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African American Studies Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The African American Studies program celebrated its 50th anniversary on February 20 and 21 with the unveiling of a new historical marker, commemorative speeches, musical performances and a symposium reflecting on the program’s significance.

The celebration not only honored the program’s past, but looked to its future: African American Studies is in the process of becoming a department within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with a pledge of four tenure-track lines committed to the field. A new space for the program has also recently opened in Turlington Hall.

Interim Director James Essegbey.

“This is the time to build bridges and strengthen already existing ties,” wrote James Essegbey, interim director of the African American Studies program and an associate professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, in a letter marking the occasion. “I look forward to continuing our collaboration and starting new ones in the coming years with the goal of fostering a fulfilled academic experience for our students.”

Addressing the crowd of more than 100 at a ceremony commemorating the historical marker unveiling, Dean David Richardson said that African American Studies reflected the goal of a liberal education: To free the mind.

With the marker and the new space, Richardson said that “African American Studies will take its rightful place in the vision of the University and its students.”

In his remarks, University President Kent Fuchs called the African American Studies “one of the defining elements of our University.”

The two-day festivities also featured a film screening of “The Making of the Institute of Black Culture at UF” and performances by 1000 Voices of Florida, the Pazeni Sauti UF Africa Choir, Agbedidi and more.

Take a look at the photos below for more scenes from the celebration.

All photos by Efren Vasquez – CLAS Media Services

Click here to watch panels from the symposium