New Study Abroad Exploring the Mouride Diaspora

Calling all students of Africana cultures:

Please consider the wonderful opportunity afforded by our brand new, New African Diasporas study abroad program. Morehouse College has collaborated with World Learning’s School for International Training (SIT) to develop an innovative study abroad program that will facilitate student exploration of the culture, history, religion, and business and social networks of the Mourides, a progressive Muslim movement founded by the revered Cheikh Amadou Bamba in 1883. Bamba’s brotherhood was the first nonviolent anti-colonial liberation movement in the modern era predating Mahatma Gandhi’s movement by at least a generation. The Mourides are a positive presence in cities in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Under the leadership of Dr. Mansa Bilal King, 15-20 Morehouse students will be joined by a similar number of peers from other HBCUs and Traditionally White institutions for a 14-week semester abroad traveling to Senegal, Italy, China and New York City.

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Dr. Mansa Bilal King (kneeling) with members of the Hizbut-Tarqiyya, Souleye Diallo (2nd from Left) and Laurie Black (SIT)

Students will travel to sites within each country while pursuing a 16 hour, 4 course load including the following:

  • Africana Muslims (African American Studies and Sociology)
  • Migration and Entrepreneurship (African American Studies and Business)
  • New African Diasporas: Frameworks and Fieldwork (African American Studies and Sociology)
  • Introductory Wolof I and II (AAS and Modern Foreign Languages)

For African American Studies majors and minors, all courses will count toward graduation requirements within the existing curriculum guidelines. All minors should see your major academic advisor for advice on counting these courses.

Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, Mouride. (MLK, Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College)

 

Morehouse College’s and World learning’s purpose in the New African Diasporas Program is to increase the percentage of students participating in study abroad from historically underrepresented demographic groups. In this case, African American males are the primary group addressed. All HBCU students are the next priority. The costs (roughly the cost of Morehouse tuition) and other details are available here: http://studyabroad.sit.edu/sn/programs/semester/spring-2017/adp/.  Further information on how students may fund the program is available here: http://goo.gl/qSJnRB 

Please feel free to contact me, Dr. King or Director Coles about this wonderful program. 

Samuel T. Livingston, Ph.D │ MOREHOUSE COLLEGE Director | African American Studies Program830 Westview Drive, S.W.Atlanta, GA 30314 | 404.215.2750 (p) | samuel.livingston@morehouse.eduhttp://www.morehouse.edu

Mansa Bilal Mark King, Ph.D│ MOREHOUSE COLLEGE Associate Professor | Department of Sociology830 Westview Drive, S.W.Atlanta, GA 30314 | 404.681.2800, ext. 2780| mansa.king@morehouse.eduhttp://www.morehouse.edu 

Julius E. Coles MOREHOUSE COLLEGE Director | Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership830 Westview Drive, S.W.Atlanta, GA 30314 | 404.614.6040 (p) | Julius.coles@morehouse.eduhttp://www.morehouse.edu 

 

Parker’s Birth of a Nation forces Nation’s Attention to lesser known Historical Figures

 

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Nate Parker’s powerful new film, Birth of a Nation

Answering the Call of Freedom: Moses Dickson and the Knights of Liberty Confront Slavery


S. T. Livingston, Ph.D.

In the heat of March, 1848, leading up to the Decade of crisis, a Black barber stood bent over the slumped person of a White slave owner reclining in his barber’s chair. Despite the extremely sharp straight-razor in the Black man’s right hand, the plantation owner continued his conversation with a colleague on the latest article in De Bows Review, a periodical dedicated to best practices and methods of slavery. The merits of phrenology of the enslaved at birth was the topic during this shave. Moses Dickson, now a master barber aboard the river steamboat, the Oronoco, leaned over the ‘gentleman farmer’s exposed neck stoically giving no indication that the conversation was taking place. His apprentice-ship under Mr. William Darnes early on taught him two priceless lessons: restraint and the lesson of what we may call ‘operative invisibility’—the ability to function in the presence of ‘mixed company’ while giving no indication of your perceptive presence. Distinct from the humor and poignancy that Samuel Clemmons and others would find on these riverboats, Moses Dickson, like many of the majority Black crew members saw the bloodstained markings of the Domestic Slave trade. They observed, suppressed their rage, but conspired to liberate of their people.

