Events & Conferences
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The African American Recognition Ceremony conducted annually for graduating African American Students carries with it a proud heritage spanning more than 20 years. The first event, hosted in 1984, set the tone for this prestigious event that is attended by over 1,800 each year. This “rite of passage” has become a powerful celebration of achievements by African American students and their families. It also serves as an inspirational tool for students still laboring toward fulfilling their degree requirements. Often the Recognition Ceremony Committee is approached by continuing and potential students who share their excitement about one day being included in this celebration.
This annual event is hosted by the Fresno State Black Faculty and Staff Association. The Annual African American Recognition Program takes place in May each year. Contact (559) 278-5364 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The 1st Africana Cultural Night (ACN) was held in April 2003 as part of Fresno State's Diversity Week Program. The event was organized and coordinated by members of the Africana Students United (ASU) student organization.
The idea behind the cultural night was to highlight and expose the different and diverse ethnic backgrounds, cultures, heritages and community of the Africana people to the Fresno State community.
At the cultural night, ASU honored individuals who, through their hard work and dedication over a sustained period of time, have promoted diversity and integration of the different peoples of African descent. This year's honorees were Dr. Lily B. Small, Professor of Ethnic Studies at Fresno State for 33 years; Dr. Isaac A. Okin, Professor of African American Studies at Fresno City College, and Dr. Audrey Anderson, the outgoing Dean of Extended Education, Fresno State for 20 years of work in adult and continuing education.
Highlights of the Cultural Night
- Honorary Member Awards Ceremony
- African Music & Dance
- Hip Hop Music & Dance
- Afro-Caribbean/Latin Dance
- Africana Fashion Show
- Poetry & Story Telling
Thanks to many individuals and community organizations, the 1st Africana Cultural Night was successful in promoting diversity, multiculturalism, and social progress of the Africana people on the Fresno State campus.
The Annual African American Student Recruitment Conference is held in February by the University Outreach Services to motivate students to achieve their maximum potential and prepare for the future through higher education. The conference is open to all middle school, high school and community college students and their parents. The conference begins with performances by the Fresno State Gospel Choir and includes an inspirational guest speaker, a college fair, workshops and talent hour. The talent hour features several performing artists from the local Fresno area, as all ages will be represented. Workshops cover such topics as financial aid, survival strategies for higher education, scholarships and admission. Special sessions for parents cover issues related to college preparation.
More photos on the Photo Gallery page
As part of the 2003 Black History Month Cerebrations at Fresno State, The Ethnic Studies Program co-sponsored (with the University Lecture Series) an electrifying performance of Alhaji Papa Susso and his Manding Music and Dance Society at the Satellite Student Union on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2003. The group was in Fresno for three days during which time it conducted workshops and lectures in classes at Fresno State, Fresno City College, Garfield Elementary School, Clovis, Lincoln Elementary School, Fresno, Selma Elementary, Selma. The group was also the special guest at the Poetry Jam, Coffee House and Pub, Fresno State.
Papa Susso hails from a long line of Griots (traditional oral historians) and has been playing the Kora since he was five years old. The Kora was invented by the "Susso" family of the Mandinka ethnic group. It is a 21-stringed harp-lute unique to the western- most part of Africa and is meant to be played only by the Jali (professional musicians, praise singers and oral historians), who were traditionally attached to the royal courts. Their duties included recounting ethnic history and genealogy, composing commemorative songs and performing at important social events. It is with the help of the "Susso" family that Alex Hailey was successful in tracing his family's ROOTS to The Gambia.
After obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in business administration, and holding several civil government positions as a senior Accountant, Papa formed his own cultural organization: The Manding Music and Dance Limited, a school dedicated to keeping African culture alive.
Papa Susso has performed for several heads of state and governments and the United Nations Organization. He was appointed Chief Kora Player of The Gambia national Cultural Troup. He has also performed with several symphony orchestras and is a premier performer in the "American Classic African Portraits" by Hannibal Peterson. In 1991 he was appointed Regent’s Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Listen to Papa Susso's Music
Traditional Kora Music from Gambia
A Gathering of Elders: Al-Haji Papa Susso
Tabara (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
Kunkuba (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
Kaira (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
Mamya (with Bishop Patrick & Rev. Michelle Lawyer)
The 5th Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Student Conference was hosted by the African American Studies Research Center at California State University, Fresno on February 24, 2004. The theme of this year's conference was "A CALL TO SERVICE & CIVIC ENGAGEMENT."
Started in 1999, the purposes of this conference are:
- to expose a group of students of diverse ethnic backgrounds to the legacy of Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. through an understanding of his methods of nonviolent approaches to living together as a community; and
- to provide instruction to students on the application of conflict resolution through an understanding and awareness of human diversity. This conference will also provide an opportunity for middle school and high school students from our local school districts, along with university students, to interact with each other.
The format of the conference includes:
- Opening Session
- Poster Session
- Concurrent Workshops on such areas as:"Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King: Devil and Angel?", Welcoming Diversity, Non-violence and Social changes, Dealing with Racism, Segregation vs. Integration in Education and King's community.
The conference makes use of the technique of "training the trainers." Therefore, all students in attendance are equipped with some level of knowledge of social change, whereby they can share information gained from the conference with their respective organizations and schools. Participating students express their ideas for creating an environment of non-violent social change through the Poster Session described below.
The Poster Session
The Poster Session involves students in expressing their artistic and written creativity by depicting how social change might be implemented at their school site and/or within their local communities. Each of the schools identifies a leadership team whose responsibility is to plan, organize, develop, and present a Poster for social change. The Posters are displayed for viewing on the day of the conference at the university venue at which time each participating leadership team makes a brief presentation. At the completion of the conference, the posters are displayed at the Fresno district school board meetings and during the MLK Unity Program sponsored by the City of Fresno. A panel of judges determines the top posters and award ribbons.
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In an effort to attract and recruit African American students to California State University, Fresno, the School of Education and Human Development Education Equity Committee has been hosting the Annual African American Future Teacher Fair. This event is coordinated by the Office of University Outreach Services. The focus of the conference is to:
- interact with educational administrators and school counselors;
- encourage participants to begin the process of setting educational goals;
- allow students to explore how an education provides tools for the future; provide exposure to California State University, Fresno; and
- encourage students to pursue careers in education
The planning committee invites area high school teachers and counselors to identify and bring aspiring young people to participate in the program at no cost. Students have the opportunity to meet Fresno State students and staff during the day, which gives them a chance to ask questions and explore their educational goals. This conference was held on Tuesday, March 18, 2003.