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Syracuse University Africa Initiative marks bicentennial of slave trade abolition
Syracuse University Africa Initiative marks bicentennial of slave trade abolitionFebruary 28, 2007Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated March 26, 2007, as an international day to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The Africa Initiative, located in the Department of African American Studies at Syracuse University, in collaboration with SU’s Office of Residence Life, the Department of History in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, the Office of the Vice Chancellor, the Student African American Society (SAS), the African Student Union (ASU) and the Onondaga County Public Library System, will host “Validating the Humanity of All: Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Commemoration Program,” a series of speakers and events to mark this occasion.
This commemoration day serves as an acknowledgment of the role that the trans-Atlantic slave trade has had in shaping world history — particularly in Africa, the Americas and Europe. On Feb. 24, 2007, the state of Virginia’s House Rules Committee unanimously approved a measure that expresses “profound regret” for the state’s role in the slave trade and other injustices against African Americans and Native Americans.
Two keynote speakers will anchor the University’s events. Adam Hochschild, author of the internationally acclaimed book “Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves” (Mariner Books, 2006), will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel. Hochschild will lecture on “Twelve Men in a Printing Shop, London, May 22, 1787: A Great Human Rights Movement is Born.” He will highlight the ways in which the struggles to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade informed and inspired many of the tactics of the current movements for human rights and social justice.
Earlier that same day, Hochschild will speak at the Curtin Auditorium in the Onondaga County Library Main Branch at 3 p.m. In the morning, he will meet with one class to speak about his writings.
Hochschild is most well known for his book “King Leopold’s Ghost: a Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa” (Houghton Mifflin, 1998). This book exposed the genocide and murder of more than 10 million Africans by the Belgians in the colonial period. His books have been translated into 12 languages, and The New York Times Book Review has named four Notable Books of the Year.
Sam Anderson, author of “The Black Holocaust for Beginners” (Writers & Readers Publishing, 1995), will be the second major speaker, on Monday, March 26, at 7p.m. in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons at E.S. Bird Library. His topic will be “From the Abolition of the Slave Trade to Reparations: Challenges for the 21st Century.” Anderson will outline the specific tasks for youth in reparations and human rights struggles for the 21st century.
Anderson is an activist/teacher/writer and an adjunct professor at New York University’s Gallatin School, teaching education courses. He was one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party, as well as an activist within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. Anderson was also a founding member of the Black Student Congress, the African Heritage Studies Association, the African Liberation Support Committee, The Black New York Action Committee, Black Liberation Press and the New York Algebra Project.
He is active with Black New Yorkers for Educational Excellence and the Independent Commission on Public Education in New York City, among other organizations. He has written numerous essays on the Black Liberation Movement as well as on math and science and technology as they relate to the black liberation struggle. He is currently editing “The Reparations Now! Reader”(Doubleday) and is writing for Writers & Readers two more “For Beginners” books: “Slavery For Beginners” and “Race For Beginners.”
Additionally, as part of the “Validating the Humanity of All” program, a film series depicting the Middle Passage of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is scheduled for various branches of the Onondaga County Library system and in University residence halls.
The Africa Initiative events are free and open to the public. For further information, contact the Department of African American Studies at 443-4302 or visit http://aas.syr.edu/African_Initiative/events.htm. A full schedule follows:
Schedule of Events
3 p.m., March 20Discussion with author Adam Hochschild, author of “King Leopold’s Ghost and Bury the Chains,” at the Curtin Auditorium, Onondaga County Library Main Branch, 447 South Salina St.; (315) 435-1900
7 p.m., March 20Keynote lecture: Adam Hochschild, with introduction by SU Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina. Hendricks Chapel
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., March 21Round Table: “Trafficking and modern slavery,” presented by African American studies associate professor Linda Carty, committee chair. Three other speakers will address topics of modern-day slavery, child labor and forced sex and exploitation.Sims Hall, Room 219
March 21-25Films in the community and in SU’s Watson Theater:
- 6:30 p.m., March 21. “Sankofa,” Dunbar Community Center, 1453 S. State St.
- 6:30 p.m., March 22. “Middle Passage,” Haven Hall (Marshall Street and Comstock Avenue).
- 3 p.m., March 24. “Amistad,” Watson Theater.
- 6:30 p.m., March 25. “Amazing Grace,” Watson Theater, with discussion and narration on the movie by Tasneem Grace.
All films will be followed by discussions and commentary.
7 p.m., March 26“Remembering the Black Holocaust.” Keynote lecture by author Sam Anderson. Additional events include a musical presentation, “The Journey,” by African American studies professor Bill Cole, and a lecture, “Why the U.N. Day of Commemoration is important,” by assistant professor of history Olatunji Ojo.Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, E.S. Bird Library