For over four years now, Dickson gave no indication of his plan, similar to that of John Brown to free his people and end slavery by any means necessary. According to his Manual of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, his three years of travel took him throughout the South changed his life permanently, and committed him to the cause of Black freedom:

(He) witnessed such scenes of monstrous cruelty as caused his African blood to boil with suppressed indignation at the sight of the outrageous suffering of his people.  What he saw in these three years made a lasting impression on his heart, and he became a life-foe to the slave-owner, the slave-driver and the slave-trader.[1]

The year 1856 was a critical turning point in African American and American history. The nation was moving headlong toward division, torn by discord over the morality, ethics, politics and economics of Slavery—a profitable enterprise for White America, Peculiar Institution to some, the Evil Institution to others. Abolitionists of varied creeds and colors stepped up to oppose slavery. Among other events including the first attempted run of the largely abolitionist Republican party, the outbreak of Bleeding Kansas skirmishes over slavery and continuation of the final Seminole War (1855-58), which involved rebel Creeks and Gullah and Geechee runaways from the plantations of Georgia and South Carolina. Moses Dickson is one of the lesser known abolitionists and one whose story presents him, at once, as one of the most militant, ethical and pragmatic leaders in antebellum African American history.

Dickson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 5, 1824 into a migrant family that had escaped slavery in Virginia.[2] His life in that city mirrored the growth of the Black population there. As White Cincinnatians grew wary of the growing Black population—200 in 1820, but by 1829 2,258 people of color—they managed that growth through legal and social proscriptions and mob violence. By 1830, between 1,100 to 2000 Black people were forced to emigrate under punishment of imprisonment, which would likely mean (re)enslavement in nearby Kentucky, Tennessee, or worse: being sold down the river to enslavement in the rice swamps of South Carolina, Georgia or the Gulf coast states. Young Moses’ parents Robert and Hannah Dickson, are not listed as residents of Hamilton County, Ohio in the census of 1830. This omission speaks volumes the invisible or underground Black community in Cincinnati. His family was a part of this browbeaten underground community, which may have contributed to his committed and militant response to racist oppression. When he was eight years old, his father died; six years later, in 1838 his mother also died.[3]

The premature death of Dickson’s parents is wholly consistent with the poor living conditions for Blacks in Ohio. While their condition must have been better than their enslaved brethren, it was by no means easy. Two years after Dickson’s birth, Whites formed a local chapter of the American Colonization Society, the “Cincinnati Colonization Society with 120 members, including many prominent citizens.”[4] The ACS was committed to emigration of freed Black people back to Africa. While they had notable Black supporters, most Blacks did not choose to leave the land of their birth. In 1829, the Ohio legislature banned Blacks from attending its common schools and in 1838, it banned funding of Black education.[5] In 1829 and in 1836, Dickson’s family witnessed serious attacks on the Black community. In the future abolitionist’s twelfth year, a race riot began in Cincinnati as a direct attack on the abolitionist newspaper, The Philanthropist, and its White editor, James G. Birney. After destroying Birney’s press, the mob spilled its destructive energies over into an African community called ‘Church Alley.’ Blacks drove the White mob back by firing small-arms into the crowd. After the mob abated, it regrouped and launched a second attack and the Black residents had to abandon their houses and leave the area. The mob destroyed the contents of the homes.[6]

In 1840, he left the city at the age of sixteen to ply the profitable barbering trade on steamboats throughout the south. Similar to David Walker and other militant abolitionists of his era, Dickson saw martial action as the most effective means of ending slavery. He decided to organize in the interests of his race by calling on eleven cohorts whom he met in the course of his travels throughout the south—John Patton and Henry Wright from South Carolina; James Bedford and Silus W. Green from Mississippi; Irvin Hodges of Alabama; Peter Coleman and Willis Owens from Virginia; James Orr, Louisiana; Miles Graves of North Carolina; Henry Simpson from Georgia; and Lewis Williams from Tennessee.[7] These men gathered in St. Louis, Missouri on August 12, 1846 at Seventh and Greene Street not far from the Mississippi river. We do not have the details of much of this history, but according to Dickson, the rebellion was planned for either December 25, 1856 or July, 1857.[8] By 1856, ostensibly, his twelve cabalists had organized “47,000 Knights of Liberty, for the purpose of aiding in breaking the bonds of our slavery…”[9] He continues, we expected to arrive at Atlanta with at least 150,000 well-armed men.”[10] Interestingly, Dickson cancelled the rebellion in 1856 for unknown reasons, but most likely, the Bleeding Kansas episode and the steady reversals in the Third Seminole War, both of which heightened the militancy of the South. While we may never know why, we do know that his contributions helped to speed the end of the Evil institution.

