NIGHT section week 4: Black Studies definitions, founding, and structure

Image: the sankofa bird, an Adinkra symbol translating into “return and fetch it”, meaning reaching back to the past for wisdom needed to go forward into the future.


First, a few housekeeping details:

  • Remember that this class doesn’t use Blackboard. Check the course website every week for updates and detailed reading instructions which will appear on this page
  • Get a copy of the required course book–Dr. Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies, 4th edition–if you haven’t done so already. You will need it to do the reading assignments for the rest of the semester.  Details on the books page and it’s also on reserve in Lehman’s library.
  • You might find it helpful to subscribe to new posts for this site: use the e-mail sign-up form on the main page.
  • Please sign up for the class text message service run by Remind(.com) if you haven’t done so yet. Sign up online here or send a text message to 757-337-4602 and type the following as the message: @aas166nite.

General Announcements:

  • Lehman has emergency grants available to quickly provide money for housing, medical, food, transportation, and other needs. Details at the Student Affairs office.
  • The Lehman Food Bank offers food assistance. Details here.
  • Lehman has a very comprehensive page of students resources including laptop/tablet loans. Details here.

Quick highlights from second class on 9/12

  • Website review
  • Zoom wait room music: Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage
  • Musical selection: Kamasi Washington’s “Change of the Guard.”
  • Reviewed Dr. Leonard Jeffries Jr’s “The Essence of Black Studies” (handout and also on the Readings page). What’s his view of a Black Studies methodology (i.e. ways to analyze information and do research) and how should it approach the world?
  • Reviewed key points of the Dr. John Henrik Clarke documentary A Great and Mighty Walk. It’s on YouTube if you want a refresher. (Consider sharing the link with your own intro to it on social media. Think about watching it with family members, your church group, tenants’ association, PTA chapter, etc.)
  • Reviewed Dr. John  Henrik Clarke’s essay
  • Music: TBA

What to do for Week 4–Monday September 19:

READ Chapters 1 and 2 in Maulana Karenga’s Introduction to Black Studies (pages 1-60).

  • Skim (read quickly and to gain an overview) pp 1-17 on history and development of the discipline.
  • Focus (read carefully and closely) on the following sections: (pp 17-27) 1.3 (Relevance of the Discipline) and 1.4 (Scope of the Discipline) and sections 2.3-2.7 — the different developmental initiatives.
  • Read only pp 39-60 (“Developmental Initiatives”) in chapter 2
  • This book is on reserve at Lehman’s library if yours doesn’t arrive in time.
  • Pay special attention to section 2.6 (“Classical African Studies”). Focus on pp. 54-57, particularly the section on Cheikh Anta Diop.
    • Know why Diop is a significant figure and his intellectual contributions.
    • Also be able to explain Karenga’s reasons for the importance of Egypt and Nile Valley civilization on pp. 56-57

READ TO UNDERSTAND the questions at the bottom of this post to DISCUSS them with classmates and myself.

ATTEND the next class on Monday 9/17

General reading strategies:

  • Underline/highlight key points in the text
  • Use the reading questions at the back of chapters to focus you: read those first
  • Try to understand the definitions of the key concepts listed at the back of the chapter
  • Make a note to ask the instructor to clarify anything you don’t understand
  • Note key issues, approaches, and dilemmas/challenges Dr. Karenga outlines

Discussion questions

  • What is worldview?
  • What’s the importance of worldview to the discipline of Africana Studies?
  • How does the origin of the discipline shape the approach?
  • How does the issue of relevance shape the discipline?
  • Why is Cheikh Anta Diop important to Africana Studies?

What’s Next?

Chapter 3 in Introduction to Black Studies: “Black History: African Background”