired Temple's

department) invitation to fellow nationalist

Haki Madhubuti. But there were some

surprises. The National

Council for Black Studies' which just changed

the name of its journal from the Afrocentric

Scholar to the International Journal of

Africana Studies, invited both Henry Louis

Gates Jr. and Cornel West-- each of whom as

had harsh if not downright nasty comments on

Afrocentrism--to speak. West is now on the

NCBS board.

The NCBS meeting and the NYU

conference on Fanon were remarkable for their

breadth, with persons of varied ideological

perspectives invited to participate. White the

naive expect this to be true of all academic

conferences, it is seldom the case, and certainly

rare in African American studies. As William

Banks make clear in his new book, Black

lntellectuals: Race Responsiblity in American

Life, Black academics have never had the

luxury enjoyed by their white counterparts, of

pretending to be neutral. …

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