Famed political activist to keynote Africana Studies Colloquium

Internationally known foreign policy advocate and author Randall Robinson will deliver the keynote address for BGSU’s ninth annual Africana Studies Student Research Colloquium Luncheon on Friday (March 17).

His talk, “Pan African Issues and Foreign Policy History,” will begin at 12:30 p.m. in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union and is free and open to the public.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and the author of several books on the black experience in America and abroad, Robinson has appeared on ABC’s “Nightline,” CBS’s “60 Minutes,” NBC’s “Today Show,” CNN and C-Span, among others. In 1977 he founded TransAfrica, dedicated to promoting enlightened, constructive U.S. policies toward Africa and the Caribbean. He served as president of the organization until 2001.

Robinson was in the forefront of the U.S. campaign to end apartheid in South Africa and supported the pro-democracy movement in Haiti. His 27-day hunger strike influenced the U.S. government to lead the 1994 multinational effort to return to power Haiti’s first democratically elected—but violently overthrown—government. He worked to expose the brutality of Ethiopia’s Mengitsu regime and the corruption in Nigeria during that country’s military dictatorship, and fought to thwart U.S. attempts in the mid-90s to end the Caribbean’s access to the European banana market.

He has been honored for his work by such organizations as the United Nations, the Congressional Black Caucus, Harvard University and the Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Students present research papers
The colloquium luncheon is provided in conjunction with presentations on Africana topics by BGSU undergraduates and graduate students, to be held from 10-11:45 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m. in 207 Union. About 10 students are participating this year, according to organizer Dr. Lillian Ashcraft-Eason, director of the Africana Studies Program. The program takes an international and interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Africana peoples of the world, she explained, and the colloquium is designed to inspire student interest in archival and field research on Africana topics.

Scholarship to honor Djisovi Eason
The evening before the conference, on March 16, there will be a reception for Robinson sponsored by the office of the president. The gathering will also mark the kickoff of a scholarship in honor of the late Dr. Louis Djisovi Ikukomi Eason, who came to BGSU in 1990 as a doctoral student and later taught in the Africana Studies Program. He started the Education through Cultural Arts program (in the Center for Innovative and Transformative Education), with outreach to area churches, schools and cultural organizations. A master drummer who studied under famed Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, Eason founded the Olatunji Drum Circle for World Peace, and established the Odun Omo Eniyan Children’s Festival that brought schoolchildren to BGSU to learn and perform African cultural arts.

Eason also took students to Benin, Togo, Ghana and Nigeria to study African culture, history and performing arts. With his wide-ranging interest in African traditional cultures and the belief that cultural arts hold the power to unite people, “Djisovi was one of the most ardent supporters of the Africana Student Research Colloquium,” Ashcraft-Eason said.

The scholarship will be offered each year to an Africana Studies major who has a grade point average of 3.0 or better, shows meritorious character and service, and demonstrates financial need. The award will cover tuition, fees and medical insurance.
March 13, 2006