12 September 1977 – 18 December 1946
“Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.”
– The Definition of Black Consciousness, I Write What I Like, 1978.
Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) leader, South Africa’s most influential and radical student leader in the 1970s and a law student at the time of his death. He became a martyr of the Freedom Struggle and posed one of the strongest challenges to the apartheid structure in the country. Biko was murdered on 12 September 1977, in a Pretoria detention cells.
Due to local and international outcry his death prompted an inquest which at first did not adequately reveal the circumstances surrounding his death. Police alleged that he died from a hunger strike and independent sources said he was brutally murdered by police. Although his death was attributed to “a prison accident,” evidence presented during the 15-day inquest into Biko’s death revealed otherwise. During his detention in a Port Elizabeth police cell he had been chained to a grill at night and left to lie in urine-soaked blankets. He had been stripped naked and kept in leg-irons for 48 hours in his cell. A blow in a scuffle with security police led to him suffering brain damage by the time he was driven naked and manacled in the back of a police van to Pretoria, where he died.
American Educational Research Association Plenary Presentation
Commission on Research in Black Education
New Orleans, LA
It took Lerone Bennett several decades to write his newest book, Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, meticulously documenting Abraham Lincoln’s white supremacy beliefs. Bennett shows that Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” was a conscious and necessary deception that did not free a single enslaved African. Bennett then shows the carelessness of historians, and even the cover-up of the record by some, in order to let the myth survive. How ironic that many tears have been shed by those who choose the Lincoln Memorial as a symbolic site to celebrate African liberation, while oblivious to those who truly sought to free Africans, not the least of whom were Africans themselves. Instead we honor an opponent of equality who openly espoused white supremacy views until his death. Then we accept a myth that is the opposite of the truth.
In many ways, the persistence of the myth of Abraham Lincoln as a liberator of Africans is a symbol of the contemporary response to the state of education of African Americans and of African people worldwide. So much of what we believe about our state is false. How do we account for this myth of the “Emancipator” and of “emancipation.” It is in the curriculum and in the culture at large, a belief in the face of all evidence to the contrary. And so, until this very time, we have a whole nation in deep denial. Continue reading
Molefi Kete Asante
The 30th Annual W.E.B. DuBois Lecture was held Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at UMBC. Molefi Kete Asante, a professor in the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, discusses DuBois and Africa: The Convergence of Consciousness. Asante is an expert on African culture and philosophy and is the author of 65 books and more than 300 articles. The founding editor of the Journal of Black Studies, he is considered to be one of the 10 most widely cited African American writers and scholars.
The event was sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies with additional support from the Dresher Center for the Humanities.