The National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates held its 25th anniversary conference in Dallas, Texas, February 13-18, 2017. The conference attracted scholars from across the United States and more than twenty foreign countries. The international participants represented South Africa, India, Cameroon, Nigeria, Mexico, Canada, Ghana, Sri Lanka, China and several European and South American countries.
One of several highlights included the appearance of Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. Mrs. Gandhi met with diverse groups throughout the week-long conference and appeared as the featured speaker for the closing conference banquet. NAAAS & Affiliates will also be assisting Mrs. Gandhi in preparation of a nomination application to have the home of Mahatma Gandhi and the Phoenix Settlement, where he resided, recognized as a World Heritage site. This recognition must be awarded by UNESCO. Lemuel Berry, Jr., Executive Director, will direct the planning and organization of the UNESCO nomination document. Historians, religious leaders, economists, political leaders, and many professional and civic organizers will participate in this global endeavor. The selection and announcement of committee members will be made available at the conclusion of the national conference.
For the first time in the organization’s history, several conference sessions were broadcast to partnering universities in the U.S. and abroad. Most notably was the interaction from students and faculty at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. Two of the outstanding speakers for the broadcast were Dr. J. J. Asongu, president of Saint Monica University (Cameroon) and Mr. Albert Pooley, Founder and Executive Director of the Native American Fatherhood & Families Association (NAFFA). The latter organization (NAFFA) also conducted workshops for its members and conference attendees.
Another outstanding feature of the conference was the Pansy E. Jacobs Jackson Annual National Student Research Competition. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Cash awards are presented to students whose research is recognized by a review committee of several faculty researchers.
The National Association would like to recognize its special guests—National African American Drug Policy Coalition, National Black Storytellers Association, Bharat Travels of India, African Link of Durban, South Africa, South African Convention and Visitors Bureau, Choctaw Casino & Resort and the Trinidad and Tobago Convention and Visitors Bureau. Each organization contributed to the success of the conference.
The 2018 national conference will also be held in Dallas, Texas. International commitments to participate have arrived from Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila, Dibrugarh University of India, Universidad de Yucatán and Universidad Federal de Lavras.
Lemuel Berry, Jr., Ph.D.