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To help celebrate February as Black History Month, Essex County College is hosting its 5th annual Garvey/Nkrumah Lecture Series on Thursday, February 16, at which time the legacy and history of former Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara will be honored.


The free program, presented by the College’s Africana Institute, will be held 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the 4th Floor Multipurpose Room at the main Newark campus. The late president’s brother Paul Sankara and Dr. Gnaka Lagoke – a specialist in African political affairs, development and Pan-Africanism – will be the keynote speakers.


President Sankara served as head of the West African nation from 1983 until his assassination on October 15, 1987. In 1984, President Sankara had renamed the former French colony of Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means the “Land of Upright People” in that nation’s widely-spoken indigenous languages of Mossi and Dyula.


While leading Burkina Faso, President Sankara was credited with fighting environmental degradation, empowering women, and increasing access to education and health care.


The lecture series has been designed to highlight African Diaspora speakers from around the world. It is a Pan-African presentation showcasing the continuity of the philosophy of operational unity amongst African people both in the United States and throughout h world. Each lecture will encompass the perspectives of Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and Marcus Mosiah Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association/African Communities League in 1917.


Additional information on these programs is available from Akil Khalfani, director of the Africana Institute at 973-877-3219.


Also throughout February, the Africana institute is presenting the art of the late Carl Whiteurs, who became known as Wabembe, in The Gallery, also at the Newark campus. A reception in The Gallery, which will be co-hosted by his daughter Ghana Imani, will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 24. Additional paintings by the artist are currently on display in the Africana Institute.


Mr. Whiteurs began doing graphic designs while a middle school student. He continued his art while serving in the United State Air Force. He became active in the Pan-African movement and focused much of his work on the African and Black experiences.


His career included designing magazine, book and album covers for such people as Amiri Baraka and singer James Mtume. He also completed commissioned paintings for Muhammad Ali and a portrait of former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.


He died in 2008. His daughter, who lives in Montclair, is the caretaker of his extensive artwork.


Posted in Essex County College News