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African Studies Association Annual Teachers Workshop 2020

Program Details

Opening Session: Plenary Room

Opening Remarks from Carolyn A. Brown



Carolyn A. Brown

Rutgers University

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Carolyn A. Brown, professor of history, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, specializes in African social, urban and labor history and the history of slavery in Africa. She is the author of We Are All Slaves: African Miners, Culture, and Resistance at the Enugu Government Colliery, Nigeria, 1914-1950, (Heinemann 2001), a co-editor, with Paul Lovejoy, of Repercussions of the Atlantic Slave Trade: The Interior of the Bight of Biafra and the African Diaspora, (Africa World Press, 2010) and co-editor with Judith Byfield, Ahmad Sikainga and Timothy Parsons of Africa and World War II (Cambridge University Press) She is an editor of the Cambridge University Press Africa Series and was a senior editor of the labor journal, International Labor and Working Class History. In 2017 she directed a project ‘Global Timbuktu: Meanings and Narratives of Resistance in Africa and the Americas’ that honored several freed-slave settlements named Tombouctou in 19th century New Jersey and New York which brought several Malian scholars to Rutgers University to visit and meet with representatives of the settlement in Burlington County, New Jersey and in New York State. She also directed a SKYPE project in which students in Bamako, Mali spoke with students in Burlington County high school.

Keynote Performance by Dr. Omékongo Dibinga

African Lives Matter

Omekongo Dibinga's keynote performance underscores the importance of the African global experience in our educational system. Dibinga highlights the importance of moving beyond a Eurocentric lens to explore the history of Africa and those spread throughout the diaspora. From curricula to student populations, participants will learn how to cultivate or enhance their view of Africa and people of African descent from a holistic perspective.


Dr.Omékongo Dibinga

UPstander International


Dr. Omékongo Dibinga is the UPstander. He is a motivational speaker, trilingual poet, TV talk show host, rapper, and professor of cross-cultural communication at American University. His Urban Music Award winning work has best been described by Nikki Giovanni as “outstanding, exciting, and new while being very old.”  He has spoken before the United Nations, partners with the State Department to conduct youth leadership trainings overseas, and speaks to leadership and youth student conferences across the country.   He provides leadership, educational and diversity empowerment as a consultant and motivational speaker for organizations, associations, and institutions.  His most recent book “The UPstander’s Guide to an Outstanding Life” is a life balance book for students. For more information, please visit

Black Lives Matter & Pan-Africanism Sessions


Session 1: "Tumi Ma Me Nkorɔfo" “Power to my People”

Presenter: Rita Mawuena Bennisan

Description: “Tumi Ma Me Nkorɔfo” in the Akan language (Twi) translates to "Power to my People.” As we look through archival photographs from late 1800s -1970s that focus on the chieftaincy in Ghana, we will see how many parts of Ghanaian culture, such as their adinkra symbols, fabrics and royal regalias gives strength and power to royal individuals: Kings, Chiefs and Queen mothers, and to the daily Ghanaians: Market Women, Craftsman, and Students. 

During the workshop, we will look at and discuss how a simple object as an umbrella, which is used as protection from the weather in most parts of the world, can also be seen as an object to identify a person and provide sovereignty and protection to their community. Through this, the next time you and your students open an umbrella, you will embody that power!
Level: Middle & High School Teachers

Session Material:

Presenter Bio:

Rita Mawuena Bennisan

University of Wisconsin, Madison


Rita Mawuena Benissan is a graduate student at UW-Madison pursing a Master of Fine Arts. She is a Ghanaian-American interdisciplinary artist, who explores the identities of Africans and African Americans while showcasing the profound beauty and power of black culture. Her art and research celebrate African and Black Aesthetic while exploring her cross-cultural background and identity as both an African and an American woman. She considers herself a narrative photographer that engages with the mediums of painting, printmaking, and textiles.

She looks in depth in the understanding of the concept of the “Black Aesthetic” and its relationship to blackness in western society. Her blackness was influenced by my parents’ Ghanaian culture—which is her foundation as a Black woman. She embraces her own aesthetic, by reinterpreting the royal umbrella which is the symbol of hierarchy within the chieftaincy in Ghana.

