Dr. Donald Nieman (left) is presented a plaque by Dr. Lillian Ashcraft-Eason at the Africana Studies colloquium luncheon March 14. Next to her (left to right) are former BGSU students and original members of the program Drs. Seneca Vaught, Niagara University; Babacar M'Baye, Kent State, and Zachary Williams, University of Akron.
Africana Studies honors its roots on 10th anniversary
The Africana Studies Program celebrated its 10th anniversary March 14 at its annual colloquium and luncheon. Africana Studies Director Dr. Lillian Ashcraft-Eason, history, who with her late husband, Djisovi, first proposed the program, presented a plaque of appreciation to Dr. Donald Nieman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, for his support in establishing it, in 1998.
“It’s really been Lillian Ashcraft-Eason and a wonderful group of students who have made (the program) what it is today,” Nieman said. “It has allowed us to learn more about Africa and the diaspora. A key to the success of the colloquium has been to bring prominent speakers to campus.”
This year’s speaker was author and historian China Galland of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. (www.chinagalland.com), whose work focuses on race, reconciliation and religion. She has probed the meaning of “blackness” and is an expert on the black Madonnas found around the world. Drawing connections to Tara, the female Buddha, and the Egyptian goddess Isis, Galland traced the transformation of the ancient symbol of earth and life into the Catholic Madonna still celebrated from Poland and Switzerland to the Americas.
In various other parts of the world, Galland explained, black is the color of purity and creation, the womb of the world. “The black Madonna is the great connective tissue that binds us—we all sprang from Africa,” Galland said. “The imagery can tap into an energy for change.”
March 24, 2008