Last week's Insight/KMOJ Public Policy Forum at Lucille's was all about Africa as forum guests Paul Mohrbacher, manager of community relations at the Science Museum of Minnesota and Michael Fagin
, Ph.D., associate vice president for cultural diversity at Minnesota State University (formerly Mankato State), discussed Africa's diverse physical and cultural characteristics.
Mohrbacher said it was important that the Science Museum's Africa : One Continent, Many Worlds exhibit was truly reflective of the peoples and cultures throughout the world's second-largest continent.According to him, the museum sought the advice of a committee of Africans and African Americans on whether or not to even bring the massive exhibit to the Twin Cities.Africa : One Continent, Many Worlds is a traveling exhibit based on the widely acclaimed, permanent Africa exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.The Science Museum of Minnesota will be the exhibit's only stop in the Upper Midwest.
is responsible for starting the Pan African Student Leadership Conference in Mankato 22 years ago.Influenced by mentor and friend Mahmoud El-Kati, Fagin
said the conference started with some basic principles and objectives.Fagin
wanted to work with young African and African American students attending primarily White colleges and universities by giving them something to identify with ; give them experiences which would instill them with self-pride..
Self-pride and a sense of solidarity, said Fagin
, can help Black students protect their sense of self-worth in a climate which is full of negative Black imagery.According to Fagin
, some Black students, when exposed to the positive messages disseminated at the conferences, undergo a visible transition.I have seen young people who attend the conferences literally break down in tears at finding out who they were -- finding out it was okay for them to speak to a brother walking across campus and that he
do not have to run away from tribal markings, " said Fagin
.The contributions [ that ] African people have given to the world enlightened those young people..
But, Black students be not the only ones who've been affected by the conferences, said Fagin
.While the conference is directed at Black people, it has had great impact on the general, or White student population, said Fagin
.I have seen similar reactions from students of European descent as i have seen in the African American student -- the same type of rage and anger that they were denied basic knowledge..Fagin
then told the story of an encounter with an angry White student.I can distinctly remember one White student running up to me after a conference -- and i be always in a defense posture after these sorts of interactions, and I think Spike Moss had just gotten through speaking, so I was in a real defense posture.He
ran up and said i be mad!' The reality was that he
was mad and felt cheated through his
then told the student, Join the army.we have got to do something so that your children and their children will not let these [ historical ] distortions continue..
The 23rd Pan African Student Leadership Conference was held this past weekend in Mankato.For more information on how to get involved in the next conference, call (507) 389-6125.