Africana Studies Students and Faculty Carry on Tradition at National Conference

Students and faculty members from the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills presented their research through a variety of forums and served on panels during the 37th Annual National Council of Black Studies (NCBS) national conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana, in March—a custom that began as part of the legacy of the late William A. Little, the founding Africana studies chair and former NCBS president.

Salim Faraji, Dianne Williams, Tiearea Robinson, and Keith Claybrook.

Salim Faraji, Dianne Williams, Tiearea Robinson, and Keith Claybrook.

“The annual practice of preparing students for the conference has proven effective in the development of their research, writing, and presentation skills,” said lecturer of Africana studies Keith Claybrook. “Furthermore, the students have the opportunity to network with peers, meet professors and chairs from around the nation at graduate schools they are considering, and receive conference presentation experience.”

First-time NCBS conference participant Alice Nicholas (Class of ’93, B.A., English), an interdisciplinary studies graduate student with a focus on Africology and the subtle nuances in Africana language and literature, said the most beneficial aspect of the conference was the availability of the scholars and leaders who took the time to answer questions and provide on-the-spot mentoring.

For four-time participant and alumna Tiearea Robinson (Class of ’10, B.A. Africana studies), now a graduate student in the CSU Dominguez Hills interdisciplinary studies program, and a presenter and session chair, the conference was an affirmation that she is indeed a scholar.

“A highlight for me was realizing that I was being recognized for my scholarship by researchers and scholars from all over the United States. However my favorite part of the conference was [having] the opportunity to see my fellow students …grow and develop,” she said of the first- and second-time presenters.

Conference newcomer Myia Williams, a senior with a double major in Africana studies and English, said, “It was very encouraging to hear students in the doctorial programs reflect on their years as undergrads and …learning that their research, as complex as I may have perceived it to be, all began from an inkling of an idea.”

More than an inkling, senior Africana studies major and McNair Program scholar Heidi De Leon said it was questioning contradictions stemming from “years of Eurocentric education” that led her to the major and her research interest.

CSU Dominguez Hills students present at NCBS Conference.

CSU Dominguez Hills students present at NCBS Conference.

At the conference, the second-time presenter was inducted into the NCBS Ankh Maat Wedjau Honor Society, which promotes scholarly activity, research, and publication among students and academic professionals in the field of Africana studies. De Leon joins a select group of distinctive Toros who were inducted in previous years, as well as Little, who was a charter member in 2004.

Furthering the Africana department’s motto coined by Little, “a place where scholars, thinkers and leaders are nurtured,” faculty mentors accompanied students to the conference and participated on their own behalf.

Alumnus Justin Gammage (Class of ’03, B.A., Africana studies), who returned to CSU Dominguez Hills as a lecturer of Africana studies after earning his Ph.D. in African American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, presented “Civil Rights, Black Power and Economic Development: A historical foundation for the Reparations Movement.”

Salim Faraji, chair and professor of Africana studies, participated in a book signing where he presented his most recent work that was 25 years in the making, “Roots of Nubian Christianity Uncovered: The Triumph of the Last Pharaoh” (African World Press, Trenton, New Jersey, 2012). An expert on the subject he also presented “Africana Nubiology: Situating Nubia, Sudanic Africa and the Nile Valley and as a Transdisciplinary Enterprise.” In relation to two parenting guide books that he co-authored, he chaired the session “Restoring the Legacy of Africana Education: The Plan – A Guide for Women Raising African American Boys from Conception to College.”

NCBS executive board members Munashe Furusa, acting dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and Claybrook took part in board meetings as well as sessions.

Claybrook chaired two sessions that featured CSU Dominguez Hills students, “Healing the Hurt and Addressing the Rupture: Addressing the Disconnect in Africana Communities” and “Revealing the (Mis)-Representations and Implications of Popular Notions in Africana Communities.” Furusa presented “Africana Studies Leadership in Times of Financial Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities.”

Following are CSU Dominguez Hills undergraduate and master students whose abstracts were accepted for the conference:

Heidi De Leon – “Decolonizing the Black Church: Daniel Alexander Payne’s Role in Colonizing African Americans in the 19th Century and the Impact Today”

Jamella Fortune – “Popular Culture and the Hyper-sexualized Black Woman: Young Black Women Speak”

Alice Nicholas – “The Language of Liberation: Vocal and Visual Agency of Africana Women Writers”

“Un-Politically Correct: A Workshop in Africana Expression” A two-hour poetry/spoken word workshop

Tiearea Robinson – “Therapeutic Techniques: The Healing Element of the Spirituals”

Angelynn Thompson ­- “Racing to the Demise: A Discourse on Issues and Destructive Socio-Political Commentaries Targeting the Black Nuclear Family”

“Racing to the Demise: A Discourse on the Black Nuclear Family”

David C. Turner III – “They Think They Helping Us”: Black Male students and student teacher relationships at an urban high school”

Dianne Williams (Class of ’02. B.A. interdisciplinary studies) – “Re-imagining African American Identity through African Aesthetics”

Myia Williams – ““Female Circumcision: The Misrepresentation of a Surviving Tradition”

Oluwatosin Williams – “Making the Solutions Problem Free: A Review of The Adventures of Sankofa”

“Animated Othering: A Cultural Perspective of the Top-Grossing Animated of 2012.”

For more information on the NCBS conference, click here.

For more information about Africana studies department, visit

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