Session 2: Bringing Historical and Global Context to BLM: Black Lives Matter and Human Rights Movements in Africa

Presenters: Rozell "Prexy" Nesbitt, Dr. Elizabeth Schmidt, and Dr. Tavy Aherne

Description: The late John Lewis, in a 1988 interview on the significance of dialogue between African and African American activists, stated, “I saw Africa as a place of independence, a place of freedom, a place where, particularly in West Africa, and East Africa, where we visit[ed] as members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. For the first time, you saw a group of Black men and women in charge….[G]rowing up in the southern parts of the United States of America, where we have been [talking], and speaking a great deal about one man, one vote… in Guinea, in Ghana, in East Africa, in Zambia, we saw people making it real, making it happen. It was a source of inspiration, for us to be … on a continent, where there was a greater sense of freedom, and a greater sense of … appreciation for human dignity.” This session will ground the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement in the long history of transnational dialogues and solidarities between Africans and African-Americans in their struggle for human rights across two continents. It will further address the global nature of BLM. Participants will receive resources and insight on how to engage with students on such issues of current and historical relevance, while adding global content to courses.

Session Material: The Case for Reparations

Presenter Bios: 


Rozell "Prexy" Nesbett


Presidential Fellow, Peace Studies, Chapman College and founder of the non-profit Making the Road

Rozell "Prexy" Nesbett has spent more than five decades as an educator, activist, and scholar of Africa, foreign policy and racism. Prexy's career has also included extensive consulting and training on class,race, multiculturalism and diversity. A teacher and lecturer for many years, he additionally has worked as a "red cap," social worker, union organizer, special assistant to Chicago’s Mayor, the late Harold Washington, and a senior program officer with the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago. Over the course of his career, Prexy has made more than one hundred trips to Africa, including trips taken in secret to apartheid-torn South Africa. A product of the University College of Dar Es Salaam and Antioch College, he was active in the USA, Canada and Europe in the struggle to end apartheid and worked to end colonialism in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe (former Rhodesia) and Namibia (former Southwest Africa). From 1979-1983, he worked worldwide as the Program Director of the World Council of Churches Program to Combat Racism based out of Geneva, Switzerland. In the late 1980's he served as senior consultant to the Mozambique Government organizing in North America to prevent the apartheid-backed rebel movement, RENAMO, from gaining official support from the Reagan administration and its allies.

Through his lifelong commitment to human rights and Black lives Prexy has had the honor of knowing and working for the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eduardo Mondlane, Samora Machal and Mayor Harold Washington. Additionally, he worked closely with Amilcar Cabral, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, and Grace Machel.  

Elizabeth Schmidt


Professor Emeritus, Department of History, Loyola University

Elizabeth Schmidt is professor emeritus of history at Loyola University Maryland. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and has written extensively about US involvement in apartheid South Africa, women under colonialism in Zimbabwe, the nationalist movement in Guinea, and foreign intervention in Africa from the Cold War to the war on terror. She was involved in the US anti-apartheid movement in the 1970s and ‘80s, and more recently, she has worked with African refugee communities in Baltimore and prison education in Maryland. Her books include: Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the War on Terror (2018); Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror (2013); Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946-1958 (2007); Mobilizing the Masses: Gender, Ethnicity, and Class in the Nationalist Movement in Guinea, 1939-1958 (2005); Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870-1939 (1992); and Decoding Corporate Camouflage: U.S. Business Support for Apartheid (1980). 


Tavy Aherne

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Interim Director, African Studies Program, Indiana University-Bloomington

Tavy Aherne is the Interim Director for the Indiana University African Studies Program, and directs K-16 Africa-content outreach and professional development opportunities for in-service and preservice teachers at Indiana University in collaboration with the School of Education. She also serves as an editor on the journal Africa Today. An Africanist Art Historian, Dr. Aherne has taught for almost twenty years and collaborated on exhibitions with national and international museums (including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of African Art, and the Musée Dapper in Paris). Dr. Aherne also served as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation academic curator (2015-2017) in the Education department at the Eskenazi Museum of Art, and was a Posse Foundation faculty mentor (2012-2015). Dr. Aherne’s teaching includes diverse courses in African visual culture, museum studies, and interdisciplinary research methodologies. Her research and writing has focused on West African aesthetic systems, African textiles and trade, and teaching pedagogies -including the use of object-based (OBL) and experiential learning in K-16 curriculum. She has conducted research with Fulbhe and Bamana artists and colleagues in Guinea and Mali, as well as archival and field research in Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tonga (Polynesia), and Europe.