MDicksonPossibly inspired by others who resisted slavery, like abolitionists, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, and John Brown and rebels like Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, and the Seminole leader, Osceola, Dickson planned only one of the 313 slave rebellions in Black history. He and Brown planned to incite mass slave rebellions that would settle almost three centuries of debate over the right or wrong of the institution. To put it mildly, the extent of extreme measures to end slavery has been downplayed by conventional American history writing. But most notable in this year is the story of Moses Dickson and the Knights of Liberty. Dickson and his followers claimed to be at the center of the Slave Insurrection Scare of 1856-57; a claim consistent with the historical record, but unaccepted in general American historiography of the antebellum South. The documented existence of enslaved African resistance on plantations combined with guerrilla warriors based in maroon communities, (Seminole War and otherwise), demonstrates Black commitment to liberty and agency during this darkest hour of American history. Dickson’s narrative also adds to the history of principled leaders who answered the call for freedom.

[1] Dickson, Manual, 9-10.

[2] See Randall Burkett, et al. (ed.) Black Biography, 1790-1950: A Cumulative Index 2 vols., (Alexandria: Chadwyck-Healey, 1991), I: 353; J. J. Pipkin, The Story of a Rising Race: The Negro in Revelation, in History and in Citizenship (Baltimore: Thompson Publishing Company, 1902), 480; Dickson, Manual , 9. Patrick O’Connor, Assistant Marshal of St. Louis County, (Census Record of 1860, Schedule 1 – Free Inhabitants in the Third Ward of St. Louis City, MO, July 3, 1860, p. 182).

[3] Dickson, Manual, 9.

[4] Richard C. Wade, “The Negro in Cincinnati, 1800-1830.” J. of Negro History 34 (January 1954), 49.

[5] On the marginalization of Blacks in the North see C. G. Woodson, Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830; together with a brief treatment of the free Negro. (Washington, DC: The Association for the Study of Negro Life & History, 1925), liii; R. C. Wade, “The Negro in Cincinnati, 1800-1830.” J. of Negro History 34 (January 1954), 47; C. G. Woodson, “Negroes of Cincinnati Prior to the Civil War,” J. of Negro History 1, (1916), 2, 3.

[6] Woodson, “Negroes of Cincinnati,” 8-9.

[7] Dickson, Manual, 11.

[8]Dickson, Manual (1922), p.11. Interestingly, Charles Dew, “Black Ironworkers and the Slave Insurrection Panic of 1856,” Journal of Southern History 41 (August 1975), 322, footnote 2 and Caleb P. Patterson in The Negro in Tennessee, 1790-1865. (New York: Negro Universities Press), 49-50 support Dickson’s dating of a general insurrection to December 25, 1856 or July, 1857.

[9] Dickson, Manual, 16.

[10] ibid, Manual, 19.

BALC21: Voices of Freedom from the African Great Lakes

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Amazing Rwandan Students from Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, and Agnes Scott hosted #Kwibuka2016 on the 22nd observance of the Rwandan Genocide, Spelman College.

There are weeks that test the limits of your patience and then there are weeks like this past one that renew your commitment to life and the discipline of Africana Studies! Last week, Morehouse College’s Dr. Belinda Johnson-White, (Director of the Business Management Program) and yours truly (Director of African American Studies), hosted a Symposium on the African Great Lakes entitled, “Building Africana Leadership Capacity for the Twenty-first Century” (BALC21) bring together faculty, activists and students committed to researching exploring, establishing Rodneyite Groundings with our people in the African Lakes nations. Except for Ms. Fatu Suah of Columbia, SC, our participants were based in the Atlanta Region and hailed from the United States and three African nations. Our participants included Ida Rousseau-Mukenge, Ph.D. (Chair, Sociology Department), Cynthia Hewitt, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Sociology, AAS Affiliate), Claude Gatabuke and Kambali Musavuli, respectively, of the African Great Lakes Action Network and Friends of the Congo, Justin Kakeu-Kahegne, Ph.D., AssistantBALC21 Schedule Professor, Economics, Gregory Barber, Psychology Major, African American Studies, Minor, and Juana Mendenhall, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Chemistry. Unfortunately, Sister Fatu Suah was not able to attend. Those who were able to attend were treated to carefully researched and well-thought out positions on problems facing the African Great Lakes. (See BALC21 Schedule)

