New Jersey City University


On December 23, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 68/237, declaring 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent. At the time, I was serving as principal advisor on research to the US Ambassador to the United Nations. One of the three objectives of the decade is to promote respect for and greater knowledge of the diverse heritage, cultures and contributions of people of African descent to the development of societies. Having been at the United Nations when this history was made was very (personally) meaningful for me. As the current director of the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center at New Jersey City University, I will spend the remaining two years of the declared decade working with NJCU students and Jersey City community members to increase knowledge about the African Diaspora and to highlight the contributions, histories, and cultures of people of African descent via various programs that have been offered through the Hagan Center for many years, but were halted due to a series of events, including and most notably the advent of the global pandemic. Under the large programmatic umbrella, which I am calling “Celebrating the Resilience of the African Diaspora,” I would work from April 2022-April 2023 to breathe life back into the Hagan Center and its program. The SSRC/NEH SHIP grant will support a series of initiatives that were mostly inspired by Dr. Lee Frank Hagan, and that I would run in partnership with the Afro-American Historical Society Museum (Gil Noble Collection); the Mary McLeod Bethune Life Center (Hagan African Diaspora Public Humanities Series [formerly called Catfish & Cornbread]); the NAACP and the Urban League of Hudson County. In sum, all grant funds would be used to sustain and rebuild the Hagan Center.