Session 3: Hip Hop in Africa: Cultural Roots and an Expressive Form of the Youths

Presenters: Msia Clark and Isaac Kalumbu

Description: African concepts of community and the functional role of music in society, along with formal musical structures and aesthetics were maintained by communities of blacks that were formed in the Americas since the beginning of the enslavement of African peoples. These cultural roots spurned many different genres of black musics in the African diaspora in the West, each bearing the imprint of African aesthetics and formal conceptualizations of music making, and the use of the spoken word, poetry and story-telling. Hip Hop emerges out of this cultural heritage in the early 1970’s and quickly becomes an internationally consumed and performed music by the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. African youths find a connection to this music and become exponents, localizing it to their tastes, experiences, values and aspirations. The session will explore this musical journey and equip participants with a knowledge of some of the key aesthetic and formal principles of African derived music forms . In addition, we will explore the historical, social and political meaning of this music as it is performed by African youths, and the overall implications in engenders for a discussion on such issues as gender, youth agency and Pan Africanism.

Level: Middle & High School Teachers 

Presenter Bios:

Dr. Msia Kibona Clark

Howard University

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Dr. Msia Kibona Clark is an Associate Professor of African cultural & feminist studies in the Department of African Studies at Howard University. Her work focuses on representations of Pan Africanism, African feminism, and African/Diaspora identities in hip hop and popular culture. A Tanzanian feminist activist and scholar, her work also explores African feminism’s role in cyberfeminist spaces. Her scholarship includes numerous articles and books, including the texts Hip-Hop in Africa: Prophets of the City & Dustyfoot Philosophers, Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati, and the forthcoming African Women in Digital Spaces: Redefining Social Movements on the Continent and in the Diaspora. Msia currently teaches Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa, a joint course between George Washington University and Howard University. She is also the creator and producer of the Hip Hop African Blog & Podcast. The blog contains over 1,000 posts on hip hop culture in Africa, and The Hip Hop African Podcast features conversations with artists, activists, and scholars from across the continent. 

Isaac Gabriel Kalumbu

Michigan State University

Desert Nature

Isaac Gabriel Kalumbu is the Assistant Director for Outreach at the African Studies Center at MSU. He was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Economic History and History at the University of Zimbabwe, and a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology with a minor in African American Studies from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. He taught courses on African American, Caribbean and African popular musics for twelve years in the College of Music at Michigan State University, and led several Study Abroad programs to Jamaica and South Africa. In 2011, he joined the university’s International Studies and Programs, first as Assistant to the Director of the African Studies Center, and later as Program Manager for the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. As Program Manager, Isaac was responsible for the implementation and management of the scholars program at Michigan State University. Isaac also assisted the Foundation with directing the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Community, which comprised the Scholars in all MasterCard partner institutions in Africa, Canada, and the USA. Prior to rejoining the African Studies Center in August 2019, Isaac served as Student Advocate and Outreach Coordinator for the Office for International Students and Scholars at MSU for one and a half years. In addition to his academic and administrative work, Isaac is a GRAMMY Nominated singer and songwriter.

Ancient, Medieval, & Colonial History Sessions

Session 1: Teaching About Nubia in the K-12 Classroom

Presenter: Dr. Stuart Smith

Description: Nubian kingdoms existed alongside Egyptian kingdoms over a period of thousands of years. People, goods, and ideas moved back and forth between the two regions, as did claims to territory and political power. This sessions will educate participants about ancient Nubia and provide resources to enable you to teach about this important Nile valley civilization.

Level: Middle & High School Teachers

Presenter Bio:

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Dr. Stuart Smith

University of California, Santa Barbara


Professor Smith’s research centers on the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Nubia. He is particularly interested in the identification of ethnicity in the archaeological record and the ethnic dynamics of colonial encounters. Ancient Egyptian colonialism, intercultural interaction and the origins of the Napatan state, whose rulers conquered Egypt, becoming Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty, provide the focus of his current archaeological research. He has published on the dynamics of Egyptian imperialism and royal ideology, the use of sealings in administration, death and burial in ancient Egypt and Nubia, and the ethnic, social and economic dynamics of interaction between ancient Egypt and Nubia.  Smith’s material specialization lies in ceramic analysis, including the chemical characterization of absorbed residues. He is also an active field archaeologist, having participated in and led archeological expeditions to Egypt, including the Luxor’s Theban Necropolis, and since 1997 to Sudanese Nubia, where he directs excavations at third cataract of the Nile in the New Kingdom and Napatan cemetery of Tombos, along with co-director and UCSB alum Prof. Michele R. Buzon of Purdue University.

