Academic and Community Engagement with Scholarly and Cultural Focused Programming

Through its over 40 years of existence, the African American and African Studies Community Extension Center has offered targeted programming for both the OSU and greater Columbus community designed to enrich, engage and promote a strong healthy relationship. Past programming has focused on lecture series, special event programming such as the Black History Month Forum and community programming such as the Matinee Series. Where time and interest have permitted, OSU credit courses have also been offered.

Both OSU students and the larger Columbus community can look forward to continuing engagement with a variety of OSU and local faculty and scholars as well as national and international faculty with critical conversations. We will continue to offer and partner with area organizations to bring enriching and educational community celebrations as well as much more!

In addition you can anticipate a growth in our programming via a proposed Ubuntu Brain Trust salon series, more offerings of continuing education credits and a revamp of classes and trainings to be offered right here at the AAAS CEC! We look forward to your new, renewed or continued work with us.

Harriett Tubman’s Pathways to Freedom and Ubuntu

Just as OSU law professor Michelle Alexander alerted many to the New Jim Crow, the mass incarceration of Black people, we at the OSU AAAS CEC are looking at what is going on in this country with regard to race/racism and responding to the social need for a new Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman led possibly hundreds of enslaved Africans to freedom, noting she could have liberated even more if only they knew they were slaves (or their enslavement had not become normalized in their lives). This time the new pathway to freedom will be above ground for all to see and experience, and not just those acknowledging African descent. Our call is for those lifelong learners seeking pathways to Ubuntu, Nguni Bantu term meaning the essence of being human, or essential human virtues, compassion, and humanity aware of connections to and mutual caring for all. The Ubuntu pathway to freedom, to a just, sacred, sustainable world, is for all who wish to come aboard in this time of great discord, conflict, and injustice witnessed in all aspects of life.

I have been serving as director of the OSU AAAS CEC for just over a year. We have kept our ears to the ground and our eyes peeled for how best to fulfill our land grant mission of improving the quality of life for Ohioans and others, particularly those whose struggles and sacrifices laid the foundation upon which the wealth of this nation, and Africana Studies, or Black Studies are built. Ours is a tradition of academic excellence and social responsibility. The data are now in, for as scholars/researchers we have used reason illuminated by careful study and observation, or science, to assess community needs and the effectiveness of our initiative “Cultural Enrichment and Enhancement of Individual and Collective Health and Sustainable Well Being”.

What has emerged is the necessity to shift the negative nature of the social determinants of health, which include all areas of life. Power comes from focus on the areas over which community members have the most control and can demonstrate the greatest degree of agency and self-determination: their own mindset, thinking cultural world view, or belief system. We won’t go into all the details at this juncture, but suffice it to say we are calling all lifelong learners seeking the path to freedom from psychological oppression, cultural imperialism, and epistemic violence to bring forward a new narrative of truth, justice, reciprocity, propriety, order, harmony, and balance. It must be grounded in what our ancestors from classical African civilization identified as the most powerful force in the universe and the basis for peace and love.

Thus we are launching the first issue of Harriet Tubman’s Pathways to Ubuntu with this newsletter. Look for more from us on our website, Facebook page, and through other social media. Our aim is to support those who see the necessity of pursuing a path to holistic health and sustainable well-being. We will be utilizing the resources we can make accessible to all from the latest research on issues of relevance and from the richness of our inheritance as people acknowledging African descent (which all people are whose world view is comprehensive enough to go back to the beginning of all human culture and civilization). Those with this intention are invited to continue to go forward with us to examine, explore and study the ‘best’ ways as we call on all of the good each in their own way brings to the greater good of the whole. Stay tuned for more on our Cultural Enrichment and Enhancement of Individual and Collective Health and Sustainable Well Being Initiative, as well as the HeartFeatherTM curriculum, a curriculum designed to help you make decisions allowing your heart to remain as light as a feather when weighted on the scales of truth and justice.

Close to the Edge 2.0: Achieving Holistic Health and Sustainable Well Being

The African American Male Wellness Walk, started by Mr. John Gregory twelve years ago has grown exponentially since starting, and is now in eight cities throughout the nation. According to Dr. Mark White, a founding member of the initiative, this year’s mental wellness program had three times as many attendees as the year previous.

This year’s theme for the African American Male Wellness Walk program on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at the Lincoln Theatre was “Close to the Edge 2.0”. The focus was on achieving holistic health and sustainable well-being in a toxic environment, one in which a system of assigning value and allocating opportunity based on skin color, which privileges White people and disadvantages Black people. This is the norm underpinning everyday social policies and practices.

Keynote speaker for the spring program was Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, CNN commentator and professor at Morehouse College. Being a dynamic speaker, he challenged the audience to pursue mental wellness in full awareness our history and the prevailing social context of increased overt racism. Calling on Black men in particular to overcome any stigma and barriers to seeking help and support in the achievement of sustainable health and well-being he emphasized the necessity of overcoming the mental bondage into which many may have succumbed unknowingly, as well as, the false notions of masculinity the society pushes on Black men.

Simba Simbi Elder’s Symposium

Participants: Elder Robert Williams, Elder Patricia Canson Griffith, Elder Edwin Nichols (and other Elders to be confirmed); Elder of Elders Linda James Myers, moderator

The goal for this symposium will be the further development and institutionalization of Simba Simbi, a Bantu Congo word meaning "hold up, that which holds you up." The focus will be on sharing, discussing, problem solving, honoring, and passing on the teachings of those rigorous and righteous who came before us, and to whom we are indebted for supporting us with the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding needed to fulfill our destinies and play our rightful role as Black Psychologists in humanity's uplift.

The Honorable Sage Tata Bunseki Fu-Kia taught well the imperative of staying connected to the ancestral rope that connects us to our past and our future. We will share, as well as listen, across the generations with the elders, nation builders, and warriors in attendance some of the lessons learned with full realization that all with the blessings of time will be expected to fulfill each role in due cycle, as was expected of others seeking to walk the path of the wisdom tradition of African deep thought in celebration.

Event co-sponsors and community partners

  • OSU Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise
  • OSU Wexner Medical Center
  • OSU Humanities and Arts Discovery Theme
  • United Way of Central Ohio
  • Godman Guild
  • OSU Office of Service-Learning
  • Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services
  • Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health (ADAMH) Board of Franklin County
  • OSU College of Social Work
  • The Mershon Center for International Security Studies
  • OSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion