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Kean University Launches Visionary New Center for Africana Studies

Dr. Lamont O. RepolletDr. Lamont O. RepolletKean University opened Black History Month announcing the creation of a new Center for Africana Studies.

“This new center epitomizes the University’s commitment to equity and to serving our state, particularly our urban communities,” said Kean President Dr. Lamont O. Repollet. “All young people deserve to know their past. We are dedicated to establishing the best, most effective curriculum and programming to ensure they have a full understanding of history to help them shape the future.”

It represents a significant stride toward educational equity and cultural understanding, according to Shavonda Sumter, a Kean alumna and chair of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus.

The Office of Africana Studies at the university has set out to provide an intellectual forum since its 1987 inception. Its courses in Africana studies teach students to examine, analyze, critique, and interpret the traditions, culture, and dynamics of African peoples and, by extension, develop a greater understanding of humankind.

Dr. David Jefferson Jr.Dr. David Jefferson Jr.The new center, housed within the College of Education, is designed to be a leading resource for scholarly research, community engagement, and educational programming, particularly in support of New Jersey's Amistad curriculum for K-12 students. The initial focus will be to develop educational programming to help public school districts implement the state’s Amistad curriculum, which mandates teaching about the African slave trade, slavery in America, and the contributions Africans have made to American society.

“The new Center for Africana Studies provides an excellent opportunity for Kean to be the source and authority on the overwhelmingly rich history of African Americans,” said Linda Lewis, vice chair of the Kean University Board of Trustees and a retired educator. “The Amistad Act has been one of the most neglected yet essential pieces of legislation. Its implementation in an organized, collaborative, and cohesive manner is long overdue. The center will make an amazing contribution to learning across the K-12 curriculum.”

Dr. David Jefferson Jr., who previously led the university’s faith-based initiatives, will serve as the center’s interim director.

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