Session 2: Timbuktu and Timbuctoo: Global Connections across the Atlantic

Presenters: Brenda Randolph and Vanessa Oyugi

Description: David Conrad will discuss the medieval city of Timbuktu and the role that it played in trade, religion, learning and governance. Vanessa Oyugi will introduce the Gold Road Interactive Map and highlight markers connected to Timbuktu.   Brenda Randolph will introduce the Discover Africa in the Americas website which reveals evidence of Africa in the Americas. She will focus on West African Muslims who were enslaved in the Americas and three 19th century American towns that echo the name of Timbuktu.  

Session Material: The Gold Road: Howard University | Africa Access: Discover Africa in the Americas 

Presenter Bios:

Ancient Session 2

Brenda Randolph

Howard University

Brenda Randolph is the president of Africa Access and Outreach Director at the Title VI Center for African Studies, Howard University. She is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, holds a Master's degree in African Studies from Howard University, and a Master's in Library and Information Services from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has worked as a school librarian in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maryland. In the late 1960s, she co-founded the Southern Africa Relief Fund to assist the victims of apartheid and Portuguese colonialism. In 1989 she founded Africa Access to combat stereotypes about Africa and help schools, public libraries, and parents improve the quality of their K-12 collections on Africa. In 1991, Africa Access, in collaboration with the African Studies Association, founded the Children’s Africana Book Award that honors the authors and illustrators of outstanding K-12 books on Africa. In 2015 Africa Access launched the Discover Africa in the Americas website. Most recently in 2020, Africa Access created The Gold Road: Medieval Ghana, Mali, and Songhai in collaboration with the Center for African Studies at Howard University and the African Studies Center at Boston University.


Vanessa Oyugi

Howard University

Vanessa Oyugi is an alumni of the African Studies and Research Program at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where she completed her dissertation work examining the use of Kenyan literature as a political platform and as a source of historical memory. Currently, Dr. Oyugi is the Assistant Outreach Director at the Center for African Studies at Howard University, coordinating professional development workshops and opportunities for teachers interested in teaching about Africa.

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David Conrad

State University of New York

David C. Conrad is Emeritus Professor of African History, State University of New York. His field research is mainly in Guinea and Mali, focusing on the Medieval Empires of West Africa and on the Oral Tradition, Indigenous Belief Systems and Art History of the Mande peoples and their neighbors.

Session 3: Koze! Creole and Colonialism in Mauritius

Presenter: Elsa Wiehe

Description: World history teachers are often searching for entry-points to teach about colonialism in Africa. The sequence of teaching often focuses on the European conquest, examines the scramble for Africa, and uses country case studies. Using Mauritian Creole as a case, this session will provide a lens and tools to examine colonialism in Africa, looking more closely at colonial language legacies, policies and practices.  More specifically, participants will discuss the impact of colonial language policies as a mode of domination that went to the core of people’s identities; reflect on language contact and the etymological origins of Creole as a way to analyze the African basis of the language, and connect to the present by examining struggles for Creole in parliament in Mauritius and Creole in schools in Seychelles.

Level: Middle & High School Teachers

Presenter Bio:

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Elsa Wiehe

Boston University


Elsa Wiehe leads the Outreach K-16 Education program at the AFrican Studies Center at Boston University. A multilingual Mauritius citizen and licensed K–6 teacher, she has taught English and French in elementary and secondary schools and worked as an educational consultant in West and Southern African countries. Her dissertation research focused on the construction of Creole identities through teacher talk about place in Mauritius. She’s published and presented on a number of subjects. Recent publications include “Making Race: Examining the Power of Local Place in Teacher Discourse” for the International Journal of Multicultural Education (2019) and “The Struggle for Creole in Schools in Mauritius: Toward a Decolonial Interculturality in Language Policy and Practice” in Intercultural Education: Critical Perspectives, Pedagogical Challenges, and Promising Practices (2020), and “Translanguaging to Teach for Justice for Multilingual Students” in Educational Foundations: An Anthology of Critical Readings (2020).

