African-American history speech to discuss castes

By Jen Bland

The presence of African-Americans in history and their struggle to uplift themselves in the Indian caste system are topics to be addressed by Runoko Rashidi today at NIU.

“Dalite: The Black Untouchables of India” will be discussed at 3 p.m. at the new Center for Black Studies on Lincoln Highway. Van Amos, programming coordinator for the Center for Black Studies, said Rashidi will share his experiences researching what he refers to as “black untouchables” and how they are empowering themselves in the caste system.

Rashidi will also speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center offering an “Introduction to Ancient African Civilization.” This lecture will focus on issues he discusses in his new book “Introduction to the Study of African Classical Civilization” Amos said.

Amos said this discussion will encompass some things Rashidi discovered as he researched around the world, especially in Asia. “He’s going to talk about the prehistoric presence of Africans globally,” he added. “People of African descent have populated the globe for over 30,000 years and established many civilizations.”

Rashidi’s book also is currently recommended reading for students enrolled in Art 489, “Black Images” Amos said. Students interested in learning more can purchase the book at the Holmes Student Center Bookstore.

“We are just now unravelling the truth about our role in establishing such civilizations,” Amos concluded.

Amos said Rashidi is a cultural historian and researcher who was asked to NIU because people expressed an interest in his new book and learning more about what he discovered in his travels. “He is one of the leading authorities on African civilization, particularly in Asia.”

Rashidi’s presentations make up a two-part lecture and seminar series sponsored by the Graduate Colloquium Committee, the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Unity in Diversity Committee. Amos said it is a requirement of the Graduate Colloquium Committee to have two-part series rather than just one lecture.

Amos said he feels these lectures are relevant to NIU because in many areas NIU is on the cutting edge in areas of research. He believes these lectures “are right in line with what NIU has accomplished in the areas of research and scholarly pursuit.”