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Molefi Asante On Afrocentricity

StoryOctober 22, 1999
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A Federal Court ruled last night that the Ku Klux Klan must be allowed to demonstrate in New York City this weekend, saying that Mayor Giuliani’s administration had violated the group’s First Amendment rights by refusing to permit the rally if Klan members wore their masks. Members of the American Knight of the Klan plan to rally in lower Manhattan.

At the same time, the court turned down a claim from an anti-Klan group, the Partisan Defense Committee, that New York police has violated their First Amendment rights by refusing them a permit to hold a counter-protest against the Klan march.

Meanwhile, an FBI report this week warns police departments around the country of possible racist violence by white supremacist militias as the year 2,000 approaches.

In recent years, culture wars have raged in the sphere of public education and the issue is sure to come up in the upcoming election season. One of the most controversial elements of this debate is multicultural education. Some predominantly African American urban schools have begun to incorporate what’s called Afrocentricity into their curricula in an attempt to provide students with an educational experience that better reflects their culture.

Afrocentricity is a term coined by Temple University professor Molefi Asante. Asante believes the educational system in the U.S. promotes white supremacy because it focuses primarily on the achievement of white men in American history and examines and reveres only the contributions of white Europeans over the centuries. In contrast, Afrocentric education draws on the history and philosophy of African cultures in the diaspora.

Asante’s ideas have been extremely controversial, in part because they question some of the fundamental assumptions that guide education in the U.S. Some academicians have called Asante’s Afrocentric theories mythical nonsense — a recent book by Mary Lefkowitz is called ??Not Out of Africa — but Asante counters that much of Eurocentric history is based in myth not fact. Here’s an excerpt from a speech by Temple University Professor Molefi Asante, author of a number of books, including ??African Intellectual Heritage.

Tape:

  • Molefi Asante, professor in the African American Studies Department, Temple University.

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