Cultural Studies, Film, and Literature Sessions

Session 1: The Role of Illustrations in Picture Books: An Essential Layer of Storytelling with CABA Winners Adrienne Wright and Elizabeth Zunon

Presenter: Adrienne Wright and Elizabeth Zunon

Description: Illustrations and words in picture books are dependent on each other. Illustrations create drama and anticipation as the story moves forward and are used to help the reader understand context in a story, figure out the narrative, and increase comprehension. Adrienne Wright will discuss her process and inspiration for creating the illustrations for HECTOR: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph That Changed Apartheid using the photograph that inspired the story and anecdotes from the photographer and Hector's family, which helped paint a specific picture of Hector's world. The author will show references for characters and settings, original sketches, detailed final sketches, work-in-progress sequences of the finished art; a thumbnail map of the book's structure; and research for illustration decisions.Elizabeth Zunon will discuss her process of researching, writing and illustrating the picture book Grandpa Cacao: a Tale of Chocolate, from Farm to Family. By sharing excerpts from the book and background information about how she arrived at the final images, participants will have a behind-the-scenes look into all of the “art ingredients” that create the illustrations: tracing Zunon’s path backwards from painting to pencil sketch to reference photos.

Session Material: 100 Photos | The Most Influential Images of All Time  |  Page Street Publishing |

Level: Elementary & Middle School Teachers

Presenter Bio:

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Adrienne Wright


Adrienne grew up in South Africa and studied graphic design and illustration at art college in Johannesburg. Working in advertising agencies in South Africa and the United States as a graphic designer and art director led to her interest in illustration. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) where she served as the Illustrator Coordinator for the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter for many years. She won the Work of Outstanding Progress Award from SCBWI for the manuscript that became her debut picture book, HECTOR: A BOY, A PROTEST, AND THE PHOTOGRAPH THAT CHANGED APARTHEID, published by Page Street Kids. HECTOR has received numerous excellent reviews and acknowledgements, among them are starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and ALA's Booklist; 2020 ALA (ALSC) Notable Children's Book; Kirkus Reviews Best of 2019 (Middle Grade Biographies & Memoirs); 2019 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection; Bank Street College 2020 List of the Best Children's books of the Year, and is also included on the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature (CSMCL) Best books of 2019 list. HECTOR received the 2020 Children's Africana Book Award for Best Book for Young Children. Adrienne lives in Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania. 


Elizabeth Zunon


Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, New York, and grew up in Ivory Coast, West Africa. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances, and play dress-up in a household that was never devoid of chocolate. As she grew up, she didn't change! Elizabeth now lives in Albany where she explores a multicultural world through painting, silk-screening, collage, and pondering the endless possibilities of chocolate. Grandpa Cacao is her first authored-illustrated book, and a loved letter to the grandfather she never knew. 

Session 2: Global Literacy Invitations: Africa Across the Curriculum

Presenter: Dr. Vesna Dimetrieska and Leana Brunson McClain, M.S.Ed

Description: This session will introduce participants to Global Literacy Invitations, providing opportunities to examine how picture books may be used to teach global content, internationalizing one’s curriculum.  It is geared towards grades 3-6 teachers. Globally competent teachers prepare students to be globally ready individuals who can work and make a difference in today’s interconnected world. Picture books from various parts of the world have the potential for making connections across the content areas while addressing the academic standards and learning about other parts of the world in age-appropriate ways. Additionally, the global literacy invitations help creating meaningful learning experiences both for the students and the teachers who are creating and using them. 

Session Material: Global Literacy Invitations  |  Outstanding Course for Quality Books on Africa

Level: Elementary  and Middle School Teachers (Especially grades 3-6)

Presenter Bio: 

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Dr. Vesna Dimetrieska

Indiana University, School of Education

Dr. Vesna Dimetrieska is the Coordinator of Global Education Initiatives in the School of Education at Indiana University. She was formerly a research and post-doctoral fellow with the IU P-16 Center, School of Education. Her work focuses on expanding the world language programs in K-12 education across Indiana as well as internationalizing P-16 education. Dr. Dimitrieska’s research interests include language teacher cognition, language teacher identity, reflective practices of teacher educators, as well as instructional practices and professional development of language teachers in foreign/second language contexts and dual language immersion programs. She has published numerous articles and book chapters, and leads joint IU Hamilton Lugar School of International & Global Studies NRC Title VI Centers/IU School of Education teacher workshops and professional development opportunities. Dr. Dimitrieska is the 2020 national recipient of the Best Practice Award in Support of Global and International Perspectives from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the 2020 national award winner of the National Network for Early Language Learning Award for Outstanding Support of Early Second Language Learning, and the 2014 Paul Simon Award recipient for the Promotion of Language and International Studies (group award for the work on the Indiana University NRCs’ Title VI Project, Bridges: Children, Languages, World).