A major highlight of the symposium was reconnecting with and bringing to the Atlanta University Center, Dr. Kennedy Kihangi Bindu, founding Director of the Center for Research on Democracy and Development in Africa, Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Administration and Professor, School of Law at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (ULPGL). We, five Morehouse College faculty and staff, originally met this intelligent young man in March of 2014 on a fact-finding trip to North Kivu, DRC. Dr. White and I were interested in learning of Civil Society agency and resilience evident in the North Kivu region, which had suffered greatly during the 1996 and 1998 African Great Wars and the re-invasion of DRC by Rwanda in 2011. Goma, sitting on the north shore of beautiful Lake Kivu and near the border with Rwanda was the crossroads of the Interahamwe genocidairesrebel armies, Rwandan regular forces, and refugees from both nations. Among the AGL community members, we found in Dr. Bindu, a man committed to healing the scars of warfare through careful research and engagement with communities from both urban and rural settings. It was my honor to host Kennedy on his arrival after a nearly 24-hour journey from Goma to Kigali to Amsterdam and then to Atlanta. After greeting and picking him up at the airport, a brief conversation and repast at our East Point home, we joined Mr. Julius Coles for dinner at the historic Paschal’s restaurant. The next day’s visit to the Center for Civil and Human Rights marked a weekend’s crash-course for Kennedy in African American Civil Rights movement history.

We took the opportunity to discuss African American Civil Rights history held at times in tension and compared with South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle and nascent struggles in Congo, Burundi, Senegal and Burkina Faso among others. Kennedy was impressed and moved by the way this history lives in Atlanta.

On Tuesday, April 11th, the core of Dr. Bindu’s BALC21 presentation, entitled, “Understanding African Great Lakes Region Leadership and Governance challenges: Drawing lessons from the Democratic Republic of the Congo” was to get at the core task of

“distinguish(ing) between the leaders and intellectuals of the independence era and those that have emerged during the twenty-first century in terms of leadership, partnerships, diplomacy, intellectualism, management of public affairs, political systems, human rights and respect for fundamental freedoms.”

What was truly impressive about all of the panels was both the organic relationship between each presenter and their research, but also their commitment to establishing groundings with the people of the region. For example, African American studies minor and Psychology major, Greg Barber, benefiting from the mentorship of Dr. Tina Davis and a fellowship with the School for International Training spent a semester in Rwandgregory-barber-RWR-2015SFA-alumphotoa where he undertook qualitative research on “Positive Grief Coping Strategies among Tutsi Orphans of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.” Drawing from the thrust of his talk, all of the presenters were getting at the question, How (will) We Heal Ourselves?

The healing process continued two days after the Tuesday symposium, when Rwandan students from the Atlanta University Center and Agnes Scott College organized a Kwibuka ceremony commemorating the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.  The scars of the 1994 trauma score the African Great Lakes region and the consciences of Africans and people across the planet. Two years later, the deaths of a million Rwandans

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Morehouse college student, of Rwanda and Dr. Kennedy Kihangi Bindu, DRC.

 

set the conditions for the African Great Wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which by 2008 claimed at least 5 and a half million lives. The region’s death toll of nearly 7 million Africans in acts of fratricidal violence made incumbent that the healing process take place, at least in part, on the campus of Morehouse College, home of Howard Thurman, Benjamin Elijah Mays and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our charge, we felt emanated from those paragons of peace and the heart of Patrice Emery Lumumba, First Prime Minister of independent Congo-Kinshasa:

“It is through these person-to-person contacts, through meetings of this sort, that African leaders can get to know each other and draw closer together in order to create that union that is indispensable for the consolidation of African unity.”2

For one week, Morehouse College brought together Congolese professors and Rwandan students hearing each others’ voices, stories and, hopefully, truly seeing each other as self.