Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Africology and African American Studies (AAAS) held a virtual event “The State of Civil Rights in America: What Does the Future Portend?," on Thursday, Feb.18, for the celebration of Black History Month.
The event was held on Zoom and was open to the EMU community, students, and faculty members.
The event featured guest speaker Mark Fancher, who is an attorney for the Racial Justice Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, who discussed topics regarding racial justice in America, throughout the centuries. Fancher’s then held a question and answer time at the last half-hour of the event.
Victor Okafor, who is the head of the department of AAAS was the host of the event. Okafor has been involved with the AAAS for over 26 years and explained the opportunities the AAAS has to offer EMU students.
“We make it a part of our duty to honor the month of Black History Month every February, given the important role that it plays in this nation as a moment for us to look back and ask ourselves how we have held ourselves and how we have performed on our personal journey towards a more perfect union,” Okafor said.
Okafor hopes that attendees walked away from the event with a refreshed understanding of America’s history.
“The Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s was the movement that bought about the America of today. It was designed to put an end to legal discrimination and it all started a new era,” Okafor said.
Francher presented information regarding the history of the African Americans' community in America. Topics included the abolition of slavery, Jim-Crow laws, and the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout his discussion, Francher shared some of his own personal experiences within American society as an African American male.
"I just hope there is a continuing search for the truth about the circumstances that we face, I think that once people thoroughly understand how we got where we are it informs any actions that they might take,” Francher said.
During his question and answer time, Francher answered questions about the African Americans' experience, racial injustices throughout the centuries, and the Black Lives Matter Movement in America.
Imelda Hunt, a faculty member of AAAS stated how important it is to have insight into the African American experience throughout the centuries, and Francher’s open discussion within the EMU Community.
“It is always a pleasure and honor to hear renowned Atty. Mark Fancher’s intellectual and philosophical insights on American law and politics as it relates to present conditions in the African American community. His vision gives us hope in the midst of chaos,” Hunt stated.
The Department of Africology and African Americans will continue to hold events in honor of Black History Month. To view upcoming events, please visit their website.