Leana Brunson McClain

Indiana University, School of Education

Leana Brunson McClain, M.S.Ed. is a Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the department of Curriculum and Instruction and the department of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education at the Indiana University School of Education teaching social studies and literacy methods courses. Her teaching career spans more than 40 years teaching elementary school in the United States and Saudi Arabia. She has provided professional development literacy support to schools in international settings including the Cook Islands, Costa Rica, and China. In 2016, she created the Global Literacy Invitation project to encourage Indiana classroom teachers to think and teach globally.

Session 3: Afrofuturism in Literature and Film

Presenter: Dr. Dawn-Elissa Fischer

Description: What is Afrofuturism and how does it explore Black history, identity, and possible futures across media? How does Afrofuturism differ from African speculative fiction? How can Afrofuturist works be used in classes to engage students in discussions about race that center Blackness and the diasporic experience? This workshop will introduce participants to the origins of Afrofuturism, core concepts, and works that exemplify Afrofuturist aesthetics and philosophy. 

Level: Middle and High School

Presenter Bio: 

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Dr. Dawn-Elissa Fischer 

San Francisco State University

Dawn-Elissa Fischer, also known as the “DEF Professor,” is an Associate Professor at San Francisco State University, where she teaches courses on black popular culture, information technology and virtual ethnography. Dr. Fischer has published on the topics of race in cyberspace, popular culture and globalization, Blackness, and race, gender and transnationalism in Japanese Hiphop and anime. 

Fischer was a founding staff member of Dr. Marcyliena Morgan’s Hiphop Archive and Research Institute at Harvard University in 2001, and continues to consult in an advisory role. Prior to joining the faculty at SF State, Fischer traveled within and outside of the United States utilizing Hiphop as part of a social movement strategy. Fischer co-founded the National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) with Bakari Kitwana and many others in 2002, and the NHHPC held national political conventions in 2004, 2006 and 2008. At SF State, Dr. Fischer co-directed the BAHHRS (Bay Area Hip Hop Research and Scholarship) project with Dave “Davey D” Cook, which was awarded the Cesar Chavez Institute’s Community-University Empowerment grant. 

The academic perspective from which Fischer writes is unique in that she has had the opportunity to experience Hiphop's heterogeneity as a window to understanding racism and globalization. She has extended family members that have been professional and renowned artists, and her youth activism was inspired by Hiphop art. Fischer was part of a pioneering group of scholars to write dissertations on subjects that included Hiphop as part of their analytic interest.

Environment & Justice Sessions

Session 1: Youth Rise Up Against Climate Change | An interactive conversation across two continents

Panelists: Oladosu Adenike (Nigeria), Nkosi Nyathi (Zimbabwe), Irene Asuwa (Kenya), Yola Mgogwana (South Africa) 

Moderator: Aniya Butler

Level: Upper Elementary, Middle, and High School

Presenter Bios:

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Oladosu Adenike


Oladosu Adenike is an eco-feminist, climate justice activist and a first class graduate in agricultural economics. An advocate for the restoration of Lake Chad and the founder of ILeadClimate, pioneering the green democracy initiative and the green accord. 


Irene Asuwa


Irene Asuwa is one of the Team Leads at Ecological Justice, a communities banner that seeks to connect struggles for ecological justice. Ecological Justice educates, organizes, and amplifies the individual and collective efforts of communities towards attaining food sovereignty, reclaiming green spaces, and transforming community spaces. 


Nkosi Nyathi


Nkosi Nyathi is a 17-year old climate advocate from Victoria Falls, currently studying at Inyathi High School in Bulawayo. He has been part of the environmental clubs since grade 5 (10 years). Currently he is the vice president of the environmental club at Inyathi High School. He became Climate Youth Ambassador for UNICEF in 2015 and Greenline Africa Youth Ambassador since 2014. He has held sessions on local radio stations and newspapers and discussions with community members and municipal offices. He has also held peer education sessions on climate change.  He represented children and youth in COP25 Summit in Spain and also shared a platform at the 5th regional forum on sustainable development in Victoria falls. As a participant in the GiHub Competition, he won $1000,00 which led to the establishment of a biogas digester at Chamabondo Primary School in Victoria Falls and the impact of the digester has led to the establishment of another biogas plant at two schools.


