Tallahassee and African Sister Cities Coalition Inc. has banded with the University’s Department of History and Political Science to turn March into an annual tribute of Africa’s gifts to civilization.
These groups decided to make Carter G. Woodson’s original idea of Negro History Week more rounded by focusing more on the history of Africans along with the history of African Americans.
Event Coordinator Mary Brooks explained Africa Awareness Month Celebration & Lecture Series.
“It’s not a program,” Brooks said. “It’s a movement.”
“Black History Month now focuses primarily on the adversities black people experienced during slavery days and their achievements since the civil rights movement,” said Willie Butler, FAMU associate professor of history and founder of TASCC.
As a result, Butler said he believes Woodson’s initial aim to honor the history of the African Diaspora is not being fulfilled during Black History Month.
“Africa has been marginalized,” Butler said. “We simply have these pictures of (Africans) dancing and singing. We never really get into the issues that deal with Africa as is.”
Brown and other TASCC members agreed that is why TASCC is seeking to make Africa Awareness Month into a nationally recognized salute to African history. They said by bringing it to the country’s cultural forefront, it would educate black Americans about their historical connection to the continent.
The month would also serve as a conduit for creating an exchange of ideas between Africans and black Americans.
“This is in fact a pan-Africanist movement,” Butler said. “African Americans have penetrated every fabric of American economy and politics. In every aspect of it, we’re there somewhere. What we need to do is start giving to Africa. It would be a reciprocal relationship.”
Having already jumpstarted the movement into a local tribute three years ago, TASCC is now working to make their month-long March celebration a widely recognized event.
“We’re trying to be more inclusive this year,” Brooks said, who is also the TASCC Program and Evaluation Committee chairperson.
In years prior, the group came together for all of their Africa Awareness Month activities at a church. It is now moving away from the church and into venues across the city.
“If we have it at the University, it gives access to a more diverse audience and sends a message that this is for the community,” Brooks said.
In addition to a facility upgrade, TASCC has brought more native Africans on board to help out.
“They have information that we could never have,” she said. “So we have to depend on them to help us as we strive forth, promoting education about the cradle of civilization.”
Staying true to their declaration of African Awareness Month as a movement, TASCC has booked the internationally acclaimed scholar Ali Mazrui to deliver the keynote speech during the Opening Ceremony.
“The man is prolific,” Butler said. “You could even put him up there with someone like W.E.B. DuBois. Go into WebLuis, pull his name up and you’ll see countless books and articles that he’s written.”
Brooks and Butler encourage FAMU students to be present for Mazrui’s speech on the African renaissance and the seven pillars of wisdom Thursday at 7 p.m. in Lee Hall Auditorium.
“I know that everybody is just raring to go for Spring Break,” Butler said.
“The thing is, most of you are just going to go home and sleep, eat and run around the city a little bit. This is an opportunity for you to really hear somebody of international stature explain some things about Africa that you’ll never hear anywhere else.”
Contact Monica Harden at email@example.com.