asanteRecognized today as one of the ten most widely cited African Americans, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante has been a notable in Black Studies since the beginning of his career. To his peers and colleagues, he is one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars and an expert in his field. To the students at Temple University, he is a professor in the African American Studies Department.  The Utne Reader called him one of the “100 Leading Thinkers” in America.  Black Issues in Higher Education once recognized him as one of the most influential leaders of the decade.  Transition Magazine said “Asante may be the most important professor in Black America.” The African Union has cited him as one of the twelve top scholars on Africa. Dr. Asante is publisher of over 70 books on Africa and Black Studies who has also written more than 400 published pieces including articles, essays for journals, books and magazines.  He was inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University in 2004.



One of sixteen children born in Valdosta, Ga., Dr. Asante displayed wisdom beyond his years during his youth and went on to receive his Ph.D. from UCLA at the tender age of 26. By the time he was 30, he was appointed to full professorship at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he chaired the Communications Department from l973-1980. Adamantly devoted to Black Studies, this man on a mission went on to become chair of the African American Studies Program at Temple University in 1984 where he created the first Ph.D. Program in African American Studies a few years later. He has directed over 100 doctorate dissertations and 130 students have graduated from his Ph.D. program. The second edition of his high school text, African American History: Journey of Liberation, 2nd Edition, is used in more than 400 schools throughout North America. He is co-editor of the comprehensive Encyclopedia of African Religion and the founder of the theory of Afrocentricity.  In addition to all of these achievements, this man of humble beginnings is also a poet, dramatist and painter.

 

ADT reflects with Dr. Asante about his career in Black Studies:

ADT: 1) You are regarded as one of the foremost scholars in African and African American Studies, and rightfully so. Do you think this field of study has progressed, and if so, in what ways?

Dr. Asante
: The field of study has developed in three important ways: factually, conceptually, and actively. We know more now than we have ever known about the role Africans have played in the world. Our research has revealed not just material and information that was deliberately hidden but we have found facts that neither our own people nor the whites knew existed. In other words, we have added new facts about African achievements. We did not know Loripeni, and had limited information about Sungbo's Eredo before the Black Studies Revolution. Conceptually, we have changed the way social sciences are done in this country. We have changed the terminology so that you will seldom hear people use primitive, jungle, hut, bushmen, tribes, Subsaharan Africa, or warlike in reference to black people. We have brought new, dynamic, and Afrocentric concepts to the information that we have uncovered. Then, we have also become much more involved in actions that will make a difference to the world. Our students have taken on a serious commitment to make the world better.

ADT: 2) Have you always had an interest in Africa and the African Diaspora when growing up or at what point did you decide to dedicate your career it?

Dr. Asante: No, I did not always have an interest in Africa, but I had an interest in trying to find out what happened to us to cause Africans, living in the American South, to be in the position that we were in vis a vis whites. I started to mature in this information in college and when I finished my doctorate at UCLA I was truly committed to spend my life doing this work.

Asante_and_ChinweizuADT: 3) In your appointment as Professor Extraordinarius for the Centre for African Renaissance of the University of South Africa, how do you propose fulfilling the centre’s agenda in tackling the most serious problems of the African renaissance?

Dr. Asante
: I am so delighted that the University of South Africa appointed me to this distinguished post. I will work with colleagues like Professor Guttoand, Professor Samba Mboup and Mildred Aristide who have been generous with me. I will read papers of graduate students, give periodic lectures, and encourage others to participate in the work of the Centre for African Renaissance. South Africa is beautiful and the people very remarkable in spirit, creativity, and intelligence.  

ADT: 4) I know that you have been consulted to provide feedback on tourism projects like the Independence National Historical Park’s President’s House project in Philadelphia where there was pressure from the black community to include black heritage perspectives.  How do you see the African and African Diaspora Studies in the educational arena working with the tourism industry to insure the inclusion of the black culture and heritage aspects to projects like this?

Dr. Asante: I think that African Diaspora and the heritage sites is the next convergence of the African world. I am supportive of the Diaspora engaging with those on the continent who are seeking to bring about a new era in our relationship. I support travel to all parts of Africa and the Caribbean, but also to the black areas of South America. I have just returned from Colombia and believe that most Africans in the United States do not know that 30 percent of the population of that country is black.

ADT: 5) Carter Woodson once said that he wished to see a day when there will not be a need for a black history month because this part of history will be incorporated in American history. How close do you think we are to this dream?

Dr. Asante:  We are a long way from this beautiful dream. We have a problem with America's inherent race issue. It will be a long time before the histories are reconciled and it will take a brilliant African historian to do it. I do not see how they can be reconciled. We have to continue to build consciousness among African people. It is important that we integrate all aspects of black culture in our presentations.

Asante2Dr. Asante, a consultant for organizations, businesses, institutions and schools was elected to be the chair for the Diaspora Intellectuals in support of the United States of Africa by Council of African Intellectuals last year.  A guest professor at Zhejiang University, he holds more than 100 awards for scholarship and teaching including the Fulbright and honorary doctorates from three universities. He has appeared on Nightline, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, BET, the Tony Brown Show, Night Watch and more than one hundred local and international television shows, and several movies. In 1995 he was even made a traditional king in Ghana. Despite being a one of the most notable and knowledgeable scholars of our times, Dr. Asante believes that it is not enough to know. He asserts that one must act to humanize the world. And he has continued to do just that.  To learn more about Dr. Asante and his work, please visit www.asante.net.


*Dr. Asante has been conducting tours to Egypt for the past 20 years. He will be taking another group to Egypt on August 1st through 13th.  Those interested in doing this tour to learn about the remarkable achievements of African civilization, contact Ana Yenenga at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Photos: Middle, Molefi Kete Asante with philosopher Chinweizu
Bottom, Asante enstooled as Nana Okru Asante Peasah, Kyidomhene of Tafo, 1996

 

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