Yola Mgogwana

South Africa

Yola Mgogwana, 11 years old from Yomelela Primary School in Khayelitsha, has come a local climate activist. Yola is a member of Earthchild Project Eco Warriors, an environmental club led by Xoli Fuyani, ECP Environmental Manager. In March & June, Yola spoke in front of 2,000 young people in Cape Town, and she presents talks at neighboring school. "I want to show the world that we, as black youth from Cape Town's under-resourced communities and townships, do care about the climate - because we are the ones that get affected the most." Her plea to the South African government is to take urgent action. "We will not accept a life of fear and devastation. The crisis is now. People are dying."


Aniya Butler

Moderator from Oakland California

Aniya Butler is a 14 year old freshman from Oakland, California. She is an activist, organizer, poet, and published author with Youth Vs Apocalypse. Her goal is to fight for climate and social justice by uplifting the voices of youth and Black and Brown communities through poetry. 

Session 2: The Global Burden of Single Use Plastics

Presenter: Carlos Mureithi

Description: Carlos Mureithi is a co-author of the recent New York Times story, "Big Oil Is In Trouble. Its Plan: Flood Africa with Plastic." In this workshop, he'll provide additional context for the story, including a deeper look at the life of a single-use plastics around the world, problems with recycling plastics, and sustainable alternative that pre-existed plastics in various places. This workshop provides a model for teachers who are using the UN Global Sustainability Goals in their classrooms. It could also be used as a case study to help students investigate the meanings of globalization. 

Level: Middle & High School Teachers

Presenter Bio:

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Carlos Mureithi

Journalist | Kenya

Carlos Mureithi is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. He frequently covers East Africa for The New York Times. His work has also been published by Reuter and Aljazeera.

Session 3: Introducing Africa, Racial Stereotyping & Environmental Justice

Presenter: Dr. Barbara Brown

Description: In this session, Dr. Barbara Brown will introduce key frameworks for teaching about Africa in the early grades. The workshop will highlight practical ways to foreground voice, visuals, and connections in a discussion of African geography, history, children's literature, and the cultures of modern African countries.

Level: Elementary School Teachers

Presenter Bio:

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Barbara Brown

Boston University

Barbara Brown, Ph.D., has taught both middle school level in the U.S. and at the University level in the U.S. and at the University of Botswana. For more than 25 years, she led Boston University's African Studies Center's program to strengthen K-12 teaching of Africa. Her research is grounded in South Africa and Botswana. She has led many teacher workshops, created a large variety of classroom materials and consulted for textbook publishers and PBS. She also co-led several month-long summer programs for teachers in the US and in eastern Africa. 

Plenary Room Sessions

Session 1: African Creativity and the Arts in the Time of COVID-19

Presenter: Dr. Mandisa Haarhoff

Description: Africa has constantly been framed as the diseased continent. However, news media has been celebrating and looking to Africa for examples on how to deal with the novel Corona virus, formally known as Covid 19. At. Various countries throughout the continent have been innovative in offering nationwide testing, instituting social distance laws that curb hospital overload, mask making, and implementing successful alternatives to ventilators. On the other hand, artists have been curating online creative communities of care, sharing poetry, music, art making, and theatre. This has opened up what is often deemed the exclusive terrain of the middle-class to millions of audiences who can now enjoy the arts through various forms of social media. How is this moment bursting open myths about the continent’s capacity for care and how does it shift conversations from a destitute continent waiting for salvation to one that has always pushed for creative means and solutions to attend to the particular needs of its people. How can we learn to teach about the continent from the continent? This talk will be a
multimedia showcase of African creativity and the arts in response to corona.

Level: All Levels

Presenter Bio: 

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Cape Town City Center

Dr. Mandasa Haarhoff

University of Cape Town

Dr. Mandisa Haarhoff completed her Ph.D. at the University of Florida in 2018 on a Fulbright scholarship, and currently holds a full-time position as Assistant Professor at the University of Cape Town. Her dissertation, titled “Black in the Afterlife of Apartheid: Death and Blackness in Late-Apartheid and Post-Apartheid Narratives”, considers how black South African writers use the trope of death to articulate black positionality, subjectivity, and otherness. She completed her MA in Drama at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal with funding from the National Research Foundation. Her award-winning play, Crush-hopper, a self-written and performed one-woman show has toured the world. Her current project, “White indigeneity” and black absenting in the South African Farm Novel, examines the ways in which farm novels and Plaasroman participate in constructions of white indigeneity and enact black absenting throughout the late-colonial and apartheid period. Dr. Haarhoff’s research interests are concentrated around postcolonial theory, black studies and critical race theory.

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Session 2: Bringing African Voices to the Secondary Classroom: An Introduction to Africa-centric Curriculum from the Choices Program

Presenter: Mimi Stephens

Description: Join us for a look at the student readings, case studies, lessons, and videos in two Choices Program curriculum units, Colonization and Independence in Africa and Nigeria: History, Identity, and Change. Both units place African voices and perspectives at the center of the story. Participants will receive a complimentary, one-month digital trial to one of these units.  This interactive session will also provide an overview of the free Africa-related resources produced by the Choices Program.

Level: Middle & High School Teachers

Presenter Bio: 


Mimi Stephens

The Choices Program

Mimi Stephens is the professional development director at the Choices Program. The Choices Program is a project of the History Department at Brown University. Choices creates curricular materials for the secondary school classroom on a variety of historical turning points. 

Relevant for high school teachers

Session 3: Un-teaching Myths of Ancient Africa using the Humanities in Class Digital Library

Presenter: Andy Mink

Description: Given the wide popularity of Eurocentric medieval fantasies, it has never been more important that we teach our students about the reality of the Middle Ages rather than the fictionalized fantasies with which they are accustomed. In order to examine Medieval Studies and expand the “Global Middle Ages” beyond the traditional boundaries of Western Europe, this session will outline key themes to debunking the myths surrounding premodern Africa. While often overlooked, the civilizations that spanned the vast African continent produced great achievements, in conditions of relative parity with their European contemporaries, before the oceanic dominance of a few Western powers.

Session Material: All participants will receive a free Library Card to the Humanities in Class Digital Library (HICDL), an Open Education Resource (OER)-based platform that collects and combines the best in humanities scholarship and education for use in the K-12 and collegiate classroom.  All session materials will be accessible in the HICDL, and participants can access, evaluate, modify, and publish their own work.  The HICDL connects seamlessly with Google Classroom and most Learning Management Systems, and all materials are open with a Creative Commons license.  The HICDL is quickly becoming a makerspace for humanities education innovation with new members and resources being added daily.
Level: All Grade Levels

Presenter Bio: 

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Andy Mink.png

Andy Mink

National Humanities Center

Andy Mink is the vice president for education programs at the National Center for the Humanities. He designs and leads professional development programs for K-12 and collegiate educators, using hands-on instructional models and drawing on his leadership experiences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at the University of Virginia.  This work bridges between the scholarly world and the working classroom, addressing classic and contemporary aspects of the humanities in order to better understand our world.  Fundamental to this work is the support of teacher leadership and curriculum design through Open Education Resources (OER).  He currently serves on Boards of Directors of National Council for the Social Studies and National Council for History Education.

Evening Session: 7pm EST

Documentary Screening: Black N Black 

About the Documentary:  Black N Black, a documentary exploring the relationship between African Americans and African immigrants. Although both communities originated from the African continent, their view of each other is often fueled by stereotypes and misconceptions. Their already limited and sometimes fragile connections are further complicated by profound social and historical issues such as their relationships with Whites or the alleged complicity of Africans in the Slave Trade, all of which present challenges to their solidarity. Black N Black highlights these issues in an effort to elevate the communication between the two communities. Filmed in the US, Ghana and Ivory Coast, the documentary presents compelling facts and thoughtful opinions intended to spark discussion and learning about each other as a means of building strong and authentic relationships.

View the Trailer:

Director: Zadi Zokou


Zadi Zokou


Director: Black N Black

In his native country of Cote d’Ivoire, Zadi Zokou (Antony Zokou Silvere) was a writer for educational television programming. Zadi’s career turned towards filmmaking when one of his first screenplays won a competition for young African screenwriters. Zadi was trained in screenwriting and the technical aspects of film and audio-visual production in his own country, as well as in Burkina-Faso, Tunisia, France, Canada and Japan. He has written screenplays for several internationally funded film projects that were disseminated throughout the West Africa region to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.  Since moving to the US in 2005, Zadi has done documentary film course work at Mass College of Art, and produced three short documentaries, Riding A Bicycle In Natick, Eliza My Songbird (A Documentary About Autism,) and The First Annual African Festival of Boston. He has also produced Praying Town, a feature length documentary on the history of Native Americans and African American slaves of Natick and Southern New England. In 2011, he helped Boston University produce a Documentary on introducing American Elementary School Students to Africa. The same year, he went to Burundi (East Africa) for three screenplays on health-related subjects.

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